SMHS Valedictorian Bringing Robotics Summer Camps to St. Martin

JSM_6956-copy SMHS Valedictorian Bringing Robotics Summer Camps to St. Martin

Click the image above to view larger.

St. Martin High School Valedictorian Taylor Barnes believes students who are given opportunities to create with technology when they’re young will become students who are interested in studying technology when they’re older.

Barnes, a National Merit Finalist who made a perfect 36 score on the ACT, will be studying computer engineering on a full ride scholarship at the University of Central Florida this fall.


During his senior year, Barnes spent part of his school days at the Jackson County School District’s “Fab Lab” (short for “fabrication laboratory”) down the road from the high school. The Fab Lab, stocked with all the computers and machinery necessary to take a project from concept to final product, is designed to give Jackson County students hands-on experience with the entire engineering design process.

During the summer, Barnes will be running a series of summer camps to teach children programming for robotics. Barnes, along with the Fab Lab manager Scott Beebe, wrote a $5,000 grant to fund the summer camp.

As a student ambassador for the Fab Lab this year, Barnes helped younger students visiting the lab with projects like laser printing, vinyl cutting and more. Places like the Fab Lab pique students’ interest in STEM studies—science, technology, engineering and math—and give them a head start in preparing for the future if they are interested in those types of jobs, Barnes said.JSM_6956-copy SMHS Valedictorian Bringing Robotics Summer Camps to St. Martin

“That kind of thing gets students interested in technology early in their lives,” Barnes said of the Fab Lab. “That way when they’re older they have that foundation in STEM so they can learn even more when they get to those high level math and science classes.”

St. Martin High School Principal Dina Holland described Barnes as “focused”—a leader on campus who has been instrumental in bringing robotics programs to St. Martin High School and even to the middle school.

“I’ve been in this business for 35 years and have gotten the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing students, but he has set the bar that’s going to be the new standard,” Holland said.

Learn more »
Comments Off on SMHS Valedictorian Bringing Robotics Summer Camps to St. Martin

This Popular Ministry App With 30k Downloads Was Made Right Here in Jackson County

LBAPPLOGO_512 This Popular Ministry App With 30k Downloads Was Made Right Here in Jackson County

Click the image above to view larger.

OCEAN SPRINGS–When Greg Arnold moved his online Christian men’s ministry from blog to mobile app in 2016, he had modest hopes for its success.

“It took a year to get the first 5,000 registered users, which is what I was shooting for,” Arnold said. “I thought I had hit the moon when I got to 5,000.”

Fast forward a year and a half later, and the Live Bold application has been downloaded more than 30,000 times from the iOS and Android app stores by users in 163 countries. Of those downloads, about half are registered users. In both app stores, it has climbed its way to the number one spot in the search results for Christian Men’s apps, and it consistently remains in the top five apps in the search results for Christian apps in general.

The Live Bold app offers daily devotions with the option to add comments and interact with other users, articles for Christian men categorized by topic, forums for sharing prayer requests, and options to search for local Bible studies. Paid subscribers receive access to more study tools and other enhanced features.

The Ocean Springs resident started Live Bold Ministries a decade ago as a blog where he spoke to Christian men about their unique struggles and called on them to deepen their faith in God.  

“Over time, that developed more into a relationship with the readers, and I started listening to what the readers were asking for,” Arnold said.

LBAPPLOGO_512 This Popular Ministry App With 30k Downloads Was Made Right Here in Jackson County

Arnold continually adjusted the website format, the writing style and the ministry offerings to suit his readership. About two years ago, he noticed the website statistics showed a major shift from desktop to mobile, so he spent the next six months developing an application to transfer the ministry primarily to a mobile platform.

“I launched it quietly, and the traction became immediate,” Arnold said.

For Arnold, the numbers are fun to crunch, but they aren’t the measure of his success. Sure, he admits he hopes to see the app reach the coveted 100,000 downloads, but it’s much more gratifying for him to see men connecting with one another and growing in their faith.


