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By Steve Muller
EAGLE News Editor
Friday at 10:00 AM, 1,500 Oxford School system students gathered to remember their slain drama teacher, Valerie Vilson. Ms. Vilson, slain in April, was active in creating dramatic outreach programs for grades K-9.
Her programs were lively and fun. Doug Haines, middle school teacher, said, "She would dress up as Shakespeare and perform a "Shakespearean Highlights" show. There was something really special about the way she could interact with the kids and make them care about everything she said."
Ten year old Christen Kushland said, "Valerie taught me how to make puppets and be a clown. She's funny. I wish she could come back."
The Downtown Business Foundation has created a scholarship fund for students pursuing a careerin educational theatre. The first donor was John Grisham, donating $50,000. Valerie was their children's favorite baby-sitter.
The Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Office created a special service on the Internet to collect and share information regarding the murder. Thousands of people have accessed the site and hundreds have written in with leads and ideas. The Internet site is part of the World Wide Web. Its address is located at: http://www.crimescene.com/crime/.
In April, Valerie Vilson was slain by an unknown assailant. Her partially clad body was discovered by neighbors. Reportedly, Ms. Vilson's boyfriend, Greg Giblini, is a suspect in the killings. He is still at large.
Ms. Vilson, age 26, was a theatre student at the University of Mississippi. Over the past several years she performed in "The Water Engine", "The Seagull" and "Reckless". Recently, she completed performances of the play, Dirty Work", by local writer, Larry Brown. Valerie was preparing to take the show on a tour of the Southeastern United States and the East Coast at the time of her death.