Ferriday’s Gipson chosen Student of the Year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – In Maurice Gipson’s own words, he has an interesting life. &uot;I just love being different,&uot; he said. The Ferriday High School senior, the 2000-01 Concordia Parish Student of the Year, stays busy with school activities while still keeping a high GPA. &uot;If you’re busy, (you) don’t become a stereotypical teen,&uot; he said.

In Gipson’s mind, &uot;stereotypical teens&uot; never read and spend their time watching television, playing video games, smoking or drinking.

But Gipson, who attended school in London until the fourth grade, has no time for any of that.

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Gipson, who plays the keyboard and the drums, is the drum major for the school band, a position that allows him to be a role model.

&uot;It gives me an activity to do and being drum major I get to oversee 165 band students,&uot; he said.

He also plays on the baseball team, is a member of the Beta Club, serves as the school’s newspaper editor and chief, the yearbook editor, a teen peer leader and as a DARE role model. And in what Gipson calls one of the high points of his past year, last June he was elected as the state president for 4-H winning by a landslide over about 30 candidates.

&uot;I still haven’t recovered from that,&uot; he said.

Gipson, who has been active in 4-H for several years, said the position has given him the chance to travel to Washington D.C., and Atlanta and meet students from all over the country.

Often Gipson finds he must show other young people that Louisiana is not a backward state.

&uot;I like to tell people we’re more than just what you think,&uot; Gipson said.

And 4-H in Louisiana is a part of that, he says.

&uot;We’re doing things down there,&uot; Gipson said. &uot;We’re developing youth.&uot;

Gipson said he &uot;loves&uot; 4-H because of the activities and the community service.

&uot;I just love helping the community and the people,’ he said..

One of his favorite activities is to spend time listening to nursing home residents and learning from them.

&uot;It helps me … to make decisions for the future,&uot; he said.

And with all his many activities, Gipson said he does not have any time for such negative pursuits as smoking or drinking.

&uot;See with all (that) stuff – how can I do anything negative,&uot; he said.

For him its a worthwhile tradeoff or he could not be the Concordia Parish Student of the Year.

&uot;Success and drugs and alcohol don’t even mix – you can’t have both,&uot; he said.

Gipson said he owes a great deal to his parents, Ferriday Principal Fred Butcher and band director Carl Dangerfield for being such positive role models and stressing academics and responsible choices.

&uot;My Mom – she always tells me to keep God first,&uot; Gipson said.

To be selected as the Concordia Parish Student of the Year, Gipson was first selected as the Ferriday Student of the Year by writing an essay.

In the essay, Gipson wrote about his plans to attend Louisiana State University to study political science and hopefully go to Harvard to study law.

Gipson also mapped out his path to becoming the first U.S. president from Louisiana.

A lofty goal he knows but people are already telling him they will vote for him, he said.

&uot;Nobody tells me I can’t do it,&uot; Gipson said. &uot;They say you can do it.&uot;

Next week Gipson will go to Bastrop, La., to compete against 12 other students for regional student of the year. The winner will advance to the state level.

He is the son of David and Deloris Gipson and is an active member of Zion Hill Baptist Church. He attributes much of the success in his life to God and prayer.