Page 1

Spring 2014

î ˘e Magazine University school of Jackson Students benefit from renewed focus on technology Also inside‌

New Upper School Director ....2

Teachers ................................14

In the Classroom .................3-7

Community Service...............15

Student Life .........................8-9

Achievements ..................16-17

Athletics ................................10

Development .........................18

Fine Arts ................................11

Alumni Families ....................19

Summer Camps ...........12-13

Alumni News ...................20-24

USJ, The Magazine, is published by University School of Jackson. The next issue is Fall 2014. 232/240 McClellan Rd. Jackson, TN 38305 731.664.0812 Stuart Hirstein, Head of School Tommy Allen, Interim Upper School Director Courtney Burnette, Middle School Director Debbie Ford, Lower School Director Kay Shearin, Director of Admissions, 731.660.1692 Mary Reed, Editor and Designer,

On the cover: Third graders use iPads to enhance a lesson in Jessica Milone’s classroom.

New Upper School Director looks forward to ‘atmosphere, energy’ at USJ enjamin Murphy is eager to get started July 1 Department head and an academic counselor before in his new position as Upper being named accreditation School Director. chairman, his current posi“I’m excited about the opportution. nity,” he said. “This is definitely “Benjamin is an outsomething I’m looking forward to standing educator and perquite a bit.” son,” said USJ Head of School Murphy, a veteran educator from Stuart Hirstein. “His high Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei, standards and dedication to Hawaii, said he is committed to stustudents will serve USJ well.” dents and their education, and he Murphy was chosen wants them to take responsibility for from a pool of more than 40 their learning. After arriving on camcandidates after a lengthy Benjamin Murphy pus this summer, he expects to spend search that began in October. some time meeting faculty and students and getting The selection committee included administrators, to know the wider USJ community. students, and faculty. He said he likes what he has seen so far. During a Teachers lauded his energy and vision, Hirstein recent visit to USJ, Murphy said he was impressed said, while students said they were able to relate to with the focus and dedication he found among him, enjoyed his sense of humor, and appreciated his teachers, administrators, and students. “I really liked forward-looking attitude regarding technology. the atmosphere and the energy. Everyone was there “The feedback from the committee was overwith a definite sense of purpose.” whelmingly in favor of Ben,” said Hirstein, who An avid sports fan, Murphy was featured in a added that he worked with Murphy for eight years 2009 ESPN the Magazine article about fans. He also while at Island Pacific Academy. Hirstein was associwas director of press box operations at the Univerate headmaster at the independent pre-kindergarten sity of Illinois where he earned a master’s degree in through 12th-grade school in Hawaii before joining history. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and USJ last July. German from the University of Notre Dame. Tommy Allen, USJ’s Interim Upper School DiMurphy joined Island Pacific Academy in 2006, rector and longtime Jackson educator, will continue to serve in the position through June 30. Allen reserving as an English, journalism, and history inplaced Scott Phillipps in July 2013. structor. He also was the Upper School Humanities


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New focus on technology gives all Upper and Middle School students computer laptops at start of school year


very USJ student in grades six through 12 is getting a MacBook Air laptop for the 2014-2015 school year as part of the school’s new 1:1 program. Students will be allowed to take the computer home each day and also use it during the summer. The cost of the computer is included in tuition. After three years, students will be issued a new laptop. “The 1:1 laptop program prepares our students for the 21st Century and enhances learning,” said USJ Head of School Stuart Hirstein. “It also helps to prepare our students for college and beyond.” Providing a laptop for each sixth- through 12th-grade student is one of several recent moves by USJ to address the use of technology in the classroom. For example, Lower School students have access to iPads, the whole school is equipped with wireless Internet, and classrooms on both campuses have interactive projectors and whiteboards. The 13-inch MacBook Air features 128 gigabytes of flash storage with 4 gigabytes of onboard memory. The battery life is 12 hours, which is more than enough to get students through the school day. “The USJ 1:1 program fulfills one of our strategic initiatives,” Hirstein said. “The school has spent the last two years preparing our infrastructure for wireless technology and outfitting our classrooms with inter-

active projectors. The 1:1 program is the next step in this process.” For optimal efficiency, students will not be able to bring in their own laptops instead of leasing the MacBook Air through the school. USJ wants to ensure each child has the right technology and avoid technical issues due to incompatibilities or hardware and software variations, Hirstein said. Seniors will have the option of purchasing their laptops from the school for use in college by paying the balance of the lease. Laptops will be covered for the first two incidences of damage, but parents will be responsible for repairing or replacing the laptop on the third incident. Parents also will be responsible for replacing the laptop if it is lost. Though USJ is still working through the details of how and when to distribute the computers to students, Hirstein said he is happy to report the school’s decision to purchase MacBook Airs. “Earlier this year, the USJ administrative team solicited feedback from faculty, administrators, students, and other schools about the use of technology, specifically individual devices in the classroom. We interviewed vendors, visited other educators, and even conducted surveys. The school has decided that the best device that fits our instructional needs is the 13-inch MacBook Air.”

Lower School teachers, students eager to use iPads

shipment of iPads arThe iPads are intuitive, and rived in the Lower students learned how to use School in early fall, them quickly. Some were aland teachers quickly put them ready familiar with them beto use as a new learning tool for cause they have one at home. students. In fact, Milone said she’s USJ purchased a cart with learning some things from her 23 iPads, and teachers sign up students. “It’s been fun to share to reserve them for a particular ideas on how to use them.” time period. Third grade Lower School technology teacher Jessica Milone said the teacher Heidi McDaniel has devices have been popular, and helped find new apps for stushe asks for the cart at least dents, and Lower School techMeera Boyapati uses an iPad to work on her math in Jessica Milone’s classroom. once a week. nology assistant Stephanie “Everybody is really jumping on board.” Hulme installs them on all the devices. Teachers also have discovered Milone uses the iPads to reinforce what she teaches in class. Stuapps for class, and sometimes they learn about worthwhile apps from dents will use different age-appropriate apps to practice multiplication students. and division. They also play educational games, like Hangman, to Milone said she shares the apps they use with parents so students practice spelling. can continue to learn if they have an iPad at home. She also said teach“It makes it a lot of fun for them,” she said. “It’s also been good to ers are grateful for the devices, and she predicts they will be used more and more in classrooms. “I really see that this is where it’s going.” have a quick and easy way to do some research during a lesson.”



