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12 STAR Students and Six STAR Teachers Recognized at Education Celebration
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Congratulations to MSMS students Grace Ann Beech, Cade Burton, Connor Chitmon, Caleb Colley, Austin Cosby, Alan Elgin, Victoria Gong, Lane Hughes, Maria Kaltchenko, Timothy Lewis, Kaelon McNeece, and Hamilton Wan on being recognized as STAR Students (Student-Teacher-Achievement Recognition Program). These STAR students were recognized for their academic achievement among the state’s high school students at the 2019 Mississippi Economic Council’s Education Celebration.

According to the MEC website, STAR students must have an ACT score of 25 or higher and an overall grade average of 93 or above in selected subjects in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and first-semester of twelfth grade.

Each STAR Student is asked to designate a STAR Teacher – the teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student’s scholastic achievement.  This year’s STAR teachers are Dr. Philip Benge, Mrs. Shae Koenigsberger, Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, Mrs. Emma Richardson, Mr. Chuck Yarborough, and Mrs. Lauren Zarandona.

The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) and the M.B. Swayze Foundation sponsors the STAR Program. The theme for the 2019 Education Celebration was Reach for the Stars. Each STAR Student received a medallion, lapel pin and certificate in recognition of their achievements.

Janie ShieldsComment
Journalism Students Attend Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Conference

Journalism students spent their Monday at the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association's annual conference at Ole Miss. In addition to attending workshops about how to grow in their craft, The Vision staff brought was awarded 22 certificates from the awards ceremony, far exceeding past numbers.

MSPA is made up of 67 schools, and the various contest categories combined bring in close to one thousand submissions. Like with the Oscars, to be a finalist means a story/photo/etc. has made it into the top-5 submissions (top-3 for the carry-in contest). From there, MSPA picks one winner. In the newspaper category, The Vision received the following recognition: 

Carry-In Contest (for work published after the Feb. 15 "Best of Mississippi" deadline):

News Photo--Gina Nguyen, Finalist

Feature Photo--Helen Peng, Winner

Headline--Davan Reece, Finalist

Lede--Davan Reece, Winner

Best of Mississippi (for work published between Feb. 16, 2018-Feb. 15, 2019)

Feature Story--Mariat Thankachan (c/o 2018), Finalist

Opinion Piece--Davan Reece, Finalist

Staff Editorial--Yousef Abu-Salah (c/o 2018), Winner

Review--Dairian Bowles, Finalist

Review--Hayden Stokley (c/o 2018), Finalist

Review--Helen Peng, Winner

Editorial Cartoon--Abigail Barker, Winner

Sports Story--Elijah Dosda, Winner

Sports Story--Victoria Gong, Finalist

News Photo--Gina Nguyen (x2), Finalist

Feature Photo--Gina Nguyen, Finalist

Feature Photo--Michelle Luo, Finalist

Sports Photo--Elijah Dosda, Winner

Page Design--Michelle Luo, Finalist

Best Online Presence--The Vision, Finalist

Best Social Media Presence--The Vision, Finalist

Adviser of the Year--Thomas Richardson, Finalist

Four juniors who have been selected to attend the 2019 Invitational Journalism Workshop for High School Students at Ole Miss this summer: Elijah Dosda, Gina Nguyen, Davan Reece, and Cameron Thomas.

Please congratulate these students when you see them, and keep reading The Vision!

Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Students Recognized by Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce
MSMS Director for Academic Affairs, Mrs. Kelly Brown, with MSMS students Dennis Lee, Lori Feng, Hamilton Wan, and Tyler Branch.

MSMS Director for Academic Affairs, Mrs. Kelly Brown, with MSMS students Dennis Lee, Lori Feng, Hamilton Wan, and Tyler Branch.

On April 4th the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2018-2019 Education Awards Program. Five MSMS students were recognized for their academic excellence this year. 

Hamilton Wan, from Starkville, received the award for Outstanding Senior and also received the Chamber Scholarship for being Overall Senior.

The Highest GPA Awards went to MSMS junior, Dennis Lee, and MSMS senior Hamilton Wan, both from Starkville.

Corporate scholarships were awarded to three MSMS students.

Lori Feng, a senior from Starkville, received a scholarship from Edward Jones Investments.

Tyler Branch, a senior from Lexington, received a scholarship from Steel Dynamics, Inc.

