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Community................... 6 Academics.. .................. 10 Arts.. .............................. 14 Athletics....................... 16 Faculty.......................... 18 Alumni.. ....................... 22 Events........................... 26


USJ’s Mission We instill a passion for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence while committing to personal integrity, mutual respect, and life-long learning.

Identity Statement 232/240 McClellan Road Jackson, TN 38305 731.664.0812 •

BOARD of TRUSTEES Lee Driver Anita Hamilton Camille Jones Darrell King James Kirkland Bethany Lawrence Geoffrey Lindley

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 JudeoChristian 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.

John New Ryan Porter Sarah Pucek James Robinson Jason Sammons Nathan Spencer Kathryn Tucker Jeff Watlington John Whybrew

ADMINISTRATION Stuart Hirstein Head of School Benjamin Murphy Upper School Director Jim Hardegree Interim Middle School Director Debbie Ford Lower School Director Kay Shearin Director of Admissions 2

USJ Alumnus and Parent Named Board Chairman John New Jr., USJ alumnus and parent, has taken over as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. John, who graduated from USJ in 1988, is a Financial Advisor with BancorpSouth, where he has worked for 11 years. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP), John has been in the financial service field for 20 years after graduating from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1992. He has been married to Ginger Glass New for over 22 years, and the couple has three children at USJ: Frances (senior), Nicole (junior), and Jack (seventh grader). He is ready for what’s ahead for the school. “At USJ, teachers really care about their students. I am always proud of the stories I hear about how well prepared our students are for college, from the test prep that leads to high ACT scores to the study habits they learn here and continue to use when they leave. I know that the Strategic Plan we rolled out last fall will only lead to more stories about the great things happening at USJ.” John has served USJ in many capacities over the last several years, beginning with his time as former president of the USJ Alumni Association. During his six years on the Board, he has served on the executive committee for three years and chaired the finance committee, among other duties. His father, John New, was Chairman of the Board for Old Hickory Academy, which later became USJ. “I like how the USJ administration is always trying to make the school better today than it was yesterday,” says John. “At USJ, no one sits still; we use our positive momentum to keep growing. Education is changing, and we have to change with it.”


With the retirement of Lower School Director Debbie Ford at the end of the school year and a need to fill the position currently held by Interim Middle School Director Jim Hardegree, USJ was in need of two visionaries to lead the school forward in key roles. These individuals have been chosen, and they’re both eager to get to work. Dr. Louise Dunn has been named University School of Jackson’s Lower School Director effective July 2017. Dr. Dunn is currently vice-principal of the Lower School at Gems American Academy, Abu Dhabi, UAE, a division of over 950 students where she has been since 2013. “Louise Dunn is an articulate advocate for curricular innovations that enhance student learning and deepen the professional growth of teachers,” says Stuart Hirstein, USJ Head of School. “Her passion and care for students, combined with her commitment to faculty and families, have well prepared her to lead the Lower School at USJ over the coming years.” “I am very excited about the future and the opportunity to contribute to the rich learning environment that is USJ,” says Dr. Dunn. “The leadership of the school and their vision for the future align perfectly with my beliefs on education: a place that seeks to find the best possible avenues to reach all students through educational practices that are researchbased. Additionally, when I visited campus, the friendly and welcoming faces of everyone I encountered struck me immediately, and I felt that this is a place where I can become part of the community.” Dr. Dunn is committed to her students. “As an educator, I believe that I must always keep focused on what is good for the children in my care and remember the words of Benjamin Franklin when thinking of the learning environment of children: ‘Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.’ ”

Dr. Dunn will begin her work at the same time as Don Roe, University School of Jackson’s new Middle School Director. Mr. Roe is in his 23rd year of teaching and his 5th year at USJ. His background includes teaching positions at North Parkway Middle School, Northeast Middle School, North Side High School, and Madison Academic High School where he was also the head coach of the Academic Decathlon Team. Mr. Roe was the Gilder-Lehrman History Teacher of the Year for the state of Tennessee in 2005.