‘It’s about bringing out the best in people … setting the bar high’

Upper School history teacher Don Roe finds a new home at USJ.

on Roe is an energetic and enthusiastic teacher who has quickly become a student favorite on campus. He joined USJ two years ago after more than 18 years in the public school system. Right away, he said, he felt a sense of family and community — everyone has a place, and everyone is accepted. “I have been truly embraced by the people here.” The Upper School college-prep and AP history teacher believes his classroom instruction should be more than learning facts about the country. He said he uses history as a conduit to help students improve themselves through lessons about hard work, perseverance, and consistency. He teaches that one’s daily effort matters. “It’s about bringing out the best in people. It’s about setting the bar high. It’s about teaching young people how to be successful adults.” Outside of the classroom, Roe is the Voice of the Bruins at sporting events. It’s a fun experience, he said. The kids enjoy it, he



enjoys it, and, it’s a good way to support the school. “I think it’s important to do more than teach in the classroom.” He also developed the Forty/40 challenge, which began on Thanksgiving and asked students and teachers to run at least a mile a day for 40 consecutive days. The aim was to promote physical fitness during a time when people tend to eat too much, he said.

Forty/40 running challenge …


hose completing Don Roe’s running challenge over the holidays were … Students Patrick Aherrera, Paige Askins, Jordan Boyd, Sam Darnall, Jack Goodwin, Ali Graham, Amanda Holloway, Claire Jaggers, Marisa Mariencheck, Meredith Maroney, Molly Maroney, Madison Perchik, Nate Schwindt, Whitson Smith, and Aisha Suara. Faculty members Christie Golden, Carol Ryan, Tony Winkler, and Roe.

If you missed a day, you had to check yourself off the list. Of the 105 people who signed up, 19 finished and celebrated with the “Mile of Champions” run during Christmas break. The Forty/40 challenge was a fun event that he wants to plan each year. Beyond physical fitness, it helps students establish habits of excellence, he said. “I want the kids to understand that success in life really comes down to the habits you have every day.” In his two years at USJ, Roe said he has learned that it is not a typical learning environment. The mission statement permeates every facet of the school and is embraced by teachers, administrators, and students, he said. In part, the mission statement calls for the school to instill a passion for academic excellence and lifelong learning so each student will reach his or her maximum potential. “I am passionate about teaching young people. There’s not a better environment to teach than an environment where students enjoy being challenged.”

AP students outperform peers in state, nation student an opportunity to take tudents who take AdAP classes.” vanced Placement tests USJ teachers want students at USJ significantly outwho will add to the classroom performed their peers across environment and are willing to the state and country in 2013. move out of their academic The College Board recomfort zones, she said. They leased a report in February aren’t simply looking for stuthat detailed last year’s test dents who will perform well scores on national and stateon exams. by-state levels. The report “Students also take AP showed that 70 percent of courses because they love scores across the country and learning. When you put com60 percent of scores in TenCarol Ryan, Director of College Advising, above right, encourages students like mitted teachers with students nessee were a 3 or higher. By junior Rebekah Sears to take AP classes. Rebekah is taking AP English Literature who are eager to learn in a supcomparison, 88 percent of and AP U.S. History this school year. portive school environment, USJ’s AP test scores in 2013 were 3 or higher. Also, 28 percent of USJ’s test scores were a perfect 5, then you have all the ingredients for success.” Not surprised with USJ’s success, Ryan cites a term used by the whereas 20 percent of scores in the country and 13 percent of scores College Board to describe schools in Tennessee were a 5. Find out what USJ’s AP teachers say about the program: that build successful AP programs “I think the scores reflect over several years: scaffolding. “USJ the work that USJ’s faculty has provides that scaffolding — every done on the scope and seAP student has the academic underpinnings to begin AP coursework. quence of coursework in each grade and each discipline,” said Carol Great AP scores don’t happen in one classroom in one year.” Ryan, Director of College Advising. As the college advisor, Ryan encourages students to take an AP USJ’s AP curriculum, which offers 15 AP courses, is certified by course because college admissions and scholarship decisions are made the College Board and is equivalent to introductory courses taken in based on the rigor of a student’s coursework. But there are many other college. All USJ students participating in AP classes are required to take the national exam. Depending on a student’s performance on the reasons to take AP classes, she said. Besides college credits, multiple studies show that AP courseexam, a university may give the student college credit or advanced work is a factor in successfully completing college, she said. Stuplacement in college courses. Many USJ graduates enter college as dents who take one or more AP courses are more likely to earn a sophomores because of their AP credits. bachelor’s degree in four years or less. Students who take an AP “What makes USJ’s AP success so phenomenal is that our AP course, but only score a 2, also tend to do better in college than stuteachers do not hand-pick the AP students,” said Ryan, who also is a dents who did not take AP courses or who skipped the AP exam. former AP teacher at USJ. “Of course, we look at test scores and per“Just being a part of the AP program increases college readiness formance in other classes to help with scheduling, but we do follow and the four-year college graduation rate.” the College Board’s Equity & Access Policy and give any interested



Middle School students ‘write across the curriculum’ with research paper iddle School teachers she said. The teachers beneworked together to fitted by sharing the load. create a cross-curMorrison could focus on riculum research project for English, and Wernquist could eighth graders that gives students focus on history. a stronger grasp of history, writThe finished report was ing, and the process of creating a three to four pages with a detailed report. works cited page. Students In October, students picked learned step-by-step how to topics from early colonial figures develop a thesis, gather inforthey had been studying in Ryan mation, use note cards, and Wernquist’s history class. English pull everything together in a teacher Ruth Ann Morrison coherent paper. They earned worked with them to develop a points for steps such as Middle School students, above, work in Scott Tinker’s computer lab and, thesis statement and outline, and sources, the outline, and notebelow, take notes in Ruth Ann Morrison’s English classroom. computer science teacher Scott cards. Tinker helped students with MLA This is the second year style and formatting. the teachers have collaboStudents received a history rated on the research project. grade from Wernquist based on Morrison said they recognize the subject matter and an English the merits of the approach grade from Morrison based on and will continue to collabogrammar and sentence structure. rate each year in the future. Students worked on the project in Learning the process both classes, and Tinker let them helps with research projects use the computer lab during study students will encounter in hall. Upper School, and it gives “It worked out great,” MorriMiddle School teachers an son said. “I think they enjoyed it opportunity to address an because it was killing two birds with one stone. They were getting two important directive, Morrison said. “We’ve been asked to get them to do writing across the curricugrades, but they were only doing one project.” lum, and this was one way to achieve that goal.” Students also had the benefit of getting help from three teachers,


Mary Claire Hancock joins Math Department ary Claire Hancock is filling in for Christie Thomson as a Middle School math teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Lambuth University, and she has taught students in the Gibson County and Madison County school systems. Hancock has two children: Morgan and Spencer. Morgan is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Spencer is a freshman at USJ.



Elizabeth Maloan teaches a lesson in the Lower school science lab.

Science Lab enhances Lower School curriculum he Lower School Science Lab is a hands-on extension to learning in the classroom. Elizabeth Maloan, who has taught at USJ for 14 years and is in her first year as Science Lab teacher, expands on classroom instruction with a closer look at the subject matter. She teaches first through fifth graders during a weekly 45-minute lab. “I do different things with each of them,” Maloan said. “I try to go along with what they are studying in the classroom and give them hands-on things to do.” Each class learns something different and more detailed each year, she said.


