MSA officials pleased with applications

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 17, 2003

A “steady stream” of applications flowed into Lampton AuditoriumFriday, the last day for students to submit necessary documents andartwork in hopes of being admitted to the Mississippi School of theArts.

MSA officials said receiving the applications and seeing thestudents’ accompanying artwork was exciting but also sad.

“The sad part is not everybody will get in,” said MSA ExecutiveDirector Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer. “Not everybody is qualified andthere’s not enough room.”

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The Student Life Center, under construction on the Whitworthcampus, will be able to house 60 students. Some additional studentswill be allowed to commute to the school, which is scheduled toopen in August.

Arts school officials did not have an estimate on the number ofapplications received. They said applications had been coming insince November, but Friday was the busiest day.

“We’ve had a lot more hand-delivered from long distances than Iexpected,” said Jennifer Jackson, the school’s director ofmarketing.

Jackson mentioned hand-delivered applications from northMississippi and several places on the coast. She also said therehad been numerous follow-up calls from parents and students who hadsent applications by the postal service, Federal Express orUPS.

MSA officials also did not have a regional breakdown regardingwhere most of the applications came from or the most populardiscipline that students want to pursue. The three disciplines thatwill be taught the first year are music, theater and visualarts.

“We won’t have that until we analyze the applications,”Bodenhamer said.

Bodenhamer did say there were far more applications fromstudents wanting to live on campus rather than commute. However,she also said there were several applications from students insurrounding counties who wanted to live in the dorms.

With the application deadline passed, a panel of arts educatorswill begin reviewing and screening applications. Phase 1 of thereview process is scheduled to begin later this month.

Students who pass the first phase will be invited to the schoolfor an on-site visit and evaluation. That phase will consist of astudent interview, written assessment and performance or drawingand will be done in April.

Bodenhamer indicated the review panel could have some difficultdecisions to make.

“The quality of work we’ve seen so far is excellent,” Bodenhamersaid. “It’s exciting to see the work that has come through thedoor.”

Meanwhile, school officials and supporters continue to look tothe legislature for operational funding for the school’s firstyear. School officials are asking for $3.1 million.

“We’re still getting positive feedback from legislators aboutthe possibilities for funding,” Bodenhamer said.

An education funding bill approved earlier in the sessiondirected the Mississippi Department of Education to fund the artsschool. However, the line item in the bill did not state a specificfunding level.

Citing conversations with legislative leadership, Lincoln Countylawmakers last week offered assurances that funding would beavailable. Amid concerns about budget cut possibilities, though,they were meeting with legislature leaders last week to addressfunding plans for the school.

Construction activity in preparation for the arts school is alsocontinuing on the Whitworth campus.

Bodenhamer said the Student Life Center is scheduled to becompleted Aug. 15 and renovations to Johnson Institute and theY-Hut are scheduled to be finished in May. The Johnson Institutewill serve as the main classroom building while the Y-Hut will bean interim administration building until Cooper Hall renovationsare done.

Work to put a new roof on Lampton Auditorium is expected to befinished about two weeks. When the school opens, Lampton will beused as a performance space, Bodenhamer said.