April 25 - May 1, 2012
Licensed by the Mississippi Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration, License No. C-624
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April 25 - May 1, 2012 vol . 1 0 no. 33
contents VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
COURTESY JORDAN HUNTER
6 ‘Revolving Door’ A complaint about special education is at the root of JPS’ looming accreditation hearing. COURTESY MADCAP PUPPETS
Cover photograph by Virginia Schreiber
What happens when you combine Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Madcap Puppets? Come hear and see! COURTESY JANIS IAN
jordan hunter Hunter, a Jackson native, plays the trumpet in the Lanier band and is a member of the tennis team. He said he hopes to continue those extracurricular activities at Morehouse, where he wants to major in business and marketing. He will try out for a talent grant with the Morehouse band in the fall. After college, Hunter hopes to get a job in the marketing division of a major company to prepare him for his ultimate goal of starting his own business, although he doesn’t know yet what he wants that business to be. With just a few weeks left in his high school career, Hunter says his favorite memories from Lanier are performances in parades and the annual Battle of the Bands with the school band, and running for school government. He was also the second runnerup for Mr. Lanier and participated in the Black History Month program the school did in February, which featured skits and dance routines. “It was a lot of fun working with the people trying to get the stuff together and put on a performance for our parents,” Hunter says. Hunter lives with his mother, Marie Stuckey, and his two younger sisters, ages 10 and 13. He tried to teach his sisters his love of the trumpet, but they quickly gave up. “They’re bigger on singing and dancing,” Hunter says. “We all have some music in our family.” —Jacob Fuller
30 Still Strong Grammy winner Janis Ian, writer of “At 17” in the 1970s, is coming to serenade Jackson for the first time.
40 Pho Sure From Vietnam to your table, pho, a traditional noodle dish, is sure to surprise and please your palate.
Nathan Hunter III always wanted his son to be a Morehouse man. This fall, he will see that dream come true when his oldest child, Jordan Hunter, attends the nation’s only all-male historically black college. A senior at Lanier High School and a member of the National Honor Society, Hunter received an academic scholarship to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta next year. There, he will walk the same halls that helped educate great African Americans like Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor. Chloe Garth-Elkins, an English teacher at Lanier and the 2011 JPS Teacher of the Year, also helped point Hunter toward Morehouse. She attended Spelman College, a women’s college that is part of the Atlanta University Center along with Morehouse. “She always had a lot of great things to tell me about her experiences at Spelman and meeting a Morehouse man,” Hunter says. “Being around other, I guess, intellectual African American people (can) influence you in a positive way.” He says Garth-Elikins told him he would graduate with some of the smartest people he’s ever met—maybe the next movie stars or Fortune 500 CEOs—and study with professors who are renowned authors and publishers.
4 ..............Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 ............................ Talk 11 .................. Business 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................. Kamikaze 13 ................. Opinion 14 ............ Cover Story 26 .............. Diversions 28 .................... 8 Days 29 ........................ Film 30 ...................... Music 33 ............. JFP Events 36 ..................... Sports 38 ................ Astrology 39 ........... Life & Style 40 ....................... Food 45 .............. Body/Soul 46 ... Girl About Town
Kristin Brenemen Art Director Kristin Brenemen is an otaku with a penchant for dystopianism. Her Victini and Rarity costumes for the summer con season are coming along nicely. She designed the cover and many pages in this issue.
Sadaaf Mamoon Former JFP editorial intern Sadaaf Mamoon is a senior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She loves film scores, Greek mythology and naming inanimate objects. Her spirit animal is a Pink Fairy Armadillo. She wrote an Amazing Teen profile.
Jessica Simien Jessica Simien is originally from Jackson and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. She loves writing and is the owner of J. Simien PR (jsimienpr.com). She wrote Amazing Teen profiles.
R.L. Nave Reporter R.L. Nave grew up in St. Louis, graduated from Mizzou (the University of Missouri), and lived a bunch of other places before coming to Jackson. Contact him at 601-362-6121 ext. 12. He wrote Talks.
Lynette Hanson In 2006 Lynette Hanson followed her two sons to Portland, Ore., where she enjoys mass transit, the Portland Trail Blazers, taking photos, blogging and doing her part to Keep Portland Weird. She wrote Amazing Teen profiles.
Valerie Wells Valerie Wells is assistant editor of BOOM Jackson. She’s interested in covering the media in Mississippi and figuring out who controls the news. Email ideas to Valerie@jacksonfreepress. com. She wrote an Amazing Teen profile and an arts feature.
Anita Modak-Truran Anita Modak-Truran is a southern convert, having moved here from Chicago more than a decade ago with her husband and son. She loves the culture, cuisine and arts in these parts. She wrote the film feature.
April 25 - May 1, 2012
Advertising Director Kimberly Griffin is a Jackson native who likes yoga, supporting locally owned businesses and traveling. In her spare time, she plots how she can become Michelle Obama’s water holder.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Young, Impressive, Ours “For these are all our children, we will all profit by or pay for what they become.” — James Baldwin
hen freelance writer Greg Pigott turned in his write-up of Mark Scott of Callaway High School for this “Amazing Teens” issue, he wrote: “I wish I had more words to use—this kid was really amazing!” This is only the second year we’ve done the “Amazing Teens” round-up, but it’s already become one of my favorite special issues of the year. There is nothing like calling attention to the positives in the Jackson area, even as we do what we can to reveal and help repair the city’s problems. And if there is anything that is too often overlooked here in Jackson and around the country, it’s just how many amazing young people there are in our communities, and who are getting even more impressive as the socialjustice ethos becomes one of the defining factors of today’s younger Americans. These kids want to make a difference. They live in a larger world than just people who look and live like their families. They overcome challenges and use their own progress to help other people, including younger kids such as those that Miss Clinton, Jamie Ferguson, inspires her peers to help mentor and teach to deal with bullying as she did. But great teens aren’t the only thing this special issue exposes. I love putting out the call for nominations and watching supportive adults spring into action. Yes, there are those, such as Madison Burgess, whose parents are their biggest and most convincing cheerleaders. Her mother, Olivia Renfroe, wrote me: “‘Influential’ and ‘impressive’ are only two of the many words to describe my daughter, Madison Burgess, a senior at Madison Central High School. I would also describe Madison as inspiring, encouraging, courageous and beautiful—and not just because I am her mother!” Then there are those nominated by other adults, such as one who asked to remain unnamed who suggested Alonte Davis-Anderson of Wingfield. Alonte’s supporter had observed him in his community work and wrote: “He is a part of the Dropout Prevention Council through the United Way and has spoken on numerous panels and events related to the dropout crisis. He recently got back from a trip to D.C. through this council, meeting youth from all over the nation to discuss what communities can do to prevent the crisis.” Or how about Abbie Szabo’s admissions counselor at Ole Miss, where she hasn’t even started, yet. Jason Welch wrote me: “Abbie is a bright girl who is mature beyond her years. She is a natural born leader with a heart of service. I know Abbie will continue to do great things for our community and has a strong interest in serving in a global capacity.” Those are just a few of the examples of adults who take seriously their own role in building the community’s future, the ones who know that our society does way too little
to support our young people and then way too often blames them for their neglect. A few years back, then-first lady Hillary Clinton popularized the Nigerian proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Some people made fun of the phrase, but many took it to heart. In Jackson, we have remarkable adults—some with their own children; some without—working to help young people be the best they can be, despite challenges. Many work with nonprofits, many are educators, many just take the time to mentor a young person to let them know what a successful adult looks and acts like. They believe in the adage that we should “each one teach one.” Of course, there are others who dismiss our youth out of hand, or at least the ones who grow up in more challenged parts of the metro, or who wear baggy pants, or who have made mistakes. Too many people fear our youth instead of believe in them—which creates a self-perpetuating cycle for young people who aren’t taught to believe in themselves. And let’s just be frank: Not all young people have good parents. Many of them had children too young, whether they were married or not, and have little idea of what successful parenting looks like (simply giving birth is not some magic parenting bullet, as we all know). Many children are growing up in unstable homes, whether due to poverty or the drug war or any of a number of challenges. The fact that their families aren’t doing what is needed, or do not know how, cannot deter the community from stepping up and out for young people; from taking time to talk, ask and then listen to them (rather than preach to them); and from challenging those who make disparaging comments about our young people. It is only a sick excuse when people
blame “the family” for the problems that collective actions (and inactions) have done to some kids and their hopes and dreams. It is time for our community to unite behind our young people: all of them. If we want them to prosper, we must believe in them, set good examples and high standards, and help them develop the tools and skills to be successful. We need to model mindfulness, kindness, compassion and a strong work ethic. And we must declare an end to the war on our weakest children. In this issue, you’ll read that Jackson Public Schools may lose its accreditation for its apparently abysmal treatment of children with special needs in recent years. There is no way to justify handcuffing 8th-graders (or any human being) to a railing and leaving them there for hours, not letting them even go to the bathroom. This is abuse. We the community must demand that JPS, and all public and private schools, abandon antiquated discipline and zero-tolerance practices that hurt children and, in many cases, turn them into angry criminals. Likewise, we must insist that mindless “tough-on-crime” politicians pay attention to the need for policies that reverse recidivism and stop the criminal cycle, rather than placing young people into harsh conditions that make them act out even more, ultimately putting us all at risk. The research is undisputed, and it’s common sense if we stop and think about it. If we want young people to do well and prosper, we must believe in them and treat them well. As James Baldwin famously said, we will profit or pay for what children become. We must choose wisely. Know a great teen we should write about? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, April 26 The Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art
Come early and stay late. Benefitting the Children and Families of Operation Shoestring
7:30 until performance by The Vamps
5:30 until 7:30pm performance by Eric stracener & The Frustrations Southern Beverage Company
Thanks to our sponsors for making these events possible.
SOUTHERN FARM BUREAU LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY
Puckett Machinery Madison Charitable Foundation Madison Charitable Foundation Madison Charitable Foundation Wise Carter Wise Wise Carter
For BoTh EVEnTs:
Steen, Dalehite & Pace, LLP
Free Admission, Cash Bar
Madison Charitable F
news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, April 19 Gov. Phil Bryant signs a bill to consolidate three school districts in Sunflower County. … Starbucks announces it will stop coloring its food products with cochineal extract, a common dye made from bugs, and will use a tomato-based dye. Friday, April 20 Freedom Riders visit Northwest Rankin High School to share their memories of the Civil Rights Movement. … Gov. Bryant declares a state of emergency in the Aberdeen Public School District, clearing the way for the state to place a conservator in the district. The state Board of Education says it has “serious concerns regarding the safety of students.” Saturday, April 21 People take part in a “wing-eating” contest and other activities at Zoo Brew, a benefit for the Jackson Zoo. … Chuck Colson, special counsel to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal and later an evangelical leader, dies at the age of 80. Sunday, April 22 France holds the first round of elections for its next president. The frontrunners are Socialist Francois Hollande and conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, who are headed for a runoff election in two weeks. … A storm dumps rain on the U.S. East Coast, causing officials to postpone several baseball games.
April 25 - May 1, 2012
Monday, April 23 The American Shrimp Processors Association argues its members have been unfairly excluded from part of a settlement with BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. … The police chief in Sanford, Fla., where Trayvon Martin was shot, announces he will resign.
Tuesday, April 24 Home prices declined in early 2012, economists say, due partly to sales of foreclosed homes. … South Sudanese officials say Sudanese bombs have killed at least three people, and that Sudan’s actions amount to a declaration of war.
Get news updates at jfpdaily.com.
As of 2010, 25.5 percent of Mississippi’s population was under the age of 18. The national average is 24 percent. In Jackson, 27.4 percent of the population is less than 18 years old. Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Under Fire for Special-Ed Violations
by Elizabeth Waibel
he Jackson Public Schools district may lose its accreditation due to how it has disciplined students with disabilities, tracking them into lower-quality education at alternative schools rather than helping them stay in their schools and improve. The Mississippi Department of Education complied with a Jackson Free Press public-records request last week that revealed that JPS’ recent accreditation problems, which may be resolved in an April 26 hearing, stem from a complaint that the Mississippi Youth Justice Project filed against the district in September 2010. The MYJP, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, alleged that schools suspended students with emotional disabilities and behavioral issues or sent them to the alternative school, rather than working to help them stay in school. At a teleconference of the state Commission on School Accreditation March 12, MDE officials presented a timeline of JPS’ noncompliance of accreditation standards that begins with the MYJP complaint. The complaint alleged that JPS shuffled students with behavioral problems from their home schools to the Capital City Alternative School, where they made little to no academic or behavioral progress. When they returned to regular school settings, the complaint said, they were even farther behind academically, and their behavioral challenges had not been addressed.
Wednesday, April 18 Police find stolen Nissan parts worth about $500,000 at a body shop in Jackson. … Dick Clark, former host of “American Bandstand” and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” dies at the age of 82.
Shelley Abrams says local harassment will make it hard for doctors at the abortion clinic to comply with new regulations. p 10
A 2010 complaint at the root of JPS’ accreditation problems alleges that the district shuffled students with emotional problems through a “revolving door” between the Capital City Alternative School and their home schools.