“My lane, my call, has been to help a man get out of the ditch, stay on the track and make some positive gains in his life—through God and through Christ,” Arnold said.

iOS: https://loom.ly/xaHMeUo 
Android: https://loom.ly/etq4d_Y

Learn more »
Comments Off on This Popular Ministry App With 30k Downloads Was Made Right Here in Jackson County

Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA Takes on Childhood Obesity with New Program

HWYC-jpeg Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA Takes on Childhood Obesity with New Program

Click the image above to view larger.

Healthy Weight and Your Child pilot program aims to get kids and families to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Ocean Springs, MS, April  23, 2018 – This summer, the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA will begin offering Healthy Weight and Your Child, a pilot program designed to empower children between the ages of 7-13, with the support from their families, to reach a healthy weight and live a healthier lifestyle.  The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA is one of 10 YMCA’s in the U.S. to run this pilot program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate from just one generation ago. Today, one in six children are obese and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.



“The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA has a long history of advancing the health and well-being of children on the Gulf Coast, and helping children reach a healthy weight is important now more than ever,” said Jodi Ryder, Community Impact Director, Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA.  “Healthy Weight and Your Child will help children experience improved health outcomes and higher self-esteem, and families will feel empowered to make and support healthier choices.”

The 25-session program engages the whole family, so together they can understand how the home environment and other factors influence the choices that lead to a healthy weight. Additionally, the program combines three elements of healthy eating, regular physical activity and behavior change.

Made up of groups of eight to 15 children and their parents/caregivers, the program creates a safe, fun, and active environment for children and their families to explore and adopt proven methods to living a healthier lifestyle. Sessions are two hours in length, with the first hour delivered in a classroom setting and the second hour focusing on physical activity.

Children eligible for the program must be between the ages of seven and 13, have a body mass index greater than or equal to the 95th percentile, receive approval from their doctor or a health care provider, and accompanied by a parent or caregiver at every session.

The YMCA will be holding an informational meeting for anyone interested in participating in Healthy Weight and Your Child at the Blossman Family Branch YMCA, 1810 Government St., Ocean Springs, MS, on Monday, May 21, 2018 at 5:00pm.

For more information including program qualifications and session times, contact Jodi Ryder at 228.875.5050 or jryder@mgcymca.org.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA Takes on Childhood Obesity with New Program

1699 Weekend of Discovery: Celebrating Our Heritage

Click the gallery above to view larger.

Ocean Springs – In 1971, a group of dedicated citizens formed the 1699 Historical Society in order to preserve and celebrate the unique culture and history of Ocean Springs and the surrounding Gulf Coast.

Every spring, the Society stages a dramatic reenactment as the showcase of its annual “Weekend of Discovery.” The event brings to life the April 1699 story of Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville and his armada of ships sailing into Biloxi Bay. Commissioned by King Louis XIV to explore the shores of the upper Gulf of Mexico, he and his expedition crew first discovered Ship Island before stumbling upon a high, defendable bluff, known today as Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Stopher Haug, chairman of the event this year, believes it’s important to help the public realize the significance of the landing. “I think that the culture and the heritage and influence that the d’Iberville landing had on the Gulf South in 1699 is essentially equivalent to the Jamestown landing in the Northeast back in 1603,” said Stopher. “So we’ve worked hard to try to get that message out and bring the history to life.”

The weekend kicks off Friday night with the Mary C. House Party featuring the Mardi Gras Indian Collective from New Orleans. Admission to the event is free, but donation opportunities abound with a full bar, art auction, and a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament. Festivities resume Saturday morning and include a 5K race, kids fun-run, paddleboard races, pet parade, a regatta at the Ocean Springs Yacht Club and will wrap up with the 1699 d’Iberville reenactment. Haug says he hopes everyone goes back home having had a great time at the event, but also with a greater knowledge and appreciation for the significance of the 1699 landing. “One thing that we would like folks to be aware of is that we’ve partnered with the Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw, who descend from original native Americans that were here in 1699. We’ve been working with them to try and bring more authenticity and historical accuracy to the reenactment this year and to recognize their culture and contributions as well.”

