What's New at MSMS

The Brainstorm

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.

Cameron Thomas.jpg

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
MSMS, Only High School to Win College Math Competition
LAMS MAA Team.jpeg

For the first time, the Mississippi School for Mathematics participated in the Team Mathematics Competition at the Louisiana/Mississippi section meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. The team competition took place at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS on Friday, February 22. The three-hour competition attracts top math majors at colleges and universities across Louisiana and Mississippi and tests knowledge of all undergraduate mathematics.

MSMS was the only high school participating in the competition, and team members Connor Chitmon, Victoria Gong, Michelle Luo, and Hamilton Wan placed first in the competition.

The top 3 teams are listed below. Congratulations!

1st: Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science

2nd: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

3rd: Mississippi State University

Janie ShieldsComment
13 MSMS Students Named National Merit Finalists
merit finalist.jpeg

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