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The Mississippi School For Mathematics and Science


An Opportunity For Excellence, An Opportunity for Life

f you’re reading this, you’ve already made the first step toward what could be the pivotal decision of your life - applying for and attending the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. By expressing interest in the state’s only public residential high school aimed at fulfilling the needs of Mississippi’s academically talented, you have already proved yourself to be one of the state’s very best. Now it is time to go further and get ready for the application process. This newsletter will give you an idea of what you can expect should you decide to go for MSMS, and it will also answer questions about the application process. We’ll include everything from testimonials written by teachers and students to tips about filling out the application. Class of 2013, your time is coming up fast. By the middle of the summer we’ll have the application ready so you can begin working. Don’t panic, it won’t be due until the middle of February 2011, so you still have plenty

of time. However, with these vacation months upon us, you should have plenty of time to get those essays written and get that work sample complete. Don’t procrastinate! Get it done and you won’t have to worry about it any longer. Now read on and discover how MSMS can help you to meet all your potential and take you places you’ve never dreamed!

MSMS FAQ With Mr. Wade

What is MSMS? MSMS, or the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is the state of Mississippi’s only public residential high school specifically designed to meet the needs of the state’s most academically talented students. When you think about MSMS, think world-class college preparatory instruction at a fraction of the cost of one of the country’s famous boarding schools. The school is located on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS. Students who attend MSMS attend in their junior and senior years of high school. It’s residential, which means students live on campus and it’s academic bent means students have the opportunity to take classes which go far and beyond most high schools in the country. If I go to MSMS do I have to live on campus? Yes. Part of the unique experience of MSMS is residential life. Living with peers who are just as dedicated to their academic future as you will put you a the position to maximize your potential. There are two dormitories on campus, Fraizer for the boys and Goen for the girls. Living on campus and being successful at MSMS means you’ll learn time management and self-reliance. Developing these skills two years before college means you’ll have a critical advantage when that transition presents itself. Most students love residential life. You’ll discover just how close friendships can become when your friends live in the same building you do and you see them all the time.

I heard (insert nasty rumor here) about MSMS. Is this true? Whatever negative things you heard about MSMS, you probably didn’t hear them from anyone who knows anything about the school first hand. Every institution has to deal with the spread of rumor, but rumor doesn’t equal fact. Think about your home school or your home town. Are there any rumors you’ve heard about the place you call home which are completely untrue or blown out of proportion? How many of those rumors you hear come from people who actually know what they are talking about? Not many, right? Some people, for whatever reason, have a need to tear things down rather than build them up. And it’s much more fun to listen to and believe negative rumors than it is to actually seek the truth about a given place or idea. If you want to have a good idea about MSMS from people who know a little about the school, then I recommend you make a visit to our campus. For most parents and students, one visit is enough to put their minds at ease and demonstrate our commitment

to our students and to our mission. If you can’t make it to the campus anytime soon, then email me and I’ll have one of our students call or email you back. If you’d like, you can talk to a student without any supervision from me, so you can feel confident you’re hearing the real deal from someone who knows. Do you have to be a genius to go to school there? Of course not. While you certainly have to be smart enough to be able to handle the amount of information you’ll be required to process, we’ve found that hard work goes a long, long way at MSMS. Just because you weren’t born an Einstein doesn’t mean you won’t be successful at MSMS it just means you might have to work a bit harder. Since we’re on this topic, let’s talk about ACT real quick. There is no minimum ACT score required for admittance. You do have to take the ACT and it is something which contributes to your application score, but it isn’t the only thing. That’s not to say a good score isn’t important, it is. However, we’ve had students with scores as low as 17 (be admitted), and they have been very successful.