“USJ is a special place, and I love working with such a dedicated group of professionals and with young people who desire to pursue excellence in all things,” Mr. Roe says. “This school is home for me and my family.” Mr. Hirstein expressed his excitement about the new Middle School Director: “Don possesses the attributes required to successfully lead the Middle School at USJ, and we are delighted to welcome him to the administrative team. Don is a proven instructional leader who has tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and dedication, and he will serve the school well in this vital role.” “The values espoused in our mission statement are 100% congruent with my personal philosophy,” says Mr. Roe. “To get to work with such a special faculty and to communicate these principles to our families in such a critical phase of our students’ development excites me. I believe as we implement our new strategic plan together and continue to work on improving each day, USJ’s students will benefit directly. It is my goal that students would not just be impacted positively today, but due to our work here, would be better prepared for the next level of their education and to make a positive impact on the lives of others.”


Parent Organizations Imperative to Success of USJ At USJ, we depend on our parents to help us be successful. Here’s a glimpse of what our parents do to help our students thrive in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and on the stage. If you aren’t involved, we ask that you learn more about these organizations and determine which would be the best fit for you. The return you’ll see makes all the work worthwhile.

PARENTS CLUB President: Sara Jane Via

If you have a child enrolled at USJ, you are already a member of the Parents Club! The USJ Parents Club provides an avenue for parental involvement. We promote the academic life of the school, encourage parents to volunteer their time and talents to the school as needed, raise funds to provide the tools needed for a quality education, and act as a voice for USJ in our community. Our key fundraiser is the annual Holiday Mart, which has been held every November for the last 46 years. In 2015, we raised over $156,000, which went directly back into our school. With these funds, we were able to purchase 40 iPads for the Lower School as well as completely renovate the Lower School playground. We also updated the Middle School science lab and purchased iPods and test maker software for the Upper School. In addition, we gave $34,000 towards new technology for the entire school. Funds were also distributed to the Arts Guild and teaching staff in the way of “supply money” at the beginning of school and as Christmas gifts for the entire faculty. Although the final Holiday Mart numbers are not official for 2016, we feel strongly that we will exceed last year’s mark! All of the above would not be possible without our parents volunteering hundreds of hours of their time, financial resources, and support.


President: Christi Haynes The USJ Arts Guild works closely with both teachers and students of the fine arts to share their creations with the USJ community. The Arts Guild serves as an extension of the Fine Arts department by providing financial and volunteer support. In the past few years we have made several contributions to the teachers, students, and facilities of our Lower, Middle, and Upper School departments. Recent Arts Guild purchases include: a 3D printer for the Visual Arts Department; clay and kiln maintenance for the Lower School;


band uniforms; new costumes, props, and sets for the Lower School; needs for our musical and drama theatrical productions; maintenance of the Blankenship Theater; and student and teacher enrichment. The Arts Guild is also very involved, and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer! As volunteers, members of the Arts Guild wear many different hats. We work backstage during Fine Arts productions, work on costumes, help with advertising, serve as chaperones for various functions, host fundraisers, promote Fine Arts events and functions, and sell tickets. The Arts Guild is a small but very passionate group of people who are dedicated to seeing the USJ Arts Department expand and flourish, and we are always in search of new patrons and volunteers to help us accomplish our goals.


President: Ryan Porter The USJ Bruins Club supports all athletic programs in Middle School, junior varsity, and varsity programs through financial and volunteer support. USJ encourages its students to participate in their interscholastic sports programs through one of their 12 Upper School and nine Middle School sports offered. The USJ Bruins Club raises money to keep our facilities some of the best in West Tennessee. There are four gyms, baseball and softball fields, a cross country course, a track, two soccer fields, three football fields, and tennis courts to maintain. About 70% of our students participate in at least one of our programs. We raise money primarily through the sale of Bruins Club memberships, concession sales, and Kroger Cards. Not only do we provide money, the Bruins Club also provides work. Our volunteers spend countless hours working on cleanup days, concessions stand duties, and field maintenance. Over the past year, we have upgraded the lights in the Lower School and Middle School gyms; purchased new score boards for those gyms; contributed to the new football weight room; repaired the track; painted all

the score boards for football, baseball, soccer and softball; helped install a play clock for football; installed an awning for the concession stand; purchased new equipment for field maintenance; donated to the new strength and conditioning facility used by all sports; installed a new baseball fence; painted and carpeted the basketball locker room; purchased a new baseball field tarp; refinished gym floors; added new field dirt for softball; bought new mats for track; and purchased new backstop poles for soccer.


