Volunteers, staff greet first class

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 4, 2003

Mississippi School of the Arts staff and community volunteersare extending a warm welcome to the school’s first class asstudents move into the Student Life Center Sunday.

Sixty-eight high school juniors comprise MSA’s first class. Ofthose, 63 are scheduled to live in the dorm and five willcommute.

“We’re excited for the students to get here and anxious to meettheir needs,” said Food Services Director Beverly Ferrell Friday asstaff members unpacked food and cleaned the cafeteria’s state ofthe art equipment.

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According to MSA geographic information, 10 students are fromJackson County. Seven are from Lincoln County and three are fromMarion County, with one or two students from several other countiesrepresented at the school.

Students will move into the dorm between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.Sunday. Ferrell said the cafeteria will prepare its first meal forstudents Sunday night.

“It’s going to be home-cooking away from home,” Ferrellsaid.

The Host Family Network of MSA’s Parent Community Council hasprepared goodie bags for students. The bags contain novelty itemsand coupons from various local businesses.

“They’re done and they’re ready to go,” said council memberPatti Perkins.

Perkins said 38 businesses contributed to goodie bags. She andfellow network member Billy Crozier said that was an “awesome”response and a win-win situation for students and thebusinesses.

“It’s a great way for the businesses to get their name andproduct before the students and parents,” Crozier said.

The council has also lined up local host families to helpfamiliarize MSA students with Brookhaven. Host families have beenencouraged to be present Sunday when students move in.

Richard Baker, Host Family Network chairman, said the programhad received a great response from both MSA students and Brookhavenfamilies willing to help.

“The large majority (of students), I’d say 75 percent, want tobe part of this program,” Baker said.

Baker said there were no problems finding host families for thestudents. In fact, some families had to be turned away.

“We told them they’d be first on the list next year,” Bakersaid.

Baker said host families are being given handbooks containinglistings of other host families, school guidelines, key schoolpersonnel, a school calender and other information.

“We don’t want host families doing anything contrary to what theschool wants done,” Baker said.

MSA students will receive their handbooks Sunday. MSA staffmembers assembled those Friday.

David Smith, MSA’s Director of Student Services, said the staffis on board and has prepared a safe and secure environment to helpstudents learn.

“A big part of that learning are things outside the classroom,”Smith said.

Smith mentioned various enrichment programs that have beenscheduled as part of the students’ day. He said the program willoffer guidance on topics such as character, integrity, etiquetteand financial management.

“There’ll be programs on a regular basis by the residential lifestaff,” Smith said.

Once students are settled into their dorms Sunday, they canprepare for orientation activities Monday and Tuesday. Classesstart Wednesday.

MSA Executive Director Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer said students willreceive MSA orientation Monday and then go to Brookhaven HighSchool on Tuesday.

“They’ll get their schedules and be reintroduced to BrookhavenHigh School,” Bodenhamer said.

Prospective MSA students toured the BHS campus during a visit inApril.

MSA students will take math, science and foreign languageclasses at BHS. Social studies, English and arts-related classeswill be taught on the MSA campus.

Among the fields of study, 33 students will concentrate onvisual arts, 20 in theater and 15 in vocal music, according to theschool’s enrollment statistics.

Bodenhamer said the school will have a flag-raising ceremonyMonday morning. Later that day will be a special candlelight dinnerand a ceremony reminiscent of when the Whitworth campus was acollege setting for residential female students.

“We’ll end the first school day with a ringing of the bell,”said Bodenhamer, referring to the bell that was restored and placedback in the center of the campus.

Bodenhamer said she is looking forward to students going outinto the community. As part of MSA attendance, they will berequired to do campus service hours and community servicehours.

“The community service will benefit the entire community,”Bodenhamer said.

Bodenhamer said there will be periodic trips to BrookwayBoulevard businesses for students to get items they may need. Atother times, students will be allowed to travel within a certainwalking distance from campus, she said.

“Any time they leave the campus, they’ll have to sign out sowe’ll know where they’ve gone,” Bodenhamer said.