How do I get into the school? What do I need to do before I apply? There are several ways to fill out the application. You can call us and have us mail you a hard copy, you can print a copy out from the website, or you can fill the application out online. The application consists of 14 parts each of which can be sent in separately as you complete them. The application for the class of 2013 should be posted to the website by mid-summer, and members of that class can begin filling it out as soon as it is ready. The application deadline will likely fall in the middle of February, 2011, so you’ve got plenty of time to get it done. As far as specific class requirements necessary to gain admittance, check out the “Getting Ready for MSMS” page in this newsletter. I’m intrigued, but not sure. Should I apply anyway? No matter how you feel right now you should fill out the application. If you apply, are accepted and decide not to attend then no harm, no foul. But if you simply don’t apply then you’ll never know what might have been. Remember, you only have one chance at MSMS, don’t miss it.

Getting Ready For MSMS Before becoming an MSMS student you must... - Complete two credits of English - Complete two credits of Math, including Geometry. Algebra II is strongly recommended - Complete two credits of Science, including Biology I. Chemistry is strongly recommended - Complete two credits of Social Studies. Mississippi Stuides, Geography and World History are required to be complete before admission. - A half-credit of Health must be completed - A credit in Physical Education must be completed. - A credit of Computer Application is strongly recommended - An ACT score must be obtained. (There is no minimum score required for admission)


Applic Part I

tion dvice

The Paperwork

The application for admission has a total of 14

different parts, and several of those fall under the category of paperwork. Since the application can be completed in parts and mailed or emailed separately, you might find it helpful to go ahead and knock out these parts of the application. Here, we’ll give you a quick rundown on what you need to include to make sure all your “i’s” are dotted and your “t’s” are crossed. To help make sense of this, go to the MSMS website at and click on the application link. This will take you to a .PDF of the document and you can follow along.

I. Applicant Information Page

III. Information Release Page

This is probably the easiest part of the application to fill out. All you need to include here is your basic information. Make sure you include as much contact information as possible so we can reach you if there is a problem.

While simple enough, this page is crucial because we cannot even begin to look at your application seriously until we have this document, signed, in our offices. This page is the legal document in which you give MSMS permission to look at your academic records and consider you as a potential student. Most of the application can be completed on the website. However, the information release page is the only part of the application that MUST be mailed in with all the appropriate signatures completed. Even if you have the rest of the application complete you will not be considered as an applicant until we receive this document.

II. Declaration of Legal Residence Page To qualify for admission, you must be a current resident of the state of Mississippi. This part of the application is the part where you show this to be the case. As the page states, you must send us two proofs of residency. These proofs can be anything which definitively proves residence, but probably the most convenient way to handle this is to send us a copy of one of your parents’ drivers licences and a copy of a utility bill mailed to your home. This information can be mailed, emailed or faxed to us.

IV. School Information Page Again, this is an easy page to fill out. On this page we want to find out information about your school and the kinds of classes you’ve been taking for the past three years. You’ll list your current school, how many people are in your grade and other schools you

might have attended since 7th grade. You’ll also tell us what classes you took in the 8th and 9th grades as well as what classes you’re taking as a sophomore. Do not list the grades you made in these classes on this page! Well, that was easy enough, huh? Now that the paperwork is out of the way and in the mail or in your outbox we can move onto the next part of the application. Next, month we’ll be covering the Student Resume page and what you should (and what you shouldn’t) include.

Bonus Tip:

NEVER assume we receieved anything you sent. Always call or email to verify receipt.

Senior Spotlight Kenneth Fang

Hometown: Greenville Home School: Washington High School College Attending: Yale University Major: Undecided

Alex Monie’

Hometown: Biloxi Home School: Biloxi High School College Attending: Mississippi State University Major: Biomedical Engineering

Sloane Sparks

Hometown: Belmont Home School: Belmont High School College Attending: Vanderbilt University Major: Biochemistry

Focus on Faculty

Dr. Odom

At MSMS Since: 1996 Teaches: Genetics, Ecology, Cell Biology, and Several Research Classes


hile it is tempting to dump Dr. Bill Odom into the category of “Biology Teacher,” Odom’s emphasis is in some ways much broader and in others much more tightly defined.

