Director: Area must prepare to meet needs of arts school

Published 5:00 am Friday, July 7, 2000

Brookhaven faces a number of questions as it prepares for theopening of the Mississippi School of the Arts, the school’sexecutive director told business and community officialsThursday.

“I cannot conceive yet totally the impact of this school,” saidDr. Vicki Bodenhamer during a chamber of commerce smallbusiness-seminars-retail meeting.

The school on the Whitworth College campus is scheduled to openin the fall of 2002 with 80 juniors and should be fully operationalin 2005 with 300 high school juniors and seniors.

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For the Brookhaven business community, Bodenhamer said theschool raises questions of readiness for students as far asclothing, parking, school supplies, food, banking, medical care,social services and others.

And for parents who will come to see their children perform,some of those questions are also raised, as are issues aboutsufficient lodging.

Bodenhamer also discussed the need for arts school students tofeel a “sense of community” when they come to Brookhaven.

“We’ll need someone to love these kids,” Bodenhamer said,mentioning the possibility of the need for host families.

Bodenhamer urged meeting guests to start preparations for theschool’s opening.

“Fall of 2002 will be here before we blink,” Bodenhamer said.”We have to start working today.”

Regarding on-campus work, Bodenhamer said she is meetingfrequently with architects and some facets of the school are stillin the planning stages. State Department of Archives and Historyofficials are also involved in the school development process.

“We will save every bit of historic architecture that can besaved,” Bodenhamer said.

Bodenhamer showed some conceptual drawings of the school,including a fenced campus and a student life center. The directorsaid pillars on the fence will represent each of the state’s 82counties.

Bids for the first part of the student life center’sconstruction should be sent out after the first of the year,Bodenhamer said. Initially, the facility will be able to house 120students, a library, a cafeteria and a commons area, the directorsaid.

The planned location of the student life center has been movedseveral times. Currently, it is to be located along the MonticelloStreet side of the campus, Bodenhamer said.

Regarding student housing, Bodenhamer said the Whitworth campuswill eventually have the tallest building in the city. Whenbuilding options are limited by width and length, the director saidthe other only option is up.

“We’re greatly challenged,” Bodenhamer said. “Part of thechallenge has been met in the design of an eight-story dorm.”

The dorm is expected to be near the center of the campus.

Bodenhamer said officials will try to save as many campus treesas possible, but a large oak tree on the east side is the mostdangerous and must come down. A report indicated 11 trees must beremoved.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, King’s Daughters Medical CenterChief Executive Office Phillip Grady spoke briefly about anupcoming hearing in Washington on Medicare reimbursement cutbacks.Grady is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a Senate subcommitteeon the issue.

“We’ve got the greatest medical community of any place I’ve everworked,” Grady said.

Grady said the American Hospital Association (AHA) had expectedabout a $100 billion cut, but actual cuts were more in the range of$300 billion. Grady said the cuts are impacting sub acute areasheavily and the AHA is seeking names on a petition encouragingCongress to restore some of the cuts.

“There’s a lot we’d like to be able to stop and get some sanityback into the system,” Grady said.