USJ Spring Magazine 2016

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Literary Study Leads to New Discoveries FOR

Community................... 4 Athletics....................... 10 Arts.. .............................. 14 Faculty.......................... 18 Alumni.. ....................... 20 Events........................... 24



232/240 McClellan Road Jackson, TN 38305 731.664.0812 •

BOARD of TRUSTEES Richard Ayers Lee Driver Charlie Garrett Camille Jones James Kirkland Geoffrey Lindley John New Howard Newell Ryan Porter Sarah Pucek Elesha Reid James Robinson Jason Sammons Nathan Spencer Jeff Watlington John Whybrew

ADMINISTRATION Stuart Hirstein Head of School Benjamin Murphy Upper School Director Courtney Burnette Middle School Director Debbie Ford Lower School Director Kay Shearin Director of Admissions 2

USJ’s Mission The University School of Jackson, a distinctive college preparatory school, seeks to instill a passion for academic excellence and lifelong learning so each student will reach his or her maximum potential.

Identity Statement USJ is a non-denominational, non-sectarian, college preparatory school dedicated to academic excellence and to our founding principles of faith, service, and scholarship. Based on a heritage grounded in Judeo-Christian values, we provide an educational environment where students of all ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds are valued and respected. The faculty, administration, and students are empowered to nurture and embrace the Judeo-Christian values and our operating principles. Through the fulfillment of our mission and adherence to these core principles and values, we prepare our graduates to be responsible and informed world citizens.

USJ Unveils Strategic Five-Year Plan USJ’s leaders began discussing the development of a new strategic plan for the school in December 2014 when the Strategic Planning Committee started reviewing proposals for a consultant. They made the decision to utilize the experience of Ian Symmonds, who has worked with over 100 independent schools across the nation, including Battleground Academy in Franklin and Baylor School in Chattanooga. He was excited to consult for the University School. “USJ is an educational beacon in the region,” says Mr. Symmonds. “It is a thought leader and an organization that much of the region looks to for educational leadership. We think the new plan will build on that role and advance the school even further in that direction.”

“The strategic planning process is an exciting opportunity for the USJ community,” says Mr. Murphy. “From our stakeholder feedback, we have learned more about our strengths and areas for growth. It says so much about our school that we want to reflect on our practices and work to improve. We have had great meetings with our Steering Committee and working groups, and we will have productive, schoolwide discussions once we begin to work toward the goals laid out in our strategic plan.”

Mr. Symmonds says his experience with independent schools has informed his perspective for this project. “My firm’s work keeps us, and therefore USJ, in touch with the best practices from the top independent schools in the nation and beyond,” he says. “We work with some great schools and, as a result, gain exposure to what is happening in the world of independent schools, higher education, and the education sector in general. It brings a level of context to the planning process that I think the school is utilizing.”

“The development of this strategic plan has been a community-wide effort,” says Head of School Stuart Hirstein. “Over thirty-five faculty, staff, board members, and administrators have worked on committees to set this fiveyear plan for the future of our school, and I’m excited with the direction we’re headed.”

In April 2015, a survey went out to families, faculty, staff, and alumni. Mr. Symmonds led focus groups with some of these individuals as well. A survey was also given to people outside of USJ to discover the community’s perception, and a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis was conducted. This information was all compiled over the summer by the Steering Committee, which was headed up by Upper School Director Ben Murphy.

The new plan will introduce a level of innovation, best practices, and new ideas that will enhance the overall USJ experience and blend well with the USJ culture.

As implementation of the plan begins, Mr. Symmonds encourages the USJ community to be as supportive as possible. “We have used a very inclusive process to build the plan, starting with research, then engaging the whole community in feedback and input as well as using their talents and skills in creating initiatives,” he says. “I would expect that most of the USJ community will find ways to get behind this plan through their time, talents, and financial support.”

“USJ is an educational beacon in the region.” - Ian Symmonds 3



How Do You Choose To Lead?

This January, USJ hosted two guest lecturers: Dr. Michael Thompson and Mr. Tommy Spaulding. While they spoke on different topics, they shared the same goal of enriching the USJ community with their talks. On Monday, January 4, Dr. Thompson conducted a professional development day at USJ. Dr. Thompson, who has spoken at thousands of independent schools all over the world, is a best-selling author and a frequent visitor on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America. In 2006, he also wrote, narrated, and hosted a two-hour national documentary on PBS entitled Raising Cain. Dr. Thompson spent the day conducting sessions for USJ’s faculty, staff, and administration. “I want USJ’s faculty to have fun learning and be able to see the children that they know so well from a different perspective after our time together,” says Dr. Thompson. His evening lecture was geared toward parents, with a specific focus on anxious parents of anxious children. He pointed out that children are under academic, athletic, and social pressures. “It’s important for parents to remember what school and childhood are like,” he says. Dr. Thompson’s visit was paid for completely by a federal grant thanks to the hard work of Mary Ellen Vaughn, USJ Technology Integration Specialist.

The USJ community hosted another special guest on Tuesday, January 26. Tommy Spaulding, president of the national development, speaking, training, and executive coaching organization Spaulding Companies Corporation, presented a lecture to faculty, parents, students, and community leaders. Mr. Spaulding is the author of the bestselling books It’s Not Just Who You Know (Transform Your Life and Your Organization by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships) (2010) and The Heart-Led Leader (2015). His talk centered on his life story and overcoming obstacles, as well as provided wisdom for how to live, love, and lead with a servant’s heart. After severe dyslexia led him to fail his first three years of high school, Mr. Spaulding was discouraged about what he would do with his life. One of his teachers, Mrs. Singer, saw something in Mr. Spaulding that led her to encourage him to plan business proposals. She provided him with some help, and that same year, he won a national championship for business leaders and entrepreneurs. “It just takes one teacher or coach to believe in you,” says Mr. Spaulding. “I want students to realize that, and I want teachers to know that what they do has a huge impact on the lives around them.” Mr. Spaulding has since gone on to found his own company and enjoy a successful career, but he has never forgotten how he got his start. He enjoys sharing his message with as many students as possible and encouraged his audience to lead with their hearts as well as their heads. USJ is excited to have hosted both Dr. Thompson and Mr. Spaulding, and we are grateful for all they contributed to the USJ community.


Ribbon Cutting Held for Strength & Conditioning Facility The University School of Jackson hosted a ribbon cutting for its new Strength and Conditioning facility on Tuesday, September 29. The event was a chance to celebrate the addition to the school as well as to thank the generous donors who made the renovations possible. Donors, USJ faculty and students, and community members were on hand to celebrate the new facility. All those who donated to this project were honored for their generosity in helping the University School develop this new area for training and conditioning athletes. Lead donors participated in cutting the ribbon, along with a representative from the Bruins Club. Those in attendance enjoyed refreshments as well as a tour of the renovated fieldhouse weight room. Director of Development Emily Richards says, “USJ is blessed by parents, grandparents, and alumni who willingly and generously give so that our students can have the best possible preparation— whether it be in the classroom, on the field/court, or in the arts. Without this support, our students would not receive the well-rounded experience that is offered to them at USJ.”

USJ, in its desire to help students excel not just academically but in every facet of life, is committed to the overall wellness of each student. Because of this, the school’s fieldhouse and turf room underwent renovations this past summer. During a 30-day summer challenge, the school exceeded its financial goal for these renovations and raised $35,373 in addition to the $50,000 previously raised. The Bruins Club matched $15,000 of this amount, bringing the campaign total over the necessary $100,000 to complete the facility’s additions. The renovation included new flooring with customized logos in the football weight room and turf room. The turf room also now has a three-lane speed track. New equipment includes eight new power racks, medicine balls, dumbbells, plyometric boxes, weight plates, sleds, and agility equipment. Students are excited for the opportunity to utilize the facility, as well as the chance to work with Nick Stamper, USJ’s Strength and Conditioning Coach.