For example, first graders learned about mammals before their field trip to the zoo, and they began studying trees. Second graders studied amphibians, and they learned how to identify different types of trees before their tree field trip. And third graders studied desert and forest ecosystems. Before leaving fifth grade, students have dissected deer hearts and examined plant and animal cells under a microscope. But not everything is based on the classroom curriculum, Maloan said. Students will take a closer look at the science behind current events, such as a snowfall. “If there is something that comes up or

happens, then I grab the opportunity to teach them about that.” Maloan also helped clean out the koi pond and return it to operation. Students are now able to study the fish and the pond’s ecosystem. Her first year as Science Lab teacher has been time consuming as she worked to create lesson plans and find materials for the students to study. However, she said, the students enjoy the lab, and it’s been a learning experience for everyone. “I think it’s fun,” Maloan said. “I’m learning along with them because I’m doing all the research to be able to teach them about it.”

New program allows Jr. Cubs and Cubs to attend part-time


Jr. Cub Caysen Baskerville gives his teddy bear a bath.

he 2014-2015 school year will start with a new two-day-a-week program for 2-year-olds in Jr. Cubs and a three-day-a-week program for 3-year-olds in Cubs. “We saw a need within our parent body,” said USJ Director of Admissions Kay Shearin. “So many families were using alternate day care because they didn’t want to send their children to school full time.” The program includes USJ’s curriculum-based learning through play that is found in full-time Jr. Cubs and Cubs classrooms. Shearin said the response from

parents for the new part-time program has been tremendous. “This is just a continuation of the school’s commitment to meeting the needs of our families and also giving the children a good, solid foundation for the future.” Students must be 2 years old (or 3 years old for Cubs) by August 15 in order to enroll. USJ is now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year. Apply online at or contact Shearin at 731-660-1692 or 7

Student Life Eighth grader loves ‘to be involved with everything’ ighth grader Ashlee Dunn is the kind of student schools like to brag about. She is on the Student Council and made the All-Northwest Junior High Regional Honor Choir. Her favorite sport is cheerleading, and she’s been busy preparing for nationals in Orlando with her travel cheer squad, Jackson Elite. She also is captain of USJ’s Middle School squad. She chose to begin running for Coach Edgar Willis on the Upper School track team this year, and she will likely play volleyball next fall when she is a freshman. “I just love to be involved with everything,” Ashlee said. She qualified for the Duke Talent Identification Program as a seventh grader, and she has made the Head of School Honor Roll each quarter in eighth grade, which means she is an All-A student. “I love all the teachers,” Ashlee said. “They’re really supportive in everything you do, and they want you to do well.” She said she is ready for high school because her teachers have prepared her well. And, she believes her faith is central to her success.


Claire Jaggers


Ashlee Dunn “Everything I can do, and all the abilities I have, I couldn’t do without God.”

Students strive to ‘Be a Better U’ he Student Government Association found a unique way to make a statement against bullying and to promote character and accountability on campus. It’s called the “Be a Better U” campaign. The premise is simple: Ask students to look within themselves to find ways to act better, and the school will be better as a result. “We wanted students to realize that being a better school starts with being a better you,” said senior Claire Jaggers. Student Government Association Co-sponsor Malea Mullins said the students wanted to do something that would


change the atmosphere. “They wanted to make a difference.” The SGA created committees at the beginning of the school year to promote change through music, sports, dance and theater, and words. Students looked for ideas that other students would respond to, Mullins said. “They came back with some really, really awesome ideas, and they just took off with it.” Students illustrated their ideas through speakers and performances during assemblies, videos posted to YouTube, art projects, and sportsmanship during athletic events. Claire said it was a rewarding experience. “I think it was successful. There was an overwhelming response from the student body.”

Senior leaves legacy of community service


li Graham will graduate USJ this year with an impressive legacy of community service. As president of the Key Service Club, which is sponsored by Upper School English Department Chair Bridget Clark, Ali helped organize a record-breaking food drive on behalf of the Regional Inter-Faith Association (RIFA). The food drive at the beginning of the school year was a competition with Trinity Christian Academy, and the two schools donated 42,714 pounds of food — more than double RIFA’s previous Jackson record. “I think the energy and spirit of the school that whole week was a really neat thing to see,” Ali said. “I never expected it to be so huge.” USJ contributed about 33,500 pounds of the total, which was equivalent to more than 25,000 meals as students, parents, teachers, and administrators brought in boxes and boxes of food. The donations fed the dis-

abled, elderly, homeless, and working and non-working poor in the community. Service projects like the food drive show the true spirit of USJ as people come together to give back to the community, Ali said. Everyone at school should be proud of the effort and the extent to which they were able to support RIFA. Ali will be the last of four sisters to earn a diploma from USJ — a place she said feels more like a family than a school. She said she’s looking forward to graduation, but wishes she could stay a little longer. Ultimately, she’s grateful for her time at the school and feels prepared for college. “USJ is so great at bringing the

Ali Graham best out of all its students and pushing us to be the best we can be.”

Senior keeps busy with many extra-curricular activities


SJ senior Austin Orr has his hands full while he takes advantage of everything the school has to offer. He is a captain of the varsity football team and senior leader of the varsity baseball team — he played shortstop on the 2012 state championship team. He is Speaker of the Honor Council; President of the Spanish Club; and a member of National Honor Society, Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, and the concert choir. “USJ offers so many opportunities to do everything you love to do, so why not do everything you love to do if it’s available?” Austin is also on the Head of

School Scholars Honor Roll, which means he maintains a GPA of at least 4.0. He appreciates the opportunities available at USJ — both academic and extra-curricular. The school is like a family away from home, he says. Though he is still deciding on a college, Austin said he wants to study pre-med at Union University or University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Whichever school he choses, he said he would be prepared. “I think all the classes I’ve taken so far will have a huge impact when I go to college.”

Austin Orr


Basketball coach focuses on developing players early, strengthening program liver Simmons is in his first year as the Upper School varsity basketball coach and couldn’t be happier with his new job. “USJ is absolutely a great place. It has such a community feel.” Simmons, who has been coaching for 12 years, teaches Upper School accounting, economics, and fitness. His wife, Dana, is the seventh-grade English teacher. Their son, Dexter, is in Jr. Cubs, and their daughter, Gabriella, will attend USJ next year. The decision to move to Jackson from Orlando, Florida, and teach at USJ was made for family reasons, he said. “It’s always been my dream to be at a school where my family can be on the same campus.” Today, Simmons is focusing on making the basketball program as strong as it can be. He wants to build relationships with Lower School and Middle School students and teach them the fundamentals of the game so they can excel in Upper School. In the fall, he held Saturday clinics for kindergarten through fifth graders. He hosted a Christmas break camp for fifth, sixth, and seventh graders, and he’s planning a spring camp for Middle Schoolers and a summer camp for kindergarten through eighth graders.


