Deadline Friday for arts school applications

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 12, 2003

An admissions panel and criteria are in place. Now all that isneeded are applications from students who want to be a part of thefirst Mississippi School of the Arts class when it opens inAugust.

Friday at 3 p.m. is the deadline for current-year sophomores tosubmit applications to attend the arts school in the fall asjuniors. MSA Executive Director Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer said it’s “tooearly to tell” how many applications the school can expect.

“We’ve been told 75 to 90 percent come in on the last day,”Bodenhamer said, citing conversations with officials whoparticipated in the openings of similar schools.

Bodenhamer said the school has received over 800 phone calls andother inquiries about the school since application brochuresstarting going out in November. She said that total does notinclude applications distributed during MSA officials’presentations at schools and other places around the state.

After applications are processed, a panel of adjudicators – madeup of high school, community college and university educators -will begin screening students’ application forms and a submittedportfolio. Portfolios will consist of a videotaped performance formusic and theater disciplines or three drawings for the visual artsdiscipline.

That process will begin in late February, Bodenhamer said.

“None of that is live. It’s either on videotape or photographs,”Bodenhamer said.

Phase 2 of the admissions process will consist of an on-sitevisit and evaluation. That phase will consist of a studentinterview, written assessment and performance or drawing and willbe done in April.

Teresa Aikens, MSA director of admissions and recruiting, saidthe student assessment criteria are specific to each artdiscipline. The process is designed to fairly evaluate students’artistic aptitude and achievement regardless of local opportunitiesin arts education.

“The kids are not judged against each other. They’re judgedagainst criteria for each discipline,” Bodenhamer said.

Adjudicators were trained in arts assessment this past weekend.The training was done by Bodenhamer and nationally-renowned artsassessment experts Dr. Barry Oreck, of New York, and Karen Price,with educational testing services at Princeton.

MSA officials offered rave reviews of the training program.

“It was one of the most invigorating professional developmentexperiences I’ve had with teachers,” Bodenhamer said. “And theirexperience was the same.”

Aikens, one of the trainees, said it was a wonderfulweekend.

“The educators who came were excited and motivated,” Aikenssaid. “The training was fabulous.”