Congratulations to Chuck Yarborough

Chuck Yarborough, U.S. history teacher at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus, has placed first alternate in the statewide Teacher of the Year program for the 2016-17 school year. (This story is an expert from the Commercial Dispatch click here to read more).

Yarborough was among four finalists selected by the Mississippi Department of Education in a program that recognizes exemplary teachers in the state. 

"It's an incredible honor to be in the group," Yarborough said. "That's kind of cliche ... but it's true. I'm fundamentally honored by the fact that I'm in the midst of all these other great teachers, all of whom are shaping their community and our state in some kind of positive way. It's pretty cool to be recognized." Read More

MSMS Students Triumph at Russian Contest

Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students took top honors in the Olympiad of Spoken Russian, held at Rhodes College in Memphis April 6. The contest is a unique event among language competitions and tests the most difficult aspect of language acquisition, speaking. In the four parts of the event, contestants describe in Russian themselves, their families and their interests; discuss aspects of Russian culture and geography; recite Russian poetry; and answer questions based on Russian narratives.

Senior Haley Hsu of Horn Lake received the overall gold medal and was recognized for the highest score ever earned at the Olympiada contest in the Memphis region. For her achievement, the judges nominated Haley for national recognition by the American Council of Teachers of Russian.

Fellow Russian 2 team members Hillary Gerber of Columbus and Alex Wheeler of West Point received gold medals and Noah McKone of Bogue Chitto won silver. In this group Alex received the highest score.

In Russian 1, juniors Elise Cook of Steens, Sydney "Sam" Matrisciano of Winona, Micah Robinson of Brandon and Matthew Westmoreland of Terry won gold. Matthew was the high scorer in Russian 1. Sam was given a special award for grace and composure in her responses to the questions and tasks of the Olympiad.

"I'm tremendously proud of these students," said MSMS Russian teacher Margaret Mary Henry. "They have worked very hard. What a joy to see their efforts so richly rewarded." Ms. Henry also had praise for junior Olga Goupalova, an MSMS junior originally from St. Petersburg, Russia who helped coach the MSMS team. "Olga did a superb job and was a big part of our success. She is an excellent peer tutor who truly reflects the four MSMS ideals of scholarship, community, service and creativity."

MSMS Got Talent

The 2017 MSMS Got Talent Show will take place on April 21 at 6:30 pm in Nissan Auditorium. Admission is free, but if you can't make the show you can still get in on all the fun (and vote for your favorite performers!) via the Livestream link above.

You know MSMS students have it going on when it comes to academics, but our students are also dynamically talented in music, dance, and other types of performance. Join us for MSMS Got Talent, on Friday, April 21, 2017!

This event is made possible by the MSMS Residential Life staff.

Tales From The Crypt 2017

The 2017 Tales From the Crypt performance has come and gone. Nearly 2,000 people from all over the world attended this year's four performances and $6,000 was raised for charity.

Read Commercial Dispatch Coverage of Tales From the Crypt here.

All About Tales

·      Featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” May 25, 2015 -

·       Featured in The Atlantic online magazine -

·      2014 Heritage Award for Preservation Education from the Mississippi Heritage Trust

·      2009 Award for Outstanding Use of Historical Documents in the Mississippi K-12 Classroom

·      2005 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts recipient -

·      2005 national Finalist for the History Channel’s Save Our History Classroom Award

·      Featured annually in the Commercial Dispatch and other regional publications - ;

·      Featured on Turner South Broadcasting’s 3 Day Weekend, episode 02-018

For the twenty-sixth time, this year 41 students at MSMS will explore history as well as honor people buried in historic Friendship Cemetery by attempting to uncover and tell their life stories as well as the story of this community’s historic development.

The Reasoning:

The Egyptians believed that when you said a person’s name aloud you were granting that person immortality.  And William Faulkner has written that “The past is never dead.  It is not even past.”  Additionally, Edward Ayers, a Pulitzer-prize finalist and Historian at the University of Virginia, argues that all history is local history writ large.

Recognizing a convergence of these three beliefs, for 26 years, students at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science have honored those buried in historic Friendship Cemetery and explored their regional and national relevance by attempting to uncover and tell their life stories and place them in the context of their times.