Innovative Updates to Seventh Grade Curriculum This year marks a change for USJ seventh graders. For years, students have read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer as part of their English class curriculum. Teacher Dana Simmons decided to do something different this year, integrating Tennessee author Vince Vawter’s 2014 Newbery Honor book Paperboy into her seventh graders’ summer reading. The novel, set in Memphis in 1959, tells the story of an 11-year-old baseball player named Victor who suffers from a stuttering problem but takes on a newspaper delivery route and encounters some adventures along the way. The story is largely autobiographical and has enjoyed immense success, having been published in eight different foreign languages. The book, which took six years to write, was crafted with a specific purpose in mind. Mr. Vawter has suffered with a speech impediment his entire life, but he had never read a story that provided an accurate depiction of what it is like to stutter. He decided that he had to write his own. The story is one of hope that teaches stuttering does not stop an individual from speaking. “A young person who stutters leads the loneliest life you can imagine,” Mr. Vawter says. “When I retired, I thought ‘I’m going to write this book, and if one person who stutters can read it and get some solace, it was worth it.’ ” Paperboy incorporates many elements beyond that of the struggle of a speech impediment. The novel highlights the historical significance of living in the South during the Civil Rights movement and racial integration, something that led to a field trip for the seventh grade class to learn more about these topics. The novel fit in nicely with the students’ unit on the Civil Rights movement, in which each student chose a topic about which he or she created a film documentary. “I liked that the book didn’t shy around any issues,” says seventh-grader Megan Everson. “The story faced them headon, which made the book easy to understand and fun to read.”


On Monday, October 12, Mr. Vawter visited USJ to share the story behind his novel with students and to answer their questions. Middle School Director Courtney Burnette was thrilled to have Mr. Vawter on campus. “It’s not often that students have such a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from an author,” she says. In previous years, classes always traveled to Hannibal, Missouri, the boyhood home of Mark Twain, after reading Tom Sawyer. This year’s class experienced something new with a busy three-day trip to Atlanta, Georgia, following Mr. Vawter’s visit. While there, the students visited a number of exciting places. They went to CNN Studios, where they learned about broadcasts and green screens and also saw news researchers in action. They visited the World of CocaCola, learning about the history of the product and sampling Coca-Colas from around the world. Students ate at The Varsity—the world’s largest drive-in, played in Centennial Olympic Park, and raced go-karts for fun. The trip had an educational component, too, as they visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. This allowed them to see their research project topics come to life and helped solidify everything they had learned. A class favorite was the Georgia Aquarium, where students enjoyed a dolphin show. A final highlight of the trip was a visit to the College Football Hall of Fame, where students learned about their favorite teams and had an interactive experience that allowed them to throw, punt, and more. This change in curriculum, both with the novel and the trip, is an exciting one for Mrs. Simmons. “I wanted a story that was real and relatable, one that would speak to the students’ interests,” she says. “Paperboy is a great jumping-off point for many topics, and the kids really enjoyed meeting Mr. Vawter and hearing all about the book directly from him.”

Q & A with Newbery Honor Winner

Vince Vawter Where did you grow up? Memphis, TN How many books have you written? Just one. Paperboy is my first.

Tell us about your career, then, since you haven’t always been an author. I worked in newspapers for 40 years. When I retired, I was president and publisher of the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana. Why did you refrain from using commas in your book? Victor, the main character, hates commas because he stutters. He already pauses enough when he speaks; he doesn’t want to pause more than necessary. Do you enjoy speaking to groups of students? I am thrilled with every speaking opportunity I have. When I meet with students, I am given the chance to keep learning about my own story.


USJ Celebrates UTK for a Day The Big Orange Bus Tour came to USJ on Thursday, September 24, while traveling across the state of Tennessee from the tri-city area to Memphis on a seven-stop tour. Dressed in orange and white, USJ students lined the sidewalks to cheer as Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and the rest of his team drove through the campus. Chancellor Cheek exited the bus to chants and applause from students and faculty alike before entering the auditorium to explain to USJ students why the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was the college for them. The

team from Knoxville threw T-shirts to the crowd of excited students while discussing the merits of UTK. Perhaps the biggest moment of the day happened when Chancellor Cheek hand-delivered admittance letters to USJ’s senior early admission applicants: Renee Bearb, Tricia Burtt, Amanda Cooper, and Gray Northern. Director of College Advising Carol Ryan says, “We were honored to be selected as one of the stops on the UTK

Big Orange Bus Tour. USJ was the only independent school in the state on the tour. We have a great relationship with UTK’s admissions representatives, so we had a lot of fun working together on planning how to make this a fun stop for the Chancellor’s office and for the USJ community.” The event was an exciting one for the entire campus and one USJ hopes to hold again in the future.

Fifth Graders Sing National Anthem at Memphis Grizzlies Game A group of USJ fifth graders traveled to Memphis on Tuesday, November 24, to sing our national anthem before the start of the Memphis Grizzlies NBA game at the FedEx Forum. A Grizzlies representative contacted Elizabeth Atkins, Lower School music teacher, earlier in the year to see if she would be interested in bringing a group of students to sing at a game. Prior to contacting Mrs. Atkins, the representative had visited USJ’s website, where he learned that students participate in the National Association for Music Education’s National Anthem Project each year and also recognized that the school has a strong fine arts program. Mrs. Atkins then held auditions for the fifth graders. Students chosen rehearsed once a week on Tuesday mornings for the 8

six weeks leading up to the performance. “The evening couldn’t have been any better,” said Mrs. Atkins. “Our students got to perform in a fantastic venue, but they also had the opportunity to spend a great night with their families.” Perhaps even more exciting is what was born out of the experience. Mrs. Atkins has now started a Junior Bruin Choir. This group of students is meeting every Tuesday morning through April. They rehearse a selection of songs in order to be ready to perform at any time. This way, the students are prepared whenever they are invited to sing our national anthem anywhere or perform at a nursing home or other venue. Next year’s Junior Bruin Choir has already been invited to sing at a Grizzlies game next fall.

Students Get Early Start on Computer Coding Lower School students participated once again in the Hour of Code, a worldwide educational event that aims to introduce millions of new learners to computer science. Because of the Hour of Code, computer science has been on the homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo!, and Disney. Last year, every Apple Store in the world hosted an Hour of Code, and even President Obama wrote his first line of code as part of the campaign. This growing popularity in coding is why 350 Lower School students participated in the Hour of Code on campus.

says Lower School technology instructor Heidi McDaniel. “My hope is that this introduction will help nurture creativity and problem-solving skills that will prepare our students for any future career.”

“We do this every year in the Lower School computer lab because every 21st century student should have the opportunity to take part in creating technology that will change the world,”

This year, every student in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade participated in the Hour of Code during the week of December 7-11. Students worked through the different levels

In practice, the event is a one-hour activity of self-guided tutorials for students from Kindergarten and up. There are a variety of activities to choose from, including Minecraft, Flappy Bird, Frozen, Star Wars, and others.

with partners and wrote code to make the characters complete the puzzle for each level. Laughter and shouts of excitement were heard as the students succeeded and finished the different levels. Several students created their own Flappy Bird games, which they were able to send to their parents’ phones to play later. The Hour of Code, organized by the nonprofit and over 100 partners, is a statement that today’s generation of students is ready to learn critical skills for 21st century success.

USJ Breaks Record with RIFA Donation University School of Jackson and Trinity Christian Academy combined their efforts to collect food for Regional InterFaith Association, bringing in more than 71,000 lbs. of food. This was a recordbreaking donation for RIFA and a huge endeavor for the schools, given that last year, both schools together brought in almost 43,000 lbs. of food. Almost every USJ student participated, and several brought in truckloads of food. As a means of encouraging student participation, USJ offered incentives to students. Each Upper School English teacher, for example, offered rewards for the class that brought in the most food, as well as to classes that had 100% participation in the event.

