Dream coming true before community’s eyes

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 23, 2000

It was with a great deal of pride that area leaders celebratedthe generosity of a former Brookhavenite Saturday morning when theformal pledge of $500,000 was made towards the construction of theMississippi School of the Arts.

It was with a great deal of pride that area leaders celebratedthe generosity of a former Brookhavenite Saturday morning when theformal pledge of $500,000 was made towards the construction of theMississippi School of the Arts.

Brookhaven High School graduate Dickie Scruggs made the generousdonation to the school in an effort to help kick off thefund-raising drive to help fund the school.

Scruggs, now a Pasgagoula resident who has made his name ahousehold word for his success in the tobacco and asbestoslitigation, came back to Brookhaven this weekend to enjoy thehomecoming festivities at BHS and thank a community where he spenthis childhood years.

When the idea for the Mississippi School of the Arts was firstconceived three short years ago and pushed through the legislature,there was a promise to the lawmakers that a portion of the fundingof the school would come from the private sector via donations suchas that by Dickie Scruggs.

Across Mississippi, communities have marveled at the idea behindthe school. Educators have praised the efforts of state lawmakerswhile supporters of the arts have applauded the vision ofBrookhaven.

With the state facing budgeted revenue shortfalls for 2001, thepurse strings have tightened a bit for the school as concerns thatstate funding for the campus may force a delay in the plannedopening of the Fall of 2002.

Privately, Lt. Governor Amy Tuck, House Speaker Tim Ford andGovernor Ronnie Musgrove have pledged their full support for thefunding of the school, as have many other key legislators.

Saturday morning, we put our best foot forward. Those effortscame from volunteers not only from Brookhaven, but McComb, Wessonand the surrounding area. Volunteers pitched in to do whatever wasneeded to make the event a success. It was a not only a communityeffort but a southwest Mississippi effort. An effort that shows theimportance of this project for not only the area but the state.

It is hard to believe that just a few years ago, the walls ofLampton Auditorium were supported with wooden poles to keep themfrom collapsing. It was the late Monelle and Andrew Smith who gavethe seed money to save Lampton. Now we have construction workersbusy renovating the rest of the campus and soon foundation workwill begin on the first of two eight-story dormitory buildingswhich will house the 300 boarding students attending theschool.

Who would have believed we would ever get this far.

It took a vision and a stubborn refusal to give up to get thisfar. We have a ways to go but thanks to the generosity of peoplelike Monelle Smith and Dickie Scruggs, one day in the near futurethe Whitworth campus will again be the host of talented youngsterspursing their goals and dreams.

Dreams do come true — we are seeing one happening before oureyes.