At the beginning of each school year, I ask juniors how many of them plan to stay in state for college. The majority say–emphatically–that they plan to leave, particularly those who consider themselves part of “forgotten” communities. The Dramatic Performance’s first one act of the semester, Flyover, dramatizes the motivations young people feel as they contemplate their futures. Tell me what you think of the play’s ending.

I’m also curious: what will it take for young people to choose Mississippi rather than flee it?

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7 Responses to Flyover

  1. Elijah says:

    Dr. Easterling, I hate you for not giving an elaborate ending. Good God, why did you have to end it on a Cliffhanger? However, as a younger person who can relate to her sentiments, I feel that Shelby would most likely choose to leave Mississippi. With all the people that are around her, I would leave too. Heck, it didn’t even matter whether or not I had the money at all. I don’t think there are any good arguments on her staying.

  2. Bill Arnoldus says:

    For me, it took MSU being free to stay in Mississippi. Although it doesn’t mean i’m not plotting my ways out. In-state colleges giving young people large amounts of money to attend seems like the biggest way to keep young people who want out, in. Because other than college and family, there’s not many reasons to stay in Mississippi. Other states and countries have more opportunities for young people. I know that Starkville’s plan to retain and possibly grow its population is to make the town more and more connected to MSU. A comfortable and affordable living for college students, and every suburban pleasure that can be offered, will make people more likely to settle down there.

  3. Jacqueline Smith says:

    I’m not a huge fan of unresolved endings, to be honest. However, I do relate to Shelby’s struggle. She doesn’t even know what she wants to do but she wants to leave Mississippi.
    The main reason why most young people feel unfavorably about Mississippi is the culture. As the other characters said, they didn’t want to leave and they didn’t want to change. That’s alright, but in most instances, it leads to Mississippi being backward because people are unwilling to change their perspectives. It took until 2020 to change the state flag from the *Confederate* flag. Because of the flight of educated individuals, the situation worsens to where Mississippi has bad schools, little industry, and very little to do.
    Maybe digital media will accelerate space-time compression to the point where the culture in Mississippi will be indistinguishable from the rest of the U.S. Some may think it’s a tragedy, but it’s beginning to seem like homogenizing is the only reliable way to reduce conflict.

  4. Gracyn Young says:

    Dr. Easterling, as I read these comments and see how others feel about the ending, I can’t say anything but express how I disagree. Maybe it’s just my knack for cliffhangers or the fact that the ending causes the watcher to reflect on their personal motives (what they would choose), but either way, I feel as if it couldn’t have ended better. I think the ending of the play causes us to reflect on what we would choose as a form of closure since it wasn’t explicitly given to us. Personally, I think that Shelby would have left. Maybe it was the lack of chemistry I felt between her and Beau or the “helicopter mom,” but I don’t think anyone on the outside could blame her for wanting to leave.

    As for the staying in Mississippi topic, I personally don’t see myself going far for college. Mainly because I don’t want to be in major debt due to out-of-state tuition, but also because as much as Mississippi has its faults, I see that every other state has them too. I am blessed enough to have an amazing family who I don’t want to leave too far behind, and three great options for college that are close (UM, MSU, USM), I think that staying in Mississippi, at least for undergrad, is not unfavorable. If I do go out of state (for undergrad), I cannot imagine myself going farther than the bordering states.

    I think that there isn’t much anyone can do to keep the younger generations from fleeing Mississippi. I would argue that because of the presence of technology and the current political state of our country, most teenagers are rebelling from the conservative way they were raised (at least in my case), and Mississippi simply doesn’t support their views. Most Mississippi teenagers only stay in-state because of money, I think that if Mississippi really wants their young to stay, make college cheaper and higher paying jobs for after graduation.

    Otherwise, I thought the play was great and the actors were absolutely phenomenal. It was the perfect mixture of humor and realization. Great Job!

  5. George Utz says:

    I did not like the ending of the play (I did not watch it).

    Young people that express a strong desire to leave Mississippi tend to consider themselves Democrats, and as such tend to hold more “left-leaning” beliefs. Mississippi is a “red state”, meaning its elected officials are almost always Republican. This factional divide drives many out of Mississippi, and I can’t imagine there is much that any one person or group of people could do to change the situation. If only there was some way for citizens to help determine who gets voted into office…

  6. Nicolas Neal says:

    Brain drain is a significant factor in Mississippi’s declining population. The lack of an attractive tech sector and an unfavorable perception of our state are also big boo-boos for its population retention. Consequently, a rising dependency ratio will strain the workforce, long-term care facilities will experience labor shortages (worse than they already are), an ageing population will suffer innovation decline, and Mississippi will become a liability to the nation as a whole (in a worst-case scenario).

    Young people already have advantages in staying local. Mississippi colleges offer in-state tuitions that are far cheaper than out-of-state alternatives. Living close to home is, too, a considerable convenience. I don’t know what else could be done to ensure that our young minds don’t run off as soon as they go off to university or the workforce aside from the obvious “make Mississippi better” in various ways. Maybe it is what it is.

  7. Kinsley Collum says:

    I think a lot of factors go into young people wanting to stay in Mississippi. From just the comfort of the known here to the closeness to family, there are a lot of important reason people would want to stay. I also think the benefits of going to an instate school pull young people to stay. Not having to pay out of state tuition and getting Mississippi scholarships is really appealing to most. As someone who would like to leave the state, the only thing that really stops me is my family.

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