“Both of these factors create a revolving door through which students cycle between CCAS and their regular schools without receiving any real benefit at either placement,” the complaint said. The MYJP, filing on behalf of nine JPS students, sought to reform how the school system administers special education services and discipline. “The significant loss of instruction time (through suspensions) has caused Petitioners to fall farther and farther behind academically, and this factor has contributed significantly to their placement in more restrictive educational environments,” the complaint said.
Most of the nine students, in grades 8-12 at six different schools, had emotional disabilities, although two had learning or intellectual disabilities. In a November 2010 report of its investigation into the complaint, MDE’s Office of Special Education found that JPS had “failed to address the ongoing pattern of behavioral and/or emotional concerns of the student cases reviewed.” The state ordered the district to submit a plan for improvement and warned that, under the Individuals with Disabilities EducaJPS, see page 7
How to Be Amazing “It’s always small minorities, like you guys, who take the lead.” —Freedom Rider Bob Zellner, speaking to students at Northwest Rankin High School.
“As a small business owner, I relate the success of students to the success of (businesses).” —Former JPS board member Jonathan Larkin, asking the current board to extend its search for the district’s next superintendent.
“This is a historic day, and I am so happy to see this item before us. I thank every one of you who had anything to do with it, including my colleagues who’ve helped push hard.” —Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon on the Fortification Street project.
Want to be as amazing as our featured teens? Try some of their ideas for serving the community: • Learn another language. • Donate toys to the children’s hospital. • Sing in a choir. • Play a sport. • Overcome obstacles. • Learn a poem. • Ask students how you can help them stay in school. • Listen to someone from across the political aisle. • Tell someone they are loved. • Travel, or study about another country. • Tell someone about a cause you’re passionate about. • Read a book. • Plant a garden. • Challenge stereotypes. • Tell someone thank you.
news, culture & irreverence
JPS, from page 6
tion Act, if JPS did not resolve all deficiencies within a year, it would “adversely affect the accreditation status of the school district.” MDE assigns each district one of four accreditation statuses—Accredited, Advised, Probation or Withdrawn—which depend on how well the district is complying with mandatory processes and standards. JPS’ rating has slipped from Accredited in the 2008-2009 school year to its current probationary status. The IDEA, as the federal law is called, is designed to ensure that children with disabilities get services they need, which are often denied during disciplinary processes due to their tendency to act out due to their challenges. The IDEA website, idea.ed.gov, states that the law “governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.” The federal law has long been the center of controversy due to its expense to public-school districts that have to provide the needed services. In its complaint about JPS, Southern Poverty Law Center attorneys Corrie Cockrell and Sheila Bedi wrote that the IDEA regulations amount to a “hollow promise for many JPS students.” “The School Districts’ wholesale IDEA violations have forced many students with disabilities into an endless cycle of punitive and unlawful removals from the classroom environment,” the attorneys wrote. “As a result of these removals, students lag far behind their peers academically and as a result grow increasing(ly) frustrated with school and in some instances ‘dread’ attending school.” Instead of providing the required services, they alleged, JPS chose to “repeatedly punish (the students) for behaviors related to their disabilities.” And JPS’ habit of transferring students with disabilities to the Capital City Alternative Schools created “an unlawfully segregated environment in which students with disabilities are isolated and repeatedly pun-
ished for manifestations of their disability.” These habits, they warned, “cut short the life chances of countless JPS students.” The 50-page complaint detailed examples of students whose rights MYJP believed had been violated. The Jackson Free Press reported last year, and in a cover story earlier this year by Valerie Wells, that JPS has admitted that Capital City staff have handcuffed students to metal railings in the gymnasium, leaving them there for hours. Students have alleged, through MYJP, that school “enforcement” officers handcuffed middle-school children for infractions as minor as not wearing a belt. The JFP reported that a 14-year-old boy, who wore a stocking cap to class, supposedly threw his papers on the ground and refused to do his schoolwork, so officers cuffed him to the railing. At the end of the school day, they removed the cuffs, which left marks on his wrists, but school officials refused to get him medical attention. At the April 26 hearing, JPS will make its case for keeping its accreditation status. Losing accreditation would mean JPS students could not participate in after-school activities, including sports, band or choir. The MYJP complaint came during the time that Lonnie Edwards was superintendent at JPS. The board voted in December 2010 not to renew Edwards’ contract. Since last summer, former JPS superintendent Jayne Sargent has been acting as the district’s interim superintendent while the search for a new district leader is under way. A spokeswoman for Sargent has said that JPS is “glad to have this opportunity to meet with the accreditation commission,” and feels confident about its responses. Both current and past board members told the Jackson Free Press that Sargent is working to correct the problems. “We know we need to do well by special-education students; we need to give them, along with every student, the opportunity to do the best that they possibly can,” JPS board member George Schimmel said earlier this month. Comment at jfp.ms.
Biz Roundup: Going Green by Elizabeth Waibel
Data Recycling A local business recently became certified to safely recycle old electronics. Magnolia Data Solutions announced earlier this month
that it is the state’s only R2 certified electronic recycler. Elizabeth Waibel
ondren will see the benefits of a $2-million grant to make the area friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as for landscape reforms. “ I t ’s federal money that the federal government puts aside for non-automobile-related transportation improvement, so it focuses on pedestrians, bicycles, sidewalks—those kinds of things,” said Jonathan Kiser, vice president at Neel-Schaffer, the engineering and planning firm that will design the improvements. Eligible projects for the grant include better pedestrian access and landscaping. Sidewalks, parking and new roads are not eligible.
People brainstorm ideas for spending grant money.
The R2 certification, which stands for “Responsible Recycling,” means the company adheres to environmental and legal standards for recycling computers and electronics. Magnolia Data Solutions recycles
old electronics so they do not clog up landfills and to keep toxic chemicals from contaminating the soil and water. The company also wipes and shreds data from old computers so it does not become a security liability. Recycle Day The city of Jackson will hold a Recycle Day this Saturday, when residents can drop off hazardous household waste. The city will safely dispose of a variety of hazardous materials, including batteries, antifreeze, pesticides, oils, propane tanks, paint and other chemicals. People can also drop off electronics and used tires at the event. Jackson’s Recycle Day will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Battlefield Park (Highway 80 and Terry Road).
Jason Turner (Rock)
(Traditional Irish) FRIDAY 4/27
We brought the great outdoors indoors! Scan QR for more information
Jackson Only Indoor Bouldering Facility! 125 Dyess Road|Ridgeland, MS 39157|601-977-9000
(Acoustic Alternative) SATURDAY 4/28
Thomas Jackson Orchestra (Rock)
Karaoke w/ Matt TUESDAY 5/1
Want to intern at the JFP?
with Jason Bailey
Includes Drink & Choices of Fresh Vegetables Have fun, hone your skills, gain valuable experience and college credit* by interning with the Jackson Free Press. You set your hours, and attend free training workshops. We currently have openings in the following areas: • Editorial/News • Photography • Cultural/Music Writing • Fashion/Style
• Arts/Writing Editing
• Internet • Graphic Design • Communications: Marketing/Events/PR
Interested? Send an e-mail to email@example.com, telling us why you want to intern with us and what makes you the ideal candidate. *College credit available to currently enrolled college students in select disciplines.
All for only
Monday: Hamburger Steak Tuesday: Grilled Tilapia or Fried Chicken Wednesday: Roast Beef Thursday : Chicken Diane or Grilled Pork Chop Friday : Meatloaf or
Chicken & Dumplings
Legislature: Week 17
by R.L. Nave
At Capitol, Jackson a Winner and Loser
April 25 - May 1, 2012
Two Big Fights “Redistricting might overshadow the budget process—and that’s fine with me,” joked House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, this week at a John C. Stennis Institute press luncheon. Lawmakers have until the end of the legislative session to complete both the budget and the once-per-decade task of redrawing the state’s political boundaries. Now that the state will have a little extra spending money—about $128 million—some of the blood-and-guts predictions about severe cuts to needed state services have subsided. Frierson conceded that the fiscal year 2013 budget, which both the House and Senate anticipate to be around $5.6 billion, would grow by about $67 million over the current fiscal year’s budget. Most of the additional money will go toward offsetting so-called onetime funds such as legal settlements awarded to the state, Frierson said. Meeting the growth in the state’s Medicaid plan will be especially challenging because 100,000 more people will automatically join the state’s Medicaid rolls in 2014 under provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the drawing phase of the redistricting process is now finished, and it’s expected that the public could see the new maps in the coming days. Rep. Bill Denny, RJackson, the House chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Reapportionment, said Monday he couldn’t talk about the new maps, yet, because experts are vetting the plan.
Mississippi has 122 House and 52 Senate districts. The overall number of districts will likely remain the same, but some districts might be absorbed into areas where the 2010 Census shows significant population growth, such as DeSoto County. “I’m anxious to see how creative they will be,” said Rickey Cole, executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “If Republicans attempt to get too creative or overzealous, they could very well run afoul of the Voting Rights Act and current case law.” Whichever plan the Legislature approves must meet U.S. Department of Justice approval because of Mississippi’s history of black voter disenfranchisement. In Texas, a redistricting dispute has delayed the state’s 2012 primary for months. African American and Latino voters accused the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature of presenting a reapportionment plan that diluted minority voters, who traditionally support Democrats. The Justice Department also rejected laws in South Carolina and Texas that require voters to present photo ID at the polls, arguing that the laws would have disproportionate negative effect on minorities. Mississippi, which approved a voter ID ballot initiative last fall, must pass enacting legislation before the constitutional amendment can take effect. Good News for Jackson Work on a bill that could add millions to the city of Jackson’s coffers will hopefully wrap up this week, said the legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Evans, D-Jackson. Last year, the Legislature agreed to let Jackson collect a 1-cent sales tax for infrastructure and public safety improvements if 60 percent of voters approved it and if the city set up a commission to oversee how the money was spent. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. balked at the idea of having a board of baby sitters tell the city how it could spend its money and never put the question to the voters. HB 168, which Evans introduced this year, removes the requirement for the oversight commission and gives the city complete
control over revenue generated by the tax. “There’s no need for a commission unless the city council and mayor think they need a commission,” Evans said. Ronni Mott
ou know that old expression about the calm before the storm? Such has been the mood at the state Capitol for the past couple weeks. The relatively tranquil period follows a tumultuous period of fiery debates on abortion and immigration and hallway shoving matches over charter schools and workers’ compensation. Expect the tide to turn when lawmakers hunker down to clear the calendar of thorny political issues before sine die (adjournment) the first week of May.
Rep. Jim Evans, D-Jackson, doesn’t think Jackson needs a commission to tell it how to spend tax revenue.
Over the course of the tax’s 20-year lifespan, the city could raise $15 million to $20 million. A conference committee is reviewing HB 168, which passed the House and Senate. Bad News for Jackson Thanks to Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, a deal that would have increased activity in downtown Jackson is dead in the water. Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, who chairs the Senate Public Properties Committee, introduced a bill at the beginning of the legislative session that would move the headquarters of the state Department of Revenue from Clinton to the 345,000 square feet Landmark Center, located at 175 East Capitol St. in downtown. Blount said his SB 2795 bill died in the House last week, and there’s no way to revive it at this point. Boosters for Downtown Jack-
son accused Gunn, a Republican, of playing politics in keeping the DOR building close to his Clinton district even though it physically sits in Blount’s. Gunn did not return a phone message left Tuesday morning. Gov. Haley Barbour’s administration commissioned a study in 2011 that concluded buying the Landmark Building at a cost of $14.1 million would be cheaper than building a new facility on property the state already owns, which consultants Cushman and Wakefield estimated would cost around $44 million. Even Worse News for Charters Despite going to a conference committee this week, the latest attempt to pass legislation establishing charter schools appears to be heading for defeat. House members voted to send HB 1152, which had been modified to include language from a Senate charter school bill that didn’t make it out of the House Education Committee, to a conference committee where it will likely die on a procedural vote. Lt. Gov. Reeves, who, along with the state’s other Republican leaders, has pushed for a charter bill all session, called the House vote disappointing. In a statement, Reeves said: “I am disappointed the majority of the members of the House did not agree with the Senate’s plan to bring meaningful changes to Mississippi’s educational system. Children trapped in failing school districts deserve an opportunity for success, and any further changes would only weaken the effort to give parents a choice in their children’s education.” Gov. Phil Bryant, who also supports charter schools, indicated he might extend the legislative calendar by calling a special session to compel lawmakers to pass a charter bill. Of the possibility of a special session, Reeves’ spokeswoman Laura Hipp said in an email: “The Senate has given the House ample opportunity this year to pass meaningful public charter school legislation. Lt. Gov. Reeves believes the Legislature can return in January to pass real education reform that includes public charter schools.”
make a difference....
by Jacob Fuller
A Second Chance
... And Good Money! The Jackson Free Press and BOOM Jackson magazine seek TOP PERFORMERS for advertising sales positions. We need client-driven candidates ready to hit the streets to prospect new accounts, listen to client needs and follow up every week with world-class customer service. Bring your love of local business and your willingness to wake up every morning to improve your customers’ bottom line. Young or old, if you have the stuff, we’ll know! Contact publisher Todd Stauffer at
firstname.lastname@example.org to make your pitch!
