Mr. Wade interviews MSMS senior Mayukh, Application Deadline Countdown

Today Mr. Wade sits down with MSMS Senior Class President Mayukh Datta. Mayukh is an MSMS senior who is heavily involved in several activities and organizations at the school. Today, he talks with Mr. Wade about securing one impressive graduation speaker, the myriad and varied associations to which he belongs, and some good advice for anyone thinking of applying to MSMS. For more information about MSMS, please visit

Mr. Wade Interviews MSMS senior Braeden Foldenauer, Application Deadline Countdown

Class of 2019, you've only got about ONE WEEK until those applications are due! Today, Mr. Wade talks with MSMS senior Braeden Foldenauer about his MSMS experience. Braeden, who is the student government vice president, tells Mr. Wade all about the MSMS Senate and how MSMS changed his opinion of Mississippi for the better. For more information about MSMS, please visit

Mr. Wade Interviews Dr. Odom, Application Deadline Countdown

Class of 2019, it's your time to shine! Today, MSMS Admissions Counselor Wade Leonard talks all things MSMS with legendary science faculty member (and parent of two MSMS graduates), Dr. Bill Odom. Dr. Odom talks about what sets science education apart at MSMS and his experience being the father of two MSMS students. For more information about MSMS, please visit

Tales Auditions Held, Performers Chosen

Story by Emily Shy

The 2017 Tales From The Crypt performers have been chosen. Tales from the Crypt is a United States History course with an emphasis on performance and research. During the fall semester, students research an assigned historical figure, while during the second semester they develop their performance skills in preparation for their production for the public in Friendship Cemetery in the spring. This week, senior veterans and junior hopefuls gathered in Shackleford Auditorium, the seniors to judge the performances and determine which of the performances would be represented in the actual production, and the juniors to present their pieces. Although every member of Tales is required to write a performance narrative about their historical figure, only a handful are selected to perform their narratives in the production; the rest of the class works behind the scenes to ensure everything goes smoothly, and as guides to give Tales’ visitors historical context for the production.  

Historically, what students choose to write their performance narratives about and how they choose to portray their characters varies greatly, and this year was no different. Nine juniors were selected to perform their narratives in the spring, and now the rest of the semester will be devoted to preparation for that day! 

Individual Performances:

  • Jessica Smith
  • Tija Johnson
  • Keegan Lindsey
  • Hayden Stokley
  • Harpreet Singh
  • Kamal Bhalla
  • Joseph Mimbs
  • Anna Grace Dulaney
  • Jackson Sparkman
  • Decoration Day Ladies:
  • Christina Comino
  • Regan Conner
  • Ta'Kiya Moore
  • Alana Andrus
  • Erin Owens
  • Kennadi Freema

Application Deadline Approaching

MSMS Admissions Counselor, Spike Harris, answers a new applicant's question.

MSMS Admissions Counselor, Spike Harris, answers a new applicant's question.

The deadline for application to the MSMS Class of 2019 is fast approaching. Current Mississippi sophomores have until Feb. 12 at midnight to complete their applications to MSMS.

“We do not foresee accepting any late applications,” said MSMS Admissions Counselor Spike Harris. “We strongly encourage any students who has the slightest interest in MSMS to finish his or her application by the Feb. 12 deadline.”

Beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 1 the MSMS admissions department will release a video interview with a current MSMS student or faculty member every day until the application deadline.

“We’ve put out this series each year for the past few years, and it seems to help students stay encouraged about their applications,” said Harris. “We certainly don’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity that is MSMS simply because they couldn’t get their application complete.”

Applications to MSMS may be submitted via the school’s website, via email, via fax, or via regular mail.

“We don’t care how we get it, as long as we get it all by the deadline.”

Students interested in applying to MSMS must be current high school sophomores. Full information about the MSMS application may be found by clicking here.

