The Fun of Follies: The Return of a Classic Tradition / Alana Magliolo

On the surface, Mississippi College seems to rob its students of fun because it does not have Greek life. However, MC has social clubs and tribes as alternatives to fraternities and sororities and one of their most anticipated events of the year is the production of follies, which is making its return this fall. 

Follies, which will take place on October 28 and 29 during homecoming weekend, are compilations of singing, acting, and dancing. Each club and tribe has its own theme and works on its individual performance throughout the new member process. Last year, follies in its entirety were canceled due to the risks of large groups of people in close contact with each other. 

This year, however, follies are back and hopefully permanently. Now open to actives and new members alike, follies provide opportunities to help behind-the-scenes with props or to participate in the performance itself. With homecoming weekend quickly approaching, the excitement for follies around MC’s campus continues to grow. 

Josi Hill is a senior active in Kissimmee Social Tribe. She is serving as one of Kissimmee’s follies chairs this year. 

“For me personally, it has been even more exciting to be able to be part of follies this year due to it being gone for over a year,” said Hill. “Half of our students on campus have never seen a Follies so this year is so important for everyone to see the excitement and fun the Follies tradition brings!” 

As the Director of Student Engagement, Chip Wilson oversees the Council and works year-round to ensure that recruitment remains a smooth process and experience for everyone. 

“This year we were able to have in-person recruitment, rather than a hybrid schedule like last year. The in-person schedule allowed for more face-to-face connections between students and gave recruitment more of a “normal” feel,” said Wilson. “Because we hosted most events outside, students were able to attend the parties without a mask. This is a huge step from where we were last year. We are very excited to bring follies back to campus and allow all students within clubs and tribes to have the opportunity to participate.” 

Follies display the culmination of the clubs and tribes coming together to produce a diverse and exciting production every fall. As decided by the follies chairs in each club and tribe, each individual show has a unique theme each year. The audience participation at follies is a major part of the experience. The students look forward to clapping and cheering loudly in support for their club and tribe. The faculty enjoys coming to support their students, and friends and family who live in the general vicinity love coming to see their students perform. 

Swor Auditorium, located on MC’s campus, will host the two identical performances. The student performance, free to all students and faculty, will be on Thursday, October 28 at 9 p.m. Tickets are available for sale to the public for the general performance, which will take place the following evening at 7 pm. 

Jarred Couch is a senior in Rotaract Men’s Club, as well as one of the Council Presidents. He expressed his personal excitement for follies this year. 

“Last year we all really had to miss out on the incredible production and entertainment that is Follies. Luckily this year we will get to have that excitement back! It is different this year due to it being an option for PNMs to participate in,” said Couch. “I think this will be an adjustment and will be different. With that being said I think it will be better than ever! With members of the clubs and tribes being able to participate in follies as a whole it will be one of the best follies we have ever had! I cannot wait to see it!”

MC RUF Hosts First Swing Dance Since Pandemic / Kienna Van Dellen

The Mississippi College Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) welcomes students to authentic relationships and the study of God’s word through their time on campus. The ministry was established on the campus of MC in 1999. 

This past weekend they hosted their biannual swing dance at Garawya Camp and Conference Center. The swing dance was originally started six years ago in an effort for the ministry to connect with international students and introduce them to a part of the American culture.

Since then, the dance has been hosted as a biannual event open to the campus as an opportunity to get to meet new people and spend a night dancing. “We see it as a way we can serve students by giving them a chance to have fun with their friends, a chance to learn a new skill,” Said Campus RUF Minister Jeff Jordan, “really to be part of the MC environment, recognizing that students need outlets for getting away from their studies, being together doing things where they can get to know each other and be known.” 

Rachel Graham instructed this semester’s dance. Rachel is a junior at MC as well as co-captain of the Mississippi College Dance Team; she has been dancing for 16 years and has been teaching swing dancing since high school. The night held a variety of styles of swing, both east and west coast, with a mixture of simple and complex steps. This fall dance is the first time RUF has been able to host their swing dance since the fall of 2019; covid-19 postponed and canceled many plans across campus. This event is a main anchoring event for the campus ministry as they hope to connect further with students and engage and equip them for their future.

Go Week Events Highlight Church Missions / Caroline Hunt

Davion Brown stands at a table at MC’s famous “Big Steps,” handing out Chick-fil-a biscuits with a huge smile on his face. Surrounding him are multiple others doing the same thing, asking passersby, usually students hustling to class, if they want some breakfast and then telling them to have a nice day. This is only one event of the Office of Christian Life’s “Go Week” in which they feature the importance of doing mission work. 