Varsity Basketball Coach Oliver Simmons watches the scoreboard during a varsity game. Building relationships with kids makes them want to play for you in high school, he said. And developing their skills early helps tie together USJ’s entire basketball program. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the first year’s progress,” he said. He also is pleased with the varsity basketball team’s success on the court, and he wants to continue to build on that success every year. “If we can be competitive every year, we have the staple of a good program.”

Junior brings home a championship unior Sam Darnall won the Division II-A state cross country championship at Percy Warner Park last November in Nashville. He achieved a personal record with a 16:16 finish at the TCA Invitational in September. He beat that time and earned another personal record with a blazing 16:07 finish at the Footlocker Championships in North Carolina in November. Darnall was named The Jackson Sun’s 2013 All-West Tennessee Male Runner of 10


the Year, and he earned All-State honors. “You’ve got to have goals to always improve, and that’s something our coach — Arthur Priddy — does for us,” Sam said. “He does a good job of setting goals for us, and he helps us meet those goals.” The boys cross country team finished third overall at the state championship. Jack Goodwin finished 10th in boys cross country, and Samantha Sullivan finished third in girls cross country. Both also received All-State honors.

Sam Darnall is a cross country state champion.

‘If students at USJ want to pursue a creative career, they will be prepared’


rt Teacher and Upper School Visual Art Department Chair Libby Lynch has a straight-forward teaching philosophy. All students can learn to draw and develop their creative problem-solving skills, she said, and if a teacher sets clear expectations for student performance, students will strive to meet those expectations. “My goal as the instructor is to concurrently interest and challenge my students,” said Lynch, who believes that the arts have intrinsic value. “I always work through any project that I present to the students in order to accomplish this goal. In working through projects, I figure out what difficulties the students will have, and I quickly figure out if the assignment is engaging.” Sometimes, she said, students must learn basic techniques, but she looks for ways to present the techniques that challenge students while giving them a sense of accomplishment. It is essential, she said, to get their feedback about the work they do in class. “This collaborative approach gives students the feeling that their opinions are valued and leads to them becoming more invested in the learning process.” Lynch also networks with other art teachers and attends professional development workshops to keep her lessons fresh and exciting. She joined USJ in 1997. Before she was an art teacher, she was a graphic designer. Since becoming an educator, she said she has discovered that there is always something new to learn, and every child is different. She also has learned that USJ is different. The students, supportive parents, and the teaching environment set it apart from other schools, she said. “Our school is so supportive of letting our teachers try new ideas and teach our students the way that we feel is best for our students. Teachers at USJ are able to meet the needs of the individual students and help them reach their potential.” USJ students have the benefit of an exposure to the arts from pre-

USJ Art Teacher Libby Lynch gives guidance to senior Maddie Koester as she works on an art project.

kindergarten through high school, she said. By the time they are in ninth grade, they’ve had experience with clay, shading, color scheme, and most of the basic concepts in art. In Upper School, students who take four years of studio art develop strong portfolios that can be sent to colleges as supplementary material or as part of a requirement for a talent-based scholarship. “If students at USJ want to pursue a creative career, they will be prepared,” Lynch said. “Students from here have gone on to receive talent-based scholarships to such prestigious schools as Parsons New School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Memphis College of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.”

Middle School Spring Art Show

iddle School students will show their artwork in the foyer of the gymnasium and Blankenship Theatre during the end-of-the-year awards ceremony on May 14. “It’s nice for them to be able to show off the hard work they’ve done, and this should allow everyone to see it,” said Middle School Art Teacher Anna McPeake.


Each Middle School student has been encouraged to participate in the Middle School’s annual art show. McPeake expects eighth graders to contribute 7080 pieces and sixth and seventh graders to contribute up to 150 pieces. “We will be surrounded by student artwork. I think everyone will be impressed by how much talent our Middle School students have.”


novice to intermediate rising third through eighth graders. Rising seniors can get a jumpstart on their college applications and essays with Carol Ryan, Director of College Advising. And Upper School students can take 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction for Driver’s Ed. With the exception of Camp Bruins, Adventure Camp, and our College Advising courses, students do not need to be enrolled at USJ to attend a camp. Classes are filled on a firstcome, first-served basis, with registration unofficial until the registration form and deposit are received. Your deposit is applied to the cost of the camp. Register by May 31. For more information, visit student-life/summer-programs.php.

ach summer, USJ offers a variety of summertime camps and courses for children of all ages. Students can practice the fundamentals of various sports, brush up on their writing and math skills, perform in a theatrical production, or build robots. Camp Bruins is a full-time program for USJ’s Junior Cubs through fifth-grade students that offers enriching and educational activities throughout the summer break. Applications and details for Camp Bruins Summer 2014 are available at the reception desk in the Lower School lobby. You can enroll your child for two, three, or five days each week. Applications should be turned into the Lower School office by May 1. Other camps vary from single sessions to weeklong events. Programs like the Little Bruins Adventure Camp feature a week of activities for 3- to 6-year-olds that include water play, art projects, and riding bikes. The Tennis Camp, led by Hall of Fame Coach Don Newman, teaches strategies and match play for


What to do this summer at USJ ... Academics

n Algebra Academy I: Rising grades 8-9, July

n ACT English Prep Workshop: Rising

n Back to School Basics for Lower School:

grades 10-12, Session I: April 1-3; and Session II: July 14-18

Session I (rising grades 2-3): July 21-24; and Session II (rising grades 4-5): July 21-24 n Creative Writing Workshop: Rising grades 11-12 and college freshmen, July 7-11 n Driver's Ed: June 16-20

n ACT Math Prep (Algebra Academy II):

Rising grades 9-11, Session I: April 8-10; and Session II: July 21-25


n Math Fundamentals for

Middle School: Rising grades 6-8, July 21-25

n Robotics and Programming

using LEGO Mindstorms: Rising grades 5-9, June 2-6

n Scratch – Introduction to

Don Newman teaches a tennis camp each summer.


Computer Programming for Lower School: Rising grades 25, June 23-27

You can register online and pay your registration fee in the Student Life section at The link for camps is in the left column. USJ’s website also has complete information about each camp, including instructors, times, and costs. For further questions, contact Melissa Zerfoss, Summer Programs Director, at n Spanish Academy: Rising grades 9-11

Spanish I and II students, July 28-August 1 n Writer’s Workshop: Rising grades 7-9, July 14-18

College Advising n Jump

Start the Common App Workshop: Rising grade 12, Session I: August 4; and Session II: August 5 n Ready, Set, Write! College Essay Workshops: Rising grade 12, dates to be announced. Continued next page ...

At top, youngsters learn fundamentals in the Little Bruins TOT Basketball Camp. At right, Mary Ellen Vaughn teaches a math fundamentals camp, and a student moves his robot on a track at the Robotics and Programming Using LEGO Mindstorms camp.