The entire Lower School had 100% participation, as did this year’s senior class. In the Middle School, eighth grade students were rewarded with a dress down crazy socks day and special cookies. Upper School students received another reward when Director Ben Murphy allowed students to shave his head after agreeing to do so if the school collected more food than last year. “The amount of student and faculty involvement and dedication to the canned food drive was absolutely amazing,” says Mr. Murphy. “To help collect all that food in four days

is an enormous task, and our students, faculty, and parents deserve so much credit for helping to feed those in need. We collected so much food I probably should have shaved my head twice!” Student leaders of the food drive at USJ were Addison Dunn, president of the Key Service Club, and Kristen Pickens, president of the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club. “I was brought to tears on the last day as the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit mounted,” says Mrs. Bridget Clark, Key Service Club faculty sponsor. “Our students’ support of RIFA—an organization that is so vital to our community—was an amazing thing to watch.” 9

Athletics N E W S Rolison and Team USA Win Gold in Japan USJ baseball player Ryan Rolison did something last summer that no other USJ student, past or present, can claim. Ryan represented the United States on the 18-and-under USA baseball team in Japan. The left-handed pitcher spent the summer training with and competing against a group of 104 players across the country before he was chosen as one of 20 to make up the team and head to Osaka, Japan to compete in the WBSC World Cup. Ryan was one of 110,000 players nationwide who was eligible for the 18-and-under category, and he was only the seventh player from Tennessee to be selected for Team USA Baseball since its inception in 1983. “It was an honor and a blessing to be part of such a talented team and to

represent the United States in another country,” says Ryan. Ryan played in three exhibition games before competing in the tournament from August 27-September 6 in front of crowds ranging in size from 25,000 to 40,000. Opponents for the USA team were Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and the Czech Republic. Team USA brought home the gold for the third consecutive year, winning over host country Japan with a 2-1 victory. The team went 8-1 in the tournament, losing only their first game to Japan 3-0. Each baseball player on the team has committed to play at a Division I school, including Ryan, who has now signed with Ole Miss.

Ryan’s baseball coach at USJ, Jack Peel, is incredibly proud that Ryan had this opportunity. “I think being selected to represent our country is the greatest honor and privilege an athlete can have,” says Coach Peel. “Then to experience winning a gold medal on top of that is really what an athlete dreams of while growing up. What incredible memories Ryan will have for the rest of his life.”

Golf Team Plays at State This fall, USJ’s golf team made their way to the state golf tournament in Manchester, TN. Ryan Davis placed second, and Shelby Hatchett placed fourth. Both Ryan and Shelby made the All-State team as juniors. Coach Tom Talkington says, “I’m really proud of the whole team, and having two juniors make All-State is great. I can’t wait to have them back and see what they do next year.”

Trey Smith Named Lineman of the Year A huge congratulations to Trey Smith for being named the 2015 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Division II-A Lineman of the Year. Trey was nominated last year and has now won the award as a junior. He is the sixth player from USJ to win the Mr. Football Award. “Bringing this award back to USJ is a huge honor for me,” says Trey. “Chase Hensley (a 2013 USJ graduate) won the lineman award, and he’s been my role model.”


Trey’s family is very proud of this recognition. “It’s great to know that Trey’s hard work, dedication, and determination to finish the play were recognized by sports writers and coaches,” says Henry Smith, Trey’s father. “Also, I am thankful that he has been blessed with the athletic skills, agility, and physical presence that

enables him to be successful on the football field.” USJ’s football staff couldn’t be more proud of Trey’s accomplishments. “Trey Smith is one of the premier high school offensive linemen in the country,” says Coach Mickey Marley. “He is a true student athlete with outstanding accomplishments in the classroom as well as on the football field. He is a young man of outstanding character and is destined for great things on and off the field.” Henry points out that Trey’s success is the result of the support and guidance of those around his son. “Football is a team sport, and Trey winning the Mr. Football Award was the result of him having a great group of coaches, teammates, school administrators, and classmates.”

Addison Dunn Shines on the Soccer Field


Seniors Sign with Colleges

Congratulations to the six seniors who signed to play collegiate sports during the fall semester.

Jack Goodwin Cross Country • Christian Brothers Univ.

Clayton Hughes Basketball • Univ. of Central Florida

Logan Carey Baseball • Louisiana Tech Senior soccer captain Addison Dunn, simply put, had a phenomenal fall season. She was named a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman. Only two of the state’s 20 finalists are from West Tennessee. The award had 198 winners from across the state and 6,880 national winners. These student athletes are chosen on the basis of athletic, academic, and community service accomplishments. Addison was also chosen for the NSCAA All-South Region Girls’ Soccer team. She is the first USJ player in school history, as well as the only non-Memphis player from West Tennessee, to ever receive this honor. There were only eight players from Tennessee chosen for this team. In addition to these honors, Addison was also named the District and Region Soccer MVP and The Jackson Sun West Tennessee Offensive Player of the Year. She made the Coaches and Sportswriters All-State Soccer Teams —which was her third time being named All-State in soccer. Coach Paul Conway cannot praise Addison enough. “Addison is a real example of a student athlete,”

he says. “She is hardworking and dedicated in the classroom, and she brings these qualities onto the field. She is very self-motivated, which cannot be taught. She is a joy to coach. She leads her team by example and is very selfless.” Addison signed her National Letter of Intent in February with Union University, where she will continue her soccer career and study nursing in the fall of 2016. “I have been at USJ since Jr. Kindergarten,” says Addison. “It has been a great experience to prepare me for both college and life. We have many excellent teachers and coaches who care so much about the students and challenge us to do more, go farther, and not be satisfied with being average. I love competition, and God has blessed me with the gift of athleticism; without Him, none of this would have been possible.” Addison was also named an allstate athlete for softball, which she plays under her father, Coach Brian Dunn. Addison has loved her time on the soccer field. “Soccer at USJ—the games, camps, practices, and great friendships—will always be some of my favorite memories.”

Garrett Guymon Baseball • Harding University

Brandon Hauswald Baseball • Trevecca Nazarene Univ.

Ryan Rolison Baseball • Ole Miss We wish you all the best and can’t wait to follow your college careers!

Postseason Teams Congratulations to the following football players for being nominated to postseason teams: 1st Team All-District 2015 (West District 2) Offensive Lineman of the Year: Trey Smith Kicker of the Year: Charles Campbell Punter of the Year: Wells Smith Offense: QB: Easton Underwood RB: Mitchell Bodiford OL: Trey Smith WR: Holland Hawks Defense: DL: Elijah Moore DL: Peyton Taylor LB: Campbell Carlock DB: William Jones

2nd Team All-District 2015 (West District 2): Offense: OL: TJ Johnson OL: Clay Coury OL: Sean Reid Defense: DL: Rhett Peel LB: Deric Johnson LB: Ryan Miller DB: Brandon Hauswald SportsPlus West Tennessee All-Star Football Game: Easton Underwood Holland Hawks William Jones


Reading Across Campus This fall, Upper School students took time out of their busy schedules to read to some of our Lower School children. The experience was great for all students involved because it provided the Upper School students with the opportunity to serve as wonderful role models for our younger students, who were quite eager to listen.

School Spirit in Carpool Football players and cheerleaders greeted Lower School students one morning in carpool. Their Bruin spirit got everyone’s day off to a great start. Early Childhood Director Beth Hudson says, “We planned this with the goals of encouraging school spirit and keeping all USJ divisions connected. In the past, football players have visited classes and/or joined the younger students at lunch. This seemed like something different and fun for everyone. The looks on our students’ faces were priceless!”

