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The Brainstorm

13 MSMS Students Named National Merit Finalists
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Congratulations to our 13 National Merit Finalists! National Merit Finalists have been selected from 16,000 Semifinalists across the US. These students are now in the running for 7,500 National Merit scholarships. Starting in March and ending in June, National Merit will begin to notify finalists if they have won a scholarship.

Samantha Anderson
Cade Burton
Connor Chitmon
Lori Feng
Victoria Gong
Ellie Hinton
Lane Hughes
Maria Kaltchenko
Jacob Lee
Timothy Lewis
Michelle Luo
Kaelon McNeece
Hamilton Wan

Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Students Visit the Capitol to Meet State Legislators

Photo attached: First row (From left to right): Thomas Easterling, MSMS English Instructor, Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, MSMS Chemistry Instructor, Chad Edmonson, MSMS Class of 1999, Cynthia Henderson, MSMS Foundation President, MSMS Class of 1995, and Chuck Yarborough, MSMS History Instructor; Second row: Indu Nandula, Olivia Viguerie, Edith Marie Green, Alexandra Magee, Talle Wilson, and Samantha Anderson; Third row: Esmond Tsang, Devin Chen, Lori Feng, Likhitha Polepalli, Ezra McWilliams, Erin Williams, and Gina Nguyen; Fourth row: Cade Burton, Bertha Mireles, Clara Grady, Erin Davis, Jack Shelton, Alisha Burch, and Cameron Thomas; Fifth row: Elijah Dosda, Maria Kaltchenko, Lane Hughes, and Austin Eubank.

The Mississippi Capitol was host to 24 current MSMS students on Wednesday, February 6. The students were able to meet and converse with state representatives and senators while the legislature was in session on Capitol Day. Students were there to raise awareness about the significance of the school to the state and to represent the school. The day was also a laboratory in many ways for learning about the legislative process as well as government at the state level. 

Students and chaperones departed the campus at 6:00 a.m. in order to begin meeting with their legislators at 9:00 a.m. “Students were able to meet with multiple senators and representatives to both thank them for their support of the MSMS Opportunity for Excellence and to make legislators more aware of the work of our school,” said Chuck Yarborough, MSMS History instructor. “Those representatives and senators are essentially the reason MSMS exists,” said Gina Nguyen, MSMS Junior. She added, “Without the state funding, we wouldn't be where we are today. It's important that we show our thanks for their continued support and that they know we are successful.”

“We are grateful to our legislators for their continued support of MSMS,” said Dr. Germain McConnell, Executive Director. He added, “We wanted them to have the opportunity to interact with students from their areas and to hear directly from students about the life-changing experience of MSMS.  We selected students to represent various parts of the state, and of course we needed these students to be able to effectively communicate their experiences and what MSMS means to them.” “Meeting my representative was important because I had never met her before. I was able to actually talk to her and ask any questions I had. We were able to see how bills are passed in the Senate and in the House,” said Erin Williams, MSMS Senior.

Some of the legislators and alums joined the students, faculty, and staff for lunch at the Iron Horse Grill. Dr. McConnell expressed, “We were also happy to have five of our alumni present to share their experiences.”

“Overall it was awesome to experience an environment with all of the state Senators and Representatives. It also opened my eyes to how many senators and representatives don’t know what MSMS is even though we are the #1 high school in the state. I thought we did well getting our school on their radars and representing MSMS well,” said Erin Davis, MSMS Senior.

The MSMS family is appreciative of the support of our local area legislators. Dr. McConnell added, “In particular, Representatives Kabir Karriem and Cheikh Taylor and Senators Chuck Younger and Angela Turner-Ford.  Representative Steve Massengill, who is a parent of an alum, was also very helpful and has shown great support for MSMS.”

Students chosen to attend were: Samantha Anderson, Alisha Burch, Cade Burton, Devin Chen, Erin Davis, Elijah Dosda, Austin Eubank, Lori Feng, Clara Grady, Edith Marie Green, Lane Hughes, Maria Kaltchenko, Alexandra Magee, Ezra McWilliams, Bertha Mireles, Indu Nandula, Gina Nguyen, Likhitha Polepalli, Jack Shelton, Cameron Thomas, Esmond Tsang, Olivia Viguerie, Erin Williams, and Talle Wilson.