Messing Around In Logic and Game by Emily Shy


Logic and Game Theory is an elective math course that meets twice a week for an hour and a half at a time. The class is taught by Lauren Zarandona. The purpose of the course is to develop students’ understanding of logic fundamentals, and how to apply those skills to puzzles and games. More broadly, the course grants students a chance to develop basic critical thinking skills that will not only aid them in high level math courses but also in day to day life. For instance, right now students are learning how to construct structurally sound logical arguments, and how to identify and classify fallacies in argument. They look at statements made by politicians and evaluate both the structure and the validity of the premises and conclusions asserted by the politicians. A large portion of the class is also dedicated to problem solving and out of the box thinking through games and puzzles. Seniors Emily Oakes and Caroline Smith both love the class.  

 “Logic and game is actually a fun math class that I look forward to. It is very interactive critical thinking class with group based learning,” said Smith. Oakes adds that it is “A fun, stimulating class and Mrs. Z cracks me up.”  


Engaging With Ecology by Laurel Yarborough

Ecology of Environmental Problems is an elective Biology course taught by Dr. Bill Odom. This class observes and discusses the ecological interactions between organisms and their environments with an emphasis on environmental problems. In Thursday's Ecology Lab, students walked across campus to observe and identify the characteristics of trees. Students were given a scientific description of a specific tree, and were asked to identify which tree it was. Students were also asked to estimate the height of their tree. To do this, students had to find a conversion between their own steps and meters. Students then used the idea of similar triangles to estimate the height of trees. Along with estimating tree heights, they estimated distances and volumes. 

What's Happening With the Senior Class Officers?

MSMS Senior Class Officers Assemble.

MSMS Senior Class Officers Assemble.

2016 has been a rough year. And for the 2016-2017 senior class officers this school year has been especially busy. Starting the year off with multiple plans, the class officers - Griffin Emmerson (VP), Andy Zhao (Treasurer), Ariel Williams (Secretary), Maggie Ford (Historian), and Mayukh Datta (President) - have done their best in order to make this year a successful and enjoyable one for the seniors and juniors, equally.

            “The first priority this year,” said Datta, “was finding a graduation speaker, and from the beginning of the year, we drafted multiple letters in order to send to both celebrity and alumni speakers.”

Some of these targeted speakers included John Green and Sal Khan of Khan Academy. Either due to their high speaking fees or their busy schedules, the targeted speakers declined the offer. However, at last, with the help of Mr. Wade Leonard and Mr. Spike Harris, Datta was able to find a commencement speaker: Dr. Cary Gunn, a MSMS alumnus.

            In addition to finding a speaker, the officers have also worked hard on creating a class t-shirt.

“The class t-shirts were a great idea as the design was unique and because the shirts were profitable,” said Griffen Emmerson, who created the design for the shirts.

            Community Service has also been a goal for the officers this year, and they have worked hard on creating service opportunities by getting the students involved in places like Columbus Middle School and Loaves and Fishes.

            What are the Senior Class Officers’ future plans? The officers are working hard on finding a class motto, class song, and a class poem. Ariel Williams and Maggie Ford are planning a video that includes footage from all of the seniors, and the officers are also planning multiple fundraisers in order to raise money for the class. 

Celebrating Black History Month MSMS Style

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is gearing up for an entertainment extravaganza celebrating Black History Month.

Click the flyer above to download a copy of the flyer. Feel free to distribute!

Click the flyer above to download a copy of the flyer. Feel free to distribute!

The program, entitled, Celebrating A Night At The Apollo will take place in Rent Auditorium on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women on Thursday, February 9, 2017 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

"We are hosting this program to educate students and the surrounding community about black history and what it means today," said event organizer and MSMS Community Leader, Jessica Trigg.

The program is the result of the efforts of the MSMS Residential Life Staff, MSMS students, and MUW.

"This event has not been easy to organize, but it has been a rewarding experience because of the efforts of involved," said Trigg. "This would not be possible without the enormous support I have received from both the MSMS community and the MUW community."

The program will feature performances by the MSMS step teams the Blu Knights and the Blu Diamond; the MSMS orchestra, the Blue Notes; the MSMS gospel choir, Voices In Harmony; MUW's dance team, Audacity, the Coretta Social Club, and MUW's United Harmony Gospel Choir.

"We are hoping that all of Columbus can make it out to our event," said Trigg. "The program is free, is a wonderful result of the cooperation between MSMS and MUW, and most of all it is going to be a lot of fun."

