Arts school getting ready for new year

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 27, 2009

Mississippi School of the Arts officials said the school iscranked up and ready for the new school year, with registrationbehind them and student schedules in place.

School starts next Monday for MSA students, but later in theweek for other city schools, MSA Interim Director Dr. CarolAlderman said. While final numbers are not official as yet, shesaid seniors will move into the dorms on Saturday and the juniorson Sunday, and they will be ready for classes and orientationMonday.

“We’ll have orientation in the morning and classes in theafternoon,” she said. “They’ll have their arts classes until theBrookhaven schools start up.”

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Alderman said she had a chance to meet some of the incomingstudents during last week’s registration, and she and other schoolofficials worked on the student schedules over the weekend.

“I did get to meet a lot of the new students, and notsurprisingly they’re really gifted kids … they’re amazing,” shesaid. “And we had so much fun this weekend, going through ourcourse selections and trying to have as few conflicts in coursechoices as possible.”

Alderman said not only by meeting the students but by looking attheir course selections, she can see the talent and potential ofthe classes of 2010 and 2011.

“Some of the things they request together, you wonder how theycan be so gifted in their field of choice and still be able to doso many other things too,” she said.

Meanwhile, the host family program is still recruiting, saidPatti Perkins, who helps head up efforts to bring in a few goodfamilies to provide the students with homes away from home.

“Of course we need more people, we always need more people, lotsof people,” Perkins said. “Enrollment is up, so we’d love to havemore volunteers.”

Host families are able to decide just how much hands-oninvolvement they want to have with their students, as some studentswant to be able to pick up the phone only when they need somethingand some are looking for a closer relationship, Perkins said.

“This is strictly a program of the heart and however muchcommitment they want to make, it’s wide open,” she said. “Somepeople and some students only want a contact number, they don’twant to have to see a host family on a weekly basis. Others wantmore of a family involvement.”

And host families can serve all sorts of purposes, sheadded.

“They enjoy being taken to church, eating a home-cooked meal,and it’s really nice if a local family can attend the child’sprograms or recitals,” Perkins said. “The MSA student reallyappreciates having a familiar face in the audience.”

MSA understands the commitment and care it takes to become ahost family, Perkins said, and are particularly grateful for thevolunteers they’ve had since the school opened.

“We really appreciate our host parents, they’re the key to allthis,” she said. “It’s through their kindness and generouscommitment of time that this program succeeds. All our host parentshave been so sweet to our kids and we’ve seen the students reallyrespond.”

Anyone interested in the host family program is encouraged tocall MSA at 601-823-1300.