Chaperones included: Thomas Easterling, English Instructor, Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, Chemistry Instructor and 1995 alum, Chuck Yarborough, History Instructor. Also representing MSMS at the Capitol was Dr. Germain McConnell, Executive Director, Sheila Westbrook, Associate Director for Advancement, LeighAlison Jones, Coordinator for Admissions, Janie Shields, Coordinator for Public Relations, Chad Edmonson, MSMS Class of 1999, Cynthia Henderson, MSMS Foundation President, MSMS Class of 1995, Karen Clay, MSMS Class of 1998, and Ryder Taff, MSMS Class of 2006.


Janie ShieldsComment
21 MSMS Students Take Home 47 Art & Writing Awards
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Attached Photo:

First row (left to right): Mildred Perdue, Victoria Waller, Likhitha Polepalli, and Christian Couvillion, Second row: Helen Peng, Ryley Fallon, and Sarah Perry, Third row: Indu Nandula, Victoria Gong, and Aja Ceesay, Fourth row: Jessikah Morton, Fifth row: Neziah Igwebuike, Audrey Wohlscheid, and River Gordon, Sixth row: Michelle Luo, Chylar Gibson, and Madison Wypyski. Not pictured: Landon Alexander, Morgan Emokpae, Catherine Li, and Sophie Tipton.

Twenty-one current Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students won forty-seven Scholastic Art & Writing awards for their literary works. All regional winners have been invited to the Regional Awards Ceremony on April 14 to receive their awards at the Eudora Welty House and Gardens in Jackson. The works of the eleven Gold Key Award winners (Christian Couvillion, Ryley Fallon, Victoria Gong, Catherine Li, Michelle Luo, Indu Nandula, Helen Peng, Sarah Perry, Sophie Tipton, Victoria Waller, and Audrey Wohlscheid) will advance to national adjudication. The National Medalists will be announced on March 13 and will be recognized in part at the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Emma Richardson, MSMS English Instructor expressed, “It's gratifying that readers and judges beyond our school recognize the excellence in our students' work.” She added, “Winning awards in the Scholastic Writing & Art Awards program, the oldest and most prestigious writing competition for high school students in the United States, is validation of the good work our students produce.” All winners are students of Mrs. Emma Richardson's Creative Writing classes.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program is the oldest and most prestigious writing competition for high school students in America. 


Catherine Li—Poetry: A Blend of Two Cultures

Indu Nandula— Personal Essay/Memoir: Red Birds & Potato Curry               


Victoria Gong–-Gold Key – toasted marshmallows and gochi seeds


Christian Couvillion—Personal Essay/Memoir Kick Kick Kaboom Boom

Ryley Fallon—Personal Essay/Memoir: "Lip-Plumping Lip Gloss and North Carolina"
Short Story: Lucille Hammond's Magic

Victoria Gong— Short Story: Game of Life

Catherine Li—Poetry A Blend of Two Cultures

Michelle Luo –Flash Fiction Mud Dauber | Poetry closed eyes

Indu Nandula— Personal Essay/Memoir Red Birds & Potato Curry

Helen Peng— Poetry Chinaman; Lonely

Sarah Perry— Poetry a brother; fourth of july; summertime

Sophie Tipton— Short Story All the Way Home

Victoria Waller—Personal Essay/Memoir Second Belly-Button

Audrey Wohlscheid—Personal Essay/Memoir Real Death Experiences


Landon Alexander— Short Story: Leaving Home

Aja Ceesay— Personal Essay/Memoir: Be Grateful

Morgan Emokpae—Poetry: Organic Organism

Ryley Fallon—Poetry: "A Golden Arm"

Chylar Gibson—Poetry: Beautiful Sister; One Sound

Victoria Gong-- Flash Fiction: Monsoon Season
Journalism: 'Lady Bird' and the Teenage Condition
Personal Essay/Memoir: Knockout
Poetry: whalesong; White Picket Fences
Short Story: Medea; portrait of drowning youth, summer 1937 River Gordon—Poetry: Heat