To Help Fund A Rape Crisis Center Items Needed: Original Art, Gift Certificates, Corporate Items Gifts, Big & Small, Monetary Donations, Chick Toys & Decor Sponsorships Available: Imperial Highness $5,000, Diva $2,500, Goddess $1,000, Queen $500, Princess $250, Chick $50
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hile the Jackson Police Depart- At the regular City Council meeting ment’s tools for reducing crime in- April 17, the Council approved a contract clude more officers patrolling the with Vivian Taylor, an education professor at streets, restructuring beats and add- Jackson State University, to serve as an adviser ing new technology, the city of Jackson is in and internal evaluator of the planning stage of the planning stages of a more complex weapon Fresh Start. Her role is to make sure the goals for fighting crime. In 2008, President Barack Obama signed The Second Chance Act, which allows the federal government to award grants to government bodies and nonprofit organizations to help people returning to the community from jail or prison find employment and housing, and provide them with skills training, mentoring and substance abuse treatment. Jackson was one of 15 cities out of more than 600 applicants to receive the $55,000 grant to fund Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and the city of Jackson are planning the Fresh Start program to help convicts with the planning of a program to reduce re-entry into society. recidivism. The city has assembled a task force to create a plan for Jumpstart, a program that aims to help ex-convicts of the program are being met and to troublelearn skills and get jobs in an attempt to keep shoot any problems that arise. them from committing more crimes and re- Taylor is the coordinator of a juvenile turning to prison. The task force has held one recidivism program at Henley-Young Youth orientation meeting to introduce members to Justice Center called Friday Night Live. She the goals of the program. has also written for and advised grant seekers The city has until September to submit for 25 years. an official plan to the U.S. Department of “(Fresh Start) needs to address, primarJustice. Once the plan is completed, Jackson ily, pre-release and post-release after care for will apply for more grant money to imple- paroled and released offenders,” Taylor said. ment the program. “It needs to provide support services that will “Having received the planning grant, assist them with issues related to emotional it sort of gives us an upper hand, if you will, and social development, as relates to emin competing for implementation funds,” ployment, as relates to getting re-immersed Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said. “Whether into the community and even in their own the other 14 groups will go to the next step, I families. It needs to address continuing edudon’t know.” cation and career development, as well as The task force is made up of more than on-going consistent, systematic monitoring 50 city leaders, including Police Chief Rebecca and advisement.” Coleman, Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, Department The program also needs to sensitize emof Corrections officials, judges, business lead- ployers to hiring ex-offenders, Taylor said. ers such as Socrates Garrett of Garrett Enter- There is an understandable concern among prises and Jeff Good of Bravo and Sal and employers to invest in people who have been Mookies, and Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive incarcerated, but Taylor believes if they are Health Center CEO Dr. Jasmine Chapman, given a chance at a legitimate job, they are less as well as a few ex-convicts. Offender Reentry likely to repeat previous offenses. Program Coordinator Karen Quay would not “Currently, we are in a funded year for release the names of the ex-offenders who at- planning. My goal is to make sure we cover all tended the task-force meeting at press time. the bases, that we make sure we have the right Quay said the Department of Human people at the table,” Taylor said. “(We have) a and Cultural services, headed by Louis Arm- huge diversity of community stake holders at strong, was keeping Fresh Start from getting the table, so that we will have a wide perspec“too public” until they had a better idea of tive of how to address the issue. what the plan for the program will be. She is “In our last meeting with the officers currently working to schedule the task force’s from (the Department of Justice) last week, second meeting at Eagle Ridge Conference one of the things that they thought was critiCenter in Raymond. cal, and of course we concurred because we Armstrong himself, a former Jackson had talked about it as well, is to make sure that council president, is an ex-felon who served the community is abreast and involved.” 13 months in federal prison for accepting part Taylor invited the Jackson Free Press to of a $25,000 bribe in the late 1990s meant to join the task force at future meetings. She said help influence positive zoning for a strip club. she also plans to hold several town meetings to He returned to city government in 2007 dur- keep the community involved in the planning ing the Frank Melton administration. of the Fresh Start.
by Valerie Wells
Under Pressure: Fighting to Keep ‘Choice’ In State
Doesn’t the women’s clinic already have OB-GYN doctors with admitting privileges? We are already required by state law to have a doctor on staff to have admitting privileges. We have a doctor on staff with admitting privileges. This doctor does not do the bulk of the procedures. It’s going to be very hard to get admitting privileges. Why? Local harassment. I’ve never seen the
amount of pressure or tactics anti-abortion groups use in Mississippi. They’ve called young doctors’ parents to put pressure on them. Courtesy Shelley Abrams
helley Abrams is fighting the state of Virginia’s attack on abortion rights. Earlier this month, she was arrested on the steps of the state capitol in Richmond, Va. She oversees several clinics that provide legal abortion services, including one in Virginia and several other southern states. Abrams is also executive director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion facility in the state. It may be too soon to predict that the Jackson clinic will have to close July 1, the date Mississippi’s new anti-abortion law goes into effect. Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1390 earlier this month with a goal of closing down this last clinic in Mississippi. The new law requires abortion clinic doctors be board-certified in OB-GYN and to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. All three doctors at the Jackson clinic are board-certified, and one does have admitting privileges. The new law would require all three of them to have hospital admitting privileges at a local hospital. Abrams is ready for this battle, although cautious and worried. She recently spoke to the Jackson Free Press about it. Abrams didn’t comment on any relationships the clinic now has with particular hospitals. She also didn’t want to discuss the ownership of the clinic or the other clinics she oversees. The reluctance comes from a fear for the lives of the doctors and staff who provide abortions.
Shelley Abrams, executive director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, speaks in front of the Mississippi Capitol last fall.
They’ve called churches and have pastors put pressure on them. They are a very well-oiled machine. Some of your doctors come from out of state to perform abortions. Is it harder to get admitting privileges if they are out of state? Hospitals aren’t required to give doctors admitting privileges. Jackson is a small town. If (the anti-abortion groups) knew a hospital gave privileges, they would put pressure on them to terminate our agreement. There’s too much social pressure in Jackson. The law goes into effect July 1. Will the clinic have to close then? We are attempting to jump through hoops to provide a legal service to the women of Mississippi. If we are unable to jump through hoops—I don’t know. The state already comes into our clinic
all the time to review documents. I can’t even imagine. I have no plans of that clinic to shut down. How I’m going to do that, I don’t know. I can’t fathom no abortion access in Mississippi.
University (of Mississippi) Medical Center. Two, any patient who must be taken there is taken there. Everything he said while signing that law was a lie.
Can a private doctor perform an abortion in his or her private office in Mississippi? I’ve never heard of private doctors doing abortions in Mississippi.
I assume that St. Dominic, a Catholic hospital, wouldn’t give your doctors admitting privileges. Is there political pressure at UMMC? It is a stateowned facility. Catholic hospitals have massive pressure. I’d be shocked to find out any abortion providers nationwide have admitting privileges. You would think the university hospital would be the least politicized in theory. We hope they meet with our doctors and reach an agreement.
But some doctors will have a patient who wants an abortion, and so the doctor might suggest a D&C or some other procedure and that’s what goes in the medical records instead of an abortion. That happens, right? When a miscarriage occurs, you do have to file a statistics form with the state. A private doctor might say, “Oh, it looks like you are having some bleeding” and then perform a procedure. What’s your next step? The next step is trying to get admitting privileges. Obviously, the cost of taking a constitutional case to the Supreme Court is costprohibitive. If a national organization chose to take this, we would be there. The Supreme Court is a scary place to go. I don’t know how the governor can say in one breath this is a great law for women’s health and in the next breath say if this clinic has to shut down, “So be it.” It’s disingenuous to say this is for women’s health when it’s clear the agenda was to shut this clinic down. He has the gall to bamboozle women. Any doctor who works in our office is licensed in the state of Mississippi. They have to go before a review board. These are highly qualified physicians. Gov. Bryant is thumbing his nose at the medical board. I think that he is taking the tactic that most of these (anti-abortion) politicians take—”We are just looking out for you little women.” There are points he doesn’t understand. One, we are a quarter of a mile from
Is there something that you would really like to stress about any of this? When your own government can turn against you, you have to take action. You have to. This is not a time to be complacent. The government is trying to limit your access to abortion. Gov. Phil Bryant did not return calls to respond to Abrams’ remarks as of press time. Comment at jfp.ms. Here is what Mississippi law now says about abortion providers: “‘Abortion facility’ means a facility operating substantially for the purpose of performing abortions and is a separate identifiable legal entity from any other health care facility. Abortions shall only be performed by physicians licensed to practice in the State of Mississippi. All physicians associated with the abortion facility must have admitting privileges at a local hospital and staff privileges to replace local hospital on-staff physicians. All physicians associated with an abortion facility must be board certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and a staff member trained in CPR shall always be present at the abortion facility when it is open. The term ‘abortion facility’ includes physicians’ offices that are used substantially for the purpose of performing abortions.”
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Progress, At a Snail’s Pace
eP robl em
ft h he tt Solution, No
City Council members Margaret Barrett-Simon,Tony Yarber and Charles Tillman voted to move special council meetings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., effective immediately.
staff folks by 10 o’clock on Monday morning has been very difficult for them,” Barrett-Simon said. Cooper-Stokes, whose attendance at Monday meetings has been sparse since she joined the council in March, was the only council member absent at the 4 p.m. meeting Monday. Fortification, Finally Hemphill Construction Company of Florence won the bid for a Fortification Street facelift. The City Council voted 5-1 April 17 to approve an $8.9-million contract with Hemphill for the makeover. The contract now goes to the Mississippi Department of Transportation for approval. If MDOT approves the contract, the city expects construction to begin in late May. The project will improve 1.2 miles of Fortification Street from Greymont Avenue to Farish Street.
The plans include repaving the street and converting the stretch from Greymont Avenue to Jefferson Street from four lanes to three, with a dedicated turn lane in the center. The conversion will make room for new, ADA-compliant sidewalks along the entire 1.2-mile stretch. Barrett-Simon has pushed for the project, which is in her ward, for years. When it was announced at City Hall, Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber tried to take to the right to move that Barrett-Simon knew she’d earned. “So moved,” Yarber said. “No you can’t,” Barrett-Simon quickly replied, creating a roar of laughter in the council chambers. “So moved,” she said. “This is a historic day, and I am so happy to see this item before us. I thank every one of you who had anything to do with it, including my colleagues who’ve helped push hard—including Mr. Yarber who is going to cut yards for me to help meet with the funding, because he’s so distressed about the condition of the street. “This is an important project for our city, and I’m very pleased to see it before us today.” The project will also include six new traffic signals, traffic-monitoring cameras and supporting fiber-optic cables, decorative light fixtures along either side of the street, new streets signs, and relocation of all overhead utility lines to an underground vault. The renovation will also include a 24-inch water main on Jefferson Street to replace one of the oldest mains in the city. City, state and federal funds will help cover the $8.9 million project. About $2 million will come from the state Economic Development Highway Grant Program, and the city will cover between 20 percent and 25 percent of the total cost, Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said. Cooper-Stokes was the only dissenting vote. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell had left the chambers before the vote to attend his daughter’s musical performance. Comment at jfp.ms.
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One Too Many Mornings The Council voted 5-1 at the same meeting to move special meetings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., effective immediately. Cooper-Stokes, who has been a proponent of eliminating the special meetings in favor of weekly regular meetings, was the lone dissenting vote. Special meetings are held on Mondays that are not followed by one of the biweekly regular meeting on Tuesday. The special meetings often consist only of a vote on the claims docket and pay roll.