When asked what his team was out there doing so early on a random Wednesday morning Brown said, “We are out here giving out Chick-fil-a biscuits to just say ‘good morning’ and hope that everyone gets a good breakfast this morning. We hope people see this as a part of our mission initiative.”

The mission initiative of this event is simple: Go. 

Based on the last sentence of Jesus Christ before his ascension to heaven at the end of the four Gospels, as he urges his disciples to go out to every nation and continue to make disciples in his name, MC’s Christian Life organization hopes to achieve the same thing Jesus did with their “Go Week” event: to make “mission-minded” disciples.

The Office of Christian Life on MC’s campus is responsible for multiple familiar on-campus functions, such as the weekly large group Chapel services, the Blue and Gold or MC 101 groups for new students, and the Community Service Center, which most notably helps MC’s social tribes and clubs with their respective philanthropies. 

Christian Life also provides students with connections to local churches, on-campus ministries, like the Baptist Student Union (BSU), and the Food Pantry and Benevolence Form which offers opportunities for students and faculty members to give back to their community. 

The “Go Week” festivities included multiple pop-up events, like the one Brown was a part of, and speaker-led discussions that showcased the personal impact that being in the mission field had on the speaker and leaders of the event. One event, called “Theology Thursday” featured a rather significant speaker who talked about her personal experience with missions. 

Jennie Taylor, speaker at the Thursday event, detailed how missions helped to expand her worldview and how important it is to not let personal prejudices inhibit “sharing the gospel with [one’s] neighbors.”

The Baptist Student Union, also known as the BSU, also held a “Go Week” event before Taylor’s discussion panel in which they spoke to students about their organization and their role in the event this week. 

Brandon Conerly, associate BSU director, said, “The BSU is a place where students can come to feel welcome. It’s also a place where students come to be encouraged in the Lord and poured into as disciples. The Office of Christian Life has been very loving and supportive of us, working very closely with us and allowing us to collaborate for this event. We hope that students have been encouraged by this week and have a broadened world view because of it.”

One student, Hannah Quigley said in response to the importance of what “Go Week” is, said, “Summer missions are a great way to get out of your comfort zone, live out your faith in real ways and fulfill what we believe the Lord is calling us to do.” 

Country Music Star Riley Green Puts on Free Concert at Mississippi State Fair / Ann Cabot Stockett

Reese Carwile was excited to attend the Mississippi State Fair. The concertgoer from Oxford, Miss. has been a fan of country artist Riley Green for a number of years and has even attended a number of his performances artist in the past. However, Green’s concert Oct. 12 at the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson was unlike any of the prior performances Carwile previously attended.

Green, whose concert tickets typically sell for around $30, played a free show at the state fairgrounds Tuesday night for all attendees who had purchased admission to the Mississippi State Fair, which runs from Oct. 6 to Oct. 13.

“It [Green’s performance at the state fair] completely exceeded my expectations,” Carwile said. “Not only did I get to be on the front row of the concert, I also got to get the whole fair experience and all for the price of admission.” 

Thousands of country music fans came from across the state to watch Green perform a set that lasted approximately an hour and a half. The 32-year-old singer/songwriter performed 20 minutes longer than his scheduled concert time because the crowd was so involved, which prompted him to announce that he was having fun and was not ready to quit after his originally allotted time.

“I came out to the fair today to ride some rides, and with it, I also got a free concert from one of the best new country singers,” Justin Storm, a college-aged concertgoer, said. “My overall fair experience was great.”

Fans began arriving well before the concert’s 7 p.m. start time, and the Budweiser stage area was packed at show time. The crowd represented all ages, with many people dressed in cowboy boots and western attire. 

Green, a native of Jacksonville, Ala., asked for audience participation when fans began singing along to his songs. And, naturally, the fans responded enthusiastically. He even signed caps, stuffed animals and a pair of crutches for a fan.

Although the concert wrapped up by 9 p.m., many attendees stayed at the fair until its closing time two hours later, grabbing food, playing games, and riding the attractions. 

“Riley Green puts on a great show. This is my second time to see him and I have loved both concerts,” said Courtney Stewart, a middle-aged adult concertgoer. “He is one of the best entertainers in the business and is very nice looking.”

Carver Commodore Rocks Mississippi College / Noah Drewes

Mississippi College students gathered in the bowl outside the student life center October 8 for an evening of food and music, as the university’s student engagement board booked Alabama indie rock group Carver Commodore for an evening performance. 