The project has been a successful partnership between MSMS, the Columbus-Lowndes County Library, and the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation (formerly the Columbus Historic Foundation).  It has received national and regional awards while also gaining recognition through imitation and publicity throughout the country.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour once said that Mississippi needs examples of excellence to which to aspire.  Tales from the Crypt has proven to be one such example.

The research and dramatic performance project is the brainchild of founding MSMS faculty member, Mississippi Master Teacher, and long-time Columbus resident Carl Butler.  For the past 16 years, the program has developed further under the direction of MSMS History teacher Chuck Yarborough.

The Project:


This year 41 11th grade US History students at MSMS are participating in research and development of the project.

Following an introduction to the project and a brief overview of Columbus history, each student selects the name of a person buried in Friendship Cemetery (from a master list of over 100 – not previously researched) who died in the nineteenth or early twentieth century (prior to 1930).   Students then visit the gravesite of their research subject in order to begin the research process.

During the fall semester, each student conducts primary and secondary source research in the local archives of the Columbus/Lowndes County public library (which are phenomenal as a result of our county having the only county Department of Archives and History in Mississippi in the late 1970s), the Lowndes County courthouse records, the special collections at nearby Mississippi State University and the Mississippi University for Women, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, and additional archives as revealed by each student’s work. 

From their research, students write a research paper exploring the life of their research subject and placing their subject in the larger historical context of their day.

"If You Know It, Tell It!"

Mississippi's Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty said there is a Mississippi saying, “If you know it, tell it!” 

In early January, student researchers begin to do exactly that!  Each student will develop a character and write an original monologue script conveying the student's interpretation of significant events which influenced and were influenced by their research subject.  Mr. Yarborough as well as previous Tales participants assist students as they develop their character for audition.

In auditions, 9 or 10 students will be selected based upon dramatic performance potential and historical accuracy.  These students will develop their characters further and hone their performances in production teams with fellow students, under the direction of their MSMS History teacher.  (Students who are not selected to perform their character continue to participate in the project as production team members.  These students also learn parts as narrators/guides for the performances during evening tours.) 


This year during Columbus' 2017 Spring Pilgrimage, MSMS students will perform the 27th annual Tales from the Crypt by candlelight in Friendship Cemetery.  Performers will tell their stories on the gravesite of the individual researched and student guides lead groups of tourists through the cemetery, introducing them to Columbus and Mississippi History.

Incorporating dramatic performance into a History research program, MSMS has created an opportunity for students and their audiences to explore our cultural and mental roots from different viewpoints.  Tales from the Crypt performances create a space in which the performers and the audiences are allowed the freedom to twist and play with their conceptions and where they are temporarily free to create new realizations and new levels of understanding.  

Tales from the Crypt performances will be March 31, April 3, 5, & 7, Spring 2017.

Annually, between two and three thousand visitors tour Friendship Cemetery and experience the performances!  As a community service project, admission is kept low so entire families can afford to come enjoy the show – only $5 for adults with a discounted price for students.

Community Service

The affordable admission covers performance costs and usually generates a small profit.  Profits from the project are donated to charitable projects selected by the students.  In 2016, Tales students donated over $6,600 to charitable causes – including the Columbus Boys & Girls Club, the Columbus-Lowndes County Library, the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation, the Fisher House Foundation, and the Tulane University Hospital!

Other recent donation recipients have included the Palmer Home for Children in Columbus; the Mississippi Red Cross; MS Public Broadcasting; funds for an historic marker at the childhood home of Richard Wright in Natchez, MS; funds to purchase a slave record manual and other resources for the Columbus/Lowndes Country Archives; funds for an historic marker at the downtown Jewish business complex in Port Gibson, MS, and others…

MSMS Chess Team Brings Home Top Prize

The MSMS Chess Team are state champions.

