Desoto County News

Formulating new education challenges at MSMS

Drew Dowdy of Eudora, who is finishing his sophomore year at Northpoint Christian School. Dowdy will be attending Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science as a junior in the fall. (Bob Bakken/

There are many different ways and means for youngsters to achieve the education that will put them on a path to a successful future while following their interests and dreams. DeSoto County is fortunate to have the many highly-ranked public and private schools that are located here. However for some students, their interests are not always satisfied at home and they need to look elsewhere to pursue their dream.

One high school sophomore’s dream of pursuing an engineering career is about to be challenged and he’s excited about that, when Drew Dowdy of Eudora moves to Columbus in the fall to attend the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, or MSMS. Dowdy is the son of Jeff and Dr. Heather Dowdy of Eudora.  

MSMS is a specialized school for high school juniors and seniors in Mississippi focusing on mathematics and science. About 120 student applications are accepted for the school each year. It’s the state’s only public residential high school for academically-gifted students and is located on the campus of Mississippi University for Women (MUW). 

The idea for MSMS began during the administration of then-Gov. William Winter, when he toured a similar school in North Carolina in 1981. 

When Winter’s term as governor ended, state Rep. Charlie Capps continued the dream to start a school similar to what Winter found in North Carolina and legislation was eventually enacted in 1987 to begin the school.  Mississippi was the fourth state in the nation to create a public, residential school focused on an immersive mathematics and science curriculum. The first students were welcomed in September 1988.  

MSMS actively recruits academically-gifted students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. The curriculum is academically rigorous with its emphasis on science and mathematics. 

MUW in Columbus was picked to be the school’s location based on their commitment to gifted education, their passion for the project, and their success in partnering with Governor’s School, a two-week program that remains today.  

MSMS is a public high school, but attendance is based on student applications. There is no application fee and no tuition to attend, but Dowdy said the application process is a lengthy one.  

“I started on an application and in January I decided this was something that I wanted to do, so that if I did get in, I was going to accept this opportunity,” Dowdy said. “I had to write three essays responding to prompts, as they’re trying to assess your character. We also had to write a personal narrative, your goals, and what you think you would want them to know about you.”  

Dowdy said a transcript was also submitted and standardized test scores are weighted heavily in the application. He’s looking forward to the challenges taking classes that directly address his interests.  

“What I like is that I am going to be able to pick my classes and choose what I want to do,” Dowdy said. “At MSMS, they have opportunities to do research and do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do until you go to college.  I want to be able to get involved in that, so when I get to college I will be able to have more opportunities available to me.”  

Using his MSMS education, Dowdy wants to pursue a career in some form of engineering, possibly in aviation engineering. He has already made and is perfecting a 3-D radio-controlled airplane made himself during the past summer.  He calls it one of his proudest accomplishments. 

“I think that is where my natural aptitude is,” Dowdy said about engineering. “I like to work on projects at home and I want to do something engineering-related, but I don’t know exactly what I want to do, yet. Anything that involves solving problems intrigues me.”  

What Dowdy does know is that attending MSMS will help open more doors than what he might have had available to him before.  

“I hope that the opportunities and the things I can immerse myself in will allow me to really define my path, figure out exactly what I want to do, and then, also how I am going to do it,” he said. 

One experience Dowdy will need to adjust to is that when the class day is done, he returns to a residence hall to study instead of his Eudora home. He knows that will be a tough adjustment.    

“Being away from home is definitely going to be the hardest part,” Dowdy said. “I don’t think I will be able to understand it until I’m actually there. I’ve had friends tell me that it is going to be very difficult.”

Move-in day is Aug. 7 and after a week of orientation Dowdy and the others in his class will begin their studies at MSMS, the only public high school in Mississippi that gears itself specifically toward mathematics and science. It’s the road Dowdy has looked forward to and is excited to begin the journey.  

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