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The Brainstorm

Junior, Lori Feng, Heads to Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition
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By Mariat Thankachan

After earning a hard-earned victory in the school Poetry Out Loud competition, junior Lori Feng traveled to the regional round on February 5 in Oxford. Feng placed fourth at the competition, choosing “Ways of Talking” by Ha Jin and “Sheltered Garden” by Hilda Doolittle as her two poems to recite. 

Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide poetry recitation contest that encourages students to learn and understand great poetry through memorization and performance. The goal of the competition is to help young individuals master the art of public speaking and enhance their self confidence while providing motivation to gain interest in interpreting literary works. 

MSMS English professor Dr. Scott Curtis has sponsored the contest for three years, recognizing the opportunity Poetry Out Loud provides for students to discover their passion for poetic pieces. Curtis served as an adviser to Feng during preparations for her performance. 

“Lori practiced reciting those poems to me and Amber Jackson, who also helped out. We also had a theater professor from MUW who helped prepare. She was very good reciting her two poems. There were eight contestants, and Lori finished fourth. She had a good contest. We had a good school contest and good experience at Oxford,” Curtis explained. 

Since Poetry Out Loud celebrates the ability to make poems come alive when read aloud, contestants are evaluated on accuracy and portrayal of heartfelt emotions. Feng received guidance and advice on these elements from theater professors and senior Amber Jackson. Jackson gained success at the regional competition last year and was ranked third at the state level. 

“It was different being the mentor this time, but it was a very humbling and eye-opening experience to see Lori grow and her performance blossom. Poetry Out Loud is about portraying stories, you get an in-depth analysis of what you are reading or what the author wanted to portray to the world. You get to be creative with it, and hearing different interpretations of other people’s pieces is really fun,” Jackson expressed. 

Feng is eager to compile the pointers and skills she has collected from her experiences at the competition and incorporate them in contest next year. 

“The competition wasn’t like a cut-throat competition atmosphere, it was more of everyone supporting each other. It was an eye-opening experience as to how to improve upon your recitation skills because no matter how well you did, the judges as well as the overall Poetry Out Loud State Coordinator would help you and give you advice, which was very insightful. One major piece of advice I got was, when interpreting a poem, tell it more like a story and take away some of the physicality from it. Personally, I talk a lot with my hands and that’s not something they like. I met other cool individuals, and I would do it again next year,” Feng revealed.

“Make sure you have your poems completely memorized because you can’t really interpret the poem if you don’t have it completely memorized,” Feng advised to those interested in participating in poetry recitation next year.


Janie ShieldsComment
Annual Senior Tribute Honors Class of 2017 Graduates
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By Mariat Thankachan

History lined the walls of MSMS on January 6 as the graduated Class of 2017 flocked into Nissan Auditorium for this year’s Senior Tribute. A tradition of countless years, Senior Tribute features performances from current students that honor the achievements and inside jokes of last year’s seniors. 

Serving as a reunion for those who found a family at MSMS but attend college all over the country, the event allowed recent graduates to reminisce on memories made together and take advantage of the opportunity to mingle with the current generation of juniors. 

Alumni Affairs Secretaries, seniors Sydney Matrisciano and Alana Andrus, were both given the task of directing this year’s tribute. The team began matching the faces and personalities of current juniors to portray the roles of recent graduates as soon as the school year began. Then, scripts for plays were composed to accurately reflect on the momentous events and humorous traditions of the Class of 2017. These plays were performed on-stage by the 118 juniors and few current seniors that were assigned to impersonate a specific Grandsenior.    

“Senior Tribute... where do I begin? I think of Senior Tribute as a way to form a bond between separated classes. In a normal high school, we'd have that bond and extended community. There's nothing wrong with MSMS being special, but I see Senior Tribute as a way to forge connections while honoring the legacy of the Grand seniors. During the first semester, seniors are the juniors' whole world. We're the pros, we know the ins and outs of MSMS life. But at Senior Tribute, we ignore them. They realize they're really part of a much, much larger family when they meet the other class. And that's a cool realization to watch,” expressed Matrisciano. 

Andrus believes that Senior Tribute provides a way to show appreciation for her seniors and the care they had generously presented. 

“I believe Senior Tribute is important because it gives us a chance to come to a close with our seniors. It also allows us to introduce our juniors to the people who really changed our lives during one of the most formative years of our lives, junior year. I saw a lot of great people smile as they saw how the junior class came together and did this for not only our seniors, but for us because they knew how much we valued our seniors,” observed Andrus. 

The scripts included plays that depict memorable incidents and stories that are known about the recent graduates: sarcastic cafeteria conversations, stolen cakes, relationship drama, quirky fashion, brotherhood of a group chat, dorm lifestyle, etc. 