plant physiology and biochemistry. After that, I was at Kansas State University working on a fellowship. It was called NASA Specialized Center for Research and Training in Gravitational Biology. It was a deal where we studied the growing of plants in zero gravity. Basically, we were part of a group studying the effects of micro-gravity on living things. There were five or so of these He is a self described photosynthiac — someone who is really, really interested in photosynthesis — and his deep centers established in the country and ours was passion for all things organic can become infectious. It is charged with the cellular organismic level. not uncommon to wander into one of Odom’s classes and So you sent plants into outer space? hear 16 year olds arguing passionately, not about Britney Yeah, and we had some brine shrimp up there, too. What we were trying to look at with our Spears or the Jonas Brothers, but about cellular biology group was the effects of micro-gravity in the conand genetics. His respect for the intellectual curiosity of text of trying to grow plants in space. Out there his students and his status as MSMS’s unofficial Mardi Gras MC has cemented his place as one of the most popu- the roots don’t know to go down any more, so you would have to convince them to go where the lar and beloved teachers in the school’s history. water is somehow. So we were looking at ways to What did you do before you came to MSMS? do that. I was there for about five years. Well, I grew up in New Orleans. I went to public high How did you get to MSMS? school, public everything. I went to college undergraduate at the University of New Orleans and started graduate I just applied. I answered an ad. The first of it was school at University of Southern Mississippi and finished to try to get closer to home. We were coming to the end of the grant I was working on and I was at (Louisiana State University). I have my doctorate in

looking for something else. It seemed like a pretty unique teaching opportunity, and that’s why I’m still here. There ain’t a better teaching job. What is it you like about MSMS? In the context of the classroom it is about learning, it’s not about being a classroom manager. It’s about the knowledge. So you aren’t distracted by all the peripheral things. In that vein there are many other aspects, too. One is I am interested in introducing students who are interested in science to research. And that’s been one of the things I’ve always been focused on here is to keep them involved with opportunities to do original research. I’ve enjoyed the research I’ve done in the past, but this gives me the opportunity to see all kinds of other research, and learn a lot myself. Why do you think it’s important to teach this kind of high level science to these kids? Well, we have a host of classes here they can’t get anywhere else that really push them to the limit. One of the biggest challenges in teaching is dealing with the big range of students that are all in the same room at the same time. You know you struggle trying to push the one at the top further ahead, and cope with remediating the ones who are behind the curve. And you never have time to deal with them all. Here, that range is narrowed. We have a college schedule here, so you can spend more time working with individuals or individual groups. I teach an independent study class right now with Dr. Nancy MacNeill on medicinal chemistry. It’s fantastic. Dr. MacNeill and I are learning as much from each other as the students are learning from us. It reminds me of my graduate school experiences in that it’s just pure learning for the students in the context of watching your mentors argue about science. The students are trying to figure out who’s right and they have to start thinking for themselves without the benefit of anything being necessarily easy. What is it you find so fascinating about science? When I was younger, originally I thought I would go into medicine. I worked at a medical school while I was an undergraduate at the University of New Orleans. And I was kind of struck by the population. There were very few students there who seemed to

be interested in the science in medicine. At that time, they seemed more interested in making money. So, that kind of turned me away from medicine, but it turned me on to science. I was doing the lab work — at the time I was slicing cat brains — for this guy who was an M.D., Ph.D. and a clinical psychologist. He was instrumental in telling me to finish school. I’d been out for four or five years. So, I went back and finished my undergrad. I really liked the research in terms of asking the questions and then trying to find an approach to answer the question. I’ve always tried to get the students to broaden their minds in terms of having a better educated society. I think the interface between science and society is tantamount to a functioning society. Everything we do has underpinnings in science these days, especially as we look forward to this genomic revolution.

Dr. Odom, telling it like it is.