Assistant Director of Development: Cathy Garrett At USJ, our mission is to instill a passion for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence while committing to personal integrity, mutual respect, and life-long learning. Accomplishing this mission requires the commitment and assistance of the entire USJ community. What can you do to help? You can make a gift to the Annual Fund. The generous support of Annual Fund donors allows us to bridge the gap between tuition and the total cost of a USJ education. A donation to the Annual Fund helps support faculty salary increases, professional development, instructional supplies, athletics, fine arts, and more. In essence, it supports the classroom experience and all of the many reasons that families choose USJ as their educational partner. Your gift to the Annual Fund makes a difference at USJ. Whether you give $50 or $2,500, you are providing students with a complete educational experience and preparing them for a lifetime of success.

College Advising Department Hosts Coffee Come and Go The College Advising Department hosted a “What’s Bruin?” coffee klatch on October 12 with Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) Outreach Specialist Abby Nichols, who answered questions from Class of 2017 parents. Several important changes to the deadlines for federal student aid occurred this year, so Abby discussed these changes and provided parents with information about their federal and state financial aid options. Some parents stayed for coffee and visited while others got coffee to go, asked their questions, and went about their day. The College Advising Department plans to host other opportunities like this throughout the year.


Infants & Toddlers Beginning in August 2017, we are expanding our Early Childhood Program to include toddlers and infants as young as six weeks of age. This facet of the program will provide nurturing care and guidance as children grow and develop through play and discovery. In our infant and toddler classrooms, our staff will focus careful attention on each child’s unique development in order to boost his or her capacity for learning. Each classroom will adhere to an active learning policy that provides children with hands-on experiences with people, events, objects, and ideas. We will also lay the foundation for concepts such as decision-making, sharing, and self-esteem. Our teachers will bond closely with each child in order to build nurturing relationships and create developmentallyappropriate learning plans. Joining the USJ community at an early age will set them on the path to lifelong learning. This program will be open first to USJ families and will include full days of care up to five days a week. To enroll, infants must be six weeks old and toddlers must be 12 months old by August 15. For more information on these options, please contact Kay Shearin, Director of Admissions at 731.660.1692 or by emailing




Charles Campbell Kicks It to Cancer Varsity starting kicker Charles Campbell decided that before football season began last fall, he was going to make his junior season about more than athletics. He signed up to chair a Kick It campaign – requesting that his friends, family, and members of the USJ community pledge to donate a set sum per point he scored this season or just make a flat donation. “God has given me a talent, and this was a way to use my talent to help those in need,” says Charles. His goal was to score 80 points and raise $10,000, with the money going to support research for childhood cancer. By the season’s end, he had scored 86 points and raised almost $16,000. Coach Rusty Bradley was very impressed by Charles’s attitude. “Charles is a great young man who always puts others before himself. This is a great example of him using his talent to benefit those in need.”

photo by Angela Spencer

Leadership Jackson, the Chamber’s adult leadership development program, gives business professionals employed with companies that are Chamber members the opportunity to better understand the Jackson community and the opportunities and challenges it faces.

When Amelia Spurlin was in Mrs. Amanda Bullion’s fourth grade class, Mrs. Bullion had her students work on their letter writing skills by writing to a post office in a town that had their name in it. Amelia wrote to the Post Master of a town called Amelia, Nebraska. Amelia and the Post Mistress, Mrs. Eileen Burgett, are still writing letters to each other to this day—seven years and counting. What was supposed to be a simple lesson in letter writing led to a surrogate grandmother for Amelia. The two have sent dozens of letters and pictures back and forth over the years and hope to meet in person one day.

The class consisted of 33 participants, including several with USJ connections. Mike Richards and David Casey are parents of current USJ students, while Joe Shearin (‘01) and Brad Davis (‘04) are alumni. Joe is the Residential Project Manager for Fisher Construction Company in Milan, and Brad is a Project Manager for MSB Construction.