Summer Camps, continued ...


n Art-rageous Art Camp: Rising grades 2-6,

Session l: June 2-6; and Session ll: June 2-6 n Little Bruins Adventure Camp: Rising Cubs-K (3- to 6-year-olds), June 23-27 n Little Bruins Art Camp: Rising Cubs-K (3to 6-year-olds), June 2-6 (An extended care program is available after this camp ends each morning.) n Little Bruins My Doll and Me: Rising CubsK (3- to 6-year-olds), June 16-20 (An extended care program is available after this camp ends each morning.) n Musical Theater Camp, A Broadway

Junior: Rising grades 1-9, July 7-8, 10-12, and 14-15 n My Doll and Me: Rising grades 1-5, Session I: July 14-18; and Session II: July 14-18

n Photography: Rising grades 7-9,

June 9-12

n Storybook Chefs: Rising grades 1-5,

Session I: July 14-18; and Session II: July 1418


n Baseball: Session I (rising grades 1-4): June

16-19; and Session II (rising grades 5-8): June 16-19 n Boys Basketball: Session I (rising grades K2): June 9-13; Session II (rising grades 3-5): June 9-12; and Session III (rising grades 6-8): June 9-12 n Best of the West Soccer Camp: Session I (rising grades 1-7): June 2-6; and Session II (rising grades 8-12): June 2-6 n Football Camp: Session I (rising grades 1-6) and Session II (rising grades 7-8): July 7-9

n Girls Basketball: Rising grades 2-8, May


n Gymnastics: Rising grades 1-5, June 23-27 n Jackson National Golf Academy: Rising

grades 1-12, June 16-20.

n Little Bruins Gymnastics: Rising Cubs-K

(3- to 6-year-olds), July 14-18 (An extended care program is available after this camp ends each morning.) n Little Bruins TOT Basketball Camp: Rising Cubs-K (3- to 6-year-olds), July 7-11 (An extended care program is available after this camp ends each morning.) n Tennis Camp: Rising grades 3-8, June 16-20 n Volleyball Camp: Rising grades 3-8, July 7-11


Teachers Choral director busy as president of the Tennessee Music Education Association ian Eddleman, USJ choral director and president of the Tennessee Music Education Association (TMEA), has had two busy years leading Tennessee in statewide music education efforts. Last summer, she took the stage on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as part of the National Leadership Assembly, guiding efforts toward educational reform with other officials from TMEA. Eddleman’s group met with lawmakers to discuss federal policy efforts while focusing on the STEM to STEAM movement, which seeks to incorporate art and design into subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math. During her presidency, she set goals for improving the functionality and perform-


ance of the association for the benefit of the members. The association is financially supported by the national association through a statewide membership Dian Eddleman, center, spent part of last summer in Washington, campaign. D.C., guiding efforts toward educational reform with other officials Eddleman increased from the Tennessee Music Education Association. the association memintegrity of music education as a valuable, bership of underrepresented populations, self-sustaining force, the association of including young members, members of the TMEA will continue to improve.” music industry, and retired members She has had the opportunity to travel exthroughout the state. “I believe music education is in a unique tensively and work with country music position to help resolve issues in innovative, artists from the Country Music Association in the support of music in schools. engaging, and sustainable ways,” she said. Eddleman will complete her two-year “By collaborating with other educaterm as state president on June 30. tional organizations, while promoting the

Theater teacher joins USJ part-time ackson native Erica Davidson has had a passion for dance and theater her whole life. She is now sharing that passion with students as a new part-time theater teacher. Davidson has performed on a stage since she could walk and has been professionally choreographing musicals and show choirs for the past 16 years. She has choreographed all the Upper School musicals and pops concerts for the past six years, which is how she got her start with USJ.


Professional Development A group of USJ administrators and teachers attended a “Learning and the Brain”conference last fall in Boston. The conference explored ways to use technology, blended learning environments, outdoor learning, and other tools to increase student interest. While in Boston, they couldn’t resist visiting Akua Nuako, Class of 2012, who is a freshman at Harvard. Pictured, from left, are Deborah Anton, Beth Hudson, Akua, Elizabeth Atkins, Shay Young, and Laura Moore. 14

Community Service

A community service day at Hands Up!

n March 10, USJ’s Middle School Student Council participated in its first annual community service day at Hands Up! Preschool. The day was designed by the students to give back to the community of Jackson. After entertaining several ideas, the group decided to give their time to Hands Up!, which serves “at risk” children. When students arrived, Hands Up! Director Donna Agnew had countless ways for the students to assist, said Mary Ellen Vaughn, a Middle School Student Council Sponsor. “From cleaning cubbies and playing sidewalk chalk with the kids, to serving lunch and assisting in classroom activities, the Middle School students saw firsthand the great work and foundation that Hands Up! Preschool provides.” “When we returned from our community service day, we spent time reflecting on our experiences. Our Student Council has a greater


appreciation for all that USJ provides and insists on going back to Hands Up! to serve their new friends again.”

Relay For Life Earlier this school year, Middle School students raised $10,500 for the American Cancer Society during the 5th Annual Relay for Life Walk-a-Thon on the track at Kirkland Stadium. USJ, which earned the Gold Medal Team Award in previous years for the amount of money raised, won the Emerald Medal Team Award for the first time, said Laura Stack, a Middle School Student Council Sponsor.

Helping those in need


SJ students contributed a record-breaking 33,500 pounds of food to the Regional Inter-Faith Association (RIFA) this past fall. The food drive was a competition with Trinity Christian Academy, and the two schools donated 42,714 pounds of food — more than double RIFA’s previous Jackson record. At Christmastime, Lower School students provided necessities and gifts for a shelter opened by the Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program (WRAP). “The Christmas fundraiser by the USJ Lower School not only helped us to fully equip our newly opened shelter in Trenton, but also provided replacements for items that were badly worn at our shelter in Jackson,” said WRAP Director Daryl Chansuthus. “The fundraiser also equipped both shelters and the Jackson office with toys and children’s books and provided at least 50 joyful children who visited Santa at WRAP with wonderful toys to take home.”


Achievements … Honor Choirs iddle and Upper School choir members were selected to several different honor choirs …


All-National Honor Mixed Chorus USJ seniors Marisa Mariencheck and Meredith Maroney and junior Sierra Glosson were selected as members of the 2013 NAfME All-National Honor Mixed Chorus sponsored by the National Association for Music Education. They joined more than 670 musically talented high school students in the United States to perform at a gala concert on October 30 in Nashville.

