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YET asks for help as it regroups for new year

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 9, 2002
The Lauderdale County Youth Excitement Team, also known as "YET," is asking for help to to continue its efforts to educate children.
A tutorial program that began in 1996, YET partners with churches, schools and public and private organizations to help students in the Meridian Public School District. YET works with about 400 students, most of them on the third- through fifth-grade level.
But the organization is suspended from an AmeriCorps grant that Gary Houston, YET program manager, said amounted to about $280,000 a year.
According to Jimmie Smith, vice chairman of the YET board, the suspension was imposed because paperwork to renew the grant was not turned in on time. A fund-raising program has been developed to keep the program going until YET can reapply for the grant next year.
Houston said YET keeps journals on all of the students in the program, monitoring their homework and tests.
YET uses both volunteer and paid staff members to tutor the children.
In the YET after-school program Wednesday, at Fitkin's Memorial Church of the Nazarene on 38th Avenue, Jonathan McWilliams, a seventh-grader at Northeast Middle School, said he has used YET tutors for two years.
One of the tutors, Oriona Walker, was helping McWilliams with his geometry homework. A senior at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus, he has tutored and mentored in the program since he was in high school.
The Lauderdale County Youth Excitement Team has scheduled its first Excellence in Education Awards Program for Tuesday at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus. The program will begin at 7 p.m. Dr. Lonnie Edwards, assistant superintendent for DeKalb County Schools in Georgia, will be the guest speaker.
At the awards ceremony, students will be recognized for high academic achievement and for significant improvement in subject areas. Students will also be honored in the areas of the arts, sports and technology. Teachers, staff and community advocates who have made significant contributions will also be recognized.