“It has meant a lot to me to share my life with Mrs. Eileen and to hear about her life as well,” says Amelia. “I’ve learned valuable lessons about friendship. It’s special to know that someone is thinking about me during the day while I am thinking about her.”

Leadership Jackson Class Visits USJ This year’s Leadership Jackson class spent a portion of their education day touring the Lower School campus. The group of local community leaders learned about what makes USJ different from other educational options in the area and was given the opportunity to ask questions of school leadership.

“I enjoyed watching the interaction of the faculty and students,” says David. “Our visit showed my Leadership Jackson classmates the caring atmosphere and learning-focused environment that my family has experienced here at USJ.” 6

Pen Pals: Seven Years and Counting

New Library Club Donates Books to Kenya Mimi Hirstein started the Lower School Library Club at the beginning of the year. The group of 30 or so fifth graders meets on Mondays during recess and Thursdays after school. One member, Eady Davenport, came forward with information about an orphanage in Kenya her grandparents had recently visited. Eady had been shocked to learn that the children at Kenya Relief did not have any books, and she wanted to know what the Library Club could do to help. Eady and her mom, Jen, did a short presentation for the club’s next meeting, and

members decided to host a book drive to get books in the hands of the orphans. Within a week, the group had shared their plans with the community through posters, flyers, and emails. They collected over 600 books that are being delivered to Kenya Relief by Eady’s grandparents in June. “I love to read, and I wanted the kids at the orphanage to be able to read, too,” says Eady. “Watching everyone pitch in to help the kids was awesome.”

Third Graders Bless Others Through Blessing Bags This holiday season, USJ’s third grade teachers decided they wanted to do something different for their class Christmas parties. They recognized the holidays are a busy time of year and decided to help their students do something meaningful. Rather than have students bring a gift card or small gift to exchange with one another, they decided it was a perfect opportunity to give to others. “We talked to our students about how Christmas is a time of giving and showing love, and we brainstormed how we could show love to others in our community who are going through a tough time,” says Jessica Platt, third grade teacher. After throwing around some ideas, the students decided to make “Blessing Bags” for the homeless. Families were asked to

send in an item that someone without a home would find useful, such as toiletry items, gloves, hand warmers, socks, snacks, etc. The result was hundreds of donated items for the Blessing Bags. During the Christmas party, each student received a bag to fill with the donated items. Then, he or she put in a handwritten note of encouragement for the recipient of the Blessing Bag. The bags were then delivered to Area Relief Ministries in downtown Jackson for distribution through both their office and the Room in the Inn ministry. “We hope that the recipients of the Blessing Bags felt the love that was poured into each one by our third graders,” says Mrs. Platt.


Student Volunteers with Local Down Syndrome Association

Maddy Puzdrakiewicz became involved with the local Down Syndrome Association when she started high school. She joined USJ’s DSA Buddy Club and was introduced to local special education teachers who encouraged her to get more involved. She has volunteered more than 300 hours with this cause.

“I soon realized that volunteering with these children is not work but is instead something I look forward to doing,” says Maddy.

She is currently president of the school’s DSA Buddy Club. The club hosts the Special Olympics and a Christmas party for people with Down syndrome each year. This year, they also invited friends with Down syndrome to attend a home basketball game and participate in a game at halftime. They wanted to give this group of children and adults with Down syndrome the experience of having an entire gym cheer for them when they succeeded. “Nothing can compare to the feeling of joy they provide,” Maddy says. She also volunteers outside of the Buddy Club. She works with a local group of people with Down syndrome called Circle of Friends. They meet once a month and host activities such as going to the movies or visiting the pumpkin patch. Each summer, she

volunteers at Camp Imaginarium, a month-long camp for children with Down syndrome. The children swim each morning, play games, learn about feelings and manners, do yoga, and have a music class. The camp offers children a great opportunity for learning and making friends. Maddy credits these experiences with shaping her as a person in many ways. “I have become more responsible, because I would never want to let these people down. I have learned about patience and kindness. Above all, I’ve realized that happiness does not come from keeping up with the latest trends, popularity, or even grades; through their eyes, I’ve learned it can be as simple as having your favorite snack, hearing your favorite song, or seeing a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.”

