First lady campaigns for literacy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Mississippi First Lady Melanie Musgrove visited Natchez Tuesday to call attention to the importance of literacy – and to take part in the chartering of a new service organization.

On Tuesday morning, Musgrove, a former fifth- and sixth-grade reading teacher, read books to three second-grade classes and spoke to students and faculty at Natchez’s Morgantown and McLaurin elementary schools.

&uot;I look at your faces, and you’re just an inspiration to me,&uot; Musgrove said after a musical performance by Morgantown students. &uot;It almost makes me wish I&160;was back home with my students.&uot;

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At Morgantown, 19 second-graders seemed engrossed in Musgrove’s reading of the book &uot;Jubal’s Wish&uot; – an animated performance complete with sound effects.

Later, she talked briefly with students about the book’s moral, that &uot;all it takes is just one pat on the back from you to make someone’s day better.&uot;

Musgrove’s visit shows that Natchez’s public schools are being recognized on a statewide level, said Superintendent Carl Davis.

&uot;I feel honored that Mrs. Musgrove would choose to visit here,&uot; said Morgantown Principal Carla Evers. &uot;I also like that fact that she’s promoting reading not only for academics, but just for pleasure.&uot;

Musgrove also distributed to students at both schools dozens of books supplied by the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of Natchez.

That afternoon, during a luncheon at the Eola Hotel, Musgrove presented an official charter to the Women’s Auxiliary and served as that event’s keynote speaker. There, she commended the organization for the work it has already done – and praised the Salvation Army as a whole for tutoring youth throughout the world.

&uot;Reading is the key of our entire success,&uot; said Musgrove, who visited Natchez as part of a statewide literacy tour. &uot;If more of us could step aside from our self-centeredness to help others, can you imagine what could be accomplished?&uot;

Even before it received its charter, the Women’s Auxiliary had been busy for eight months working on such projects as organizing the charity’s Angel Tree project, collecting dolls to give to children at Christmas and distributing food to the needy.