Everyone is invited to join in this exciting time and become a part of this commemorative celebration!

Learn more by visiting www.1699landing.com

Learn more »
Comments Off on 1699 Weekend of Discovery: Celebrating Our Heritage

Vote for Ocean Springs as US Today’s 10 Best Coastal Small Town

Ocean Springs, MS – Ocean Springs is up for another award, USA Today’s Best Coastal Small Town. As the only town in Mississippi up for the award, the community is encouraged to vote for Ocean Springs now through May 14.

With a population of fewer than 25,000 people, these towns nominated offer uncrowded, unpretentious and affordable seaside fun in small packages. Move over Miami, Honolulu and Los Angeles, Ocean Springs is in the running.

“With its quaint, eclectic charm, we are delighted to have Ocean Springs nominated once again for this award,” says Executive Director Cynthia Sutton of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. “Ocean Springs is a tourist favorite and, we encourage our entire coastal community and those throughout the state to promote Ocean Springs for this award.”

Vote for Ocean Springs once per day as Best Coastal Small Town until polls close on May 14 at noon, ET. Visit https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-coastalsmall-town/ to vote.

For more information, contact us at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau at 228-875-4424 or visit us at www.oceanspringschamber.com.

Mission: To promote tourism, provide progressive leadership for economic and community vitality for the greater Ocean Springs, Jackson County area and gulf coast and to enhance local culture and preserve quality of life through planned growth, diversification and beautification.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Vote for Ocean Springs as US Today’s 10 Best Coastal Small Town

Spring Arts Festival: Herb, Garden & Art

The annual Spring Arts Festival in downtown Ocean Springs celebrated its 25th year last weekend. Over 150 vendors participated and, while the numbers are still being calculated, it is estimated to have had around 15,000 visitors. The event is looked forward to each year by festival-goers from near and far as well as the local gardening and art communities.

“We are so proud of the amazing turnout of 150 vendors and Nearly 15,000 visitors this year.  The turnout numbers are still being calculated. The weather was amazing and our community and visitors alike were able to get out and find unique arts, crafts and get their green thumb ready for Spring! -We were excited to introduce new vendors and a variety of demonstrations.” ~ Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, Ocean Springs Chamber – Mainstreet – Tourism Bureau

Learn more »
Comments Off on Spring Arts Festival: Herb, Garden & Art

Walk MS: Uniting Communities to Create a World Free of Multiple Sclerosis

fullsizeoutput_185 Walk MS: Uniting Communities to Create a World Free of Multiple Sclerosis

Andy Bell, President of National Multiple Sclerosis Society Alabama-Mississippi and Lt. Doug Adams of the Pascagoula Police Dept. at the Walk Kick-Off Luncheon at Aunt Jenny’s Restaurant in Ocean Springs.

Hundreds of local walkers raised money at Walk MS: Mississippi Gulf Coast last Saturday at Fort Maurepas Park in Ocean Springs. Walk MS is an opportunity for people to come together with friends, loved ones and co-workers to fundraise, connect and advocate for people affected by MS. Each dollar raised is one step closer to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s goal – a world free of MS. Since its inception in 1988, Walk MS has cumulatively raised more than $1 billion. Saturday’s walk was expected to raise more than $25,000.

“Walk MS is all about community – people coming together to raise money and show support for loved ones, colleagues and friends,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “Funds raised have a direct impact in this community, for example – our MS Navigator program. MS Navigators are highly-skilled, compassionate professionals available to connect each person affected by MS to the resources and information they need to live their best lives.”

Multiple sclerosis attacks the brain and spinal cord, and it is the most common neurological disease leading to disability in young adults. The National MS Society is a gathering place for people with MS, their family and loved ones, healthcare providers, volunteers, donors, fundraisers, advocates, community leaders and all those that seek a world free of MS.