National Anthem Project Made Even More Exciting With The Addition Of Our New Freedom Shrine USJ students participated in the National Anthem Project and hosted a Freedom Shrine dedication on Monday, September 14. The National Anthem Project, a nationwide initiative, was launched in 2005 after a study indicated that roughly 60% of Americans surveyed were unable to recall all of the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The National Association for Music Education organized The National Anthem Project to revive America’s patriotism by educating students about the importance of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—both the flag and the song. Elizabeth Atkins, Lower School music teacher, is in charge of the anthem project at USJ. As part of the ceremony, USJ parents Mike and Janet Tankersley generously donated a Freedom Shrine to the Lower School in honor of their sixth grade son, Adam.


“We are extremely grateful that Janet and Mike have provided the wonderful gift of the Freedom Shrine to our faculty and staff at the Lower School,” says Mrs. Atkins. “The plaques provide a walk-through of many aspects of our American history and document the freedoms for which we as Americans are so grateful.” The Freedom Shrine, located just inside the lobby on the way to the cafeteria, is a collection of replicas of historic United States documents. The shrine originated from the Freedom Train, which toured the nation in 1947. Carrying an exhibit of famous “documents of liberty” such as the United States Constitution and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the tour gave Americans the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of American citizenship. The documents included were carefully chosen to exemplify the beginnings of our nation and subsequent important turning points for the United States. This shrine will serve as an educational tool in our Lower School and as a motivational display.

Model UN Group Proves Successful at Conference USJ is starting a new venture with the Model UN. The group currently has about 15 students, although several others have expressed interest and have attended meetings. They hope to become a recognized campus club next year. Right now, Model UN meetings are geared towards preparing students to attend a Model UN conference—which includes learning the correct debating procedure, discussing how to draft resolutions on behalf of their country, and practicing how to develop and defend positions on current events. They also discuss current events and how they affect countries and cultures around the world. Four students and faculty advisor John Wilson attended a Model UN conference in Murfreesboro, TN, from November 20-22. Approximately 750 students statewide attended. The four students from USJ who participated were: Samrath Machra, Lauren Nicola, Aditya Thota, and Alannah Yellen. This was the first time USJ participated in a Model UN conference. The Model UN is an authentic simulation of the United Nations, allowing students to act as ambassadors to a country, debate current issues, and work to resolve conflicts. It is a great chance for students to learn about diplomacy and problem solving while developing greater global awareness.

USJ Student Places First in Statewide Geometry Competition Each year, University School of Jackson students compete in the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers’ Association competition, and this past April, sophomore John Stanford scored highest in the state on the Geometry exam. TMTA, which has offered these competitive exams since 1957, administers the exams at numerous locations throughout the state. USJ students took their written exams at Freed-Hardeman University. Each grade from USJ’s Upper School sends five students to the competition. Awards are given for each region, with statewide winners announced in the fall. John, who only missed one question on the exam, received a plaque, congratulatory letter, and monetary award for this honor. Math is his favorite subject.

USJ’s four-student delegation represented the country of India. They submitted a resolution to increase the number of permanent members in the UN Security Council to seven and to include India as one of the new permanent members. The resolution, one of around 200, was passed by their committee and was one of 56 heard before two sessions of the General Assembly. This was one of 42 resolutions to pass the General Assembly, and it was then also heard by the UN Security Council. The Security Council passed the resolution with some modifications, and only two resolutions were passed by the Security Council out of the seven it heard during the conference.

Longtime USJ math teacher and department chair Donald Newman is in charge of student participation. Since the mid-1980s, the school has had 20 first-place winners in TMTA contests and over 30 students in the Top Three. For the last five years, Mr. Newman has done no prep work for the students outside of the classroom.

“Our students did great in their debate, preparation, and research,” says Mr. Wilson. “We know this is just a first step for a Model UN club here at USJ, but I feel like we have some great experience now to help this group grow and excel in the future.”

“Winning this award feels like payoff for the hard work we do in class and for Mr. Newman’s efforts,” says John.

“If you go over the material well in class,” he says, “the students should be able to compete well.” Mr. Newman should know. He is ranked third in the state for teachers who have had the most TMTA contest winners.

Junior Rotarians This year’s Junior Rotarians, who are each invited to spend one month representing USJ at the Jackson Rotary Club’s weekly meetings are: Standing L to R: William Jones, Summer Basham, Nate Schwindt, and Parker Lewis; Seated L to R: Molly Morris and Caroline Miller




photo by Angela Spencer

The Wizard of Oz Last fall, USJ’s theatre department wowed large audiences with its performances of The Wizard of Oz. The show ran from October 24-26. The cast was the largest the department has ever had, consisting of students in grades 1-12, as well as a small dog. The 2015-16 school year is a very active one for the Blankenship Theatre. The Wizard of Oz was followed by A Christmas Story. Spring theatre shows include Cinderella; Annie, JR; Steel Magnolias; and The Lion King, JR. Dr. Tammy Grant says, “The Wizard of Oz was a joy to direct! One of my very favorite parts of teaching at USJ is watching our students work together—onstage, backstage, tech crew, and orchestra—and through this production, I had the privilege to do just that. I look forward to working with as many students as possible this spring.” photos by Mark Hawk

A Christmas Story Students performed the iconic show A Christmas Story before the winter break. The cast of 36 students handled all aspects of the production themselves, from running the lights and sound to scene changes. The performances, which were December 4-5, had a great turnout. Director Erica Davidson says, “I could not have been more proud of my students. We put that show together in four weeks, and that was with the Holiday Mart and Thanksgiving thrown in there.” Now the theatre teacher is looking ahead to what’s next. “I plan to continue educating my students on all aspects of putting on a show,” says Mrs. Davidson. “I am looking forward to seeing the talent these students will bring when we do Steel Magnolias in April.” 14

photo by Angela Spencer

3-D Printer Purchased for Art Classes Middle and Upper School students are learning how to incorporate technological innovations and art through 3-D printing. The Fine Arts Guild purchased a DaVinci XYZ 3-D printer for Anna McPeake’s art classes, and students have been quick to learn how to utilize their new machine. The printer works through a web-based program called Tinkercad. This is a computer-aided design program that allows students to create and design anything they can think of in an efficient manner. A multitude of shapes are imported to their working planes, and students can reshape, stack, or move them where they choose. Once the students have finished their designs, they save them on flash drives. Mrs. McPeake uploads their projects from the flash drives to the software on her computer in order to print the projects. It takes about three to four hours for the printer to complete the jobs, creating an air of excitement as students check the printing progress of their pieces. The DaVinci XYZ can print multiple projects at once. "The students are excited about the 3-D printer because it allows them to integrate their artistic vision with technology," says Mrs. McPeake. The 3-D printer helps teach art students about balance and support. They must first visualize an object and then come up with the best way to achieve their ideas. Students are learning to foresee possible structural issues with their projects and work them out in advance as they grow accustomed to the 3-D printing technology. USJ is one of the only schools in West Tennessee with a 3-D printer.

Students Excel in Art Competitions We had several students submit work to the 2016 Scholastic Art Awards. After four days of judging over 2,600 works, the Gold Key, Silver Key, and Honorable Mention selections were made, and 12 USJ students were recognized. Jack Goodwin and TJ Johnson each earned Gold Keys. Fifteen art students, ranging from seventh to twelfth grade, were recognized in the TAEA West TN Regional Student Art Competition. TJ Johnson won the award for best computer graphics with “Tucked Away,” while Riley Koerner won best mixed media with “Feathers From the Past.” Feathers From the Past, Mixed Media, Riley Koerner


Christmas Choir Concert Spreads Cheer The USJ Fine Arts Guild presented a Christmas Choral Concert featuring the Upper and Middle School Choirs on Sunday, December 6 in the Blankenship Theatre. Selections included a medley of pieces entitled “Classic Noels,” blending classical masterworks with favorite Christmas carols and creating a unique collection with a distinctively Baroque touch for the Christmas and Advent seasons. Additional selections also included traditional favorites such as “O Holy Night,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Christmastime is Here.” Over 75 Middle School and ninth grade students performed along with the combined Upper School choirs.