Balancing the Equation Because There’s More to Life Than Math and Science


ithout a doubt, MSMS offers world-class instruction in science, math and technology but if you thought that’s all we had to offer then you’ve got another thing coming. The school also has several high level English and writing courses as well as art and music options for all skill levels. Each month in this newsletter we’ll highlight something about the MSMS curriculum that might surprise you. This month we’ll take a look at MSMS’s literary magazine, Southern Voices. Southern Voices is published every year and is comprised entirely of artwork, poetry and stories created and written by MSMS students. Every year, young writers who are published in the magazine win scholarship and literary competitions all over the country. Southern Voices is just one example displaying exactly how dynamic our students really are. Republished here with permission is “Hot Coffee Diner” written by MSMS junior Kate Thompson and featured in the 2010 edition of the magazine. You can find a digital copy of the publication by visiting our website at

Rafiki’s Dream, Acrylic Painting by Reanna Bierig

Hot Coffee Diner Kate Thompson Michael pushed the stubborn door of the Hot Coffee Diner and peeled off his heavy, black coat. The air was stifled with body heat and cigarette smoke. Immediately after touching the door he wiped his hands on the sides of his ironed khakis. Surveying the room, Michael realized he was the only man under fifty. The other men sat fused to their chairs, their tables cluttered with cups of coffee and half-eaten slices of pie, betting on the song the radio would choose next and arguing the importance of technology. Syrup from yesterday’s pancake catastrophe clung to the checkered linoleum, sticking to the soles

of Michael’s Calvin Klein’s. He didn’t usually visit places like this, places where you couldn’t leave the building without inhaling countless clouds of second-hand lung cancer or avoid being called Sonny. Eyes red and exhausted, he slumped into the remaining vacant booth and pressed his throbbing forehead to the cool surface of the table. His eyelids squinched shut behind his silver glasses as an attempt to hide from the harsh yellow light screaming from the light bulbs on the walls. A piercing snap of watermelon gum triggered Michael to jump, waking from his stupor, followed by a husky voice: “So what’ll it be?” Michael’s waitress had russet hair that grew in short points and papery freckled skin. Her eyes were tired, jade ovals set into deep pleats of wrinkles and crow’s-feet. The apron she wore around her small waist was spattered with raspberry jam, bacon grease, and stale coffee. Michael pushed his glasses to his face and scanned her uniform for a name. “You’re not wearing a name tag,” he stated flatly. The waitress put her pen to her notepad. “Well, aren’t you just a sharp-eyed city boy,” she said looking up at Michael. “We don’t much need name tags around here.” Michael crinkled his eyebrows, “What do you mean?” The woman turned to face the rest of the diner. With her pen, she pointed at the tables of diners. “Let’s see,” she mumbled, “Bradley, Gene, Drew, Roger, Dale Matthew, Jim...” She rattled off names until she had aimed her pen at everyone in the diner. “This is a small town, sonny, not many names you got to remember.” Michael cringed at the nickname, leaning back into the cracked upholstery of the booth. “I see. Well, what is yours?” “They call me Tilly,” she replied with a smile, “not Mrs. Tilly, not Ms. Tilly, not ma’am. Makes me feel old.” She laughed a

husky laugh that made her eyes crinkle even deeper. “What do they call you?” “Michael,” he answered, “just Michael.” Tilly plucked at her gritty white sleeves. “Well, just Michael, you gonna order or are you just gonna lay your head back down and mope?” Tilly was no nonsense in a sort of prickly but placid manner. It was a remarkable demeanor that intrigued Michael. “I’ll just have water.” The waitress planted her hand on her hip, her weight shifting to her right leg, and raised one eyebrow. “Now that is not a real meal, now is it?” she said. “I’m-a go back and fix you somethin’ real nice.” Without another word, she turned and walked into the kitchen. Sitting awkwardly on the tattered cushion, Michael’s hands fidgeted, drumming the table, shredding napkins, and arranging and rearranging the salt and pepper shakers. “I’m just a failure,” he thought. “An utter failure.” His father had done it right. Got the right girl, got the right job, got the right life. Michael’s life, however, sat in the backseat of his sedan in a shoebox labeled “Mike’s Stuff” from hi ex-girlfriend and an unopened letter from Cornell University. The envelope seemed a tad anorexic to be an acceptance letter and Michael was not in the mood for any more bad news. As far as he was concerned, Cornell’s answer would remain sealed in the back of his car until the day he died. Everything he had worked for simply crumbled in under twenty-four hours. Now here he sat in a grubby booth in a congested restaurant in the middle of nowhere, studying the older men bickering and joking and playing cards. No doubt Michael would end up like them, with nothing stimulating in his life except the next cup of joe at the Hot Coffee Diner. In less than five minutes Tilly had

