Strive for less than 5


A group of Thames Elementary School fourth-graders want to make sure students know when it’s OK to be absent from school.

Their message received rave reviews from state education officials, who awarded the group the top award in a “Strive for Less Than Five” attendance awareness campaign competition.

The students of Elvira Deyamport’s fourth-grade class at Thames Elementary from the Hattiesburg Public School District wrote, performed, produced and edited a video that focused on when it’s OK and not OK to be absent from school.

The contest was coordinated through the Office of Compulsory School Attendance in the Mississippi Department of Education. The goal of the statewide competition was to encourage students to not miss school more than five days and to raise awareness of the long-term effects that missing school has on educational development.

Deyamport said she recorded the performance on her phone and then the video was downloaded to the classroom computers for editing. All 12 students in the REACH gifted program contributed to the two-minute video. REACH stands for “Reaching Exceptional Children in Hattiesburg.”

“They wrote the script, they were dressed up and they edited it,” she said, adding that two videos were submitted in the competition. “They used the same footage, but each group added their own graphics to the video.”

The students who were involved in the video were Collin McDonald, Sean Curtis, Vincent Coleman, Dylan Willis, Caleb Lott, Kelson Young, Noemi Fillinger, Frances Cruthirds, Myah Eaton, Kelis Young, Reagan Conner and Reagan Donaldson.

Eaton said the production of the video took less than a week.

“Group A did their part, but Group B did it before A,” she said. “It took us two days because we had to film separately. Then Group B did the ending where they jumped out.”

“They all put it together at the end,” Deyamport said. “It took a lot of coordinating, but they got it done."

Deyamport said her students also shine in the video because of their personalities.

“They are so full of personality,” she said. “I’ve been videoing in the past and the students have been shy, but not this group. And they all participate.”

The “Strive for Less Than Five” competition categories included poster, literary, and video. All entries were judged on theme, quality of work, and student creativity. There were 108 submissions received. 

Second place went to Annis Hennessy’s second-grade student, Sophie Scutch at Northside Elementary in the Pearl Public School District. Sophie’s submission was a song she wrote to the tune of “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth. Her goal for writing this song was to encourage students to come to school and strive to miss less than five days a year. Sophie hopes this catchy tune will remind others that school is fun and important. 

The third-place winner is Lisa Hadden’s seventh-grade student, Tyler Allen at Northwest Rankin Middle School in the Rankin County School District. Tyler’s submission was an essay that addressed the prevalence and impact of excessive absences and/or poor attendance on students and school districts.