Band Department Christmas Concert Draws Crowd The USJ Band Department presented Simple Gifts and Carols on Monday, December 7. The concert included performances by beginning band, Middle School bands, and Upper School bands. Seniors are Allison Banks, R.M. English, Savannah Head, Aditya Thota, Samantha Strube, and Oliver Trigony. Musical selections included songs from Disney’s Frozen and Christmas songs from around the world.

USJ Students Making Beautiful Music

Students Chosen for Honor Band Festival Five USJ students participated in the 37th annual UT-Martin Honor Band Festival from Thursday, February 11 through Saturday, February 13. They are Upper School students Tyler Bruno, Samrath Machra, Annabelle Reese, Zachary West, and Middle School student Zakary Henson. These students were selected from over 900 applicants from West Tennessee area schools. They auditioned for positions in one of four concert bands and the percussion ensemble. The students participated in ensemble rehearsals, master classes, and sectional rehearsals, attended a department-wide montage concert presented by the UT-Martin School of Music, and participated in the festival concert held in the UT-Martin fine arts building. 16

Upper School Choral Students Selected to Quad-State Choir USJ Choir students selected to this honor choir are: Back row L to R: Tyler Bruno, Patrick Aherrera, Alex Peftoulidis, and Michael Mantooth Front row L to R: Aaron Evans, Clara Mariencheck, Caroline Sammons, Sydney Kwasigroh, Caroline Miller, Molly Morris, Molly Maroney, and Evan Griggs

Twelve USJ choral students were selected by audition to the Quad-State Honor Choir. The event took place November 1-2 at Murray State University in Murray, KY. Students and teachers from Kentucky and the surrounding four states had a unique opportunity to study and perform a major work from the choral/orchestral repertory. A truly remarkable musical opportunity, the Quad-State High School Choral Festival is the only festival in the region to focus on the choral-orchestral repertory. Over 250 individual singers selected from more than 35 high schools became a choir with the singular purpose of making glorious music together. Monday evening, November 2, they performed Mozart’s Requiem with a professional orchestra. It was an intense period of rehearsal and of musical, intellectual, personal, and professional growth.

Students Selected for Northwest Tennessee Honor Choirs Twenty Upper School USJ choral students were selected by audition to the Northwest Tennessee Sr. High Regional Honor Choir. Students selected include: Patrick Aherrera, Summer Basham, Tyler Bruno, Ashlee Dunn, John Giampapa, Evan Griggs, Sydney Kwasigroh, Parker Lewis, Michael Mantooth, Clara Mariencheck, Molly Maroney, Caroline Miller, Molly Morris, Gray Northern, Alex Peftoulidis, Caroline Sammons, Landon Sellers, Jack Tygart, Abby Vaughn, Morgan Williams, and student accompanist John Henry Woods. Thirty-three Middle School and ninth grade USJ choral students were selected to the Northwest Tennessee Regional Jr. High Honor Choir: Ashlee Allison, Tanner Atkins, Brooke Baldwin, Jake Booher, Jenna Box, Sarah Beth Brauss, Chloe Burnette, Olivia Cherry, Marimac Ellis, Gabrielle Evans, Mary Humphrey, JD Jaggers, Phoebe Larkins, Lili Mahalati, Madison Maroney, Keaton Miller, Meg Miller, Bailee Norris, Drake Norris, Baker Northern,

Chidera Nwokolo, Esosa Odeh, Ethan Persons, Grant Reid, Lily Richardson, Morgan Royer, Ethan Schlegel, Macy Scott, Annie Short, Seth Spry, Vincient Stanfill, Holland van Buren, and Blaine Verdung. The concert was held November 21 at West Jackson Baptist Church. Clara Mariencheck, Summer Basham, Molly Maroney, Molly Morris, Caroline Miller, and Caroline Sammons received the Northwest Honor Choir Five and Six-Year awards.




Stuart Hirstein Participates in Heads of School Program

Faculty Anniversaries Below, you will find a list of milestone faculty anniversaries. Thank you to all of our wonderful faculty for your commitment to our children’s education. 25 YEARS:


Rhonda Klipfel

Kelly Barnes Brian Dunn


Adair Hardegree

John Herriman

Patsy Hollman Vicki Wilson

University School of Jackson Head of School Stuart Hirstein received a fellowship to participate in Columba University’s Klingenstein Center’s 2016 Heads of School Program. The twoweek intensive program, which was held from Sunday, January 24 through Friday, February 5, provided Mr. Hirstein with the chance to attend classes and planned activities, including weekend and cultural events.

15 YEARS: Wendi Cates


JoAnn Latimore

Kellie Byrd

Elizabeth Maloan

Paige Evans Ronnie Giddens Ranee Jones Ferry Kaveh

Mr. Hirstein was selected from a substantial and talented pool of national and international applicants and joined a distinguished group of over 300 school heads who had previously participated in the program. “I was honored for the chance to be in an intellectually stimulating environment with nineteen other heads of schools from across the world,” says Mr. Hirstein. “The feedback I received from these individuals is extremely valuable to me.” Because schools and students worldwide face similar challenges and opportunities, an immersion into a program with others who have comparable experiences allowed Mr. Hirstein to learn and grow as a head of school. Through the combination of an extensive reading list, prominent speakers, and seminars, participants analyzed topics such as unifying the K-12 curriculum, academic achievement and the arts, and strategic planning. While attending the Klingenstein Heads of School program, Mr. Hirstein was given an opportunity to present a research project on a topic of his choosing. His focus centered on the lifelong impacts of a strong early childhood education. “This invitation places USJ on the map by providing me with an opportunity to take my experiences and share them with other heads of schools,” Mr. Hirstein says. “I am excited about the ways this opportunity for professional development has led me to cultivate exciting ideas for our school.”


John Herriman celebrates his 20 year anniversary this year, while Rhonda Klipfel celebrates her 25 year anniversary.

New Head Football Coach Rusty Bradley Rusty Bradley will be leading the USJ Bruins when they take the football field this fall. “We were impressed by the success he’s had in his division and in the private school system,” says USJ Athletic Director Jody Evans. “Rusty’s character, the way he runs his team, his offensive philosophy… all of these things make him a perfect fit for USJ.” Coach Bradley has been the head football coach at Christian Academy of Knoxville for the past nine years, having been at the school for 13 years. He led his team to back-to-back state titles in 2011 and 2012.

“I’m excited to be a part of the football tradition at USJ,” says Coach Bradley. “I’ve known about the school for a long time, and when I came to Jackson, I felt right at home in the city and on the USJ campus.” Evans says that Coach Bradley has already proven himself as the type of coach USJ was looking for, both on and off the field. “When we interviewed Rusty, it just felt right.” “I’m ready to get things going for this fall,” says Coach Bradley. “I’m big on offense. I’m a no-huddle, throw-the-football coach, and I’m ready to get started.”

Libby Lynch Named 2015-16 TAEA NAHS Sponsor of the Year

Jody Evans Named TSSAA Athletic Director of the Year

The Tennessee Art Education Association selected Libby Lynch for the 2015-16 TAEA National Art Honor Society Sponsor of the Year.

USJ Athletic Director Jody Evans was named TSSAA Region 7 Athletic Director of the Year. He credits those around him at USJ with his success.

Mrs. Lynch was honored with this award at the TAEA Fall Professional Development Conference at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg during an awards dinner on October 29. The conference is sponsored in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission. This award is given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator. Mrs. Lynch established the NAHS chapter 1757 at USJ in 1998. During this time, they have taken numerous field trips, such as a trip to Nashville where they met with Alan LeQuire to talk about his Athena sculpture in the Parthenon and made a studio visit before touring the Frist Center. Their chapter has organized several community

art events, including school-wide art festivals and citywide art festivals. “It was such an honor since it recognizes not only me but also our students and the involvement of our art students in our community,” says Mrs. Lynch. “We have an outstanding National Art Honor Society, and I am privileged to be their sponsor.” The Tennessee Art Education Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance quality visual arts education through advocacy, leadership, and professional development and to promote a cohesive professional community. The membership of TAEA includes elementary, middle, and high school art teachers in Tennessee and representatives from Tennessee’s major art museums, arts councils, and major colleges and universities throughout Tennessee.