The night opened with a stripped down seven-song-set from an MC student band led by senior Naomi Taylor. The currently unnamed trio kicked things off with a cover of The Beach Boy’s hit “Don’t Worry Baby” before playing an assortment of originals and covers, ultimately finishing with a rendition of Paramore’s “Last Hope.” 

Carver Commodore, based out of Florence, Ala. stopped in Clinton as part of their October tour to preview their second studio album, “Welcome to the Modern World” which comes out on all formats October 22. 

The five-man band consists of Payton Pruitt (vocals, guitar), Clayton Christopher (backing vocals, guitar, keys), Phillip Blevins (backing vocals, guitar), David Smith Jr. (backing vocals, bass guitar), and Noah Freeman (drums). 

Carver Commodore rocked out the night with an impressive 22 song set. Of the 22 songs, 17 were originals written by the band, such as “Stars and Galaxies” and “Black Plastic,” which sit at 1.5 million plays and 670,000 plays, respectively, on Spotify. 

“I have never heard of this band, but they absolutely killed it,” junior Tate Marchant said. “This is by far the best event MC has done in my three years here, and I hope this becomes a pattern.”

The event even attracted those who aren’t MC students, such as Raymond local Brady Renfro. 

“They had an awesome stage presence and their music was phenomenal,” Renfro said. “I really wish more people attended, so more people could have heard them. They were an amazing band.” 

The lack of attendance could, in part, be attributed to the lack of promotion by MC on social media channels. No posts were made prior to the event, and only one email was sent, three hours before it started.

In an era where bands like Carver Commodore are still trying to get their name out, they depend on promotion to extend the reach of their music. Despite the space available and talent, only about 50 students attended the concert.

Even though there was a lack of student turnout, Carver Commodore lead singer Payton Pruitt said, “The best part about doing intimate shows like this is the people. Getting to meet and talk with new people everywhere has been great, and the city of Clinton is no different.”

Golf Continues to Produce Strong Performances in Fall Tournaments / Jace Aymond

The men and women’s golf teams both competed this past week during the fall break with the men posting strong numbers and the women securing a runner-up finish. The men were a part of The Battle for the Belt held at Hot Springs Country Club and hosted by Henderson State while the Lady Choctaws traveled to Millington, Tennessee for the Rhodes College Classic. 

The guys finished sixth out of 11 competing schools where they finished the tournament at 17 over par with their best round being the opening one, shooting a 290. With an 881 on the tournament, the Choctaws only finished one stroke behind the host team Henderson State at 880. J.J Logue was the top performing Choctaw by far as he tied for sixth on the individual leaderboard at three under par. Tomas Kubata also performed well as he tied for 21st at four over par with Adam Murphree tying for 38th, as he finished 10 over par. Other Choctaws included Bryson Jones and Grant Mahaney, who were both just behind Murphree as they both shot 11 over for a tie for 41st finish. Henderson State won the tournament overall with Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas following them for the all Natural State podium finish. 

Even with only six total schools competing in the women’s tournament, the Lady Choctaws finished second at the Rhodes Classic as they shot a total of 640 in the two days as a team. Sarah Hodson proved that she was once again one of the best in the field as she finished second individually with a four over par. Jenna Belton and Lydia Welborn tied for ninth on the tournament with sixteen over and Miriam McCoy tying for 30th at 28 over. Not far behind were Ellie Smith and Malia Kossina, who shot 31 and 32 over par respectively with Anna Kennedy rounding out MC in 41st place at 61 over. Host team Rhodes College came out on top with Milsaps College, only three strokes behind the Lady Choctaws, in third.

While the men don’t have any upcoming tournament, the women have a week-long break before returning to action. The Lady Choctaws have yet another tournament in Tennessee, this time hosted by Freed-Hardeman University on the 18th and 19th of October.

Huge Second Half Gives Choctaws Crucial Non-Conference Win / Jace Aymond

After a relatively quiet first half between the Choctaws and the Patriots of UT-Tyler, MC’s offense exploded in the second half, producing all four of their goals in only a 10-minute span. Defensively, the team held strong as well, as they added a shutout to their already impressive win. 

No true chances came in the first half by either squad, even though MC had eight shots. However, from the 70th to the 80th minute, the Choctaws offensive shone bright. Noah Wagner picked up his seventh goal in the 70th minute of the match to get the Choctaws rolling with Antoine Recizac following his lead with a strike just three minutes later. The leader of the offense on the afternoon was Filippo Bellu, who scored his first two goals of the season with beautiful plays in the 77th and 80th minutes. With Wagner, two other Choctaws got assists as well on the day in Santi Diosa and Guilherme Santos. The Choctaws outshot the Patriots 15 to 5 with the Patriots only mustering one shot on target in the entire match. 