2013 All Northwest Junior High Regional Honor Choir USJ students in the All Northwest Junior High Choir were … Soprano 1: Ashlee Dunn and Abby Vaughn. Soprano 2: Bentlee Clarkson, Macy Scott, and Ella Terry. Alto 1: Linsey Riggins. Alto 2: Ashlee Allison, Ali Butler, Maggie Exum, and Sydney Kwasigroh. Tenor: Patrick Aherrera, Tanner Atkins, Ethan Baskin, Trent Baldwin, Tyler Bruno, John Giampapa, J.D. Jaggers, Amir Kaveh, Alexander Peftoulidis, Miguel Sioson, Wells Smith, and Peyton Taylor. Bass: Jude Anderson, Brian Bada, JP Boyd, Wesley Craig, Ryan Davis, Drew Harbin, Chandler Haynes, Brittain Rainey, Landon Sellers, Trey Smith, Josh Tabor, Jack Tygart, and Michael Villarreal.

Quad State Honor Choir Six students were selected to the Quad State Honor Choir. They were Sierra Glosson, Claire Jaggers, Clara Mariencheck, Molly Morris, Aaron Evans, and Hunter Ross.

(Noted achievements announced since the printing of the Fall 2013 school magazine)

2013 All Northwest Senior High Regional Honor Choir: Students in the All Northwest Senior High Choir were … Soprano 1: Marisa Mariencheck (third chair), Sierra Glosson, Hannah Russell, and Molly Maroney. Soprano 2: Meredith Maroney (first chair), Sydney Paris, Rachel Giampapa, Nicole Sioson, and Summer Basham. Alto 1: Caroline Miller. Alto 2: Claire Jaggers, Molly Morris, and Clara Mariencheck. Tenor 1: Chris Burton and Evan Griggs. Tenor 2: Christophe Nabhan and Jordan Boyd. Bass 1: Austin Orr. Bass 2: Walker Teer, Reese Antwine, Gram Northern, and Patrick Richardson.

Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards Congratulations to the following students who placed in the MidSouth Scholastic Art Competition: Alannah Yellen, grade 9, won a Silver Key for her sculpture, “The Harp Angel.” Lauren Randolph, grade 12, won a Silver Key for her drawing, “Dad’s Old Combat Boot.” Sarah Carraher, grade 9, won an Honorable Mention for her sculpture, “Heal.” As an Affiliate of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, the Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards honor exemplary art by students in seventh through 12th grades, recognizing their outstanding achievements in a competitive annual exhibition and providing cash prizes and scholarship opportunities.

AP Scholar with Distinction All-State Honor Choir Students selected to the Tennessee All-State Choir were, from left, front row, Meredith Maroney, Marisa Mariencheck, and Molly Morris; and second row, Clara Mariencheck, Chris Burton, and Sydney Paris.


Niall Harlan was recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction by the College Board. The organization did not have his name on the original list of AP Scholars with Distinction that it sent to USJ last fall. This honor means that Niall earned an average grade of 3.5 or higher on a five-point scale on all AP exams taken and grades of 3 or higher on five or more of those exams.

National Merit seniors The National Merit Foundation recognized five students from the University School of Jackson’s Class of 2014. They are … Ben Coffman, National Merit Scholarship Finalist, is the son of Steve and Jean Coffman. Govind Bindra, National Merit Scholarship Finalist, is the son of Gurpal and Ravinder Bindra. Aisha Suara, a National Achievement Scholarship Finalist, is the daughter of R.O. and Zulfat Suara. Jennifer Caterina, National Merit Commended Student, is the daughter of John and Nancy Caterina. Marisa Mariencheck, National Merit Commended Student, is the daughter of Bill and Maria Mariencheck. The students earned this recognition because of the scores they made on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their junior year. Of 1.5 million college-bound juniors taking the test, only 16,000 were named Semifinalists and 34,000 were named Commended Students. After being named Semifinalists, Ben and Govind were named Finalists and now have the opportunity to compete for National Merit Scholarships. The National Achievement Scholarship Program is an academic

From left, USJ’s National Merit-recognized students are Ben Coffman, Jennifer Caterina, Govind Bindra, Aisha Suara, and Marisa Mariencheck. competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding African-American high school students.

West TN Student Art Competition Middle School Spelling Bee Four students from USJ won awards at the West Tennessee Regional Student Art Competition. Rebecca Cloar won first place in the sculpture category and received an honorable mention in the drawing category. Sarah Carraher won third place in mixed media. Madeline Koester won third place in sculpture. Shereen Haji received an honorable mention in mixed media. The statewide, juried art competition received 361 entries, and USJ’s Middle and Upper School students created 19 of the 159 accepted entries. Congratulations to the following students who also had work accepted into the competition: Harrison Baker, Mattias Chalikias, Jacob Denbrock, Isabella Edwards, Sarah Frix, Sheffiga Rose, Hope Smith, Jordan Stewart, Samantha Sullivan, Zander Threet, and Alannah Yellen.

All-State Athletes All-State Athletes named so far this school year are … Cross Country: Sam Darnall, Jack Goodwin, and Samantha Sullivan Football: Eric Arnold, Mitchell Bodiford, Austin Orr, and Joseph Patterson Golf: Chase Harris Girls Soccer: Abbey Fleming, Rachel Giampapa, Madison Perchik, and Shelby Williams Volleyball: Sara Glassman and Paige Sheffield

The winners of the Middle School Spelling Bee were Sydney Lofton, first place; Calley Overton, second place; and Anjali Mahajan, third place. Sydney went on to represent USJ in The Jackson Sun Spelling Bee.

Middle School Basketball Five Middle School basketball players were selected to play in the Great American Shootout All-Star Game in February. They were Kallie Pickens, Ashton Hulme, Brandon Craig, Cullen Hughes, and Harrison Homberg.

Chamber video contest USJ Senior Jacob Denbrock won best individual video in the Jackson Chamber’s “This is My Jackson” video contest. Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris and City of Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist presented Jacob with an award during the Chamber’s October Quarterly Membership Breakfast at Union University. The contest asked individuals, businesses, and organizations to produce and upload videos showcasing what they love most about Jackson to the Chamber’s YouTube Channel. “My friend had a GoPro camera, so I decided to see what I could do with that camera,” Jacob said. “I decided to put the GoPro on my car and drive around to some locations and connect the individual shots.” To view Jacob’s and other submitted videos, visit the Chamber’s YouTube channel at


Lauralee and Tripp Hise, below, enjoy their evening at Boots and Bowties.

In January, USJ hosted Boots and Bowties, an exciting evening for the school community and supporters at the Dutch Garden Center Conservatory. Faculty, parents, grandparents, alumni, alumni families, and members of the community attended the event. Highlights included entertainment by James Otto, husband of 1993 USJ graduate Amy Alderson Otto; beer tasting with Yazoo Brewing Company; wine tasting with Forked Vine Wine and Spirits; live and silent auctions; and a catered meal. Boots and Bowties raised more than $62,000 for USJ. For more pictures from the event, visit

Amy van Buuren, above right, chats with Eric and Laura Sievers. At right, Joni Craig and Shawn Sellers volunteer at the registration table.