This event is free and open to the public. 

Attention Schools, Join The Upcoming MSMS Math Competition

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science’s annual Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Tournament has been a state tradition for nearly 30 years.  Now, MSMS wants to expand the popular program to more schools, and we need your help to spread the word to schools that might be interested.

MSMS students do not compete in the tournament, rather the school’s students host and facilitate the event. The MSMS Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Tournament is just one of the many statewide outreach programs conducted by the school.

The tournament will take place on February 21, 2017 at the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus, Mississippi. Currently, 14 Mississippi high schools have signed up to take part in the event, but the tournament has room for more. MSMS is asking for help identifying schools who might wish to take part in the competition.

Details concerning the format of the tournament and schedule can be found below, however, the deadline for registering is Jan. 20, 2017. The registration fee is $14 per student. For more information, or to register please contact MSMS Executive Assistant Amber Lynn Moore at or by calling 1-800-400-4656.

Areas of the ciphering competition in the Mu Alpha Theta Math Tournament will consist of five levels:

  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II
  • Trig/Pre-Cal
  • Calculus

Written tests will also be given in these five areas.  Students may compete only in areas in which they are presently enrolled in classes, with two exceptions: 1) any post-Algebra II students may participate in the Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus, or Calculus competitions, 2) students on a 4 × 4 block schedule may take the test for the courses completed in the Fall semester. Calculators will NOT be allowed on any competition.

Written Test: The test will consist of multiple choice questions. The score will be the number of correctly answered questions. If necessary, time will be used to break ties.

Ciphering: Points will be awarded on the basis of 2 points for questions answered correctly within the first minute and 1 point for questions answered correctly within the second minute. Team scores will consist of the sum of the scores of the four highest cipherers.

Mini-Interschool Round: Each school will be allowed to enter one team, consisting of 1 to 10 students, where the team cannot have more than 5 students from the Calculus division. Each team will work as a group for the allotted time. Each team is allowed to bring THREE reference books with them to be used in the round. Students are not allowed to bring ANY electronic devices where they can send and receive information!

Potpourri: Each school may enter one four-person team. The team will work logical thinking, puzzle-type questions not particularly related to any one area of mathematics. Since the mini-interschool and potpourri competitions are held at the same time, different team members must be selected.

Awards and/or trophies will be presented in each of the areas of competition. In addition, trophies will be awarded to the schools with the highest combined total points for the day.

Participating Schools:

  1. Jackson Prep
  2. St. Andrews
  3. Grenada HS
  4. Pontotoc HS
  5. Lee Academy
  6. Northwest Rankin HS
  7. Heritage Academy
  8. Amory High School
  9. Rosa Scott HS
  10. Tupelo HS
  11. Neshoba Central HS
  12. Jackson Academy
  13. East Side High School
  14. Ridgeland High Schoo

Margarita Baquero Joins the MSMS Biology Faculty

In the late fall semester of 2016, Margarita Banquero became the newest member of the MSMS science faculty.

Baquero teaches AP Biology, Cell Biology, and Genetics.

“I’m enjoying [working here] a lot,” said Baquero. “It’s nice to know that the students are listening to what I am saying and they really, really care.”

Baquero is originally from Ecuador, and has taught and worked in South America, Europe, and the United States. 

“I worked for the Ecuadorian government as a biologist at the environmental ministry, and I remember when I was there I felt this feeling of boredom,” she said. “I don’t feel that at MSMS. The students here are constantly challenging me, which is nice.”

Baquero holds a BS in biology from Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecuador, a Masters in ecology from Universidad San Francisco (also in Ecuador), and a Masters in biology from Mississippi State University.

“She offers a new perspective and that is extremely refreshing,” said long-time MSMS biology instructor Dr. Bill Odom. “More than that, she has the most recent research experience of any of the science faculty, which means her head is still in that realm of doing real science.”

Baquero's Master’s thesis focused upon speciation, and she says she would love one day to teach a class at MSMS about the subject.

She came to MSMS after Christiana Wagner left the MSMS faculty in the fall of 2016. While anxious at first, she says the school’s students quickly put her mind at ease.

