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MSA club makes community better

There are countless reasons to be impressed with the students at Mississippi School of the Arts. They are intelligent, hard-working, talented, creative — all the things parents want children to be.

They have to apply and audition to be accepted to the residential arts school. They focus on dance, literary arts, theatre, vocal music, visual arts and media arts while attending the school. Needless to say, they are driven. I knew all that before I visited campus this week. 

What I didn’t realize was just how selfless MSA students can be. As president of the local Rotary Club, I run into countless adults who are willing to serve, give back to the community and put others before themselves. But I don’t often run into students who are willing to do the same.

It’s not that those students aren’t out there, I just don’t cross paths with them very often.

Students at MSA made sure our paths crossed when the school’s Interact Club invited our Rotary Club to have lunch with them.

A group of students founded the Interact Club last fall with a desire to serve others. Interact Clubs are sort of like junior Rotary clubs for students.

They work on community service projects, and at MSA they get credit for those service hours. The MSA Interact Club hit the ground running last year with a project aimed at promoting literacy, one of Rotary’s many focuses.

The project started small, but with a clear purpose: Read a beloved children’s book to Mamie Martin students and then donate the book to the school library. MSA students read, interacted with students, asked questions and even had a crafts project to go along with the book.

That alone was impressive. But while they were at the school library, they realized Mamie Martin needed more books. So they launched a book drive.

Through donations of used books and funds from the Rotary Club, the Interact Club was able to provide hundreds of books to the library. The efforts of the MSA club will pay dividends for years to come.

I don’t think ever I’ve seen a group of high school students so eager to help others. That drive to serve is what struck me this week. When I was a high-schooler, serving others was not high on my priority list. Volunteering was not something I did much of — nor did any of my friends.

We went to school, went to our low-paying jobs, went to parties and went to bed. Sadly, there wasn’t much else.

MSA’s Interact Club has been an inspiration to our Rotary Club — it’s supposed to be the other way around.

I am grateful for their willingness to serve others and I hope you are, too. Brookhaven and Lincoln County are better because of MSA’s presence here. The Interact Club is more proof of that.

Contact publisher Luke Horton at luke.horton@dailyleader.com