Council attendance has been poor at best in recent months. The move from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will help fix the problem, Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said. “It not only is more convenient for the council members, it allows the staff and our policy analysts to do work on Monday that will be beneficial to us at the 4 o’clock meeting. Having gotten the agenda at 5 o’clock on Friday and having to do the analysis by Jacob Fuller
ity government is rarely accused of acting quickly. The Jackson City Council is working hard to assure that remains true. Procedure requires most council ordinances to spend at least two weeks in committee and causes a large number of them to remain on the agenda for months, if not years. The council has recently taken the slowmoving style of local government to the micro level as well. At the Tuesday, April 17, regular council meeting, members spent more than 14 minutes inquiring about and discussing the procedure for an honorary renaming of a street. The proposed action, to rename the portion of Campbell Street from Dr. Martin Luther King Drive to the dead end to Dr. Gene “Jughead” Young Drive, was sent to the Planning Committee. Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes requested that the proposal be brought back to the Council in two weeks for a vote. Council President Frank Bluntson and Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber objected, saying honorary renaming already follows a process, which requires more than two weeks to complete. After nearly a quarter of an hour discussing the process with the city attorney’s office, the council found that the proposal could not be voted on in two weeks, because a public notice must run in the local newspaper for two consecutive weeks prior to the vote, and the deadline to submit the notice is Monday.
opining, grousing & pontificating
‘Father’ Doesn’t Always Know Best
t a recent event featuring Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Gunn told the audience that Reeves and his wife had recently celebrated the birth of their third daughter. Gunn said he especially sympathized with what Reeves is going through in caring for a newborn because, Gunn joked, he has 122 kids to deal with, referring to Mississippi House of Representatives members. As observers of the current legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude in just a couple of weeks, we’ve seen our fair share of temper tantrums, scolding, playground tussles, bullying and legislative proposals that carry the stink of dirty diapers. Even Gunn, who thinks of himself as the House’s patriarch, and Reeves, to a lesser extent, can be bratty. Just look at how Gunn purportedly stood in the way of the Department of Revenue’s move from Clinton to downtown Jackson. After the House indicated that the charter-schools bill is likely again headed for defeat by sending it to a conference committee, Reeves, who badly wanted the charter bill, essentially took his toys and went home. After expressing disappointment in the House for again shooting down the schools proposal, Reeves said, “I look forward to passing real education reform next year.” To paraphrase Chris Rock, Gunn hasn’t always gotten his “big piece of chicken” to which fathers feel entitled, either. Sure, the attorney-general powerkilling Sunshine Act is headed for passage as did the Ryan Petit Child Protection and Child Rape Protection Act and tighter abortion restrictions, all of which Gunn championed. But Gunn and his GOP compatriots got spanked on the issue of finally getting an Arizona-style immigration law, something that seemed unstoppable when the legislative session began in January, thanks to a contingent of determined Democrats (with some backroom help from key Republicans) playing the role of redheaded stepchildren. While Gunn’s assertion of himself as a patriarch of sorts might explain the sometimes heavy-handed way he operates as speaker, he isn’t the only lawmaker with a father complex. How else do you explain why lawmakers keep trying to “protect” us? Restricting abortion access protects women’s health. The name of Mississippi’s anti-immigration law, the Safe Community Police Act, conveys the need to protect citizens from ill-intentioned dark-skinned outsiders. The various budget plans we’ve seen propose cuts in libraries, the arts, K-12 and higher education, and health care all because some legislators think they’re protecting our long-term interests. Putting legislators in charge of the state treasury doesn’t mean they’re in charge. There’s still a lot of the people’s work left to do. In these final days of the legislative year, it’s up to us, the taxpayers, to remind lawmakers who’s the boss.
Cool and Creamy
April 25 - May 1, 2012
ister Ice Creamy Man: “Spring is here and the days are longer. It’s time to break out my new and improved Ice Creamy Truck, courtesy of Congressman Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride’s Ghetto Science Community Small Business Bailout money. My lovely wife, Mrs. Ice Creamy Woman, suggested I pay the deacon mechanics of Rev. Cletus Car Sales Church to repair and refurbish my Ice Creamy Truck. Also, the Deacon Mechanics went the extra mile to make the truck environmentally friendly. My wife and I are quite anxious to introduce the Ghetto Science Community to our custom-built Hybrid Electric and Petroleum Vehicle. “Seven years ago, Zipp Pitters, self-published poet, wrote a children’s book titled ‘The Ice Cream Truck Ran out of Gas.’ He dedicated this book to the children of the ghetto who deal with a struggling economy and rising fuel prices. I worried about serving my community during the spring and summer seasons. I still worry in an uncertain economy where people struggle to keep their homes, pay their bills and provide for their families. Thanks to the efforts of a concerned politician and resourceful church mechanics, I am able to do my part to bring some happiness to members of the Ghetto Science Community by serving and selling them affordable cool and creamy frozen treats. “Children and adults of the Ghetto Science Community, the new, improved, environmentally friendly, solar powered Hybrid Electric and Petroleum Mister Ice Creamy Truck is coming to your neighborhood. 12 “Just listen for the ding-a-ling bell.”
Enemies of Progress
hen the check writers determine who the law writers are, the system never changes. When bureaucrats are allowed to govern with impunity, the system never changes. In or out of office, where we don’t have natural leaders, citizens—and more importantly, children—are done a disservice. Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. We’ve reached a crossroads in Jackson when the regular folks among us—like you and I—may find it necessary to fight against those we have entrusted to lead us, whether they’re appointed or in office. It doesn’t matter if you’re a taxpayer with a house and two kids or an 8th grader in a Jackson public school, ineffective leadership affects us all. Top-heavy administrations have become the enemy of progress, in city hall and in the central office. When you take those top-heavy positions and add in egos, the mixture gets more volatile. I am a fan of Dr. Steve Perry, the outspoken founder of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Conn. He’s a guy after my own heart, because he’s a young go-getter who pisses off teachers’ unions and bureaucrats alike. I wholeheartedly agree with him when he said recently that too many people have “leadership” jobs—such as mayor, senator, superintendant or principal—who aren’t “natural leaders.” Consequently, they spend time touting their résumés and overcompensating. Could “over-degreed” but talentless administrators in all areas be our problem? And are those folks’ careers only continuing be-
cause we allow them to do so—through the ballot, the pulpit or the boardroom? There is a definite difference in people who hold several degrees and padded “puffy” resumes—who folks assume are qualified to lead—and being a natural leader of men and women. Some city and school officials are so smart and so educated; yet, they are clueless to the needs of those they serve. We’ve become a society so impressed with a person’s ability to rattle off degrees and job stints that we don’t realize many use their bona fides to mask the fact that they have leadership deficiencies. You may have four degrees in education, but you don’t recognize a troubled 16-year-old who goes home to a bad environment every night? You may have four degrees in urban planning and three more in political science, but you have no connection with lay people. You may have no idea how to make people “feel” like they, and the city, are going in a good direction. This city needs fighters—people not afraid to make enemies and not afraid to make those pushing for the status quo uncomfortable. We need natural leaders in and out of office. Unconventional. Unorthodox. Ones who know what their constituents, the ones I call the “common folk,” are going through. Are you tired of being told what’s “best for us” by others? Then it’s time to speak up and upset that apple cart. And that’s the truth ... sho-nuff.
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by Adria Walker
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Politics Through My Eyes
n the space of one week, I witnessed at least five arguments, three temper tantrums and random bouts of cheering. No, I was not at a football or basketball game. I was at the Mississippi Capitol, serving as a Senate page. I was extremely excited when I found out that I had been accepted to serve as a Senate page. One of my favorite films, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” is set in the U.S. Senate. The senators in this film are distinguished and professional. Everyone is sophisticated, and the awkward Mr. Smith is extremely out of place. I expected our Senate and senators to be similar to those in the movie, but I was way off. Serving as a Senate page, I got a firsthand look at the functioning of our state Senate. This is a historic year for the Mississippi Legislature. This is the first year since Reconstruction that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have a Republican majority— and this is quite obvious if you sit in the Senate chamber and watch the debates. Most of the Republican senators have a smug demeanor while debating because they’re sure their bills will pass, no matter how much of a fight the Democrats put up. Sen. Kelvin Butler, a Democrat from McComb, appeared to take up time making jokes during the debates. This may have been his way of slowing down the process in an attempt to prevent some bills from getting passed. It seems to me that this was the only way the Democrats could stop legislation. The week that I paged, March 12-16, the senators were on a time crunch. They had to get all of the bills in their house passed by Thursday, March 15, or the bills would automatically die. Butler wasn’t the only senator who made jokes. Sen. Kenneth Jones, D-Canton, and Sen. Will Longwitz, R-Madison, are just a few of the senators who had their share of jokes to make, although Sen. Longwitz and other Republicans more than likely weren’t trying to stall the process. Instead of necessarily doing what was best for the state, the senators tended to vote along party lines. I noticed that many of the bills that did pass appeared to only help the rich or businesses, but not the poor or middle-class Mississippians. For instance, Senate Bill 2576 seeks to change the workers’ compensation laws of this State. The changes are more favorable to the employer than to the employee. When many of the senators speak
of how they represent “The People,” they should be clearer and say that they represent “The People with Money.” Now, I know I’m generalizing here. Not every senator cares more for business and the rich and having power and money than the people he represents. For instance, Sen. Hob Bryan, a Democrat from Amory, fought vehemently against Senate Bill 2380, which made it legal to fire without any reason state employees who are under the purview of the Mississippi State Personnel Board. I, like many of the other pages, was very moved by Sen. Bryan’s speech, but evidently the other senators were not so moved, and the bill passed the Senate. At first glance or first listen, all the bills seem like good ideas. The senators glamorize the high points and neglect to inform the public of the low points. It isn’t until you start to listen—really listen—to the bills that you realize how bad of an idea some of them are. Take the workers’ compensation bill. On its face, it seems very reasonable. The legislation purports to make the system fair for both the employee and the employer. However, it is not. Currently, employees in this state who are covered by workers’ compensation must accept that compensation as their remedy when they are injured on the job. Under state law, they cannot sue outright, but must accept a certain percentage of their wages as compensation. They do not have to prove the injury was work related; it is presumed that it is. If Senate Bill 2576 becomes a law, the employee still will not be able to sue the employer and still must accept a set percentage of his or her salary as compensation. But in addition to all this, they must also prove that the injury is work related. This is not fair to the employee. I love Mississippi. I love the people, I love that Mississippi scenery, I love everything that makes our state special—the good and the bad; it gives Mississippi character. But if we don’t do something to change the way our government is currently being run, I am afraid for Mississippi’s future. My future. Would I like to page again? You bet I would. Adria Walker is a ninth grader at Murrah High School. She is an aspiring writer and an intern at the Jackson Free Press.
I expected our senators to be similar to those in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.’