Sanofi Genzyme is the premier national sponsor of Walk MS. Biogen, Genentech and Novartis are also national sponsors of Walk MS.

Walk MS helps fuel groundbreaking MS research and provide life-changing services to those affected by MS through creating a supportive community of friends, families, and loved ones who fundraise and connect. To get involved you can visit walkMS.org, call (855) 372-1331, or email fundraisingsupport@nmss.org. For more information about multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society, visit nationalMSsociety.org or call (800) 344-4867.

About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million worldwide.


Learn more »
Comments Off on Walk MS: Uniting Communities to Create a World Free of Multiple Sclerosis

Business of the Week: Marina Cottage Soap Company

Marina Cottage Soap Co. began in Ocean Springs, MS in 2012. It all started with Vanessa, who is a Registered Nurse. She created products for those with eczema and other sensitive skin issues out of necessity, in her own kitchen. That passion has created over 100 products in nearly 600 retail locations across the US and Canada, and a 3,300 sq ft retail and manufacturing location! They make natural soaps and other skincare products for sensitive skin. Their operation is a local, family company, with a group of friends and family still making every order by hand, with love.

They use goat’s milk and glycerin to make products for all ages, and it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin!

Check out their new location at 1311 Government Street in Ocean Springs.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Business of the Week: Marina Cottage Soap Company

Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld Corporation

seaworld Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld Corporation seaworld Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld CorporationOcean Springs — Marina Cottage Soap Co. announced that they have landed a deal with SeaWorld Corporation to have their products featured in 7 parks across the USA.

“This is such a dream come true,” said Vanessa Mueller, RN, Owner, of in Ocean Springs, MS, Marina Cottage Soap Co.

Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc. products can now be found in both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens across the USA.

“The parks are carrying Nourishing Body Crème, Goats Milk Soap, Organic Bubble Bath and Exfoliating Sugar Whipped Soap in 5 different scents” said Mueller.

Talks began last year at Americasmart in Atlanta and the products were trialed in Busch Gardens, Va., over the summer to determine if there was a market for their natural products at the parks. Fast-forward to October 2017 and orders began pouring in from Busch Gardens, VA and ALL 7 parks under the SeaWorld Corporation. “We were very surprised and flattered that our products went over so well in VA.” said Mueller.

SeaWorld Corporation is an international company with theme-based parks located across the United States. US park locations include; Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Chula Vista, California; Tampa, Florida; Williamsburg, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 2012, in Ocean Springs, MS, Marina Cottage Soap Co. has grown their business across the USA. The company offers a wide range of products including all natural soaps, lotions, bubble bath, lip balms and their famous Gneaux more Gnaughty Gnats™ natural repellent. The company specializes in products to help those with Eczema, Psoriasis and other sensitive skin issues.  For more information about Marina Cottage Soap Co., go to:  www.marinacottage.com


Learn more »
Comments Off on Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld Corporation

Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

Original post from Southern Miss Now. Courtesy of David Tisdale.

From a young girl doodling on her notepad to shaping steel as an art student at The University of Southern Mississippi, Kelsey Wishik has engaged in creative action as long as she can remember.

That creative action earned Wishik, a multimedia artist from Ocean Springs, Miss. a prominent place in the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) fifth installment of its exhibition series, titled “Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018” after being chosen by a national jury to be the state’s representative for the event.  

According to a news release from the NMWA, “Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018,” set for June 28 – Sept. 16, will feature “contemporary artists working in metal to investigate the physical properties and expressive possibilities of metalwork through a wide variety of objects, including sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms.” The exhibit also “engages with the fluidity between ‘fine’ art, design, and craft categories, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.”


“Women to Watch” is presented every three years in a collaboration between the museum and its national and international outreach committees.

