BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (WJTV) – Brookhaven is home to the Mississippi School of the Arts. Students coming out of there are getting recognition all over the country for their work.
“Mississippi School of the Arts is one of the best kept secrets in our state, and we don’t want the secret to be a secret anymore,” said Dr. Suzanne Hirsch, executive director of the Mississippi School of the Arts.
The residential high school offers classes in dance, visual art, vocal music, theater, creative writing and filmmaking.
Students audition in their 10th grade year, and they attend for 11th and 12 grade. Among other classes, they get at least three hours of art classes in a day.
This year, the school launched their new Collegiate Academy Program, where juniors can pursue an associate degree while they’re still in high school. The program is free for enrolled students.
One of the hidden gems in Brookhaven would be the Brookhaven Little Theatre. The group at the theatre is getting ready for their fall musical.
“We’re currently working on Into the Woods, our Fall musical. It’s a very challenging musical that we’ve never done before here at BLT, and it’s really stretching our actors. The music is challenging. All the acting and everything is pretty difficult as well, but we’ve got an incredibly talented cast, and they’re doing an extremely great job with the show,” said Steven McMorris, a production manager.
The theatre is one of the longest-continuously running community theaters in the state. This year marks their 56th season, made possible only by the amazing people in the city.
“Brookhaven is a special place. It’s a small town where you’re going to get connected with a lot of people. It’s a strong community. People care about each other here. But at the same time, we have a lot going on for a small town, especially here at BLT,” said McMorris.
The theatre also offers vocal classes where students learn how to sing harmonies and in an ensemble setting.
Into the Woods runs October 12-22.
Brookhaven is also full of history. You can see some historic items at the Military Memorial Museum.
“We moved back home to Brookhaven, which is our home in 2003, and they just opened the museum. So, I got drafted as a volunteer to help man it here. This is one of the few places the military people got to display some the stuff and let the younger people see the history of the military or the United States,” said Roffie Burt, a Vietnam veteran and museum volunteer.
Inside the museum, you’ll find all sorts of interesting memorabilia from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Also in Brookhaven, you’ll find a massive tea farm that takes orders from across the country. The Great Mississippi Tea Company grows and processes their own tea.
“Originally, this was a cattle farm for over 100 years, so we decided to try to find something else that we could possibly do. And we ran across Charleston Tea Farm on vacation one year and learned that tea needed high heat, high humidity, and acidic soil. So, we said, well, that kind of meets all of Mississippi’s conditions,” said Timothy Gipson, co-owner of the company.
Gipson and co-owner Jason McDonald have been at the tea game for 11 years. Today, they have nearly 40,000 tea plants.
The Great Mississippi Tea Company, which is located on East Lincoln Road, offers tours for those who want to see how the tea is made and have fun doing it.
Another business in Brookhaven is Gardensong Fabrics. It’s a paradise for those who love quilting and sewing. Colorful fabric panels cover the walls.
Sisters Rebecca Nations and Vivian Davis created this fabric-haven.
“My sister and I started out in 4-H. We started sewing when we were very young, and then her degrees are in textiles. And she was a fabric designer for a West Coast mill. My background’s in library science, so I do the background database and computer equipment and things like that. But we love fabric. We’ve always loved fabric. We’ve done a lot of different crafts through the years. Porcelain, painting, weaving, knitting, crocheting, things like that. But it’s always come back to fabric. We love the color, the feel, and we love the 100% cotton the best,” said Nations.
Open since July 2017, Gardensong Fabrics has put Brookhaven on the map for quilters across the state.
A relatively new place in Brookhaven is the Wild Fox Coffee Shop. Since opening last year, people of all ages have flocked to the now transformed house on West Monticello Street.
You can grab a cup of coffee or drink of your choice while sitting down and visiting or enjoying a good book.
The baristas who work at the coffee shop said the coffee flavors are inspired by the owner’s dogs. One of the most popular drinks is the Newman, and all ingredients are Mississippi-based.
“We just want to be like, you know, your hometown coffee spot, local cozy. But we’re all about the coffee; all of the drinks here. When I was in high school, I didn’t have anywhere I could go to school and just, you know, hang out, get a drink, study, hang out, my friends. And it’s just really important to have that. I always wanted it, and I’m happy that I can be here to give that to other people,” said Desiray Boswell, the assistant manager.
Inside, you will also find dozens of framed art featuring foxes on the walls. Boswell said there are plans for the front half of the store to become a bookstore.
Another fun place is the Brookhaven Skating Rink 3G. The 3G stands for third generation.
Opened in 1972, the skating rink has been around for more than five decades, and it continues to be a local hangout for kids in the area. They offer birthday parties, church or school parties, and family or class reunions.
Owner and Manager Robbie Nettles bought the rink from his aunt back in 2017. He said he’s happy to continue the family tradition.
“When you come to our skating rink, we treat you as family, and it’s a good place to come and relax and have fun. And I think that people come back because of the atmosphere. We like people to feel comfortable and get to know each other. A lot of people grew up skating here, and it’s interesting to have those people bring their kids and then their kids playing,” he said.