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April 25 - May 1, 2012
oncern about apathy among their peers led several Northwest Rankin High School students to start Students With A Goal, or SWAG, to support each other as they serve the community. Terry Hunt, the group’s faculty coordinator, says SWAG got started after several students attended a summit at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. “They came back with the idea about changing the school climate, which they saw as being apathetic,” Hunt says. The group’s goals are very broad and flexible, so the projects change depending on what community service project the students want to accomplish. “It’s just, ‘Oh, you have a goal? Tell us what it is, and we’ll help you achieve it,’” Hunt says. “… It’s giving enough support that when people have a passion for something, they can come and get the help they need.” Through SWAG, students have hosted bake sales, sold T-shirts and sunglasses and hosted events to raise money for projects. They have planted a garden at the school, raised money for the Community Animal Rescue Association and raised funds to give custodians a Christmas gift. They recently received a grant from Jackson 2000 to put a watering system in their garden. Last week, SWAG arranged for four Freedom Riders to come speak at Northwest Rankin. The students have been studying the Freedom Rides and the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi this year. “I’ve been living here my whole life, and I never heard a lot of this stuff,” says Tasi Jones, a junior at the school and a member of SWAG. “It feels really great to know stuff that’s shaped Mississippi and how far we’ve come.” After hearing some of the Freedom Riders speak at an event last summer to mark the 50th anniversary of the rides, the students from SWAG decided to invite them to Northwest Rankin. They stayed after school to study the Freedom Rides and put together a display about what they learned in the foyer of the school’s Performing Arts Building, complete with stories and photos of the people who spoke at the school. Krysta Zuvic, a senior at Northwest Rankin and a member of SWAG, says meeting the Freedom Riders in person makes the Civil Rights Movement seem more real than simply reading about it in a textbook. “What’s crazy is that you read about it in a book (and think), ‘Oh, that’s past, that’s history.’ ... That wasn’t that long ago,” she says. Bob Zellner, one of the Freedom Riders, encouraged the students to make a difference in their own communities. “It’s always small minorities, like you guys, who take the lead,” he says. —Elizabeth Waibel
Ole Miss Community Service Leaders
le Miss admissions counselor Jason Welch’s voice glowed as he spoke about the 24 students from 21 Jackson metropolitan area high schools that make up the first class of Ole Miss Community Service Leaders. The program sought interested seniors dedicated to service even if they were not interested in attending the University of Mississippi. “I work with hundreds of students all year, but the selflessness of this group has been inspiring and refreshing,” he says. “These students are the leaders in their high schools. … They’re involved in everything— the brightest kids in their schools—yet, they still find time to give back.” The Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children’s Child Life Department and its activity rooms on each floor provided an avenue for the students’ accomplishments. The Ole Miss Community Service Leaders program involved the seniors in service campaigns at their home schools, collecting comforting giveaways for patients staying in the hospital and for outpatients. Program participants collected more than 3,000 coloring books and more than 3,500 Hot Wheels toys for sick kids at Batson last year. The students also collected more than $2,500 in funds for the hospital’s child life department. On April 14, 126 students came together at the Jackson Convention Complex for the Ole Miss Community Service Day in Jackson. Led by Ole Miss Community Service Leaders, the students worked at eight stations, creating items ranging from friendship bracelets and tie-dyed pillowcases to tissue-paper flowers and parents’ activity packets. They ended up with items galore, which will brighten the lives of children at Blair E. Batson for days to come. You can see for yourself how the day went on the program’s Facebook fan page. —Lynette Hanson
COURTESY JASON WELCH
SWAG: Students with a Goal
ailey Brilley loves to talk. Whether he’s chatting about speech and debate, street art, community service, or church, the lively 15-year-old demonstrates heaps of eloquent passion about his life and interests. “If anything, I talk too much, ” Brilley says. “I haven’t shut up since I learned to (talk).” Since his early childhood, Brilley has loved networking. He’s the true archetype of a “people person.” His natural charisma and eager demeanor draw people in and inspire them to share Brilley’s passion for life. “I just like to get people interested in what I’m interested in,” he says. Born and raised in Jackson, Brilley has had many opportunities to use his oratory skills. He is a member of Youth Leadership Jackson, a community-wide program designed to expose young leaders to the inner workings of the city. He also serves on the Mayor’s Youth Council, where he is a liaison between the city’s youth and executive staff. In addition, Brilley is an avid participant in the speech and debate program at St. Joseph Catholic School, where he is a sophomore. “I have a weird relationship with speech (and debate),” he says. “I have this sick love for getting up at six o’clock in the morning and mouthing off to people for hours.” Brilley’s favorite event is Youth Legislature, where he has been named Most Outstanding Statesman. Brilley also has a strong Catholic foundation, which is responsible for his interest in community service. He attended World Youth Day in Madrid, has taken a service trip to Belize and represented his diocese at the National Catholic Forensics League in Baltimore. “I love to meet new people and see where they fit in the world,” he says. Though many think he’s well-suited to the path of politics, Brilley hopes to one day attend The Cooper Union in New York City, where he would study engineering, art or architecture. Until then, he will continue to be a young leader in his community, always with something to say. —Sadaaf Mamoon
t’s easy to forget that Adria Walker is 14 years old. She says she already “claims” 15, though, with a birthday in July. As a promising young journalist in the Jackson Free Press intern program, Walker never hesitates to jump on an assignment. The Murrah High School 9th grader says that her career options are either to be a journalist, an English professor or a book reviewer. “Anything with literature,” she says. The Literati Club is her favorite school activity this year. Club members read a book each month and then get together to discuss it. This month, it’s “The Line,” by Terri Hall. “It’s a dystopian novel,” Walker says. “It’s a serious book.” She’s a big “Star Wars” fan; her favorite character is Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader. She stopped eating beef and pork, she says, after reading “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, and talks to her friends seriously about animal abuse and animal rights. Earlier this year, Walker was a page at the Capitol for state Sen. Hillman Frazier, which she wrote about for the JFP (see page 13). She’s also a talented musician, with about a year’s experience playing the cello. “Before that, I played the violin for seven or eight years,” she says, adding that she also played the saxophone “a little bit.” Walker is eager to get on with things. She’s not eligible to take advanced placement classes as a freshman, she says, but she’s planning on it for her sophomore year and beyond. This year, in addition to the Literati Club, she’s in the International Club and the Latin Club. “Next year, I’ll be on the newspaper staff,” she says with a grin. “It’s fun interviewing people.” Her college plans include Columbia University, she says, mainly because it’s in New York City. What doesn’t she enjoy about school? “Geometry,” she says, without a moment’s hesitation. “I’m not really a math person.” —Ronni Mott
ve Rodenmeyer is a 16-year-old travel enthusiast. This 11th-grade Malone Scholar at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School has traveled all over the world in the name of diversity. From San Francisco to Ghana and Scotland, Rodenmeyer is constantly adding new places to her list. A school grant helped fund Rodenmeyer’s recent trip to Ghana. “Ghana is my favorite of all the places I’ve ever been,” Rodenmeyer says. “It was so new, different and interesting. I got to meet some of their finest students. We spoke to some of the them and bought them books.” Rodenmeyer’s interest in traveling isn’t about vacationing. It goes hand-in-hand with her love for diversity and cultural awareness. “I want to encourage people to get over any ignorance about diversity,” Rodenmeyer says. “Increasing awareness of diversity is so important in going forward in the future. It will help things run smoother.” When she isn’t traveling the world, Rodenmeyer spends most of her time studying and participating in extracurricular activities at school. “School takes up a lot of my time,” Rodenmeyer says. “St. Andrew’s is very rigorous.” The oldest of three, Rodenmeyer works hard to be a role model for her younger siblings. She strives to live up to the high expectations set by her parents, school and her local community. Although studying and maintaining good grades is her top priority, she still finds balance between academics and her social life. She is a member of the student admissions team, the bowling team and cross-country team. She is also a member of Youth Leadership Jackson. After graduating, Rodenmeyer plans to study literature. She has not decided on which college she prefers, but is interested in the University of California at Berkeley. —Jessica Simien 15 jacksonfreepress.com
COURTESY BAILEY BRILLEY
t won’t be long before Alonte Davis-Anderson is strengthening our community—in fact, he already is. Davis-Anderson has been involved with the United Way of the Capital Area’s Youth Dropout Prevention Council for nearly two years. Being on the council has given Davis-Anderson, an 11th grader at Wingfield High School in Jackson, the opportunity to work with other youth from around the metro area and to come up with ideas and solutions for ending the dropout crisis in Jackson Public Schools. Through the council, he has spoken with state legislators, city and school district officials and put forward a student’s voice at the decision-making table. He has also helped guide workshops and forums for students and adults. Davis-Anderson recently got back from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he represented the Youth Dropout Prevention Council from Mississippi at a nationwide Graduation Summit attended by, among others, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Davis-Anderson is not scared to ask the questions and provide clear insight as to what is going on in our schools. At a recent event he stood up and questioned a panel of education “experts” and elected officials. “Why did we put so much money into building new athletic field-houses in JPS, when, (1) most of us aren’t athletes, and (2) many of us, including myself, don’t have textbooks to take home for all our classes?” he asked them. By being who he is, Davis-Anderson is changing the way we see our youth in Jackson and transforming the negative portrayals of our youth, especially black males, that are all too ubiquitous in the media. Davis-Anderson is a future architect or engineer. He is looking at Howard University, Mississippi State, the University of Mississippi or Jackson State University for college. —Ronni Mott
K. RODENMEYER/MOSAIC MEDIA
COURTESY ALONTE DAVIS ANDERSON
April 25 - May 1, 2012
COURTESY KRISTEN DUPARD
eing bullied in school—and a few adults who helped her get through it—inspired Jamie Ferguson to reach out to younger girls going through the often-difficult middle-school years. During her reign as Miss Clinton this year, Ferguson, 18, is promoting an anti-bullying platform that she calls “You Are Loved.” “In junior high I was bullied, and I think everyone goes through some form of that, whether it’s someone else bullying you or whether it’s putting yourself down,” she says. Ferguson says one of her teachers as well as a family friend, Hugh Turner, inspired her to get involved in anti-bullying efforts. Turner, who passed away last year, gave out buttons that said, “I am loved,” which gave Ferguson the idea for naming her campaign. Turner also gave Ferguson some of her first opportunities to sing at different places. She plans to attend Mississippi College next year and major in vocal performance or music education. Ferguson, who is an only child, lives in Clinton with her parents and is a senior at Clinton High School. “I’ve lived here my whole life—same room and everything,” she says. She also has a longtime connection to Wells United Methodist Church in Jackson. Her father has attended Wells for about 25 years, her parents were married in the church and Ferguson has gone there her entire life. Through her church and in her spare time, Ferguson has been able to promote her You Are Loved campaign at the Methodist Children’s Home, day cares and schools in the Clinton area. She also started a chapter of Girl Talk, a national nonprofit organization that gets high school girls to mentor junior high girls in hopes of promoting leadership and positive self-images. Ferguson will go to the Miss Mississippi pageant in June. —Elizabeth Waibel
er teacher, Adam Frazier, describes Kristen Dupard as having a sharp wit and great sense of humor. Dupard is a young woman with an impressive list of accolades and big plans for the future. Dupard, 18, was born in New Orleans, La., but relocated to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2006. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Junior Diplomats of Ridgeland, Ridgeland High School Ambassadors, Global Debate and the National Forensics League. As a Junior Diplomat, she volunteers regularly. “I think it’s important to volunteer in your community because it shows that you’re not just using all of the accolades that come with living in a great community, but you are actually a part of the team that makes it and keeps it great,” she says. She is also on the basketball team and serves as the equipment manager for the football team at her school. Dupard is also a gifted orator, earning Premier distinction for dramatic interpretation in the National Forensics League. She is also the two-time state champion for Poetry Out Loud, an annual contest that encourages high-school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. As champion, Dupard received a stipend and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she will vie for the national title in May. For the competition, Dupard has chosen “Invitation to Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, “I’m A Fool to Love You” by Cornelius Eady and “What Work Is” by Philip Levine. After she graduates this year from Ridgeland High School, Dupard plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi and double major in nursing and broadcasting. She wishes to earn her doctorate in nursing and become a health correspondent for CNN or MSNBC. Dupard credits her mother, Angela Dupard, as her “backbone,” and strives to live by her mom’s motto: “A dream not gone after is a dream wasted.” — ShaWanda Jacome
COURTESY JONATHAN MOORE
onathan Moore, 18, is an achiever. I would wager to say that he is an overachiever. This young man’s accomplishments could fill a three-page resume, and he is only a senior in high school. I would love to own a company and hire this young man as a junior executive in training. His mother, Dr. Delilah Moore, is excited and proud that her son is getting so many opportunities to present himself to the public. She is a parent who has invested in her child, and she is enjoying the dividends. Jonathan Moore, a member of the America’s Promise Alliance board of trustees, is a senior at Mohr’s Academy. According to an article from the Americas Promise Group, Moore has been active in the United Way Drop Out Prevention Council. He presented data at a panel discussion on local dropout statistics including the reasons why students drop out of school. He also interviewed youth, organized panels and led discussions to determine the types of interventions that would lead to solutions. In addition, Moore is a Red Cross certified lifeguard and recently interned for eight weeks as a volunteer patient assistant at River Oaks Hospital. In school, Moore has held several youth leadership positions, including being president of his senior class. Moore tutored middle-school students at the Teen Study Center at the Charles Tillman public library, which named him peer counselor of the year, and was a Math Literacy worker for the Young People’s Project. “I use a hands-on approach when I mentor a student,” Moore says. In March, Moore spoke at this year’s America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation Conference in Washington, D.C., and he helped plan the youth track for the conference. —Alonzo Lewis II
COURTESY JOSH MCLEMORE
COURTESY JAMIE FERGUSON
from page 15