“I feel honored and humbled to be a part of this incredible showing,” said Wishik, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from USM in 2014. “It has added a lot of heat to a fire of inspiration already burning [in me] to keep creating, learning, and mastering my craft and skills, and reminds me that we are all ambassadors of culture, in a way.”

wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor
wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

The exhibition provides Wishik the opportunity to show several of her pieces, alongside a published statement of her work. She will attend the opening reception to connect with other contributors and facilitators, and speak to an international forum the next day about her work and artistic vision. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to share not only my academic studies and technical skills, but my insights, inspirations, passions, and hopes for future projects and potential collaborations,” Wishik said. 

Reflecting on her still young career as an artist, Wishik looks back at her childhood doodling and the stories and songs she wrote that for her gave life a narrative quality, as the genesis for her success.

“Even as a kid, just walking around, I saw so many things speaking through life, through other people, and through nature,” Wishik said. “Some of these fascinations became content for early work, but it was when I discovered abstract art and surrealism around the age of 13 that I became deeply enamored with creating art, and experimenting with what I was capable of through poetry, art, and music.

“Creating art is how I process and revere my experience. Sometimes I apply it for the sake of sheer curiosity, because studying something brings you closer to understanding it. Other times, creation comes with the sense of purging, that I am letting something go, or even inviting something in.”

Wishik loves all the materials she works with in her art for different reasons, but is most enamored with the steel medium. “Something that seems so rigid, hard, and cold can actually yield to being shaped, changed, and warmed quite easily,” she said. “Working with steel is my humble study of this concept on a small scale. I enjoy being able to apply considerable force to something, and shape it with my intention as well. I get that out of the steel fabrication process.”

wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor


Wishik points to American sculptor and printmaker Lee Bontecou as a role model. “Her work is fantastic and otherworldly,” she said. “It shows great contemplative power and evidence of many years of immersion into her fascinations and self-education of those forms.”

After attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Wishik transferred to Southern Miss, where she received several scholarships that included the Fred A. Waits Scholarship; the Trustmark Bank Arts Scholarship; the Thelma Johnson Arts Scholarship; and the William Clark Art Scholarship.

Wishik said USM’s “incredible facilities, which offer a breadth of possibilities in many mediums” and proximity to home influenced her decision to choose the university.

“I’m proud of the work I did at USM in steel, because I really took the opportunity to immerse in the studio environment, and take advantage of the resources of both studio and creative community,” she said. “I was able to explore creative work processes in clay, metals, wood, fabric, foam, plaster, and many other materials. It helped me grow my skills quite quickly.”

Jennifer Torres, professor of art at USM and a mentor for Wilshik, said her former student is “exemplary, full of talent and intelligence.”

“What makes her exceptional is the way she attacks life as a whole, and explores the world without regard for boundaries or limitations that others might impose,” Torres said. “She is such a shining light and great example of what we wish for all our students to be, as well as a great ambassador for our program and the University as a whole.”

For Wishik, art isn’t contained on a canvas or in a studio – it’s everywhere. “The world is art. The world is in constant flux — a constant act of transformation and reflection of forces at work,” she said. “The word ‘art’ aside, we are creating at every moment. We can’t help it. We interact with our environment and impress upon it through our thoughts, actions, and speech.

“I think when the art process becomes true magic is when we invite it in intentionally. The process of creating can cultivate concentration, develop our emotions and empathy, and encourage abstract thought.”

Wishik’s advice to current and aspiring artists is to avoid artificial restrictions that suffocate creativity. “Focus your mind and intention where there is vastness, space to roam and imagine – do not waste your mind’s capacity on that which is decided for you without exploration or work, including unexplored limitations, doubts, or self-defeating mindsets,” she said. “These are some key truths I’ve found, and applicable in any setting.”

Learn more about and view Wishik’s work at  www.worksbywish.com. For more information about the National Museum of Women in the Arts, visit https://nmwa.org.
For information about the USM Department of Art and Design, visit https://www.usm.edu/visual-arts. 

Learn more »
Comments Off on Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor