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EAC students prepare for adventure

JULIA V. PENDLEY / Dustin Dunaway (left) and Noah McKone will be attending Mississippi School for Math and Science this fall.

JULIA V. PENDLEY / Dustin Dunaway (left) and Noah McKone will be attending Mississippi School for Math and Science this fall.

At the end of this school year, two Enterprise sophomores will say goodbye to their school home as they prepare to move to Columbus and attend the Mississippi School for Math and Science.

Dustin Dunaway and Noah McKone have successfully completed the seven-step application process and will relocate to the Mississippi University for Women campus this fall. And though the process was not easy, Dunaway and McKone were able to see it through.

“I just thought of all the opportunity that would help me later in life,” McKone said.

McKone said when he first received the acceptance letter, it didn’t make much of an impact.

“It wasn’t until later that night that it hit me,” he said.

Dunaway on the other hand was able to share the experience with his father. With his phone in one hand, Dunaway managed to open the envelope with his teeth. He then read the letter out loud.

“I was in shock,” he said.

Dunaway’s father told him how proud he was, but Dunaway said his father sounded a little sad at the thought of his son leaving home early.

That excitement and sadness has plagued both Dunaway and McKone.

“It’s just a variety of emotions,” McKone said.

While they are excited about the opportunity, they are less happy about leaving their friends and teachers at Enterprise.

“Enterprise is like our family, and we’ll be leaving that,” McKone said.

Dunaway said at Enterprise the teachers know you personally, and it will be strange to adjust from that. Yet they are sure MSMS will be welcoming.

“Everyone we’ve talked to is nice and thoughtful,” McKone said.

McKone said that he has always been interested in math and science.

“It’s just always sparked my interest,” he said. “I like to see what’s behind it.”

McKone may be thinking of his future, but Dunaway was influenced by his past. Two years ago, Dunaway attended a summer camp at MSMS. He was able to attend classes with the teachers and get a feel for the school.

“This is really what sparked my interest,” he said. “I guess I got obsessed.”

Dunaway began checking the website and talking to students. After the camp, Dunaway knew he would apply to the state school.

The two both have their favorite subjects (Dunaway’s is chemistry, and McKone’s is math), but they are hoping to keep their minds open. They know MSMS’s offerings could introduce them to a field they have never learned about.

While the two are hoping to have new experiences, they feel like they will go in with a solid background thanks to Enterprise’s teachers.

“We’ll almost have the upper hand,” Dunaway said.

Dunaway and McKone believe that attending MSMS will also give them another advantage when they go to college. McKone said he spoke to a professor who said there is a definite difference in MSMS graduates and other freshmen.

“They’ve already been to college for two years,” McKone said.

While MSMS does offer advanced classes, it also offers programs such as research opportunities at Mississippi State University, which is a highest-level Carnegie Research institution, and dual enrollment at MUW.

Shannon Eubanks, principal at Enterprise and a 1988 graduate of MSMS, said the most important aspect of MSMS is the opportunities students are afforded.

“We [Enterprise] have got to be all things for all people,” Eubanks said. “[MSMS] is very tailored to the goals of what those kids want to be.”

At MSMS, students no longer have to worry about the categories found at standard high schools. MSMS provides a student body that is similar in interests.

“You’re not having to worry about I’m not a jock, or I’m not a popular kid,” he said. “I’m just like everyone else.”

Eubanks added though that similar interests are about the only thing tying these students together.

“[MSMS] let me see a bigger world, which can be just as important as anything else,” he said.

The students come from all walks of life, encompassing all races, nationalities and income backgrounds.

Eubanks said in his own experience, graduating from MSMS gave him many opportunities, and though he is in the education field now rather than the science field, he said it was because of his own choices. Before attending MSMS, Eubanks went to school at Mt. Olive, which is about the size of Bogue Chitto Attendance Center.

Eubanks said Dunaway and McKone are the second and third students from Enterprise to attend MSMS.

“It demonstrates that at Enterprise we can prepare students to do anything,” he said.

Eubanks also said he shares a special connection with the two boys.

“We started together here at Enterprise,” he said.

Dunaway and McKone were both in kindergarten when Eubanks began as principal of Enterprise.

“Even though I’m sad to see them go, I’m excited for them,” he said. “I’m glad we were a kick start here at Enterprise.”