The MSMS chess team--seniors Braeden Foldenauer, and Andy Zhao, and juniors Spencer Bolhuis, William Johnson, Gary Nguyen, and Daniel Smothers--traveled to Starkville Saturday to compete in the 2017 Mississippi Scholastic Chess Association state team tournament. Teams from all areas of the state were there, but as the tournament entered the fifth and final round, three teams, DeSoto County, Franklin County, and MSMS, were engaged in a close and intense struggle to bring home the championship trophy. That trophy is now sitting in the lobby of Hooper. Congratulations to these students for a gutsy performance, a performance worthy of champions.

MSMS Hosts Latin Conference

On the grassy field outside the Pohl gymnasium on Mississippi University for Women's campus Friday, a group of teenagers encircled a handful of their peers. The teenage "gladiators" in the center of the ring each had a brightly colored balloon tied around one ankle and were frantically beating their opponents with equally brightly colored pool noodles, all as their peers cheered them on in English -- and Latin (this is an excerpt of a story that appeared in the Commercial Dispatch. Click here to read more)

The object of the melee was to pop each other's balloons, so it probably didn't resemble the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome 2,000 years ago. But at least Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science senior Rebecca Chen, who tied for first in the women's gladiatorial contest, didn't have to face a Roman emperor's thumbs down. 

"I didn't think I'd get that far, because all the girls looked really intimidating, but it feels really great," Chen said. 

It was the fourth statewide Latin convention MSMS students have attended in as many years and the first they have hosted. MSMS Latin teacher Lori Pierce helped organize the event for 10 school groups totaling more than 200 students studying Latin or classics. Set up by the Mississippi Junior Classical League, the event allows students to compete in various athletic, academic and artistic events, each with a Latin or Roman history component. Read More

Reunion Weekend Alumni Discussion Panels

The MSMS 2017 Reunion Weekend will take place on Friday, March 31 – Saturday, April 1. This year, the MSMS Classes of 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2012 will be honored (but ALL MSMS Alumni are invited to attend).

There are several events lined up for this year’s Reunion Weekend, all of which can be learned about here.

For the first time, however, MSMS will host an Alumni Discussion Panel. During the panel, MSMS alumni will have the chance to impart their experience and wisdom with the current MSMS student body.

The panelists will be Geof Morris (’97), Dr. Neeka Sanders (’92), Dr. Sarah Prather (’07), Jennifer Rogers (’97), Dr. Amy Bogan (’92), Michael Counihan (’07), and Juliette Lawrence (’07). Information about each speaker can be found below.

The seminars will take place in Rent Auditorium on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women from 2:30 pm to 3:45 pm.

The Alumni Discussion Panel will be moderated by MSMS Coordinator for Alumni and Public Relations, Wade Leonard.

Geof Morris – Class of 1997

Geof Morris has 15 years of aerospace engineering, project management, and real-time operations experience.  After graduating from MSMS, he finished a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) in mechanical/aerospace engineering (2002), and he has stayed as an active member of the Greater Huntsville community ever since.  He has been a speaker at Ceremony of Lights and has twice been an interviewer for incoming classes.  He and his wife, Danielle, both work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.  They live in Madison, Alabama, and have one of the cutest rescue dogs north of the Tennessee River.

Dr. Neeka L. Sanders – Class of 1992

Dr. Neeka L. Sanders is a Obstetrician and Gynecologist with the Ob Hospitalist Group. She is based at the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital in Tupelo, Mississippi. She is a graduate of Millsaps College and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Dr. Sarah Prather – Class of 2007

Dr. Sarah Prather is originally from West Point, MS. While at MSMS, Dr. Prather received the Spirit of Community award and served as an Emissary.

She entered into Mississippi State University’s early entry program and completed an MSMS mentorship with an MSU equine surgeon during her junior year. She is a graduate of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and currently practices in south Alabama.