stacked three pancakes, scrambled eggs, and wheat toast on a chipped white plate. She slid the platter in front of Michael before throwing herself into the seat next to him. “So what’s eating you?” she said. Michael asked, “Have you ever done anything spectacular? You know, like really extraordinary?” Without hesitating, Tilly pulled at her belt loop to expose her hip bone, revealing a small, round scar. She jerked her head towards the knot of men cluttering the adjacent table. “Jim’s daughter has leukemia. About a year ago it got real bad, doctors said she needed a bone marrow transplant.” She let go of her belt loop and sat back down, elbows propped on the table with her chin in her hands. Michael paused. He pointed at her hip,”...and you just...” “Yep,” Tilly replied with a smile. “Took about two hours and it hurt like heck, but it did the trick.” She didn’t seem overly proud of herself. She almost acted like it was just a common thing. “I saw what needed to be done and I did it. Simple as that.” She stopped here turning back to survey the unshaven faces of friends. “We don’t look like much,” she added, “we know that. But I know for a fact that none of us are totally worthless.” Tilly’s lips curled up into a smile. “Now excuse me, sonny,” she said, “I was just about to take my break.” And with that she stood, grabbed her tan coat off the bar, and walked out the front door. Michael slapped twenty dollars on the table and followed. She was leaning against the dirty brick of the diner, with her hands deep in her pockets and a cigarette in her mouth. She was like a pro-smoker, with years of practice. Michael almost admired her skill, the dexterity in her fingers as they spun like dancers, flicking at lighters. Her lips cradled each cigarette delicately blowing smoky concentric circles into the air. She looked

like the perfect combination of age and strength. She took one last heavy drag on her cigarette before tossing it to the asphalt, dashing out the remaining flame with her heel. Michael turned to leave just as she called out, “Hey, kid!” She smiled again and exhaled, smoke swirling out of her nostrils. “Come back soon.”

Sculpture by Cayla Chambers

Sculpture by David Wang




of the month

“Excellentia Eternus�

W William Mauldin Class of 1997 Hometown: Columbus Home School: Columbus High School College Attended: Yale University Degree Obtained: Russian Studies Current Position: Deputy Bureau Chief, Moscow; The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires

illie Mauldin was born in Jackson in 1979, the only son of a lawyerturned-Methodist pastor and a teacher. He grew up in Pontotoc, Lambert, Tupelo, and Columbus, and while attending Columbus High School and MSMS, he studied piano at Mississippi State, giving recitals and competing in state competitions. He graduated from MSMS in 1997 as one of three Star students and the winner of the physics award. Five years later he finished Yale University with a degree in Russian studies. During time off from college he worked as a police and fire reporter at The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, and afterwards he moved to New York to write for The New York Sun and then SmartMoney magazine. In 2006 he moved to Moscow, Russia, working as a financial reporter at The Moscow Times and Bloomberg News. In September he accepted a job helping to lead the newly combined Moscow bureau of Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. During the recent bombings in Russia, Willie also served as a Russian correspondent for PBS Television News.

Remember you can find

info you need at

all the or Contact Mr. Wade 662-241-6429 1-800-553-8570

Look in your inbox for another MSMS Newsletter next month!

MSMS Student Newsletter  

This is the first issue of a monthly newsletter for students interested in attending the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.