Students, faculty bid MSA’s Lambert fond farewell

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 18, 2009

Not every school’s executive director becomes the epic hero of aplay written by the very best and brightest theater arts studentsin the state upon their retirement, but Mississippi School of theArts Executive Director Dr. Vicki Lambert did.

In the eyes of her students, Lambert was the one who stoodagainst the Legislative Wolf as he tried to blow down the schoolthat grew from a tiny bean she planted. Lambert was the one whotook the misfit children and gave them a place of their own wherethey could grow and flourish. And in real life, they knew Lambertwas the one who had helped them make their dreams a reality.

Students performed the play at a reception for Lambert on Fridayafternoon, which was nine years to the day after Lambert had movedto Brookhaven. The reception was given to honor her for her visionand her six years of serving the school she loved.

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“The pioneer in arts education that worked to make this school asuccess is handing over the reigns in order to follow otherdreams,” said MSA Principal Jana Perry, directing her comments toLambert with tears in her eyes. “This afternoon is only a smalltoken of everything you’ve ever done, and a reminder for you thatwe wish you well and we won’t ever forget you.”

And school officials also showed their undying support and honorof Lambert by naming a $1,000 scholarship to the visual artsstudent who graduates with the highest GPA after her.

“There are those who didn’t see the need for a school of thearts,” Perry said. “And without the courage and determination ofDr. Lambert, we might not have one… Through this she will live onin MSA history.”

To the students, Lambert was, in some ways, MSA. Student BodyPresident Hannah Miller said she was grateful for the opportunitiesLambert had provided her simply by working so hard to make theschool a reality.

“She has made my two years here more meaningful than they wouldhave been anywhere else,” Miller said. “And as I grow I knowthey’ll mean more and more to me, and that I’ll be grateful forthings I don’t even know exist right now.”

And as Lambert’s students were also able to share their talentsthrough dancing, singing, and some visual art that they made forher to take home, her teachers expressed their gratitude for hervision too.

“You challenged me in ways you don’t even realize,” said VocalDepartment Chair Patton Rice, to whom Lambert assigned the task ofwriting the music for the school’s alma mater.

Students spoke of experiences they’d had at MSA, such as dormpranks or strange artistic misfit snowmen on a snow day inDecember. Rice summed it up in a piece she wrote called, “MSAEquals…”

“MSA equals lying awake in my bed at 12 in the morning, notbeing able to sleep because someone is tap dancing above my head,”she said. “MSA equals sharing a hall with the visual arts students,and all their strange smells and noises… Every second on thiscampus has taught me more about how to live my life to itsfullest.”

And after the arts presentation, Lambert exchanged hugs andtears with both current students and alumni.

“I’m not really going anywhere,” she told one student. “I onlylive a minute and a half away from here.”