t 16, Josh McLemore is already preparing for a career in politics. A sophomore at Brandon High School, McLemore has an eclectic mix of academic and extracurricular interests. He has eschewed his middle-school practice of hanging out only with his group of close friends and now moves effortlessly between the various groups that comprise the high-school social hierarchy. “I’ve matured and realized I wouldn’t want someone leaving me out,” McLemore says. “I’m at a place in high school where I’m friends with everyone.” Aspiring to be well rounded, McLemore does a little bit of everything. In March, McLemore attended a campaign rally for former Republican U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Brandon, but that isn’t necessarily an indication of his political leanings. McLemore points out that he reads literature by and about figures from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. Because he’ll be eligible to vote in a couple years, he wants to see whose views he likes the best, he says. When he runs for office, he wants to focus attention on young people and providing activities, community centers and live music venues for people his age. As a member of the Brandon High School Thespian Society, McLemore played one of the privileged socs who tried to drown Ponyboy in a recent production of S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” but it may be his participation in a rock band that best readies him for political rock stardom. McLemore’s band, Right of Skylight, which he describes as modern rock akin to Blink 182 or All Time Low, plays gigs in Mississippi and neighboring states. McLemore writes the music and lyrics, plays guitar and does backup vocals for the group. He’s applying for summer jobs and hopes to make a little money with the home studio he received as a birthday present last October. With all that he has going on, finding time for his class work can be a challenge. His favorite classes include chemistry, mathematics and oral communication. Of the last one he says, “I love that class because I love to talk.” —R.L. Nave
COURTESY KRYSTAL JACKSON
orthwest Rankin High School senior Abbie Szabo, 18, knows how to set goals and make plans to accomplish them. Next on her list: to learn Mandarin Chinese this summer while on a sixweek-long trip to China. “You come back a new person—you can’t hear the same way again,” Szabo says about traveling abroad. “You think differently after an experience like this.” This fall, she heads to the University of Mississippi where she will major in international studies and Mandarin Chinese. In case that foreign language does not suit her particular skills, Szabo has a back-up language— Spanish. After her immersion in Mandarin Chinese this summer, she’ll know for sure which way to go, she says. She also plans to study nursing. “I just want to help people,” she says. Szabo, active in the Beta Club, student government and cheerleading at Northwest Rankin, also spent time in the last two years as part of a student group, Students With a Goal. Founded to stop school apathy, SWAG started its first projects this school year. The student group raised money for the school’s custodians first-ever Christmas bonus and planted a community garden. Szabo’s skills as a project manager helped SWAG meet both goals. Recently, SWAG invited four Freedom Riders, the first black teacher in Rankin County (who is now 87), students from Holmes County, former governor William Winter and other dignitaries to an on-campus forum. This event incorporated several aspects of SWAG’s four core goals: environmental sustainability, civic awareness, cultural pluralism and justice in education. “It is what you make it,” Szabo says about life. “You’re not going to get anything out of it if you don’t put anything into it—life, SWAG, going to China. You won’t feel rewarded unless you try.” —Lynette Hanson
rystal Jackson is not your average teenage girl trying to find herself—she knows exactly what her purpose is. An artist and singer, this 10th grade Murrah High School and Power APAC student, age 15, has her heart and mind set on becoming a well-known opera singer. “In elementary school, I did a lot of arts and crafts, and I’ve been taking private vocal lessons since I was 6 years old. It has just always been my thing,” Jackson says. “My talent is God-given.” Her ability in both music and art helps her find balance. “Art calms and centers me. Singing makes me feel so alive—I love it,” she says. “If I lost my voice and couldn’t sing, I’d just die.” A member of Central United Methodist Church, Jackson’s faith motivates her to pursue her dreams. At her church, she is president of the Youth Council, a member of the Central Praise Team and a Morning Glory Singer. Her role as president of the Youth Council allows her to give the youth of her church a voice. “I wanted leadership at my church because I love my church, and it keeps me grounded,” she says. “I try to be an advocate for the youth of the church.” Her talent was recently showcased at the Central United Methodist Church Mississippi Conference annual banquet. She felt a boost of confidence as she received recognition from those who matter most to her. “When I go to competitions, I always feel average because there are so many other kids with just as much talent,” Jackson says. “Being highlighted at the banquet made me realize that I really do have a gift.” Krystal plans to continue studying music in college, and hopes to attend Julliard or the New England Conservatory of Music. “A lot of people will misunderstand you, but we all deserve happiness,” Jackson says. “Go for your passions because if you don’t utilize your gifts, they can and will fade away.” —Jessica Simien
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atthew Spann speaks with the eloquence and confidence of an older man even though he’s only 17. His bass-baritone voice is just one thing that sets him apart. This Jim Hill High School junior is involved in enough things to be considered established. At school, Spann is the president of the choir and serves on the prom and homecoming committees. He is also part of Jim Hill’s International Baccalaureate program. In student government this year, Spann is a class representative; last year he was the sophomore class president. He has been participating in student government since middle school. Outside school, Spann works with Youth Leadership Jackson. Recently, the group went to Brown Elementary School to help rebuild the playground. Spann volunteered with the Mississippi Blues Marathon for the first time this year. “It’s what I love to do,” Spann says about being involved in the community and in school. “I’m a hard worker. If anyone calls on my help, I love to say yes.” Singing at Jim Hill and at his church, Greater Pearlie Grove Missionary Baptist Church, is one of his favorite pastimes. Music is a big part of his life, and he hopes to attend Ole Miss to study music education and minor in either political science or business administration. “I find music to be my calling. It’s my passion. It’s what I’ve grown up around,” Spann says. Both of his parents, Janice Yvette Spann and Matthew Ray Spann, are involved in music and the church. Janice sings in the adult choir, and his father was a pastor at their old church and is a drummer. “They are my biggest fans,” Spann says about his parents. “They are my inspiration. They are always by my side.” —Briana Robinson
tephanie Barone moved from Argentina to Mississippi in 1998, when she was about four years old. She is the daughter of Maximiliana and Fernando Barone, and she is fluent in both Spanish and English. Barone is an 18-year-old senior at Jackson Preparatory School. At school, she is a member of the Mu Alpha Theta club because of her good math scores, the drama club because she loves acting, the French club because she is learning how to speak french and the Spanish club because of her Spanish roots. She is also a member of the National Honor society and was inducted into Jackson Prep’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society. The Mission of the Cum Laude Society, as stated on its website, is to recognize “academic achievement in secondary schools for the purpose of promoting excellence (Areté), justice (Diké) and honor (Timé).” Barone’s being recognized on Jackson Prep’s 2011-2012 faculty list portion of the school’s honor roll, meaning that she had an average of 95 and above in all her course work. Barone is active in community service, and she goes on mission trips and visits orphanages with her church, College Drive Seven Day Adventist Church in Pearl. She says she enjoys visiting the orphanages because she loves bringing a positive experience to children who are going through a negative time, and she loves showing them Jesus’ love. She is also a junior ambassador for Madison the City Chamber of Commerce. After graduating from high school, Barone plans to attend the University of Mississippi. — Adria Walker
COURTESY MATTHEW SPANN
COURTESY HORREL PHOTOGRAPHY
from page 17
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istoric driving tour of Oxford and the University of Mississippi on the famous Double Decker bus. Tour will include stops at two historic homes: the L.Q.C. Lamar House and Cedar Oaks Mansion.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children and include admission into both homes. Tour departs from Skipwith Cottage on the Square.
April 25 - May 1, 2012
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igraine headaches wouldn’t leave Madison Burgess alone. They reached around her skull and stayed for hours, even days. She missed the first half of her sophomore year of high school because of repeated attacks. The migraines continued into her junior year, and she missed more classes. Despite the debilitating condition, Burgess not only did her schoolwork, she made the honor roll in her advanced placement classes. She carved out time to volunteer. And along the way, she got the idea of becoming a medical doctor. While school is her main priority, Burgess finds lots of time to help others. She founded Operation Prom Princess to help girls who couldn’t afford gowns, and she helps with many other efforts, including Stewpot Community Service. “We are blessed to bless others,” Burgess says. Now 17 and a senior at Madison Central High School, Burgess is making plans for college. She is leaning toward Mississippi College in Clinton. “It’s closer to family,” she says. Burgess wants to major in chemistry as an undergraduate before tackling medical school. Ever since the first migraine attacks sent her to doctors and specialists, a woman neurologist who helped treat Burgess left a deep impression on the teen’s psyche. Her career goal is to be a doctor—perhaps a pediatric neurologist. Now, Burgess controls her migraine attacks with a strict sleep routine and a diet geared to her personal chemistry, which she must balance with school and volunteering. “I didn’t want to be that person who just gave up,” Burgess says. “I didn’t want to be the person who couldn’t overcome obstacles.” She took on extra work, stayed extra hours and worked —Valerie Wells harder. “I always wanted to keep trying.”
COURTESY MADISON BURGESS
from page 19
Melvin Davis Jr.
elvin Davis Jr. recently took first place in the engineering division of the Hinds County district-wide science fair, winning a four-year scholarship to Jackson State University. This is the fourth year in a row that Davis, an 11th grader at Bailey Magnet High School, has placed in the top of the science fair’s engineering division. Davis’ project this year was swarm robots—a collection of robots that work together to perform a task. “The swarm robots can clean up spills or coordinate to go through a series of rooms,” Davis says. “I built four of them; there is one stationary robot that surveys the area and coordinates the others.” Davis, 16, hopes the robots can one day be used for large-scale projects such as cleaning up oil spills, and compares the way the swarm robots collaborate to an ant colony. Davis spent three weeks building the robots after two months developing schematics and gathering materials. He used parts salvaged from old appliances and wheels from old toy cars. The teen has been interested in robotics and machinery since early childhood. “The first time I watched ‘Terminator’ when I was 5, I became interested in robots,” Davis says. “I built my first electric motor in 6th grade. I took apart old radios and TVs, car starters and a cash register to build it. I got first place (in a science fair) for it.” He intends to apply to MIT and Stanford University (his first choice), with the JSU scholarship as a fallback plan, and major in electrical engineering and computer science. Davis also hopes to start his own robotics company one day. Davis and his family moved to Jackson from Washington, D.C.—where Davis was born— four years ago. The Davis family owns Lumpkins BBQ in Jackson, and Davis enjoys helping his parents, Monique Davis and Melvin Davis Sr., at the restaurant. (His mother also joins the JFP sales staff this week.) He also helps out with community projects along with his four younger siblings—three brothers, Charles, Benjamin and Daniel, and his sister, Ava. —Dustin Cardon
anier High School senior and native Jacksonian Adriana Parker, 18, directs her life by this quote: “If you don’t do your part, you can’t complain.” Other than prepping for her senior and getting ready for college next fall, Parker spent much of her spring volunteering for numerous organizations. She is actively involved with Read Across America, Operation Shoestring, JROTC and the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program in Jackson. She has served three times on a panel for the United Way’s Drop Out Prevention Council. While on the panels, Parker discussed the impact that state tests have on schools and the affect they have on students. Parker tries her best to make a difference in the community where she lives, and it excites her to know that she has already succeeded. She feels that her peers, whether in school or in the community, “need an extra push from somebody their own age, because sometimes adults can’t reach them.” The teen encourages all youth to help their local communities and each other and to realize that they, too, can make a difference—even if it is something small. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Parker says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. —Whitney Menogan
hen high school junior Mark Scott joined the Distributive Education Clubs of America, which prepares high school and college students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, he did so only because it was suggested to him by a teacher due to his low-key, serious nature. He never thought he’d have the opportunities that it has opened for him. “I was really inspired by my parents who told me to work now and play later,” Scott says about being involved in this business and marketing student organization. “That’s what DECA is—it’s very serious.” In February, Scott, 18, became president of the Mississippi chapter of DECA, and in April, he will carry the Mississippi state flag in the opening parade of states at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. This international event will feature more than 16,000 students from across the world. Scott’s school, Callaway High School, will take six students to the competition. In addition to his commitments to DECA and to his academics, Scott is also a cornerback for the Callaway Charger football team and works a weekend job. “I’m always working and always on the go,” he says. Callaway principal Clyde Speaks says that Scott “epitomizes what we look for in a student athlete.” Scott has a strong interest in becoming a physical therapist after high school. Despite Scott’s humble attitude, Callaway DECA adviser Clayton Marble made no small deal of Scott being the organization’s state president and the leadership he displays at school. “Mark is the kind of student that makes you want to teach,” Marble says. “He is very courteous and respectful and sets a great example for the entire student body.” —Greg Pigott
COURTESY MARK SCOTT
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THE MUSEUM SCHOOL
2012 SUMMER ART CAMP FOR AGES 3 - 17 Don’t wait! Register your child today!
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10 AM-11:30 AM SESSION 1: July 24-26 SESSION 2: July 31- August 2 Caregivers must attend with participants. $75 per session
rising 3-5th graders Monday - Friday 9 AM-4 PM SESSION 1: June 11-15 SESSION 2: June 18-22 $240 per session
rising 6-8th graders Monday - Friday 9 AM-4 PM SESSION 1: July 9-13 SOLD OUT SESSION 2: July 16-20 $250 per session
Art Connect Ages 8, 9, 10
or rising 3-5th graders Monday - Friday 8 AM-5 PM An interdisciplinary camp presented with the MS Symphony Orchestra, Ballet MS, and MS Opera. SESSION 1: June 25-29 $300 per session
or rising 9-12th graders Monday - Friday 9 AM-4 PM SESSION 1: July 23-27 SESSION 2: July 30-August 3 $250 per session
Ages 8, 9, 10 or
Ages 5, 6, 7 or
rising K-2nd graders Monday - Friday 9 AM - NOON or 1 PM - 4 PM SESSIONS 1 & 2: June 11-15 SESSIONS 3 & 4: June 18-22 SESSIONS 5 & 6: June 25-29 $170 per session
Ages 11, 12, 13 or
Ages 14, 15, 16, 17
QUESTIONS? Contact the Museum’s Education Department @ 601-960-1515.
Visit WWW.MSMUSEUMART.ORG to register. MISSISSIPPI MUSEUM of ART 380 SOUTH LAMAR STREET JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI
Help prevent summer learning loss!
Summer Reading Book Clubs & Parties
May 19th — August 7th Students will receive hands-on help with their Summer Reading Assignments and will be encouraged to keep reading over the summer break.
Go to www.MyUnitedWay.com for a schedule and to register.
Summer Camps & Classes Guide - Paid Advertising JPF Summer Camp Ad.pdf 1 Section 4/20/12 4:46 PM
A DV E NTU R E J
OU R NA L
Can’t wait for Camp!
Kitchen Chemistry Camp
Mission to Imagination Museum Exploration Camp
Globe Trekkers Camp
Where the Wild Things Are! Camp
Express Yourself Camp
You must be a Museum member to book a summer camp &DPSLVIRUFKLOGUHQDJHV THHQVDQGXSFDQYROXQWHHUWREHFDPSZRUNHUV
April 25 - May 1, 2012
Find out more about camps at mschildrensmuseum.com
Summer Camps & Classes Guide - Paid Advertising Section
Millsaps College Summer Enrichment
for 2012 is bursting with fun, imagination, and the stuff of genius! Advanced Drawing for the Young !RTIST s +NITTING FOR "EGINNERS s $ANCE 4EAM "ASICS s $IGITAL %DITING 7ORKSHOP s -ANNERS WITH -S 7RIGHT s 0UPPETS AND 0LAYS s "IRDING #AMP #HARACTER !NIMATION 7ORKSHOP s #HEER $ANCE "ASICS s #HORAL -USIC #AMP s #LASS !CT 4HEATRE "ASICS s $ISCOVERING THE 9OUNG !RTIST s 0RAISE AND 7ORSHIP $ANCE FOR 9OUTH s 2EADING AND 7RITING IN #OLLEGE s 3UMMER 'UITAR 7ORKSHOP s #HAMBER -USIC $AY #AMP Register today: www.millsaps. EDUCONTED s JFP Lights AD.pdf
S P O T L I GH T ENTRY
LIGHTS! CAMERA! IMAGINATION!