With the win, the Choctaws now have not lost a match in four games and currently sit in fourth place in the Gulf South Conference standings with a 5-4-1 overall record. The Chcoctaws are third in the conference in least goals allowed per match at .88 in their 10 games. Individually, Noah Wagner is tied for first in shots on target with Union’s Gavin Scott with 1.7 per match and is tied for second in goals with his seven total. Goalkeeper Alejandro Chavarria is quietly having a great season as he is third in the GSC of goals against average and fourth save percentage. 

The Choctaws have their final non-conference game of the season when they travel to LSU-Alexandria this upcoming Monday, the 11th. Kickoff against the Generals is set for three in the afternoon.

Laurendine Makes History n Dominant Win / Jace Aymond

The Mississippi College volleyball team return home after a two-game road trip where they took on West Alabama. The Lady Choctaws cruised to a victory, winning in straight sets which puts them at 5-6 on the season with a 3-3 GSC record. The Tigers are still winless on the year and have dropped the last six meetings between the two teams. 

The first set saw the Lady Choctaws easily slide into a 25-18 victory and even started the second set hot with a 12-3 advantage. The Tigers didn’t go down quietly, but MC still easily handled the second set, 25-16. The third and final set saw UWA lead for almost its entirety, but the Lady Choctaws ended the match on an impressive 10-1 run to seal the victory.

The big note of the night though, was Lexie Laurendine becoming the new leader in assists in program history. With a team-best 21 on the night, she passes Sydney Chandler with a patriotic 1,776 assists in only her junior year. She also led the team in kills with 10 against the Tigers. Three Lady Choctaws had double digit digs on the night, including Missy Beber, who is second in the Gulf South Conference in that category, averaging 4.7 per set. Stevie Nesbit led the squad in blocks with three as well.

The Lady Choctaws sit in fifth place in the conference standings and will stay at home to take on Union, who are in fourth, this coming Saturday morning at 10. The volleyball team also will be hosting Digs and Donuts, where fans can grab a donut before watching what’s expected to be an even match between the Lady Choctaws and Bulldogs. 

Mississippi College Rebrands Towards a Connected Future / Kienna Van Dellen

Mississippi College has recently undergone intense research in order to define the institution’s personality. The process started in fall 2018 with focus groups asking students, staff, faculty, and alumni about rebranding. In spring 2021 the first part of the branding process that took place was reputation strategy. From that research, they came back to campus and did a brand reveal. The branding project directed by Carnegie Dartlet engaged more than 1,000 employees, students, and alumni in focus groups and listening workshops. Carnegie is a national firm that works with higher education schools on rebranding. According to their reveal of Mississippi College’s brand, their main goal is to “Humanize institutions from within, building consensus between all critical stakeholders around your organization’s authentic self.” 

Through the process, there were three personality workshops focusing on archetypes, traits, faults, cause, and genome. An online survey covered research on familiarity, reputation, and personality. Finally, three message workshops explained dimensions, evidence, and preamble. The rigorous research was conducted through internal stakeholder workshops, external perception research, and competitive analysis. Starting with what Carnegie labels as the frameworks, they labeled nine different archetypes within their research. Archetypes define human characteristics in simple terms. 

MC’s personality has been identified with four main colors: red, purple, pink, and blue. MC’s main archetype was the color purple as a shepherd standing for the meaning of supportive and selfless. The detailed report of how Mississippi College should connect with others is under the “Care With Me” title, with main points of selflessness, nurturing, and support. These points can be accomplished by organizations that connect with their audiences in a way that is selfless and focused on nurturing those who are within the MC sphere of influence. 

Alongside the nine archetypes, Carnegie also assisted the university in conducting a peer review alongside 12 other institutions that are at the same level of higher education. The peer project included Mississippi College, Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Mississippi, Hinds Community College, Holmes Community College, William Carey University, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Samford University, Union University, Christian Brothers University, and Dallas Baptist University. MC scored fourth on the leaderboard and was titled as “commendable confidants.” 

 In a total analysis of Mississippi College’s website, social media, video, and campaigning, 61% of the original archetype personality was fulfilled. It was discovered that MC had a large field of the beige color archetype. Beige is not considered an archetype, it is rather considered a wanderer; it’s neutral and unexpressive in meaning. 