“I am fortunate to be at a great school with fantastic people who helped me achieve this honor. My recognition is the result of our coaches, teachers, and students.”

Accolades USJ baseball coach Jack Peel has been named 2015 Division II Coach of the Year. USJ soccer coach Paul Conway is the 2015 All-West Tennessee Coach of the Year. 19



Alumni Updates Clay Newman, USJ Class of 1991, has been promoted to the position of Plant Manager of the Chemical Division of Teknor Apex in Brownsville, Tennessee. Clay, a chemical engineer, graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1995. He joined the company in 2001 as a Senior Process Engineer and was promoted to Production Manager in Hose in 2006. After five years in the Hose department, Clay moved to Chemicals and has been there in the Production Manager role since 2011. With this promotion, Clay will manage the chemicals plant and will be responsible for managing its operation and for implementing programs and procedures to meet goals and standards. Dr. Navina Mehta, USJ Class of 2002, has been rather busy since her days at the “U.” She attended Northeastern University in Boston, where she graduated cum laude in 2006 with a degree in biochemistry. She then went to Ross University School of Medicine, graduating in 2010. Dr. Mehta completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 2014 and stayed there for a sleep medicine fellowship that she finished earlier this year. Dr. Mehta is a physician at Physicians Quality Care here in Jackson. Christina Graham Hayes, USJ Class of 2004, was recently honored by Observer News as one of the Top 10 Rising Stars in Public Relations. Two of her clients include celebrity chefs and television personalities Rachel Ray and Cat Cora.


Maggie Rheney, USJ Class of 2011, was recently named Associate Publicist for Choice Media & Communications. A graduate of Samford University, Maggie’s latest venture was an internship at Birmingham’s STYLE Advertising.

In Memoriam

In her position, Maggie will support Choice Media in all areas of the business, including implementing strategic public relations campaigns, assisting with client account management, drafting press materials, and devising social media strategy.

He is survived by his son and daughter-inlaw, King and Mary Lamons, of Nashville; daughter and son-in-law, Carol Anne and Jason Long, of Knoxville; and three grandchildren. King and Carol Anne are graduates of Old Hickory Academy.

Olivia Baker, USJ Class of 2013, was recently inducted into the Eta Chapter of the Alpha Chi Honor Society at Belmont University. Alpha Chi is the oldest and most prestigious honor society at Belmont, and induction into the society is the University’s highest academic honor. Will Cobb, USJ Class of 2014 and his fellow classmate Semaye Mengistu, USJ Class of 2014, both participated in Rhodes College’s first hackathon, RhodesHacks 0. Will was part of the Best in Show winning team, and Semaye was part of the Best Tech team.

Weddings Ann Elizabeth Lynch Parrish, Class of 2012, married Brennan Parrish on July 11. The couple is currently residing in Knoxville. Brennan is in law school at Lincoln Memorial, and Ann Elizabeth is working with Clayton Bank.

We mourn the loss of Robert G. Lamons, president of the original USJ Board of Trustees after the merger in 1987, who passed away on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

We are also saddened by the loss of Jane Hudson Atkins, who was a parent, active volunteer, and Board member. Mrs. Atkins passed away on December 4, 2015. She is survived by daughter, OHA alum Anne Atkins Short and husband Douglas Fisher Short; their children, Ashley Brigham and Anne Fisher of Humboldt; daughter, OHA alum Mary Atkins McCarroll and husband John Ramsey “Mac” McCarroll III; their children, Mary Marshall and Virginia Rowan of Memphis; daughter-in-law, Jane Evans Atkins; grandchildren, Robert Hudson Atkins, Jr., Carrie Horn Atkins, and Lawrence King Holcomb all of Memphis. We also recently lost Emily Stubbs Freeman, who was a fifth grade teacher at Old Hickory Academy for 16 years, retiring in 1986. She is survived by her husband of 55 years James F. (Jim ) Freeman; her children, LeeAnn Franks (Randy), Syd Freeman (Donna) all of Jackson and John Freeman (Monica) from Knoxville, TN; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The Alumni Office has been working to create an online directory so that you will be able to find classmates and access information from wherever you are. We will email the password to all alumni when it is available on the website. To submit an address or email update, please email

Up and Coming Alum


Teachers never realize exactly what kind of difference they will make in the life of a child. Take Kelly Barnes, who has taught third grade at USJ for the past decade. In her second year of teaching, one of her students was Jessica Johnson, who is now a senior and ready to pursue her own college degree in education. Jessica credits Mrs. Barnes as the reason her desire to be a teacher grew. “I have always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember,” says Jessica. “I used to play school and had a board and a projector and a screen.” Once she entered third grade, however, Jessica would pretend to be Mrs. Barnes when she played school. “Even at the age of eight, I could tell that Mrs. Barnes loved her job. She was always so sweet and made learning fun.” When asked about why she enjoys her job so much, Mrs. Barnes’ answer was simple. “I just come to work excited to put smiles on kids’ faces and provide them with an environment where they are happy to learn.” “Jessica was the perfect student,” says Mrs. Barnes. “She was happy, bubbly, and never got in any trouble. The fact that she wants to be a teacher just makes sense to me.” Jessica, who started USJ in Jr. Kindergarten, is excited to start college. She hopes to one day teach at a private school and would like to teach third or fourth grade. Mrs. Barnes is looking forward to following Jessica in the coming years. “I am so proud of Jessica, and I have confidence that she’ll be a phenomenal teacher.”


Recent Grads Go On to Lead Impressive Collegiate Athletic Careers Shelby Jordan, USJ Class of 2012 • Mississippi State University, Soccer “USJ prepared me for the college classroom. In high school, I had hard classes and great teachers, which made my transition to college easier. Athletically, Coach Leonardi ran our team like a college team. We had rules to follow, fitness tests to take, and more. I did not have a difficult time making the transition to playing at the collegiate level.” • Majoring in kinesiology and plans to attend graduate school • Made the SEC Academic Honor Roll every semester • Four-year member of the Mississippi State Student-Athlete Advisory Council • Selected to the SEC Community Service Team in Fall 2014 • Soccer team captain during her junior and senior years • Played in 73 of 74 possible games during her college career • Started 63 games • Played 5,208 minutes • Predominantly played defender but played every position except goalkeeper at some point during her career

Lee Mayhall, USJ Class of 2012 • University of North Alabama, Football “Playing three sports at USJ, along with my difficult course load, prepared me to play in college and still do well in the classroom. I’m thankful for the coaches I had at USJ. They were very helpful in preparing me because of the way they taught us.” • 3.97 GPA in Industrial Chemistry • USA College NCAA All-American—First Team • Two-time Capital One Academic All-America—First Team • All-Gulf South Conference—First Team • UNA Record Books—Top 5 for Career Receptions • Selected to play in 2016 USA College Senior Bowl • Gulf South Conference Commissioners Top 10 • Two-time Capital One Academic All-Region—First Team • Three-time Academic All-Gulf South Conference • UNA Football Academic Player of the Year: 2014 & 2015 • All-Gulf South Conference—Second Team •U NA Record books—Top 10 Career Receiving Yards •W on three GSC Championship Rings: 2013, 2014, & 2015 • Three NCAA playoff appearances: 2013, 2014, & 2015 •U NA Head Coach “Player Leadership Council” as voted by teammates