Neziah Igwebuike—Poetry: December

Michelle Luo-- Short Story: Indian Highway Poetry wrought iron woman

Jessikah Morton—Poetry: It's Not Just Me

Indu Nandula—Personal Essay/Memoir: The Picture I See Poetry The Old Guitarist

Helen Peng— Flash Fiction: Saigon
Poetry: The Creek Beside San Marcos Drive; Watermelons

Mildred Perdue—Poetry: Dear Mr. President

Madison Wypyski—Short Story: Heath Ledger and Hip-Hugging Jeans; Virginia Slims and Irish Spring


Morgan Emokpae— Poetry Aint Edna

Victoria Gong— Personal Essay/Memoir: Confessions of a Masochist
Poetry: graham bell; grandma mangosteen; maria; Signals

Neziah Igwebuike—Poetry: Mary of Nazareth

Michelle Luo— Poetry: Palette

Jessikah Morton—Poetry: He's a Window Washer

Indu Nandula— Personal Essay/Memoir: Learning

Helen Peng— Poetry: Dear Mississippi; Paper Cranes

Likhitha Polepalli—Personal Essay/Memoir: Embracing Myself

Madison Wypyski—Poetry: Marlboro Burns

Click here for the complete list of winners

Janie ShieldsComment
MSMS Students Will Get an Opportunity to Meet with Legislators at the Capitol

Current MSMS students will get the opportunity to travel to Jackson on January 29 to meet and talk with state representatives and senators on Capitol Day while the legislature is in session. The event serves as a unique chance for students to represent the school and raise awareness about the significance of MSMS to the state of Mississippi. 

Parents and alums are invited to attend. Please email Sheila Westbrook at if you are interested in attending and being a part of this important day.

Janie ShieldsComment
Attention Schools, Join the Upcoming MSMS Math Competition
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The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science’s annual Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Tournament has been a state tradition for nearly 30 years.  Now, MSMS wants to expand the popular program to more schools, and we need your help to spread the word to schools that might be interested.

MSMS students do not compete in the tournament, rather the school’s students host and facilitate the event. The MSMS Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Tournament is just one of the many statewide outreach programs conducted by the school.

The tournament will take place on February 26, 2019 at the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus, Mississippi. Currently, 6 Mississippi high schools have signed up to take part in the event, but the tournament has room for more. MSMS is asking for help identifying schools who might wish to take part in the competition.

Details concerning the format of the tournament and schedule can be found below, however, the deadline for registering is January 11, 2019. The registration fee is $14 per student. For more information, or to register please contact MSMS Administrative Assistant Lauren Putnam at or by calling 1-662-329-7670.

Areas of the ciphering competition in the Mu Alpha Theta Math Tournament will consist of five levels:

·      Algebra I

·      Geometry

·      Algebra II

·      Trig/Pre-Cal

·      Calculus

Written tests will also be given in these five areas.  Students may compete only in areas in which they are presently enrolled in classes, with two exceptions: 1) any post-Algebra II students may participate in the Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus, or Calculus competitions, 2) students on a 4 × 4 block schedule may take the test for the courses completed in the Fall semester. Calculators will NOT be allowed on any competition.

Written Test: The test will consist of multiple choice questions. The score will be the number of correctly answered questions. If necessary, time will be used to break ties.

Ciphering: Points will be awarded on the basis of 2 points for questions answered correctly within the first minute and 1 point for questions answered correctly within the second minute. Team scores will consist of the sum of the scores of the four highest cipherers.

Mini-Interschool Round: Each school will be allowed to enter one team, consisting of 1 to 10 students, where the team cannot have more than 5 students from the Calculus division. Each team will work as a group for the allotted time. Each team is allowed to bring THREE reference books with them to be used in the round. Students are not allowed to bring ANY electronic devices where they can send and receive information!

Potpourri: Each school may enter one four-person team. The team will work logical thinking, puzzle-type questions not particularly related to any one area of mathematics. Since the mini-interschool and potpourri competitions are held at the same time, different team members must be selected.

Awards and/or trophies will be presented in each of the areas of competition. In addition, trophies will be awarded to the schools with the highest combined total points for the day.

Participating Schools:

1.    Northwest Rankin High School

2.    Pontotoc High School

3.    Corinth High School

4.    Ruleville Central High School

5.    Raymond High School

6.    Neshoba Central High School

Janie Shields Comment