Neshoba Central’s Mitchell awarded scholarship


As a member of the Neshoba Central FFA organization, Jackson Mitchell found his niche taking apart motors and working on trucks.

FFA sparked the high school junior’s interest in non-traditional avenues as opposed to college and led him eventually to East Central Community College’s Diesel Mechanic Program.

Mitchell was awarded a $1,000 scholarship through Neshoba County Allies for Education which will pay his tuition for the one-year ECCC program. Once successfully completed, he will be a certified diesel technician.

Chamber of Commerce Director Tim Moore said this is the first year Allies for Education included high school juniors in the application process.

Diesel mechanic and other vocational/technical programs were included in the restructuring process as well, Moore said.

Jackson, an upcoming senior, will be dually enrolled at Neshoba Central and East Central when the new school year begins in August.

He will attend East Central classes Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. followed by classes at Neshoba Central on Fridays.

He will graduate from high school in May and, by the end of June, he will be a certified diesel technician.

What’s more, if he is continues his education at East Central for another year, he could earn an associate’s degree.

 Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley said Mitchell is the first NCHS student to take advantage of the Diesel Tech program. He commended high school principal Jason Gentry and his staff for providing flexible scheduling to create this option.

 “Our vision is to ‘graduate all students college and career ready with courses, certifications, and external opportunities beyond and high school diploma’ and what Jackson is doing definitely personifies our vision. I really hope more of our students take advantage of this in the future,” Dr. Brantley said.

East Central operates its diesel mechanic program at its facility on the former U. S. Motors property in Philadelphia.

Jackson credits Neshoba FFA instructor Derek Huffman for his success, noting that he has been very influential to him over the past year.

“In FFA, we learned to take apart motors,” Jackson said. “I was always interested in working on my own truck and on my dad’s truck. We also did some welding.”

Mitchell hopes to remain in Neshoba County after he graduates from the program.

“I want to find a job and start working but right now, I just want to get through high school,” he said.

Neshoba Central High School principal Jason Gentry said Mitchell was a prime candidate for the program.

“He is a smart student and will be doing something he loves and enjoys,” he said. “We are just tickled that he got the scholarship.”

Huffman said it was “unreal” for a student still in high school to get such as opportunity.

“I’ve heard good things about the program,” he said. “I think Jackson will like it.”

Huffman had a couple of other students to successfully complete the program last year after graduating from high school.

“Jackson loves the shop,” he said. “He loves the outside part of it. If he likes it and enjoys it, he’s going to put his mind to it. I think he will do well there. He enjoys that type of work.”

Huffman cited a growing need for workers in the vocational/technical fields and noted that the salaries are very competitive.

“Not every student is going to college for four years,” he said. “They need programs like this especially for kids like Jackson who just want to work with their hands. It’s a good job and there is a demand for it.”

Mitchell is the son of Travis and Andrea Mitchell of Philadelphia.

Other scholarship recipients from Neshoba Central include seniors Hailey Hardy and Keely Houston  $250 each;  juniors Jordyn French and Noah Bates, $500 each for dual credit courses; and seniors Anna Sistrunk and John Rylee Barrett, $1,000 each.

The Philadelphia-Neshoba County Chamber of Commerce’s Allies for Education program was organized in 1988 to bring businesses and schools together, benefitting all students.

This is its 22nd year and the program continues to grow.

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