Two teens from Carroll and Montgomery Counties, both students at Grenada High School, were accepted into the Mississippi School of Math and Science in Columbus for their junior and senior year.
Amelia Ferguson, 16, of Carrollton and Merideth Johnson, 17, of Duck Hill, both sophomores, recently learned they would spend their junior and senior year as students at the school, specifically designed to meet the needs of the Mississippi’s most academically gifted and talented students.
Ferguson said she took a leap of faith and applied to MSMS and her risk paid off. Johnson said she applied after one of her friends made the suggestion she apply.
“It was a long process; it took some convincing myself to apply,” Ferguson said. “I submitted my application to be a little ahead of the deadline.”
She said to apply; she had to fill out the application, write three essays, send grades and transcripts, three teacher recommendations (one from a math teacher, one science, one of her choice), and a letter from the guidance counselor.
“There were different stages of the process,” she said. “After you send in the application and pass that part, they invite you to interview day. I had to take a math placement test, and there’s also a language test, but it’s only for those who speak Spanish and French. Then, you have to go through an interview, and there are two interviewers in the room and you. They’re nice and down to earth.”
“The interview was probably the easier part of the entire interview day. I was comfortable with them asking questions. They wanted to know what type of student I would be,” Johnson said. She said she knows MSMS will be tough, but she’s not afraid of challenges.
Johnson said when she learned she was accepted, she was speechless. “I hadn’t had words for it, and I was very excited about going into a new environment.”
Johnson said she’s looking forward to expanding her educational life and looking forward to the opportunities available at MSMS.
“It’ll be hard at first, but I know with time, I’ll make new friends and build new relationships. I’m looking forward to the different opportunities that public school doesn’t have to offer,” Johnson said.
Planning to enroll for next school year, Ferguson said she toured the school and where she would live.
“I toured the campus, and I saw that they make sure everything is comfortable, and they take a lot of effort in ensuring that our lives aren’t at risk,” she said.
Besides the fact that she’ll be with kids who want to learn, like her, and are on the same level as she is, she can also take dual credit classes. But, she has a little advantage that some high school students taking college classes are that she can take hers on an actual college campus.
“We can take those classes in a classroom, and I think they have some of those classes online. But, I want to take those classes my senior year,” Ferguson said. “I don’t want to rush things or be overwhelmed.”
She said the difference between Mississippi School of Math and Science and Grenada High is that the students at MSMS want to be in school and not everyone in Grenada wants to be there, but they have to be there.
“It’s not forced upon you. You have to be admitted into this school, so these kids want to be there,” she said.
Ferguson said she’s nervous about staying on campus, but it’s a good kind of nervous.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “I’m very close to my mom, and I may have a bad day at school I want to come home and seek comfort in that. I can’t but technology today is so advanced that I can FaceTime her or call her.”
Ferguson said it will be an adjustment, but she’s ready for the challenge.
“The first few weeks, we’ll have to get used to each other’s routines and make compromises and boundaries. You also have the option of rooming with a friend,” she said. Ferguson said she does have other friends that applied to MSMS and were also accepted.
Johnson said it’ll be awkward at first living with someone she doesn’t know.
“I’ve only lived with someone I didn’t know for longer than a week. I think it’ll be hard at first, but hopefully, they’ll become a close friend.”
Johnson said she wants to take advantage of all that MSMS has to offer. She said she likes the fact the MSMS offers opportunities for community service and inclusiveness.
“Their service to the community sets them apart from other schools. You get to go out into the town and do community service. They try to keep everyone uplifted and not make anyone feel left out.”
Ferguson said she would encourage parents who believe their children can be a successful student at MSMS to encourage them to apply.
“Or if it’s something kids my age are looking into, I’d encourage them to apply as well,” Ferguson said.
“I’m excited to start this new chapter in my life and see where God takes me,” Johnson said.
Ferguson and Johnson are both members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.