Mall owner seeks, gets school yea for IMAX

Published 12:14 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

The prospect of an IMAX screen in the theater complex at the Vicksburg Mall met with unanimous support of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees meeting Thursday night.

Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Duran Swinford told board members she had been asked by mall owner Andy Weiner for a letter of support to show potential investors in the large-format screen, enhanced image and sound productions.

“An IMAX theater would present different types of movies relative to historical perspective as well as science perspective and many movies of educational value,” Swinford said. “I believe it would be a good thing for our students to go on field trips locally, supporting our own here in Vicksburg in the event that they can bring that theater here.”

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The district did not have to guarantee financial support or commit to a certain number of school field trips. “It’s just, if they build it, will we go,” Swinford said.

District 4 Trustee Joe Loviza said that at the risk of setting a precedent in recommending one business over another, the educational benefits an IMAX theater offers would be good for the schools and the community.

Mississippi has no IMAX theater, the closest being in Baton Rouge. Other locations include New Orleans, Bossier City and Memphis.

Principals at the meeting voiced approval.

“These people have really done their homework,” Sherman Avenue Elementary School principal Ray Hume said of Wiener and mall managers. “So many times we have traveled to Jackson to do things we couldn’t get here in Vicksburg.”

The IMAX is just one part of the plan the mall owners have for improving the mall’s offerings, including what they have already done to open the mall for schools to showcase events and programs, he said.

Trustees voted 5-0 in favor, authorizing Swinford to draft the letter of support.

The board also hosted and recognized students from three schools who have recently won or competed in state competitions, including Warren Central High School percussionists and a precision machinist, Vicksburg High School varsity basketball and Vicksburg Junior High School Emerald Singers.