Greenville Renaissance Scholars Opens Registration for Summer Program
By: Tracy D. DeStazio
In 2007, community members saw the need for additional opportunities for students in the Mississippi Delta, particularly for those in middle school who were struggling or at risk. Led by Greenville native Margaret Joseph, they formed a program called Greenville Renaissance Scholars (GRS). The program provides after-school, Saturday and summer programs to upcoming 7th, 8th and 9th graders, as well as college-bound high school students and adults looking to improve their ACT scores.
“Greenville students were not achieving at the level they [GRS founders] knew the students were capable of,” explains Jon Delperdang, GRS executive director. “They wanted to give them a chance to do better.”
“They also saw arts continually being cut by schools due to underfunding,” he continued, “and wanted to provide an outlet for students to express themselves and grow their emotional intelligence to reach their full potential as scholars.”
More than 10 years later, this nonprofit organization is continuing to inspire, motivate and prepare scholars to succeed on a college track. To that end, GRS strives to encourage middle school students to plan and prepare for college even before they enter high school.
“We believe that every student is capable of doing amazing things,” Delperdang said. “But we also believe in developing the whole person.”
To accomplish that goal, GRS programs provide opportunities for students to express themselves creatively through academics (math, English, science, and STEM) and the arts, including creative writing, music, dance and drama.
“Because Greenville is in a rural area, there are not as many opportunities as in a metropolitan area, and we want to expose the students to new things and ideas,” Delperdang said.
One example of this effort is Camp Renaissance, a month-long, full-day summer program that provides certified academic instruction along with professional arts instruction. Partnering with numerous organizations and tapping into the talents of the Greenville community has enabled GRS to prepare students for their futures.
“USDA Stoneville brought scientists and experts in their fields to work with our scholars to do hands-on science experiments,” Delperdang explained. “We also take the students on field trips to colleges and historical sites, as well as places of employment within the STEM field.”
Registration is now open for the Camp Renaissance Summer Program for current 6th, 7th and 8th grade students and will remain open until May 1.
An ACT prep program offered by GRS on Saturdays helps high school students — as well as adults — to improve their test scores to better position themselves for college placement, scholarships and success.
“We are trying to create a balance at GRS,” Delperdang said. “We need to prepare scholars to be academically talented, but to also excel at being good people and living positive lives. We affirm them and encourage them to find their niche and purpose.”
Tracy D. DeStazio is a freelance writer and editor living in Biloxi. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 23 years and they have three children.
If you would like to register your child for one of the GRS programs, make a donation, or volunteer to help, contact:
Greenville Renaissance Scholars
323 S. Main St., Greenville, MS 38701
Jon Delperdang, Executive Director
Call: (662) 303-4604