Alumni families continue to stay involved Mothers return to organize Tea Room


lumni parents returned to the USJ Holiday Mart this year to organize the Tea Room — a special luncheon on the first day of the Mart. Carol Kirkland, the mother of four USJ graduates, said the fundraiser was a successful event. She said she enjoyed getting alumni parents and grandparents, former and present faculty and staff, and out-of-town friends involved by preparing and serving food, selling tickets, eating lunch, and enjoying fellowship. “Not only was our goal to make money for the mart, but it also was to encourage alumni parents to be involved once again at USJ. We had a good turnout of alumni parents and were full at both seatings. We also sold lunches to merchants and the USJ faculty and staff.” Hayley Wilkerson, who was a chairwoman of the 2013 Holiday Mart, said the Tea Room is a long-standing, popular tradition. It takes numerous volunteers to

make the event successful. “It truly is a confirmation of sincere love and support for our school and our children and is a great way to kick off the beginning of Holiday Mart,” Wilkerson said. Kirkland volunteered to help with the Tea Room several times in the 1980s and 1990s when her children attended Episcopal Day School and later USJ. She was happy to return to help organize the event in 2013. “Helping with the tearoom gave me an opportunity to contribute to USJ in a fun way,” Kirkland said. “I knew that working with Kathryn Tucker, Carrie Brown Campbell, and Hayley Wilkerson would be a great experience.”

‘We believed in the school in 1970, and we remain fully committed to USJ today.’ — Lynn East ynn East and her family have a long and active history with USJ that spans four generations. “We believe USJ prepares students well academically, provides an environment that promotes strong family values, and encourages the development of strong character.” Her parents, Bill and Patty Lawrence, were part of the group that


Ayden Johnson is the third generation in the Lawrence family to attend USJ.

founded Old Hickory Academy in 1970. Lynn graduated in the school’s first class in 1971. Her sisters — Lucy Lawrence Taylor, Sally Lawrence Jones, and Amy Lawrence Walton — graduated in 1972, 1974, and 1976. Her children, Allison and Will East, graduated in 2006 and 2008. And now her grandson, Ayden Johnson, is in Sarah Pate’s kindergarten class. When he graduates in 2026, the family will have more than 55 years of history with the school. Through the years, Lynn said she and her family have been proud of USJ as it has grown and changed. “My family has been actively engaged at the school since its inception. We believed in the school in 1970, and we remain fully committed to USJ today.”


News about USJ Alumni

‘From an educational standpoint, I was confident going into any endeavor after high school’

en Ferguson runs a successful business “They’re learning first-rate web developin Jackson and volunteers with the ment and design.” Jackson Chamber to serve the needs of Ben is on the board of Hands Up! — an inthe community. novative pre-school program that opened in The 1997 USJ graduate is president of PerSeptember 2012 with an investment from the sonnel Placements — a staffing agency that Chamber. The school provides educational opmatches employees with companies and helps portunities for children whose families are tryemployers find workers with the right skill set ing to give them a head start but can’t afford to fill temporary or permanent roles. Headprivate tuition. quartered in Jackson, the company has eight “Jackson is my home, and I want this comoffices throughout Tennessee and, at any given munity to be as rewarding to my children as it time, as many as 2,000 workers on assignment was for me,” Ben said. with some of the region’s best companies. He said USJ prepared him well for life after Ben Ferguson Recognizing the need and community high school, and he tested out of several college value of workforce development, Ben, who serves on the Chamclasses. He had many friends in high school, he said, and the netber’s Executive Committee, volunteered with Jim Campbell to lead work of relationships formed at USJ has paid big dividends in his the education initiative for the Chamber’s Forward Jackson ecoprofessional life. “It is amazing to see how far other USJ graduates nomic development campaign. Campbell, who also has strong ties have gone in life.” to USJ, is a former USJ Board Chairman, an alumni parent, and a “From an educational standpoint, I was confident going into current grandparent. The two were instrumental in the search for any endeavor after high school.” the new Jackson-Madison County Schools superintendent, Verna Since Ben joined Personnel Placements as vice president in Ruffin, and they helped develop a strategic plan for education. 2005, the company has grown, and the number of workers on as“From an economic development standpoint, and from a city signment has quadrupled. He said part of the reason for the comhealth standpoint, it was something that needed to be addressed,” pany’s success is its ability to quickly find skilled workers who can Ben said. hit the ground running on their assignment. He also worked to create a computer-coding program in public Ben also credits the economic climate in Jackson and the reschools that teaches students to develop websites and software, sources available to businesses through organizations like the which launched in October 2013 with 86 students. The Chamber Chamber. He also is quick to give credit to his company’s talented staff: agreed to pay for the first year, and the school district agreed to pay “It’s a team effort, and we’ve got great team members.” for it in subsequent years.


Class of 2008 Reunion Members of the Class of 2008 met at the 2013 Homecoming game for their five-year reunion. After the game, they went to Flatiron Grille for a late dinner and had a great time catching up on each other’s lives since high school. Pictured, from left to right, are Catherine Butler, Mary Claire Melton, and Kathryn Roach.


Alumni updates

Send us your news at


New baby in your family?

Brower McClary, Class of 1998, and her husband, Jim, welcomed their son, James Emmett McClary IV, on June 19, James McClary with 2013. James has his big sister, Eva Hays a big sister, Eva Hays McClary, who is 3. The family lives in Athens, Alabama, and owns McClary Ford.

The USJ Alumni Association welcomes your child to the Bruin family. Send us your news and a picture, and we’ll put it on our Baby Bruin page in the Alumni section of our website and include it in the next magazine. Send us your information at Send your baby’s picture to Carrie Brown Campbell at

n Elizabeth

2000-2009 n Beau Sigler, Class of 2002, married Laura Hooper on February 15 in the Cayman Islands. Beau, who graduated from the University of Mississippi, is a channel marketing manager for Stanley Black and Decker in Towson, Maryland. Laura is a branch account executive for Sharp Electronics in Washington, D.C. The couple lives in Baltimore, Maryland. n Elizabeth Shearin Davis, Class of 2003, and her husband, Ben, welcomed their son, Brooks Mason, on September 8, 2013. Liz is a nurse prac- Brooks Mason Davis titioner at TransSouth Healthcare. The family lives in Jackson. n Luke Ferguson, Class of 2003,

married Meg DeLozier on December 28 in Nashville. Luke works at FTN Financial Services, and Meg is a second-year medical student at the UT Health Science Center. They live in Memphis. n Leah Hamilton Tranberg, Class of 2004, is a financial reporting analyst for The Nutro Company in Nashville. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2008. Leah is married to Timothy Tranberg. n Laura Cole, Class of 2005, married Nathan Hysmith on September 20. Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene and works as a dental hygienist. Nathan is the chief operating officer of DXE Medical, Inc. in Nashville, where the couple resides. n James McLemore, Class of 2005, married Anna Newcomb on November 23 in Batesville, Mississippi. James graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi State with a degree in biology. A dental resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, he graduated from the UT College of Dentistry in 2013. Anna earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Mississippi State in 2010 and is pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Tennessee College of Phar-

