EXCELebration planned for Saturday on Town Green

Parents, children and community leaders will celebrate the city’s certification as an Excel by 5 community Saturday with a free Town Green event that will feature a storytime, games, spacewalks, music, and food.

The EXCELebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a recognition ceremony planned for 11 a.m.

The event is open to everyone, but particularly those with pre-schoolers, since the Excel by 5 program emphasizes the important roles parents and early childhood educators play in the lives of children during their most formative years — from birth to age 5.

Over the summer, Biloxi became the eighth certified Excel by 5 community in Mississippi and the first in Harrison County. The certification capped a two-year process where volunteers representing Biloxi Public Schools, the city, and child-development advocates met regularly to identify and gauge local resources available to help prepare pre-schoolers for their first classroom experience.

The group worked for months to create directories of daycares with trained staff, events such as health fairs for pre-schoolers, and opening a family resource center on the campus of Lopez school.

Mississippi’s Excel by 5 program, the first of its kind in the nation, traces its roots to a discussion about child development between kindergarten teacher Debby Renfroe and her husband, Steve, longtime public affairs manager at the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula.

More Excel by 5 online

— To learn more about the Excel by 5 movement in Biloxi and to see key board members,
click here.

— To see photographs from the “Ready Set Go Health Fair,” which the Biloxi Exel by 5 coalition sponsored in September 2010, click here.

— To see photographs from the opening of the Excel by 5 Family Resource Center at Lopez School in December 2010, click here.