Drama students return to offer tips on college

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2006

Several members of the first Mississippi School of the Artsgraduating class returned to campus Wednesday, but the dramastudents said they were not seeking any red carpet treatment orlooking to feel like celebrities.

“I think they feel like older brothers and sisters today,” saidMSA Drama Instructor Ken Bolinsky. “It feels good to see themhere.”

MSA graduates Timbre Brewer, now a freshman at the University ofSouthern Mississippi, and Reed Whitney, a freshman at New YorkUniversity, agreed. Brewer and Whitney helped arrange Wednesday’svisit, which included eight of the 10 members of MSA’s firstgraduating drama class from last year.

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“This is our family,” said Brewer, who has come back to the MSAcampus several times.

Whitney said it felt odd to be back on campus after only onesemester. However, he wanted to see the school again, see how ithad changed and visit with students.

“We wanted to get back because we missed everybody,” Whitneysaid.

During visits with MSA’s junior and senior classes Wednesdayafternoon, the graduates talked about their college experiences andhow MSA had prepared them to pursue theater at the universitylevel.

Kerri Key, a freshman at Ole Miss, recalled some experienceswhere her fellow college actors were not prepared for their roles.Citing her preparation at MSA, Key said it “raises the bar” as faras her expectations of others.

“When they don’t start measuring up, you push so much harder,”Key said.

Key and others said they had encountered various levels oftheatrical abilities of other students at the college level. Theysaid abilities depend on high school preparation, individualinterests and the particular class.

“You get a lot of preparation here because that’s what thisschool is about,” Langston Darby, who is also at USM, said aboutMSA.

Regarding lessons learned at MSA, Whitney said theself-discipline of living on campus helped him as did experiencingthe “teamwork” aspect of putting together a production. AmberRhodes, who is attending Millsaps, cited the “broad spectrum” ofstudy at MSA.

“What you learn here exposes you to all the things you need foryour craft to be what it needs to be,” Rhodes said.

Others mentioned the quality and quantity of academic work theyfaced at MSA in anticipation of college.

“In college, you’re ready for it,” said Bogue Chitto’s NickHart, a third MSA theater graduate at USM. “I felt a lot moreprepared for it.”

Hart mentioned a theater textbook he is using at USM is the sameone he used at MSA.

Graduates said other students’ reactions to their attending MSAhad been mixed.

“You’re a regular person and sometimes they will ask you foradvice,” Darby said

“We don’t get a lot of ‘Oh, you think you’re all that’ typestuff,” added Brewer.

Brewer said another reason for coming back to MSA was to offerjuniors and seniors some guidance on applying and preparing forcollege. Responding to several questions about planning forcollege, graduates advised students to have several options beforedeciding which school to attend, physically visit the collegesbeing considered and to make sure course credit can transfer toanother school if needed.

“Take everything into account, not just price,” Rhodes said.

Following the group discussion, Hart, Brewer and Darby performeda short play for MSA students. Current MSA students said theyenjoyed the brief performance and seeing their former classmatesagain.

“I miss them so much,” said Brandi Michael, a MSA senior fromGreenwood. “They taught me so much.”