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Scholar Athlete: Ferriday’s Jefferson takes advantage of mandatory study hall

Ferriday High School football players Rayden Jefferson, left, and Calen Glenn do their school work during study hall Wednesday afternoon. The study hall period was instituted by head coach Cleothis Cummings. Jefferson credits the period for helping him keep his grade point average up. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — For Raydon Jefferson, making good grades is about taking advantage of opportunities.

One such opportunity for the Ferriday High School junior is study hall, which the team has each afternoon before practice starts.

“It’s good help,” said Jefferson, who currently has a 3.4 grade-point average. “Once you get home from practice, you’re tired. You don’t want to have to stay up all night studying, so I take advantage of (study hall).”

Study hall lasts from approximately 2:15 to 3:30 in the afternoon. Ferriday head coach Cleothis Cummings said that time was initially used for going over game film, but when he saw some of his players struggling in the classroom, study hall became mandatory.

“We made sure we had some kind of way to get homework done or get help for these kids on a subject they’re struggling in,” Cummings said. “They can either get their homework done or visit a teacher to get extra instruction time.”

And study hall is something the coaches take very seriously, Jefferson said.

“You can’t go to sleep or anything,” Jefferson said.

“They stress grades a lot. Coach always says, win today, on the field and in school. That’s why we have study hall.”

As a football player, Jefferson said he’s able to relate the need to study to the sport he plays.

“It helps you with a variety of things,” Jefferson said. “It’s kind of like playing football. If you don’t study, you won’t know what to do. If I study, it helps me get good grades, which is what I’m striving for.”

Jefferson also draws inspiration from teammates Calen Glenn, a straight-A student for the Trojans. Chasing after Glenn with his academic achievements serves as a motivational tool for Jefferson.

“He’s really smart,” Jefferson said. “He’s a straight A-student, which is what I’m aiming for. He has a bright future, and I want to have one, too.”

Glenn said he’s more than willing to help Jefferson and anyone else who comes to him for assistance with schoolwork.

“If it’s hard, I break it down to where it’s simpler,” Jefferson said. “He (sometimes) gets frustrated when he doesn’t know it, and I tell him to calm down and take his time.”

Glenn also said it’s nice to be a go-to guy on the team when it comes to schoolwork.

“It feels good to help I can know people in general and that people feel free to come to me for help,” Glenn said.

Cummings said he enjoys coaching Jefferson, and Jefferson is one of his best players when it comes to academics.

“He takes care of business, and he’s very passionate about what he’s doing,” Cummings said.

Jefferson starts at fullback and defensive tackle for the Trojans. Before each game, Jefferson said he takes the time to prepare himself mentally for the challenges he faces on the field.

“I make sure I focus on what’s about to happen so I know the responsibility of what I’m supposed to do,” Jefferson said. “Each play, I make sure I give all I’ve got for the team.”

Football is also a way for Jefferson to enjoy life, he said.

“It’s fun. The only bad thing about it is, I don’t want to see the L at the end.”

Jefferson said he wants to study architecture so he can become a rodbuster. He said he would like to attend Southern University. Jefferson is the son of Deidra Hawkins and Richard Jefferson.