“I’ve been impressed at how respectful the students are to me,” said Baquero. “I came in the middle of the semester and was very nervous, but the students have been very supportive.”

Shirley Ellis, the Longest Serving Employee of MSMS, Retires

The longest continually serving employee of MSMS has retired.

On Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, Ms. Shirley Ellis, who has worked as the Executive Assistant for every MSMS Executive Director since the school’s founding finished up her last bit of work for the school she has called home for nearly 30 years.

“Being a part of the MSMS family since the school opened in 1988, Ms. Ellis has been a very important part of the success of MSMS, and we all owe her a great deal of gratitude.  Words cannot express how much she will be missed,” said MSMS Executive Director Dr. Germain McConnell in an email informing the school of Ellis’ impending retirement.

Ellis was the second person to be hired at the school after the original Executive Director, Dr. Johnny Franklin was tapped in 1988 by the Mississippi Department of Education to captain the school.

“She was the first person I hired,” said Franklin in a recent interview. “Everything was new, and I truly would have been lost without her.”

Ms. Shirley Ellis and Mrs. Emma Richardson.

Ms. Shirley Ellis and Mrs. Emma Richardson.

Beyond her duties as Executive Assistant, many may not realize that Ellis has had an important role in nearly every official function at MSMS. An accomplished pianist, Ellis has played piano during nearly all school graduations, convocations, and ceremonies of light. All students who have graduated from the school have walked to music played by Ellis.

On her last day, Ellis was surprised by a special ceremony during which Dr. McConnell presented her with a plaque honoring her time at MSMS and most of the faculty and staff of the school stopped by to wish her well.

“MSMS is my home,” said Ellis. “This has been an extremely hard decision for me to make…I will miss you all. But I’m not gone, I’m still in Columbus, and you will see me around.”

With the retirement of Ms. Ellis, Mrs. Emma Richardson is the last of the original faculty/staff members to still be at the school.

We will all miss you Ms. Shirley.

Help Us Select the MSMS Class of 2019

The time has come to select the next class to join the MSMS family, and we need your help.

Click here to sign up to serve on Application Review or Interview Day.

The school is looking for volunteers to help with Application Review and Interview Day – the two evaluation processes that determine whether a student will receive an invitation to attend MSMS. 

Quick Facts About Selection Committees

  • Click here to sign up for a committee!
  • Application Review is scheduled for Saturday, March 4, 2017.
  • Interview Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 25, 2017.
  • Both Application Review and Interview Day will be held on the MSMS campus.
  • Hotel accommodations are available for those who require them.
  • An individual may serve on either Application Review or Interview Day, but NOT both in the same year.
  • MSMS encouraged to volunteer for either review process, however, an alumnus must have graduated at least five years prior to the review date in order to serve.
  • You do not have to be affiliated with the school in any way in order to serve.

Application Review is the first round of the process. During Application Review, reviewers will evaluate student essays, resumes, work samples, and recommendations to determine whether they have what it takes to be successful at MSMS.

During the next stage, Interview Day, students who made it through Application Review will come to the MSMS campus to undergo a formal interview process.

Anyone interested in volunteering should click on this link or any of the others on this page.

USM President Visits MSMS

University of Southern Mississippi president Dr. Rodney Bennett meets with MSMS students during a recent tour of the school.

University of Southern Mississippi president Dr. Rodney Bennett meets with MSMS students during a recent tour of the school.

MSMS was recently honored to host a visit from the president of the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Rodney Bennett.

Bennett spent an afternoon touring the school and meeting with MSMS administrators, faculty, and students.

While he had visited MUW in the past, this was Bennett’s first time to tour Mississippi’s premiere STEM high school.

“This has been a real eye-opener,” he said.

Accompanying Bennett was USM Provost, Dr. Steven Moser.

(from left) MSMS Director for Advancement, Dr. Heather Hanna; Director for Academic Affairs, Kelly Brown; USM Provost, Dr. Steven Moser; MSMS student, Claudia Vial; USM President, Dr. Rodney Bennett; MSMS student, McKenzie Jones; and MSMS Executive Director, Dr. Germain McConnell.