Dr. Amy Bogan – Class of 1992

Dr. Boggan is a native of Jasper County, Mississippi. She holds a B.A. in political science and minors in piano and speech pathology and audiology from the University of Southern Mississippi. She holds an M.A. in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. During the late 1990s, she served internships with the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. After moving to Texas in 2000, she taught geography and humanities in Plano public schools and American government at Collin College.  After returning to graduate study, Dr. Boggan completed an M.S. in applied cognition and neuroscience and a Ph.D. in cognition and neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2012.  She currently is an associate professor in psychology at Young Harris College in the north Georgia mountains. Her research involves perceptual expertise and related topics in cognitive psychology, such as memory and attention. She has presented her research at several professional conferences and is an author on papers appearing in the Journal of Neurosciencethe Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Neuroscience Letters, and Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.  She is an active musician and plays guitar, mandolin, and melodeon for the band Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans.  In her spare time, she enjoys photographing birds.

Michael Counihan – Class of 2007

Michael is a strategy and operations consultant based in Washington, DC. He graduated from MSMS in 2007 and attended Georgetown University, earning a BSFS in International Political Economy and an MA in Security Studies in 2011. Michael then served as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Officer in the US Army, where he led both reconnaissance and decontamination units. Michael and his wife Sarah Thompson (c/o 2008) live in Baltimore, where Sarah attends Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Juliette Lawrence – Class of 2007

After graduating from MSMS in 2007, Juliette earned a bachelor's degree in English and psychology from the University of Mississippi, where she served as lab coordinator of clinical research in social psychology.

Currently, she is discharge coordinator for Oxford Treatment Center. Juliette works with therapists, patients, and families to place graduates of the Oxford Center’s treatment program into appropriate follow-up care, across the nation and the world.

Jennifer Rogers –  Class of 1997

Jennifer Rogers is the director of the Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid. In that role, she oversees administration of a $45 million budget and the state’s 32 student financial aid programs. Since Rogers took leadership of the office in 2009, the Office has reduced its administrative overhead while increasing the number of students eligible for the state’s only need-based grant program by more than 1,000%. Rogers is leading efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of state-supported student financial aid programs with the ultimate goal of

improving college affordability for Mississippi families. Rogers previously led the development efforts for the state’s college access website, (Rise Up!). Rogers is a native of Mississippi. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of the South (Sewanee) in Tennessee and her MBA from Millsaps College in Jackson. When her children Ellen (11) and Gunner (6) are just a bit older, she fully intends to return to the classroom for her terminal degree!

MSMS Students Stack Awards at MMSC

MSMS racked up EIGHT awards at this year’s Mississippi Model Security Council. During the MMSC, students from across the state act as mock-delegates who represent different countries.

The students debate and negotiate to best position their countries and the world at large. The group is sponsored by MSMS social science instructor, Julie Heintz.

  • Caleb Eubanks – Best Delegation
  • Tyler Hartman and Achintya Prasad – Best Resolution
  • Alex Monterde and Caleb Robinson – Best Delegation
  • Sydney Matrisciano and Pal Patel – Best Delegation
  • Keegan Lindsey – Best Resolution
  • Greg Billingsley and Samuel Patterson – Best Delegation
  • Mayukh Datta and Mikel Sandifer – Best Delegation
  • Braeden Foldenauer – Best Delegation

MSMS Students Win Gold Medal for National German Exam

MSMS seniors Alex Leise and Daniel Cieslinski recently learned that they both are winners of National German Exam Gold Medals. Leise and Cieslinski both scored within the upper 94th percentile of the 20,000 students who took this year’s exam. Both are students of Lori LeVar Pierce’s German class.

According to the NGE press release: The National German Exam, now in its 57th year, rewards students through an extensive prize program and provide a means of comparing students in all regions of the US. Hal Boland, teacher of German at Heritage High School in Leesburg, Virginia and AATG President said, “The outstanding performance of these German students in our national competition brings honor to their school, their district, and their German program. The AATG salutes their tremendous accomplishment and the great worktheir teachers do.”

Founded in 1926, the AATG represents German teachers at all levels of instruction. The AATG is dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the teaching of language, literature, and culture of the German‐speaking countries.

MSMS Take Prizes at Business Competition

MSMS wishes to congratulate those who participated in the Future Business Leaders of America Northern District Competition in February! Along with MSMS student and state FBLA president Brianna Ladnier, all the students who competed were great representatives of MSMS! The results were:

1st place in Marketing- Sophia Ali, Calisa Henry, Devon Matheny
1st place in Word Processing- Aurelia Caine
3rd place in Accounting- Anna Katherine Overstreet

These students will go on to compete at the state conference in April!

