First MSA graduating class can’t also be the last

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

There will be many a teary eye next weekend as parents watchtheir children participate in graduation ceremonies.

In communities across the state, families will gather tocelebrate a major milestone in their child’s life. Likewise here inBrookhaven, but Saturday afternoon one ceremony will be extraspecial. Families of 38 very talented students will gather toparticipate in the first graduation ceremonies of the MississippiSchool of the Arts.

To look at the list of this class’s membership is exciting. Theycome from every corner of Mississippi and all parts in between. Tolook at the accomplishments of so many of these kids while theyhave attended MSA is also exciting. Some have received nationalrecognition in their chosen fields of music, theater and art.Almost all are graduating with honors. All but one is going on tocollege, and that one has set his sights on a theatrical career inNew York. Everyone else is going to a mix of in-state andout-of-state universities and colleges.

Next year, MSA will have graduates in prominent schools reachingfrom New Orleans and Savannah, Ga., to Chicago and New York. Forseveral others, their arts backgrounds are taking them toengineering school and accounting school. Two are planning tobecome teachers. For all 38, each is reaching just a little bithigher and just a little bit further.

For these students, the state of Mississippi took a tremendousgamble. Their graduation is the result of an investment in thefuture of Mississippi and the desire by legislators four years agoto offer more to this state’s best and brightest.

From what I can see of the students graduating Saturdayafternoon, legislators made a good investment – one that is justbeginning to show a return on taxpayer money.

Unfortunately, it has become a controversial investment and onethat a small group of lawmakers feels could be better spentelsewhere.

It is ironic that as these young men and women make historySaturday afternoon, history is being made in Jackson, too, aslegislators struggle in a special session to craft the state’sbudget.

These 38 MSA students are beginning an exciting journey;hopefully legislators and our governor will allow others to followthem in the years to come.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to @dailyleader.com.