Mortuary Science class takes learning outside classroom

Pictured is Holmes Community College Mortuary Science instructor David Jones with his Merchandising and Management Class outside of Garner-Harper Funeral Home in Grenada. Pictured (left to right) are Greg Miller, Montonia Butler, Jennetta Owens, Kasheda Barnes, Jayden Grey, Leilana Ghimire, Greg Shaffer, Viki Avery, Matthew Strickland, David Jones, and Kathy and Wendell Stringer (the owners of Garner-Harper).

On Thursday, Oct. 11, the Holmes Community College Mortuary Science Department's Merchandising and Management Class was privileged to tour Batesville Casket Company's Panola Plant in Batesville, followed by Garner-Harper Funeral Home in Grenada. The students were accompanied by instructor David R. Jones.

The students learned that Batesville Casket Company, headquartered in Batesville, Indiana, is the largest manufacturer of caskets in America and that the company has two plants located in Mississippi. The Panola Plant in Batesville that Holmes visited manufacturers approximately 300 wood and wood product caskets each day. They also learned exactly how Batesville Casket Company is able to maintain the lowest level of casket inventory in the industry, yet achieve on-time delivery more than 99 percent of the time.  Rather than manufacturer 300 caskets exactly alike, the company uses a mixed-model pull production system. Using this production method, a funeral home orders a casket, the order is placed into the company's computer system, a message is then sent to the plant a particular type of casket needs to be made to replace one being sent to a funeral provider.

The mortuary science students were able to observe the manufacturing process as over 100 component parts came together on three separate assembly lines to produce the finished casket for shipment to a funeral provider. As student Leilana Ghimire said, "Mr. Jones, after seeing that, it starts to make sense, all of the component parts we talked about in class, I understand now. I am grateful to Batesville for allowing our students the opportunity for it to 'make sense.'"

After the educational visit to the casket manufacturing plant, the class traveled to Garner-Harper Funeral Home in Grenada for a tour.  The current owners of Garner-Harper Funeral Home, Wendell and Kathy Stringer, graciously welcomed the students. Garner-Harper Funeral Home is located in a home originally built around 1899-1901, and the funeral home is a longtime establishment in Grenada. It was first known as Garner and Sharp Furniture store which, in addition to selling furniture, sold caskets. The very first hearse owned by the establishment was horse-drawn until the purchase of their first ambulance (also used as a hearse) in 1919.  The antique home includes a basement and three floors of which only the first floor remains in use for the operation of the funeral establishment. Many changes have occurred at Garner-Harper since their beginnings, and the interior was recently revived to highlight the décor from the era of its establishment.

The tour of the facility, included a walk-through of the establishment, from the business office, visitation suites (previously referred to as a parlor), family room, chapel, arrangement office, merchandise selection room, and embalming preparation room.  In addition, the students were able to walk through the second and third floors of the building and appreciate the homebuilder's architecture and design.

At the conclusion of the tour, everyone assembled outside on the large front porch for more discussion of funeral service and of course, a group picture.

"We extend our gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Stringer for allowing us the opportunity for a glimpse into funeral service, past and present," Jones said.

Current mortuary science student Viki Avery arranged the funeral home tour and recent graduate Robert "Butch" Jones led the tour of the funeral home.  Both Avery and Jones are currently are employed at Garner-Harper.

The goal of the Holmes Mortuary Science program, housed on the Ridgeland Campus, is to provide training that prepares students for entry-level positions after graduation and licensure. The curriculum is designed to provide students the following: ethical and professional knowledge in funeral service education, exposure to career options available within the funeral service field, and experiences in the application of ethical and professional skills while emphasizing aspects of public health.

For more information, contact Holmes Mortuary Science Director Dr. Thomas Garrett at (601) 605-3327 or tgarrett@holmescc.edu.

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IN THIS PHOTO:

Pictured is Holmes Community College Mortuary Science instructor David Jones with his Merchandising and Management Class outside of Garner-Harper Funeral Home in Grenada. Pictured (left to right) are Greg Miller, Montonia Butler, Jennetta Owens, Kasheda Barnes, Jayden Grey, Leilana Ghimire, Greg Shaffer, Viki Avery, Matthew Strickland, David Jones, and Kathy and Wendell Stringer (the owners of Garner-Harper).

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