(from left) MSMS Director for Advancement, Dr. Heather Hanna; Director for Academic Affairs, Kelly Brown; USM Provost, Dr. Steven Moser; MSMS student, Claudia Vial; USM President, Dr. Rodney Bennett; MSMS student, McKenzie Jones; and MSMS Executive Director, Dr. Germain McConnell.

“We were excited to have Dr. Bennett and Dr. Moser on campus because we want to strengthen our ties with USM and work toward offering research opportunities for our students through the university,” said MSMS Director of Advancement, Dr. Heather Hanna.

In the coming weeks, MSMS plans to host top administrators from other Mississippi universities. In late January, University of Mississippi Chancellor Dr. Jeffery Vitter is scheduled to visit.

Genalyte CEO Dr. Cary Gunn, Class of 2017 Graduation Speaker

MSMS is pleased to announce that 1991 MSMS alumnus and Genalyte founder and CEO Dr. Cary Gunn will serve as this year’s graduation speaker.

Gunn, who is originally from Eastabuchie, Mississippi, is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, where he earned a degree in applied physics. He also holds a Masters and a PhD in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. Gunn attended Petal High School before coming to MSMS.

Gunn founded his San Diego based company Genalyte in 2007. The company focuses on developing technology (the Maverick Detection System) that allows doctors to perform multiple diagnoses from a single drop of a patient’s blood. The system makes it possible for doctors to perform laboratory tests in their offices and receive results in less than 15 minutes. 

“Genalyte is transforming the doctor-patient relationship by providing rapid diagnostic testing right in the doctor’s office. Our technology delivers results to physicians in minutes from just a single drop of blood, yielding better outcomes for the patient, empowering doctors to be more effective, and creating a more efficient healthcare system,” said Gunn from the Genalyte website.

Since the company’s founding Genalyte has received several tens of millions in investment capital. In 2015 the company raised $44 million in funding. In 2016 the company raised an additional $36 million.

Gunn holds 81 patents in the United States. In 2003 the MIT Technology Review named him a Top Young Innovator. He was again recognized in 2008 when he was awarded the Berthold-Leibenger Foundation Innovation Prize and the Optical Society of America Adolph Lomb medal. Gunn is also co-founder of Luxtera where he served as CTO until 2007.

“MSMS has been our most transformative experience to date, and we believe that the insight that you will have to share with us inspire us succeed in college and to give back to MSMS and Mississippi in the future,” wrote senior class president Mayukh Datta in his letter inviting Gunn to speak.

Graduation will be held on the MSMS campus in Columbus, Mississippi on Saturday May 20, 2017.

Winter Concert 2016 by Mayukh Datta

Click here to watch the MSMS Winter Concert. Video courtesy Dr. Heath Stevens.

One Russian horse rider; some amazing red-nosed singers, a Saint Nicholas, and a special guest appearance by a Russian dancer. That was the atmosphere of the Foreign Language Christmas concert conducted by the students of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. For over five years, the foreign language classes offered in MSMS – Latin, German, French, Spanish, and Russian – have conducted the foreign language Christmas concert in order to celebrate the students’ curiosity and in order to showcase the diversity in MSMS. The show, which was held in Poindexter Hall, featured MSMS students singing Christmas songs in five different languages: French, Spanish, Russian, German, and Latin.  

MSMS foreign language teachers, Mrs. Lori Pierce (French, Latin, and German) and Mrs. Margaret Henry (Spanish and Russian) sponsored the event  

The show began with a four-verse rendition of the Christmas standard Silent Night, and each verse was sung in each of the five different languages taught at MSMS. Then each of the foreign language classes sung their own Christmas song, but despite being sung in a different language, the songs were familiar to the audience.  

In the end, however, the Christmas concert gave the students an opportunity to showcase what they learned in their foreign language classes. Gene Kloss said, “I didn’t know much about taking Latin before I came to MSMS, but coming here and participating in events such as this, definitely got me more excited about Latin.” Additionally, the show was a great enjoyment for the audience as well. Chris Slagell, who was part of the audience, said, “I really enjoyed the character each of the students put into their songs.”