Natalie Long, a senior from Louisville, received a scholarship from Mississippi University for Women Foundation.

Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Students Prepare for the 2019 Edition of Tales from the Crypt

A cemetery tour by candlelight among historic grave-sites may seem like the setting for a Hollywood horror movie, but one such tour takes place far from California and involves history rather than horror.

The setting for this performance is Friendship Cemetery, located in Columbus, Mississippi.  This year, students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science are producing the highly anticipated 29th Annual “Tales from the Crypt,” winner of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and national finalist for The History Channel's "Save Our History" Award. “Tales” has also been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” published in The Atlantic, and highlighted in James and Deb Fallows’ Bestseller Our Towns.

“Tales” is being held in conjunction with the annual Columbus Pilgrimage which runs from March 28 – April 6.

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Beginning last fall with the start of the school year, 48 MSMS students in three 11th grade U.S. history classes embarked on a project which included researching and rehearsing to bring Mississippians buried in Friendship Cemetery “back to life” through dramatic performances. Ten of the students were chosen to develop their characters this spring for visitors to “Tales from the Crypt.”  Other researchers will serve as cemetery tour guides leading visitors among the performers.

“Tales makes history personal for the students as well as the community,” said Chuck Yarborough, a member of the social studies faculty at MSMS and the project’s director.  Through research in the extensive local history resources at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, Yarborough’s students learn more than just history.  This was the plan of the project’s creator, the late Carl Butler, a former colleague of Yarborough’s.


“Our students develop sophisticated research and writing skills along with critical thinking,” added Yarborough. “Then they’re challenged to turn what they learn into a performance, enabling their research subjects to come alive for our community and visitors as we honor their memory.”

Profits from program admissions are donated to charitable causes designated by the students.  Over the past 5 years, “Tales” has raised over $30,000 for charity.

“For 29 years, Tales from the Crypt students have learned not only how to research and write, but also how they can make significant contributions to a local community.”

The students selected to present their intriguing characters are performing during Pilgrimage on the evenings of March 29, April 1, 3, & 5 from 7-9:00 p.m., in Friendship Cemetery on Fourth Street South, Columbus. Tickets are available on site and are $5 for general admission, $3 for students. For more information on “Tales from the Crypt” or the Columbus Pilgrimage, contact the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation at (800) 920-35331, or visit their website at <>.


Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Students Win Awards at National History Day Competition

National History Day is a competition for high-school students who conduct original primary document research projects on historical topics of interest. Students in August started researching and writing on their topics. Discarding some topics along the way, defining their topics and ultimately putting together with research paper, a documentary, a website, or a performance along with a focus paper containing an annotated bibliography.

This year MSMS had 14 students compete in the National History Day state competition on March 23 at the University of Southern Mississippi.  All 14 students placed in the top three in their category!!!  First and second place winners will advance to Nationals in Washington, DC in June. Third place are alternates and will move up if either first or second place cannot compete. MSMS received the most awards in the Senior Division Competition!!

Senior Research Paper

1st place  Dennis Lee “1938 Yellow River Flood: Triumph for the Nation and Tragedy for the People”

            1st place Archival Research Award

2nd place Emily Penton - “Mental Asylums during the Nineteenth & Twentieth Century: How Change Came About”

Senior Individual Website

2nd place Mildred Perdue “Henrietta Lacks, The Unspoken Hero of Modern Medicine”

3rd place Rachel Zheng  “Mao Zedong: Communist Revolutionary and Creator of a Cultural Catastrophe”


Senior Group Website

1st place  Devin Chen, Esmond Tsang, Lori Feng 

“8/8/88 Myanmar Uprisings: A Triumphant Democratic Victory with a Tragic Legacy”

Honorable Mention  Archival Research Award

Senior Individual Performance

1st place  Sarah Perry “Aux Armes, Citoyens: The Triumph and Tragedy of Women in the French Resistance”

            1st place War and Society Award

Senior Individual Documentary

2nd place Bryonie Mandal   “Sri Ramakrishna: A Teacher and Philosopher Hidden by His Own Creation”

3rd place Davis Magee  “The Tragedy of the U.S.S. Indianapolis”

Senior Group Documentary

1st place Likhitha Polepalli, Catherine Boltz, Caroline Boltz, River Gordon 

“Amrita Sher-Gil: Painting the Unfinished Picture of Change”

1st place Women in History Award

Janie ShieldsComment