Preston Overbey, USJ Class of 2010 • University of Mississippi, Baseball “USJ led me to be the person I am today on and off the field. They set high standards for me, and I had support from my coaches and teachers. They made it easy for me to be a student athlete in the SEC.” • Graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice • Played on the field with younger brother Jake for two years at Ole Miss • Hit two homeruns in one game against LSU • Hit a tie-breaking homerun in the Super Regionals game that helped his team make it to College World Series • Was part of the team that won the SEC championship and played in Omaha in the College World Series in 2014 • Played six different positions during his career—both infield and outfield 22

USJ Family Spotlight:

Sherry Tignor Sherry Tignor is in no way a stranger to USJ. She has been with the school, in one capacity or another, since she did her student teaching at Old Hickory Academy from 1971-72 and was hired as a teacher there the next year. Since then, she’s done a little bit of everything. “I was a classroom teacher in the Lower School, a Middle School Science teacher, and a PE instructor for grades K-12,” says Sherry. “Next, I was a guidance counselor for three years, and then I was in administration for 12-13 years, working as first the Middle School Director and then as the Upper School Director.” “I admit I thought I was going to change education when I started out, but then I realized education changes you.” She credits those who came before and alongside her at USJ for opening her eyes to so much. “Pauline Brown, Joyce Higgs, Janice Baldwin, Don Newman, Bridget Clark…these are just a few of the amazing educators that I’ve encountered at USJ who not only know their subjects but also know how to teach.” Sherry believes the heart of the school is in the classroom with the teachers who give so much, but like many other USJ educators, she wasn’t just active in the classroom. Sherry took on plenty of roles for extracurricular activities as well. “I was cheerleading sponsor and yearbook sponsor. I guess if you can name it, I’ve done it at USJ.”

U Support the

For Sherry, life at USJ was and continues to be a family affair. Her husband taught there for six or seven years. Her daughter, Holly Johnson, USJ Class of 1995, teaches Jr. Kindergarten at the school now, and her grandson Miles is in the 4th grade. “I love being a USJ grandmother. Miles is always so eager to share about school, and I can see how his teachers impact him. This Christmas, he explained to me how Mrs. Orr, his classroom teacher, had encouraged her students to be Secret Santas. I could sense how this really impressed the importance of giving upon him.” Sherry sees USJ as an extension of her own family. “My blood is Bruin blue.” She recalls a time when USJ families worked together to prepare the blocks that were used to construct the walls for the gym on the old campus. “The passion is there in us all—my passion hasn’t waned in the 20 years I’ve been gone.” Sherry left USJ for Union University in 1996. She started in adult services but has spent the last twelve years as Director of Academic Support. She works quite a bit with freshmen students and spent a few years developing an orientation program to help those new to Union’s campus each

We believe in USJ’s ability to provide a nolimits, excellent education for our children. The investments we make in a USJ education today will pay dividends tomorrow when our children are prepared for the challenges of college and success in life. Gifts to the Annual Fund are taxdeductible and assist in bridging the gap between tuition income and the school’s actual budget needs. The Annual Fund is imperative to USJ’s ability to provide the highest quality education possible while keeping tuition increases to a minimum. The University School of Jackson relies

fall. Now, Sherry spends a lot of time with students who have yet to decide on their majors and with those in the Keystone Program—which provides intentional advising and support to students who either need or want extra help during their freshmen years of college. “USJ students who come to Union really stand out,” Sherry says. “USJ alumni are the thinkers, and they go on to touch lives and change communities for the better. Everyone from USJ has one direction, and that’s toward excellence.” Now, Sherry often returns to USJ where she helps her daughter in her classroom or attends Bridget Clark’s AP English class research paper presentations. “The heart of the school is still the same. We’ve gone through changes and transitions, but the USJ community has never lost its heart.”

on the generous support of parents, grandparents, faculty and staff, alumni, and many friends in the community. Every gift, regardless of the amount, impacts our school in a positive way. By supporting the Annual Fund, we are ensuring USJ’s role in providing students with an outstanding educational experience. Donations for the 2015-16 school year are accepted through June 30, 2016. For more information, please contact Emily Richards, Director of Development, at or 731.664.0812. To make a donation online, please go to


Events Grandparents’ Day September 25, 2015

This year’s Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day was a great success for the Lower School. Almost every Lower School student had the company of either a grandparent or special friend. They enjoyed a variety of activities together: train rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, art activities, a photo booth, the book fair, and classroom visits. Lower School Director Debbie Ford says, “Many of our grandparents are now either graduates or parents of graduates of USJ, so our event is kind of like a homecoming.” The Parents’ Club helps fund the event, but Grandparents’ Day is also a gift to families from USJ’s teachers. The teachers raise the balance of the money for the event with their annual Spaghetti Supper. All of the teachers either provide desserts or work at the Spaghetti Supper. Thank you to all who supported this event in any way, and a special thank you to all of our guests!

Sweet Victory for Homecoming 2015 The theme for Homecoming 2015 was “Sweet Victory,” and with a 49-28 win over Rossville Christian, the Bruins achieved just that. Festivities kicked off with a semi-formal “Sweet Soiree”themed dance at the Humboldt Opera House on Saturday, September 26. The event was well attended and a lot of fun for students. The next week was filled with competition as the classes vied for the coveted spirit stick in a variety of creative ways. Students dressed according to the following themes: Sweet Endings Monday (dressing as a favorite book or movie character), Sweet Home Alabama Tuesday (dressing in country attire), Sweet and Sour Wednesday (opposite day), Sweet Memories Thursday (USJ spirit wear), and Sweet Victory Friday (class theme day). Each class had a theme they used for decorating their section of the gym for the pep rally. The themes were: seniors—Nerds, juniors—Kit Kats, sophomores—Pop Rocks, and freshmen—Baby Ruths.

Alumni & Senior Family Tailgate Thank you to all alumni and senior families who attended the tailgate before our Homecoming game on October 2. Go ahead and mark your calendars for the tailgate this fall, coming up on Friday, October 14. This event is free for alumni, as are tickets to the game, so please join us. Email for tickets. 24

The parade and pep rally were held on Friday, October 2 before the game. The parade included the band, banners representing all of the school clubs, cheerleaders, football players, a car decorated by each class according to their theme, and cars for the class representatives on the Homecoming Court and, of course, the Homecoming King and Queen. The pep rally included a presentation of the Homecoming Court and King and Queen, class skits, and an Olympic competition between the classes. The competition between the classes was based on points obtained through participation in all of the homecoming events. The seniors took the honors this year although it was a close call. During the homecoming game, the Homecoming Court was presented, along with the club representatives and their banners. The students had a great time and made lasting memories. We’re already excited for Homecoming 2016 on October 14!

45th Annual Holiday Mart Holiday Mart 2015 was yet another success. The annual event, which is USJ’s largest fundraiser, featured over 125 merchants who provided shoppers with a wonderful array of merchandise. “Special events made the 2015 Holiday Mart the greatest yet,” says Anne Short, Holiday Mart co-chairman. These events included the ladies-only Jingle Belle Mingle, the elegant USJ Tea Room, High Tea with my Doll and Me, the premiere of Sing-Along Sundaes, and portraits with Santa. Preparations for the 2016 Holiday Mart are already underway, so go ahead and mark your calendars for November 18-20!

New Club Works to Do Good for Others The Make-A-Wish Club began last year as an interest group and was initiated by current sophomore Ubaid Tanveer. The group obtained club status this year and has begun fundraising in hopes of helping to grant the wish of a child with a life-threatening illness. Faculty members Allie English and Carla Roach are the club’s sponsors. Mrs. English’s brother was the recipient of a wish in the late 1990s and sadly passed away a brief time later. Officers for 2015-16 are: President—Shelby Hatchett, Vice President—Catherine Adkins, Secretary—Catherine Cummings, Treasurer—Weston Box, and Historian/ Chaplain—Logan Carey. The club hosted a 5K Christmas Color Run on December 5. They plan to host another Color Run this fall during the week of Homecoming and are developing other events and ways to fund-raise. The group is approximately 50 members strong. “My favorite thing about this club is the way they each show so much compassion toward this cause and the children who benefit,” says Mrs. Roach.