MSMS Hosts Chess Tournament

MSMS hosted a Mississippi Scholastic Chess Association tournament Saturday, Feb. 25. 71 students from all areas of the state participated. Braedon Foldenhauer, Spencer Bolhuis, Gary Nguyen, Andy Zhao, and William Johnson were the MSMS students who played. Braedon finished second in the high school division, and Spencer finished third. Scholarships to MSMS summer camps were awarded to the first and second place winners in the K-7 and K-9 divisions. Emisaries helped with the tournament and conducted tours of the school for prospective students and their parents.

MSMS Step Teams Take Home Prizes

The MSMS Blu Diamondz and Blu Knights strutted their stuff at the recent Back to Basics Black History Step and Dance Competition.

The ladies of the Blue Diamondz stepped their way to first place and the the young men of the Blue Knights landed an impressive third.

The event was held at Nissan Auditorium on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women and was sponsored by Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Two MSMS Mock Trial Teams Progress to State

For the fifth year in a row, MSMS will send two teams to the state mock trial competition in Jackson, Mississippi. The following students argued their way onto state: Campbell Rolph, Claudia Vial, Emily Shy, Hayden Stokley, Kennedy Laporte, Mariana Strawn, Mariat Thankachan, Mari Lampkin, Nayan Chawlan, Reyan Grimes, Samuel Patterson, Ta'kiya Leach, and Tija Johnson.

Congratulations to these junior litigators, and join us in wishing them well at the state competition!

MSMS Students Win Awards for Visual Arts

Vivienne Tenev won a Golden Key for her piece, "Home Sweet Home."

Vivienne Tenev won a Golden Key for her piece, "Home Sweet Home."

Once again, MSMS students prove they are capable of extraordinary feats in fields beyond math and science.

Several MSMS students recently found they were winners of the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest for their work in the visual arts.

Vivienne Tenev won a Golden Key for her piece "Home Sweet Home." Sophia Ali Won a Silver Key for Gondola".  Haydn Schroader won a Silver Key for "Nap Time".  Rebecca Chen won an Honorable Mention for "Christmas in New York" and Hayden Schroader won an Honorable Mention for "Time".

"I am so proud of our students for showing their amazing talent and dedication to the arts," said MSMS visual arts instructor Angie Jones.

Tenev's work will be judged at the national competition in Washington, D.C. All the winners work will be on display at the Mississippi Museaum of Art in Jackson through April 2.

The winners were chosen from 2,000 works submitted across the state.

MSMS Hosts Local Industry Guests

From left: Dr. Heather Hanna, Wrishija Roy, Braeden Foldenhaur, Kebebe Wilson, Dr. Germain McConnell, Chinwe Udemgba, and Claudia Vial.

From left: Dr. Heather Hanna, Wrishija Roy, Braeden Foldenhaur, Kebebe Wilson, Dr. Germain McConnell, Chinwe Udemgba, and Claudia Vial.

From left: Dr. Heather Hanna, Tia Wilson, Kim Richardson, Emily Shy, and Dr. Germain McConnell.

From left: Dr. Heather Hanna, Tia Wilson, Kim Richardson, Emily Shy, and Dr. Germain McConnell.

MSMS recently hosted two leaders of Mississippi industry.

Ms. Kebebe Wilson, Human Resources Manager at Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi, LLC, in West Point, paid a visit to the MSMS campus on January 27. Ms. Wilson met with MSMS administrators and students and toured the school’s academic facilities, including the Engineering and Innovations Lab.

Ms. Kim Richardson, Assistant Director of the North Mississippi Industrial Development Association, also visited the MSMS campus on February 9. She, too, met with school administrators and students and had an opportunity to view classes in progress. Ms. Richardson works with businesses seeking to locate in North Mississippi.

MSMS seeks to form enhanced business partnerships to acquaint students with innovative state-level internship and career opportunities and to increase awareness among Mississippi industries of the talent fostered by the school. MSMS serves as one important piece of Mississippi’s high-tech workforce pipeline.