macy in Memphis. n George Smith, Class of 2007, is engaged to marry Beth Derivaux of Jackson, Mississippi, on May 17. George graduated Rhodes College in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and is now a financial analyst for Mueller Industries. He will graduate with a master’s degree in accountancy from Christian Brothers University in May. Beth graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is pursuing a doctor of dental surgery degree from the UT College of Dentistry. n Katie Mansfield, Class of 2009, made the dean’s list with high honors in law school at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Katie will study at the University of Cambridge in England this summer. 2010 … n Lee Mayhall, Class of 2012, was named to the academic All Gulf South Conference Football Team for the 2013 season. Lee, who attends the University of North Alabama, earned the highest GPA of any football player in the conference with a perfect 4.0. He started all 13 games for the Lions and was the team leader in offensive receptions.

Swimmer finds success at Johns Hopkins


ick Schmidt, USJ Class of 2009, was a standout swimmer for Johns Hopkins University and is completing his master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology this spring at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The 17-time All-American, three-time swimming record holder for Johns Hopkins, and 2013 NCAA National Champion earned his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins last year in behavioral biology. Next year, he plans to enter the workforce as a consultant. Nick attended USJ from Lower School through graduation. The school helped prepare him for success in college, Nick said. “The advisors were helpful and forced me to get out of my comfort zone.” Teacher Jane Ramer’s AP biology class was one of his fa-

vorites, and it helped him choose the educational path he took in college. Nick also said USJ taught him how to balance athletics, a social life, and academics while meeting Nick Schmidt, far left, with teammates the challenges before him. The school gave him a great head start, he added. “Hopkins is a very difficult environment academically, and USJ helped me jump into it instead of struggling to get my feet under me.”


Recent graduates attending the ‘Young Alums’ brunch included, from left, back row, Stephen Gilley, Anthony Spates, Angad Singh, Westin Brantley, Conner Adkins, William Teer, John Pierce, Powers Spencer, and Adam Boling; and front row, Lindsay Smith, Caroline Stallings, and Margaret Jones.

‘Young Alums’ reconnect at brunch


he Young Alum Brunch on January 6 was a fun time for graduates from the classes of 2009 to 2013 to enjoy the company of one another and their former teachers. “We scheduled the brunch on an inservice day so that teachers could spend plenty of time catching up with our young alums,” said USJ Director of Alumni Relations Carrie Brown Campbell. “We look forward to hosting more Young Alum events in the near future!”

Head of School Stuart Hirstein, above left, meets Lindsay Smith, Caroline Stallings, and Margaret Jones. Teacher Jane Ramer, far right, catches up with Lindsay.

April 13 concert to benefit abandoned girls lass of 2010’s Kayla Austin was named executive director of Project 541, a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower girls and women of La Moskitia, Honduras. The organization’s goal is to provide a safe and stable living environment in which abandoned girls can grow and be educated, focusing on long-term success and sustainable change. Singer John Kilzer will do a benefit concert for Project 541 at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 13, at Grace United Methodist Church. During the first year of operation, Project 541 will manage three programs: a residential home, a mentoring program for girls in orphanages, and a program for mothers 18 years of age and under. The first phase of the residential home will house four residents. Kayla will graduate from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in May with a degree in public administration and nonprofit management. She will move to Puerto Lempira, Honduras, after graduation to establish the home and welcome her first residents. For more information on Project 541, visit



Afghanistan encounter t. Col. Jimmy Matthews, USJ Class of 1990, and Sgt. Danielle Boyd, who serves in the Tennessee Air National Guard and is USJ’s Technology Coordinator, met while serving in Afghanistan. Sgt. Boyd left in August for a sixmonth deployment. Lt. Col. Matthews, who is married with two children, will return in May after a one-year deployment.


Rida Jones: A radio host in a major market


ida Jones, Class of 1996, is one of the most popular radio hosts in one of the country’s largest cities. Her afternoon show on B98.5 in Atlanta has the largest audience for that timeslot in the market with more than 750,000 weekly listeners. She also has a blog, “Mad About Fitness,” on the website of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that gets 10,000 monthly page views. And she recently started a gig as an entertainment reporter for Atlanta’s ABC affiliate — the No. 1 television station in the market. “I’ve never worked a day in my life,” Rida said. “When you enjoy what you do, it’s not work. I like connecting with people. My job is to make you feel like I’m your best friend.” Viewers, listeners, and readers know Rida as Madison James — a tribute to where she grew up. She got her start after graduating from the University of Tennessee at Martin with Q102 in Jackson. She worked there for almost a year before moving to Greenville, South Carolina, to work for a radio station owned by Cox Media Group — the company she has been with for 12 years. She moved from Greenville to Atlanta, where she worked

for about six months before accepting a position as music director and midday host in Richmond, Virginia. In February 2012, she moved back to Atlanta and stepped into the afternoon drive timeslot. “You’ve made it when you’re in a major market,” she said. She continues to have tremendous success. Her show is consistently in the top three with adults and women in the Atlanta Nielsen ratings. The latest ratings put her at No. 2 for afternoon drive with 25- to 54-year-olds and No. 1 with 18- to 34-year-olds. Rida is happy in Atlanta — the country’s ninth-largest market. “I would honestly like this to be my last stop.” She said it’s a blessing to be able to do what she does, reaching so many people. Her experience at USJ equipped her with the tools she needed to succeed in college and beyond, Rida added. “I was prepared when I got to college, and you see so many people who are not. I am so grateful for that.”

USJ’s 1995 varsity soccer team Spring is boys soccer season in West Tennessee. USJ was one of the first West Tennessee schools to field a soccer team. Early teams, including the 1995 varsity team, above, often had to travel to Memphis to find high schools who offered the sport. Pictured, from left, top row, are Jeb Brimm, Garrison Smith, Ed Wallis, Kevin Smith, Ted Bryant, Michael Reed, Zach Elsner, and Ben Ferguson; and bottom row, Josh Hayes, Tim Dalton, Ray Courtney, Takashi Abe, Michael Eldridge, William Kirkland, Mary DeVan Hammond Felkins, and Bob Poirier. With no girls soccer team, Mary DeVan’s only choice was to play on the boys team.


Save the Date!

Homecoming 2014 is October 3. Look for details in the Athletics section of this September!

Register online ( or mail in form and fee Event Contact: Carrie Brown Campbell l 731-664-0812, ext. 51 l

West Tennessee’s College Preparatory School University school of Jackson 232 Mcclellan road Jackson, tn 38305 Address Service Requested

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Jackson, TN Permit #845

USJ Magazine Spring 2014  
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