Grandsenior Mayukh Datta was able to attend the tribute. He received the chance to meet his Grandjuniors and interact with the junior portraying him. 

“Senior Tribute is supposed to be a time for us seniors to go down memory lane, and the people in-charge of the event outdid themselves. I enjoyed it a lot, and I am, especially, glad that there was a Bro Chat scene,” stated Datta. 

The tribute also featured a couple’s walk to remind the crowd of last year’s loves. The performances concluded with a skit showcasing The Vision, in which last year’s newspaper staff reviewed past articles of the classes’ accomplishments. 

Despite the goodbyes made later that night, a school dance in Shackleford Auditorium ended Senior Tribute with memories of the many past dances; the Grandseniors were given the chance to show-off their experienced dance routines to current seniors and juniors, just like good old times. Although each graduate of MSMS walks down separate paths after leaving, the bond connecting the generations of MSMS students is that of a family that cannot be bent or broken. 


Janie ShieldsComment
2018 Tales from the Crypt Cast Announced

This past week the MSMS campus was full of excitement as Mr. Chuck Yarborough held auditions for the 2018 Tales from the Crypt performance. Every year students compete to participate in this incredible program. This year, fifty-five students from across three sections of US History wrote original performance scripts based upon a semester of primary and secondary document research and then performed those original works as part of the formal audition process.  The auditions were scored by a "celebrity" panel of judges consisting of 14 MSMS seniors who participated in Tales last year, 1 Tales alum, Mr. Yarborough, as well the U.S. History classmates.   

For those new to MSMS or unfamiliar with the project, Tales from the Crypt is a theatrical performance whereby students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science honor those buried in Columbus’ historic Friendship Cemetery. Following a brief overview of Columbus history, US History students select a name of a person buried in Friendship Cemetery who died in the nineteenth or early twentieth century. Students then visit the gravesite of their research subject and conduct significant research to learn about their selected person and his or her life. Students then write a research paper detailing what they learned and connecting that to the larger historical context of that day in time. From there, students write an original monologue script based on their research subject. These monologues become the basis for the Tales from the Crypt candlelight performance in Friendship Cemetery. Performers will tell their stories on the gravesite of their research subject and provide an overview of Columbus and Mississippi history to those in attendance. 

Congratulations are in order for the following students selected as dramatic performers for the 28th annual Tales from the Crypt - April 6, 9, 11, & 13 this year.

The Tales from the Crypt performers for 2018 are:

Individual Performances:

Ethan Trapolino

Millie Perdue

Kaelon McNeece

Theresa Ho

Dev Jaiswal

Erin Williams

Darian Bowles

Austin Cosby

Hunter Ladner

Decoration Day Ladies:

Victoria Waller

Amber Means

Sara Scott

Kiera Monroe

Taniya Bland

MacKenzie Umanzor

Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Art Students Win Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is pleased to announce that five students received recognition and awards in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Contest. This state-wide contest was open to students grades 7-12 across a variety of art and writing disciplines. This year, there were almost 2,000 unique entries. Scholastic recognizes three levels, gold key, silver key, and honorable mention works of art. Gold Key award winners represent the very best works submitted and are automatically considered for national-level recognition. Silver Key winners are those works that demonstrate exceptional craft and ability. Honorable Mention winners are those with great skill and talent. MSMS would like to congratulate the following students for their incredible achievements in the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest:

Gold Key -                              Maggie Ellis - "Gandolf" and "Victor the Octopus"

                                                Mary Owings - "Al Poochino" and "Suppertime"

                                                Helen Peng - "Hear Me?"

Silver Key -                              Mary Owings - "Playful"

                                                 Helen Peng - "Rooster"

Honorable Mention -                Helen Peng - "That Body" and "Blue"

                                                  Lilian Le -  "Spring Wishes"

Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Hosts Chess Tournament
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On Saturday, January 20th, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, in conjunction with the Mississippi Scholastic Chess Association, hosted 45 students from schools across the state for a Regional Scholastic Chess Tournament. Students ranging in grade from kindergarten to seniors in high school competed in an individual tournament setting. Trophies were given to the top three players in each category. 

This year's winners were:

Avery Brewer (Section K-12)

Johnny Han (Section K-9)

Landon Tu (Section K-7)

James Parmley (Section K-5)

Both Johnny Han and Landon Tu, winners of the K-9 and K-7 sections, were awarded full tuition scholarships to attend one of the MSMS Summer Enrichment Camps in June. 

Campers will spend a week living on the MSMS campus digging deeply into fun and hands-on STEM-related courses. The priority deadline for camp applications is March 31, 2018. You can learn more about MSMS summer camps by visiting or emailing

To learn more about the Mississippi Scholastic Chess Association, email Jeff Bolhuis at or call 901.651.8799.

Janie ShieldsComment