Alumni Brunch On Thursday, December 17, we welcomed alumni who graduated from 2011-2015 to campus for brunch and an opportunity to catch up with classmates and faculty. We had a great time. The next alumni brunch for classes 2012-2016 will be Thursday, December 15. Make plans to join us!


Timeless Fun at Basketball Homecoming Basketball Homecoming was Friday, January 15. Activities throughout the week included dress-up days set around the theme “Timeless.” Students dressed accordingly for each of the following days: Mad About Fads Monday (dressing in fads they do not want to come back in style), Tardy Tuesday (pajama day), Way Back Wednesday (dressing as an old television or movie character), Throwback Thursday (dressing as themselves when they were younger and attaching a picture of themselves dressed that way to their costumes), and Forever Friday (USJ Day—Once a Bruin, Always a Bruin). At lunch on Friday, the classes played one another in a basketball tournament (9th played 11th and 10th played 12th). The winners played before the afternoon pep rally, with the winner of that game ultimately going on to play the faculty team. (The faculty were victorious.) Later that evening, alumni who returned home for the games against Sacred Heart were welcomed with a chili supper in the alumni hospitality room. The girls’ game was opened by the USJ Combined Choirs, who sang the national anthem a cappella. Both the Bruins and Lady Bruins won their games. Following the evening’s festivities was a casual dance with a Decades theme. SGA President Molly Morris says, “I have enjoyed putting together the plans for this week with the other SGA officers and our sponsors. I could have never picked a better group to work with. They each bring different, valuable qualities to our team, and time spent with them is always memorable.”

2016-2017 Calendar Highlights August


8/2-8/4 Administrative Days 8/5 Student Orientation 8/8 Full day for students

1/3 Administrative Day 1/4 Classes Resume 1/16 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday (no school) 1/27 Basketball Homecoming 1/28 Boots & Bowties

September 9/5 9/30

Labor Day (no school) End of Quarter 1

October 10/3-10/7 Fall Break (no school) 10/10 Classes Resume 10/14-10/15 Homecoming Weekend 10/24-10/25 LS Conferences 10/25-10/26 MS/US Conferences


2/17-2/20 2/21

Winter Break (no school) Classes Resume

March 3/10 3/20-3/24 3/27

11/18-11/20 Holiday Mart 11/23-11/25 Thanksgiving Break (no school) 11/28 Classes Resume




12/12-12/15 Semester Exams 12/15 End of Quarter 2; Last day for students 12/15 Young Alumni Brunch 12/16 Make-up day for exams/ Administrative Day 12/19-1/3 Christmas Break (no school) 26


4/14-4/17 4/18 4/21-4/22

End of Quarter 3 Spring Break (no school) Classes Resume Easter Break (no school) Classes Resume USJ Weekend

5/1-5/12 AP Exams (tentative) 5/13 Commencement 5/16-5/19 Semester Exams 5/19 End of Quarter 4; Last day for students 5/22 Make-up day for exams/ Administrative Day 5/23-5/24 Administrative Days 5/25 Summer Break Begins



We are once again offering a fantastic array of camps this year and encourage all of our students to find a camp or two that fits their interests. Below is a list of our offerings for Summer 2016:




May 31-June 3 • Girls Basketball (2nd-8th) • Guided Summer Reading (6th-10th) • Lower School Summer Library

June 20-24 • Football Basic Skills Camp (1st-5th) • Little Bruins Beginner’s Gymnastics (Ages 3-6) • Lower School Summer Library • Offensive/Defensive Line Camp (6th-8th) • Quarterback/Wide Receiver Camp (6th-8th) • Running Camp (5th-8th) • Tennis Camp (K-12th)

July 18-22 • July Boys Basketball


July 25-29 • Grammar Skills (6th-9th) • Grammar for Upper School (10th-12th) • iMovie Workshop (6th-12th) • Study Skills (9th-12th) • Tennis Camp (K-12th)

WEEK TWO: June 6-10 • ACT English Prep (10th-12th) • ACT Math Prep (10th-12th) • Artrageous Art Camp (1st-8th) • Baseball (1st-8th) • Best of the West Soccer (1st-12th) • Guided Summer Reading (6th-10th) • Jackson National Golf Camp (6th-12th)

• LEGO Programming and Robotics (5th-9th) • Little Bruins Art (Ages 3-6) • Lower School Summer Library • SCRATCH: Intro to Programming (2nd-5th)

WEEK THREE: June 13-17 • Boys Basketball (K-8th) • Code Combat (4th-6th) • Drivers Ed (Age 15+) • Guided Summer Reading (6th-10th) • Jackson National Golf Camp (1st-5th)

• Little Bruins Adventure Camp (Ages 3-6)

June 27-July 1 • Dance Camp (1st-5th) • Drama Camp (8th-12th) • Little Bruins TOT Basketball (Ages 3-6)

• Lower School Summer Library • Tennis Camp (K-12th)



• Little Bruins Dance Camp (Ages 3-6)

• Lower School Summer Library • Middle School Math Camp (6th-8th)

• Musical Theater Camp Week 2 (1st-9th)


WEEK TEN: August 1-5 • Jump Start the Common App (12th)



July 11-15 •A lgebra Boot Camp (8th-10th) • Little Bruins Music Camp (Ages 3-6) • Lower School Summer Library • Musical Theater Camp Week 1

August 8-12 • Learn Your Laptop (6th-12th)


• Lower School Summer Library

• Tennis Camp (K-12th)


May 23-July 29 (closed July 4th) (Mon-Fri) 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. USJ families may register February 1-March 15. Total cost: $1,375 for 5 days a week all summer; $935 for 3 days; $715 for 2 days. Cost may be broken into two payments. Registration fee is $50 per child/$100 per family. Ages 2 through rising 6th grade. Structured weekly themes include water play, arts and crafts, jumpers and inflatables, physical activities, games, and music.

SUMMER LIBRARY Each Wednesday in June and July 13 & 20

The Lower School library will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a special presentation each week at 10 a.m. Families with signed USJ enrollment contracts may check out books for free. These presentations are open to the public.

Camp registration opens March 15. Questions? Contact Director of Summer Programs Melissa Zerfoss at 731.300.3686 or


Upcoming Events USJ Weekend April 22 & 23

Alumni Parent Luncheon Friday, April 22 - 11:30 a.m. Upper School Campbell Library Our Head of School would like the opportunity to meet all interested OHA, EDS, and USJ alumni parents over lunch on Friday, April 22. This new event will be a chance for all of us to look at our history, since we are celebrating 45 years as a school. It will also serve as a wonderful occasion for old friends to get together on our beautiful campus. To reserve your spot or table, contact Melissa Zerfoss at There is no charge for this luncheon.

Friday, April 22 11:30 a.m. Alumni Parent Luncheon 5:30 p.m. USJ Softball vs. Westview - Hall of Fame presentation 7:30 p.m. Movie @ the U

Saturday, April 23 9:00 a.m. Soccer Alumni Girls game - Honoree presentation 10:00 a.m. Soccer Varsity Boys vs. Soccer Alumni Boys 11:30 a.m. Barbecue @ the U with inflatables for the kids 12:00 p.m. USJ Baseball vs. Crockett County - Honoree presentation

Upcoming Reunions

Check out the website for updates to our reunion page as details are finalized:

Graduation 2016

May 14, 3:00 p.m. West Jackson Baptist Church

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


Jackson, TN Permit #845 232 McClellan Rd. | Jackson, TN 38305

Parents of Alumni: If this publication is addressed to your son/daughter who no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the Alumni Office of his/her new mailing address by emailing