AUDITIONS WILL BE APRIL 27TH We are engaging children ages 3-12 years old in a talent search that is sure to spark their creativity. Children can audition to be the next star of the Mississippi Childrenâ€™s Museumâ€™s print, radio and television advertising. CHILDREN MUST REGISTER ONLINE TO PARTICIPATE. Admission to the event is $10 per person and auditions will be first come, first served.
STAr next R?
877.793.KIDS (5437) mschildrensmuseum.com
8 DAYS p 28 | FILM p 29 | MUSIC p 30 | SPORTS p 36
Puppets on Parade
um dum da dum dum dum,” the strings sing in my mind as I stroll down a sunny sidewalk on Lamar Street to speak with Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Michael Beattie. I soon start humming the melodies from “Peter and the Wolf” to myself as they spring up from my childhood memories in anticipation. On April 28, an exciting mixed-media artistic experience is coming to town. The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra is bring-
by Kelly Bryan Smith
ing in Madcap Puppets, a lauded puppetry troupe from Cincinnati, Ohio, to participate in a performance of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” along with the orchestra. “Whenever you hear puppets, you think kids,” Beattie says with a laugh, “but these are two of the finest composers of symphonic music, and this will be an interdisciplinary arts experience of the highest quality. I can tell you this: I am going to be in the front row!” The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra certainly hopes to bring families and kids to enjoy the matinee performance, but they want anyone who enjoys music to come experience what Beattie describes as a “marriage between orchestra and puppets.” This magical collaboration brings together outstanding artists. Madcap is a nationally recognized puppetry troupe that partners w i t h schools, museums, libraries a n d
y tes ur
What’s That I Hear?
o matter your age or level of musical experience, Michael Beattie offers a few questions to think about while you listen to the symphony performance. From a basic level of music appreciation to an in-depth discussion of musical theory, these questions will get you started. 1. What did I just hear? How can I describe its elements? 2. Is that melody new, or have I heard it earlier in the performance? If it is repeated, how has it changed? 3. What is each instrument playing? What is the effect? 4. How do the images and puppetry actions connect with the music?
The fun doesn’t end at the conclusion of the performance. Stay for the hands-on postperformance activities in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Art Garden, organized by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art and the Mississippi Puppetry Guild. This is a time to meet the artists, make puppets and get acquainted with various orchestra instruments. Whether you’re young or young at heart, whether you are well-versed in musical theory or simply like the idea of spending a Saturday afternoon listening to great music, this performance is something you shouldn’t miss. See the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and Madcap Puppets perform “Peter and the Wolf” and “The Firebird” Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St., 601-960-1537). Ticket prices start at $15 (some reduced price tickets are available for ages 4-18 accompanied by a paying adult). For more information and tickets, visit msorchestra.com.
April 25 - May 1, 2012
Search for Child Stars
massive group of children caught Elaina Jackson’s attention at a hotel in Houston, Texas, last year. Jackson is the director of development and marketing at the Mississippi Children’s Museum, and she and her coworkers were attending a museum conference. They all noticed the large crowd. These particular children weren’t part of the conference agenda; they were at the hotel for a talent search. “Droves and droves of children were in their Sunday best,” Jackson said. The MCM staffers thought a talent search might make a perfect fundraiser back home.
by Valerie Wells
That was how the idea for “Lights, Camera, Imagination” began. The museum will hold the talent search April 27 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in its Arts Gallery. Contestants must register online and pay a $10 entry fee. Within the first hour of opening online registration April 9, a dozen entries came in, Jackson said. The competition is limited to the first 200 applicants. Four children will win a chance to star in print ads, billboards and broadcast commercials promoting the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Judges will choose one child from each of three age groups: 3 to 5 years
old, 6 to 8 years old and 9 to 12 years old. The fourth child will be the grand-prize winner from all age categories. The event won’t be all business. The museum plans activities and fun for children and their families that evening. “What we are really hoping to do is encourage children to perform and have confidence,” Jackson said. “We are not looking for an Oscar winner or a certain type.” To register or learn more about the talent search, visit mississippichildrensmuseum.com
P ap dc
Madcap Puppets and the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra team up for “Peter and the Wolf” April 28.
other entities to bring the arts to children. The troupe also takes on a variety of environmental issues, social concerns, and even conflict-resolution skills through its performances and workshops. What can you expect to see and hear in this performance? “Peter and the Wolf” will be performed on the Thalia Mara Hall stage in front of the orchestra with colorful, lifesize, three-dimensional puppets. A different instrument or section of the orchestra represents each character in the story. The strings represent Peter, for example, while clarinets “perform” the cat. Each character also has its own distinctive melody. For this reason, generations of parents have used “Peter and the Wolf” as an excellent introduction to the orchestra for children. Madcap will use a different puppetry medium for “The Firebird.” This classic Russian fairy tale will come to life with the orchestra on stage in front of a large screen. Behind the screen, Madcap artists will perform stunningly intricate shadow puppetry to tell the story of an enchanted bird that performs great magic in exchange for its freedom. Audiences may be less familiar with this story than with “Peter and the Wolf,” but Michael Beattie enthusiastically describes a vibrant fantasy suitable for all ages. When you watch this stunning performance of two different composers and two different puppetry styles, you may be surprised to discover that despite the incredibly professional product, the musicians will have only one rehearsal with the full orchestra and the musicians and the puppetry troupe together will have only one rehearsal before putting on what promises to be a seamless visual and auditory experience.
Jackson kids can audition to be in ads for the Mississippi Children’s Museum.
Shaping Notions of Art COURTESY NATALIE MAYNOR
by Valerie Wells
Captain Gonzo from FIGMENT Boston plays at “21 Drum Salute to Moose,” an installation at last year’s FIGMENT Jackson.
hitney Grant looked down the narrow path between two long lines of people. Blocking her view were wide-open palms gently waving and waiting for her. She ran down the highfive gauntlet, slapping hands, getting and giving high-fives and connecting with other participants at last year’s FIGMENT Jackson, an arts event heavy on participation. It was exhilarating. “I think I went through twice,” Grant said. Just a few minutes later, almost in the time it took the participants to gather and create the gauntlet, the lines dissipated and left no trace. Grant is an organizer of this year’s FIGMENT Jackson event April 28 and 29 in the Midtown Arts District. The free event pulled in more than 1,300 last year at the old Coke plant on Highway 80. “It was a variety of experiences. We had everything,” she said. “It was two days of wandering and having unexpected experiences.” The event is free, a point Grant stresses. “Even if we charge $1 to get in, that would exclude someone,” she said. FIGMENT has no corporate sponsors, and no artists are allowed to sell art at the event. The concept is inclusion and noncommercial celebration. It’s not a cold gallery of submissions to look at. “The idea is (that) everyone is an artist,” Grant said. “It’s not an evaluation of art; it’s not art just hanging on walls.” Last year, little children played in a plastic wading pool filled with flower petals instead of water. Journals and notebooks and pens and pencils dangled from tree branches inviting passersby to stop and write a note about dreams and wishes. With each new crawling participant or curious poker, a large modernistic monkey-bars structure created new light shows and musical tunes.
FIGMENT is not just for children, but you will want to play like a child. Interactive means more than observing others who create. “It’s kind of like a potluck art party,” Grant said. “It’s really the most grassroots thing I’ve ever been a part of.” FIGMENT is a multi-city arts festival that started in New York City. Now, the festival happens in Detroit and Boston as well as Jackson. David Koren, FIGMENT project executive producer and founder, calls it participatory art in the public realm. Artists will have booths with activities everyone can take part in. Grant and the other organizers set up the place, date and time, and they help applicants with the basic needs for each interactive idea. Some will need access to power, like the monkey-bar sized musical instrument from last year’s event. FIGMENT will block off Wilson Street for several outdoor projects, but expect many indoor installations as well. When Grant talked to the Jackson Free Press, she was still expecting more entries and couldn’t describe any new projects. The organizers approve most projects, making suggestions on how to make some even more interactive. They accept just about any idea, as long as it isn’t dangerous. Planning the logistics and support for FIGMENT has been time intensive. The first meeting for this year’s event was held in October. One of the big jobs is writing grants to pay for the free-to-the-public events. Even though the organizers charge nothing, some necessities still cost money. The organizers also have to consider the cost of security, insurance and some legal paperwork. Some professionals donate their services to the cause. “Everything is done on a volunteer basis,” Grant said. Every Wednesday for the past couple of months, the core team of volunteers has met on site in Midtown. FIGMENT organizers provide the infrastructure. One of the largest challenges FIGMENT Jackson organizers face is getting the word out. “It’s difficult. We have some money left over from last year that we are using for advertising,” Grant said. FIGMENT Jackson chose Midtown as its focus this year to make something positive happen where it’s not the norm. “We want people to come and be ready to unleash their creative side,” Grant said. “Drop your inhibitions and enjoy yourself.” FIGMENT Jackson 2012 is Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, in the Midtown Arts District. FIGMENT Jackson’s central node is at the North Midtown Arts Center (121 Millsaps Ave.) and will expand into Millsaps Avenue, Wilson Street and McTyere Avenue as necessary. North Midtown is located south of Woodrow Wilson, west of Millsaps College, east of Mill Street and north of Fortification Street. Hours are noon to dark Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Free. Visit jackson.figmentproject.org.
2012 Deep Delta Festival April 28, 2012 Downtown Rolling Fork
Schedule of Events 8:00: 5k Run/Walk
(sponsored by Sharkey Issaquena Health Network)
Main Stage Activities
9:00: Deep Delta Talent Show 10:00: Smiley & The Young Guns 11:00: The Grayhounds & guests 12:00: Delta Connection with Jacqueline Williams 1:00: Jamie Isonhood 2:00: Tea & Sympathy 3:00: DeAnna Nicole
Call 662.873.6261 for more information. Market Street Festival
May 5 Free & Open to the Public 5 entertainment stages with over
Market Street After Dark Mingo Fishtrap Friday Lukas & The of the Real May 4 PromiseNelson
7:30-9:00 p.m. 9:30-11:00 p.m.
Downtown Columbus 7:30-11 PM $10 tickets
Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real
$10 Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Market Street Office at 107 5th Street North or at www.marketstreetfestival.com or at the gate. Food & beverages will be available for purchase. Ticket required for admission to gated area.
20 musical acts Children’s Stage and Activities area with 10 acts Over 225 Arts & Crafts Vendors Food Court with over 20 vendors & a pancake breakfast Ice cold beverages Car & Motorcycle Show, Tractor Display & 5K Run Zumba in the Streets with the Y Children’s Activities & Performances, Inflatables, Bungee Trampoline, Walk on Water Balloons, Pony Rides & Characters Junior Fire Fighter Games Ice Cream Eating Contest Tractor Display Video Game Trailer 5K Run WCBI Car Giveaway Hands on Marketplace Giveaways & Much More!!
Lounging with the Locals Saturdaythe columbus Riverwalk
May 5 Free & Open to the Public Deacon Jones & The Late Night 5:00 p.m.
Jimbo Mathus & Mark “Muleman” Massey Blues Band Eden Brent The Tri State Coalition 10:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 8:30 p.m
For complete details contact Main Street Columbus at 662-328-6305 or visit www.marketstreetfestival.com
No Coolers or Pets Please
BEST BETS April 25 - May 2, 2012 by Latasha Willis email@example.com Fax: 601-510-9019 Daily updates at jfpevents.com
See Terry Lynn’s paintings through April 30 at Gallery 1 (University Place, 1100 John R. Lynch St.). Free; call 601960-9250. … Agricultural economist Jimmye Hillman speaks during History Is Lunch at noon at the Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St.). Bring lunch; call 601-576-6998. … The “Animal Secrets” exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive) is up through May 6. $4-$6, children under 3 and museum members free; call 601-576-6000. … The play “All My Sons” is at 7:30 p.m. at New Stage Theatre (1100 Carlisle St.); runs through April 28. $25, $22 seniors and students; call 601-948-3533, ext. 222 … Dreamz JXN hosts Wasted Wednesday. … Jason Turner performs at Fenian’s. … Larry Brewer is at Olga’s. … Chris Gill and D’Mar perform at Underground 119.
800-745-3000. … Harpsichordist Dr. John Paul lectures and performs at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral (305 E. Capitol St.). $15, $5 students; call 601-594-5584. … Dreamz JXN hosts Centric Thursday. … At Hal & Mal’s, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds play in the Red Room ($10), and Mark Whittington and Fingers Taylor perform in the restaurant (free).