MC has used that research data to redo all admissions material. “We are trying to find students that align with those colors and also tell stories to share those colors with others,” said Tracey Harrison, Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communication at MC.

“In the past Mississippi College has been unsure on how to tell its story, and the reason is because they have never identified on paper and said this is who we are and that is what Carnegie Dartlet did. They helped us do the research and present the data in a way that we can say confidently, ‘This is who we are,’ and now we can tell that story, it gives us a roadmap of communication.”

The current step that MC is taking action on is looking at the campus visual identity. This process is trying to bring all the separate departments and schools back under the same umbrella of a logo, a style that is agreeable for everyone. The research was the foundation and now they are starting to move forward with action, looking at logos and colors and how MC visually represents itself in the telling of their story. 

By the time they finish, the process will have lasted almost four years. While the pandemic interrupted some of it, the team wanted it to be inclusive and data-driven and are taking the time needed to get this rebranding right. The Office of Public Relations has now been changed to be titled the Office of Marketing and Communication; they work with admissions and alumni to oversee the brand. The on-campus renovations are not connected to this MC rebranding, however, but are rather just intended to modernize the campus and follow a master plan that the campus has created.

The communication on campus had been decentralized and inconsistent for years. It was not coordinated or cohesive, but now the message is coming together to be centralized and consistent.  “I am grateful to all of the students, my colleagues, alumni, and friends of the university who have contributed to this project. We are excited to see these changes implemented over the months ahead,” said Harrison. 

The hope of this project is to define MC’s sense of self and story for decades to come. The main goal of this research was for MC to be able to create a strong, consistent message across all platforms. In the final reveal  by Carnegie Dartlet, Mississippi College exists to “Empower Authentic Excellence to inspire the world through the passion, strength, and visionary leadership of our students.”

Cross Country Eyes Nationals After Successful Start / Jace Aymond

Even with COVID-19 causing a sporadic and unusual season for the Mississippi College cross country teams, there were plenty of positives to look at and excitement for this season. In 2020, the men’s team never placed lower than fourth and won the Fast Cats Classic held at Kentucky Wesleyan College. The women had even more success as they also won the Fast Cats Classic as well as the Watson Invitational held at Choctaw Trails. The women took runner up at the conference championship and never placed lower than that in their four meets they competed in. 

Already this season, the men and women’s teams won both meets the Choctaws raced in, and three of the four races saw MC taking the individual winner. The Opener held at Choctaw Trails saw both teams cruise to easy wins, with Gabe Poulin and Cole Benoit splitting the race’s win with a time of 15:24 for the 5K and MC placing nine in the top 12. Jazmin Hernandez was the runner-up with a strong time of 19:10 for the women’s race with seven of the top 11 placing for the Choctaws.

Coach Matthew Reneker is ecstatic for the future after watching the opening meet and the time trials held a week prior, which he said were “the best I’ve seen in my 25 years of coaching. Just to put this into perspective, I have two guys who are national qualifiers, and they went 16:13 [in the 5k] two years ago and we had 10 people run that fast today [at the Opener]. On the women’s side, we’re as deep as we’ve ever been before and we’re going on all cylinders.”

Also speaking on their first meet, Benoit said that the team “was not concerned about times. It was really about the team effort and us going out and running as a pack, and I think we did that excellently today. Team-wise, it was a huge motivator.”

Benoit also spoke on how the team has a different mindset this year, saying, “Whenever we first got on campus, we had some big goals in mind this year. Normally, we just come on campus and are excited to start the season, but this year, we’re ready to compete on a national level.”

The Choctaws’ next meet was the North Alabama Invitational, where both teams dominated yet again. Poulin and Hernandez took the individual crowns and both teams secured the gold, beating multiple Division I teams such as Memphis, North Alabama, Murray State, and Jackson State. In the men’s race, MC placed five in the top 12 runners, along with four in the top seven in the women’s race. 

Hernandez was extremely proud of their performances, saying that “it was one of the best meets the girls have had at MC so far. I’m so excited going forward, especially for conference. We have a lot of good girls that we brought in and I’m so excited to see what they can do and what we’ll do as a team.”

The Choctaws have four more regular season meets on the campuses of Missouri Southern, McNeese State, Louisville, and back in Clinton for the annual Watson Invitational. The conference championships taking place this year on Oct. 23, will be held at Choctaw Trails. Their familiarity with the challenging course is a huge advantage for the Choctaws. 

With an already highly successful season, an experienced and talented roster, and a familiar course for the conference championships, the road to nationals is only becoming clearer as the 2021 season rolls along.