NEW NEWS – Arts School sees boost in applications

Published 8:39 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

Officials at the Mississippi School of the Arts say the recent appearance by junior Jasmine Murray on “American Idol” has raised interest in the school.

MSA Principal Jana Perry said the school had expected a decline in applications after it began charging a $500 a semester fee. But Perry said Murray’s recent appearance on the Fox talent show has spurred renewed interest.

“As far as vocal music is concerned, we don’t have a slot left for auditions,” Perry said. “And the numbers are growing.”

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Part of the application process for the school is to showcase the applicant’s art, so vocal students hold auditions, which are April 3-4.

Perry said the deadline for application was March 2, but that it was extended because so many people had called with inquiries after the school received so much media exposure on national television.

The school also has seen an increase in applications for the performing arts programs.

Perry said the school has not turned away students who met the enrollment criteria, but that as the school name becomes more recognizable and interest goes up statewide, there may come a day that waiting lists and cuts will be a part of the application process.

“I think it will remain that way this year,” she said. “But I see it becoming a problem in the next two to three years. We’ll have a committee to look at what we will do in that case, a plan that will probably be looked at by the Department of Education.”

Perry said Murray has inspired her classmates and become the face of MSA.

“Morale is way up here,” Perry said. “They were talking right before they left for spring break about how they wanted to throw her a coming-home party. They’re welcoming her back with open arms, because she’s a testament of why we’re here and doing what we’re doing, and that it does pay off.”

Murray’s run on “Idol” ended March 11 when the 16-year-old from Starkville and Jorge Nunez, a 20-year-old college student from Puerto Rico, were the first two finalists eliminated from the competition.

Murray has returned home to Starkville but is contractually obligated not to discuss the competition in interviews.