Amazin’ Lazy Boi performs during Live at Lunch at 11:30 a.m. at the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Art Garden (380 S. Lamar St.). Bring or buy lunch; call 601-960-1515. … Jackson Bike Advocates’ monthly Community Bike Ride is at 6 p.m. and begins at Rainbow Whole Foods (2807 Old Canton Road). Find Jackson Bike Advocates on Facebook. … The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is at 6 p.m. at Millsaps College (1701 N. State St.). Registration fees vary; call 769-237-6011; visit relayforlife.org for more locations. … The Lynch Street Cultural Arts Festival kicks off with a banquet at 7 p.m. at Masonic Lodge (1072 John R. Lynch St.), and the outdoor festival is April 28 between Rose and Dalton streets at noon. $50, $500 table of 10 for banquet; free outdoor activities; call 601-352-6993. … Marlowe and the Sea performs at 7 p.m. at Cups in Fondren. … The play “Animal Farm” is at 7:30 p.m. at Actor’s Playhouse (121 Paul Truitt Lane, Pearl) and runs through May 6. $15, $10 seniors and students; call 601-664-0930. … The Colonels play at Ole Tavern. … 2Xtreme performs at F. Jones Corner.
Gathering on the Green is at 10 a.m. at the Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St.). Free admission; call 601-576-6920. … The FIGMENT Art Festival kicks off at noon at North Midtown Arts Center and runs through April 29. Free; call 601-874-7993; visit jackson.figmentproject.org. … The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra presents “We’re Playing with Puppets!” at 2 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall. $15 and up; call 601960-1515. … Dancing with the Mississippi Stars is at 6:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Jackson (345 Saint Andrews Drive). Proceeds benefit Community Place. $75; call 601-355-0617, ext. 313. … The Detectives Mystery Dinner Theatre presents
“Cracked” at 7 p.m. at Parker House. $48; call 601-937-1752 to RSVP. … Ballet Mississippi presents “Collage” at 7:30 p.m. at Jackson Academy (4908 Ridgewood Road). $15, $12; call 601-960-1560. … Dead Confederate plays at Martin’s. … Back 40 plays at Bourbon St. in the Quarter at 9 p.m. $5.
The benefit concert to help cover costs for Kristen Thomas’ double-lung transplant is at 1 p.m. at Hal & Mal’s. Donations welcome; call 601-497-3660 or 601-497-5447. … See the film “We Need to Talk About Kevin” at 5 p.m. at Russell C. Davis Planetarium (201 E. Pascagoula St.). $7; visit msfilm.org. … The GenerationNXT Indie Concert Series is at Dreamz JXN. … Máirtín de Cógáin performs and hosts a ceili at Fenian’s. $12, $10 Celtic Heritage Society members.
The Four Seasons of the Cedars Spring Art Show at The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road) hangs through May 11. Free; call 601-366-5552. … Woods and MMOSS play at Morningbell Records (Duling Hall, 622 Duling Ave.) at 7:30 p.m.
Authors Alan Huffman and Reese Fuller speak during the Millsaps Arts and Lecture Series at 7 p.m. at Millsaps College, Ford Academic Complex (1701 N. State St.). $10; call 601-974-1130. … Doug Frank’s Invitational Jam with Fingers Taylor and Adib Sabir is at 7:30 p.m. at Bourbon St.
MDAH historic preservation director Ken P’Pool speaks during History Is Lunch at noon at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). Bring lunch; call 601-576-6998. … The Med Grill hosts the Battle of the Bands at 9 p.m. … John Mora performs at Papitos. More at jfpevents.com and jfp.ms/musicvenues.
Máirtín de Cógáin performs and hosts a ceili at Fenian’s April 29. D’Mar performs at Underground 119 April 25.
April 25 - May 1, 2012
The Central Mississippi Ole Miss Alumni Club Scholarship Luncheon is at 11 a.m. at the Capital Club (125 S. Congress St.). $15; call 601-826-6886 or 601-506-3186. … The “Local Girls” Art Show is at 5 p.m. at Nunnery’s at Gallery 119 (119 S. President St.); artist Pryor Graeber performs afterward at Underground 119. Free; call 601-969-4091. … At the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Art Garden (380 S. Lamar St.), the High Note Jam featuring Eric Stracener and the Frustrations is at 5:30 p.m. (free, food for sale; call 601-960-1515), and Operation Shoestring’s annual Operation Spring Fling is at 7:30 p.m. with music from the Vamps (free admission; call 601-353-6336). … Janis Ian performs at 6:30 p.m. at Duling 28 Hall. $20 in advance, $25 at the door; call 601-292-7121 or
courtesy Marvel Enterprises
DIVERSIONS|film The summer blockbuster season officially kicks off May 4 with “The Avengers” and its big-star cast.
ART. MUSIC. BBQ. featuring
‘Que on the Yazoo
by Anita Modak-Truran
he concept of “big” stretches to “bigger” for the 2012 summer blockbusters, where budgets for comic-book fare exceed the $220-million mark. The payoff for these astronomical budgets takes the form of amusement park thrills, emphatic musical scores, big stars interacting with nothing but CG screens and an overall feeling of spectacle kicked up on steroids. While human imagination and ingenuity know no bounds, the stories, sadly, do. Don’t expect anything more than heroes and sheroes (the glass ceiling has been broken) whacking the bejeebies out of evildoers. And that’s OK when you’re chilling inside a movie theater with a lusty tub of popcorn at your side. The official blockbuster season kicks off May 4 with “The Avengers.” This slick, quarter-billion-dollar motion picture is all about— what else?—good versus evil. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of SHIELD, the international peacekeeping agency, pulls together a team to save the world from an enemy that threatens the globe. Fury recruits Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to thwart the threat. Pull out your black shades for “Men in Black III.” The first two movies of this franchise brought in more than $1 billion worldwide, so it had to become a trilogy. In 1969, an alien criminal kills the young Agent K (Josh Brolin), which places Earth in extreme danger. To reverse history, veteran Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time before the murder to save the young Agent K and humanity. “Snow White and the Huntsman” begins with the familiar fairy-tale classic. Unable to tolerate any insult to her vanity, the Evil Queen (Charlize Theron) orders a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to take Snow White (Kristen Stewart) into the woods for one shot, one kill. Snow White is too gosh darn cute for that to happen, so the story twists into the huntsman training Snow White into a warrior capable of ending the queen’s reign. Ridley Scott directs “Prometheus,” a visually luscious sci-fi jaunt, starring Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson and Idris Elba. A team of explorers discovers a clue
to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they do battle to save the future of the human race. One of the most sensational films of the summer season involves the 16th U.S. President in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Tall Abe, who was always gaunt and pale, eliminates vampires who are planning to take over the world. He is deemed the greatest hunter of the undead, all the while commanding Union forces and taking on slavery. If you need to vent, GI Joes are back in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” the third film in the franchise. Testosterone pumps up when a Cobra spy assassinates most of the Joes. The remaining Joes band together and get their feisty back on. Guess what? They retaliate. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” directed by Marc Webb, gets into the details of Peter Parker’s sad life. Played by Andrew Garfield, Parker tries to figure how he got to be the nerd that he has become and tries to get a handle on his high-school crush (Emma Stone). But destiny intervenes when a mysterious briefcase launches Parker on a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance. This leads him directly to the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner. You can figure out the rest. Parker’s alter ego, Spider Man, fights with Connors’ alter ego, The Lizard. “Total Recall” is back. As the nationstates Euromerica and New Shanghai vie for supremacy, a factory worker (Colin Farrell) begins to suspect that he is a spy, although he doesn’t know which side of the fight he’s on. Confused much? Batman returns in “The Dark Knight Rises,” directed by Chris Nolan. Despite his tarnished reputation after the events of “The Dark Knight,” in which Batman (Christian Bale) took the rap for Harvey Dent’s crimes, Batman feels compelled to intervene to assist the city and its police force in the struggle to cope with the latest evildoer’s plan to destroy the city. Anything by Nolan is worth seeing. He made hero action films into something more than a commodity. This summer’s line-up may make you want to construct a costume and engage in some serious super-hero-style vigilante justice. Or not. Kick back, relax and enjoy.
2012 FRIDAY: 5:00 pm
‘Que on the Yazoo BBQ Kick-off: 5:00 pm. Howard Street Band: 5:00 pm, The Plantation Allstars: 6:30 pm, Blue Mountain: 8:00 pm, The Krackerjacks: 10:00 pm.
SATURDAY: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Juried Art Contest & Art Fair. Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market. ‘Que on the Yazoo BBQ Contest. The Howard Street Pet Parade. Sponsored in part by
Heroes and Sheroes
COURTESY JANIS IAN
Mississippi Welcomes Janis Ian by Elyane Alexander
hen many people think of the 1960s, they think of it as a political time with movements for civil rights and women’s rights in the forefront. Singer, songwriter and author Janis Ian grew up in the culturally turbulent 1960s, which has inspired her music, including her iconic “At Seventeen.” She has spent most of her life writing and singing about the world around her. Ian, 61, grew up around music. “I went to a camp where everyone sings. My folks sang—my whole family sang,” she said. “I listen to everything from ’N Sync to James Brown to Aretha Franklin to oldtime classical music. It’s all music to me.” She began writing and singing music at a young age—her first album came out when she was 14. The greatest moment in her career came in 1975 when she won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance for “At Seventeen.” The song is about adolescent cruelty and the illusion of popularity. “I remember Ella Fitzgerald gave me a standing ovation,” she said. Fitzgerald called her “the best young singer in America.” Ian has released dozens of albums, received two Grammy Awards and nine Grammy nominations, and, in 2008, she wrote a critically acclaimed book, “Soci-
ety’s Child: My Autobiography” (Tarcher, $26.95). She plans to release a new album within the next year. Ian says she owes all her success to her grandparents. “They came to America when they were 16 or 15 years old from Russia hoping to find anything,” she says. “They worked their whole lives so I could have opportunities.” The world she has known has changed so much from the ’60s to now. “We really believed the entire world would change, which it did, for better or worse. I wouldn’t be playing in Mississippi in the 1960s,” she says. This will be Ian’s first time performing in Mississippi. Her blend of blues and folk music is easy to listen to even when the lyrics lean into politics and social justice issues. “I’m excited,” says Ian. At the end of every performance she loves to meet with her fans. Janis Ian will perform at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.) on Thursday, April 26, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and are available at Babalu Tacos and Tapas, the Mississippi Coliseum box office or online at ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit janisian.com. Janis Ian performs at Duling Hall April 26.
The Key of G Show Some Love
April 25 - May 1, 2012
f you have been reading my column for a while, you know a few things about me: I like records, sneakers, hiphop, funk, reading and the occasional dose of rock ‘n’ roll. You also probably know that going to see live music is a huge part of my life. For as long as I can remember, I have gone to great lengths to see all the music I can. Sneaking into the nowdefunct Midnight Sun on Capitol Street in high school? Yes. Driving 12-plus hours more times than I care to admit to see obscure hip-hop acts? Yes. Losing feeling in my right hand while holding my finger in the air to beg for a ticket for three hours during a blizzard to get into a String Cheese Incident show at the Boulder Theatre? Yes. (We did get into the show right after they started. I literally had to sign the credit card receipt with my left hand.) For much of my live music career, I have had to drive or fly long distances to see the shows I wanted to see, and that is fine. Road trips are usually a whole lot of fun, but tiring. When Catherine and I lived in Boulder, Colo., the music came to us. We saw more underground hip-hop acts in three years within walking distance of our house than we had seen in the previous 15 years combined. Red Rocks, arguably the best outdoor venue in America, was 35 minutes away.
In Colorado, convenience kept us from traveling for open-mic poetry at Suite 106 a few Saturdays ago, I thought music; we simply didn’t have to do it. In the three years we’ve about how amazing it is to see my friends do what they love been back in Jackson, we have traveled out of the state fewer to do and how lucky I am to get to pay to watch them do it. than five times for music. We try to catch one Phish show a I know that sounds strange, but it is true. These are folks I share meals with and talk about year, and we didn’t even do that life with, and I get to pay them last year. If my 20-year-old self $5 to do their thing. Catherine came to the present in a Deloand I have come to realize that, rean to confront me today, he to us, that is far more special would not have any idea who than standing on the back of a he was talking to. lawn at an amphitheater eight In the past, local music hours away from home to barewas an afterthought—somely hear a band. thing we did when we were in I encourage all of you to town for the weekend. Now, get out and support local mulocal music is all we do. At first, sic as much as you can. There it was out of sheer laziness, but After 20 or so Spacewolf shows, Murph Caciedo (left) is something for all of us. We more recently, we stay local out has no choice but to be our friend, right? have a hip-hop scene that rivals of pure choice. Catherine and anything I have experienced in I have been lucky enough over the past couple of years to become friends with a whole lot bigger cities—creative, cutting-edge rock bands, jazz, blues, of folks in the Jackson music scene, I think mainly because electronic music and everything in between. we are so ubiquitous. I mean, after 20 or so Spacewolf shows, Remember when there used to be nothing to do in Murph has no choice but to be our friend, right? Jackson? Now we find it hard to keep up. What a good probIt has really hit me recently that because of this, seeing lem to have. Get out there and be a part of it. Spend a few music in Jackson has taken on a whole new dimension. At bucks, and show the home team some love. COURTESY SPACEWOLF
by Garrad Lee
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