Lower School Student Raises Money for St. Jude When second grader Whit Barnes went to his older brother’s 5th-6th grade Bears football games last year, he was disappointed because concession options were not available. By the time the next season rolled around, he had decided to take matters into his own hands. Whit asked his mom if he could sell drinks and snacks at the games. His motivation, however, was totally altruistic. Whit wanted to donate his earnings to the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He sold chicken sandwiches, chips, drinks, and more at each game, raising over $1,200 during the fall season. He gave it all to St. Jude. “I wanted to help people have snacks while they watched the football game and help the sick kids, too, so this seemed like the best way,” says Whit. 8

Alumnus Returns to Highlight Veterans Day Program This year’s Veterans Day assembly was particularly powerful, as Class of 2001 alumnus and U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Rob Ragon was the guest speaker. Students presented the colors, provided readings, and sang patriotic songs. The program was the work of the school’s combined choirs and the Social Studies Honor Society. All local veterans were invited to attend. “It was such an honor to speak to the USJ students, faculty, and family on Veterans Day,” says Lt. Commander Ragon. “Our nation and community have been so blessed by the service of men and women throughout history. I am humbled to be a part of that legacy of service. It was really special for me to have the opportunity to share some of my experiences with USJ and to convey an important message about honoring veterans and good citizenship.”

Criminal Justice Class Experiences Local Court First-Hand The fall Criminal Justice class visited the courthouse to view live court proceedings. This is the fourth time a group from USJ took such a trip, as students go every time the course is offered. Each trip has proven a different experience because the justice system is ever changing. “I want my students to realize that the real life criminal justice process is very different from what they see in TV and movies,” says teacher Anna Powell. “Going to the courthouse to see different types of proceedings gives them a whole new perspective on how our criminal justice system works.” This semester, the students were supposed to see a conspiracy to commit murder trial, but there was a problem with that case as the trial did not continue as scheduled. Their field trip was moved to the following day, when a trial for several felony and misdemeanor counts of theft was scheduled. However, right before the trial was to begin, the defendant decided to enter a guilty plea. This provided students with the opportunity to see the guilty plea process in

action. They then had a one-hour question and answer session with Judge Kyle Atkins, courtroom security, and the district attorney for the case. “It was interesting to see an actual courtroom, and I think watching the process in action gave me a better understanding and appreciation for everything that lawyers and judges do, even in just handling a guilty plea,” says student Jordan Henges.




Sixth Grade Teachers Help Students Make Smooth Transition Any period of transition can be intimidating, but the idea of leaving the Lower School and heading over to the other side of campus is sometimes difficult for many students. The Middle School faculty works hard to make sure this is not the case for long, however, and sixth grade parents are grateful. “The transition was seamless,” says Martha Campbell, whose daughter, Mimi, entered sixth grade this fall. “I felt like the faculty and staff did everything they could to make Mimi feel welcome.” Some of the specific practices that work to ease students into their new building include a separate orientation for sixth graders, a study skills class, and concentrated efforts to teach students new skills, such as how to use their laptops to access homework and check email. “In my first year teaching at USJ, I have felt so supported and welcomed by the faculty,” says first-year teacher Ms. Laura Micetich. “I can only imagine that the rising students feel this warmth as well.” New teachers had help of their own in the form of faculty mentors. Dana Simmons, who teaches seventh grade English, is Ms. Micetich’s mentor.

Second Graders Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day In honor of the pioneer nurseryman, Johnny Appleseed, our second graders enjoyed a Johnny Appleseed-themed day.

“As a whole, our Middle School teachers take the time to discuss and plan for the transition stresses that students may have,” says Mrs. Simmons. “I feel like our Middle School staff is comprised of an excellent group of teachers who truly remember being a Middle Schooler, which makes them capable of understanding the obstacles of every day life with preteens.”

Junior Rotarians Congratulations to the 2016-17 Junior Rotarians who have represented USJ so well at Jackson Rotary Club meetings: Patrick Aherrera Rhett Peel John Riley Stanford 10

Natalie Sullivan Peyton Taylor Morgan Williams

National Merit Recognition Semifinalist: John Riley Stanford Commended: Page Askins Harrison Baker Eric Whisenant National Hispanic Recognition Program: Michael Villarreal

Sixth Grade Nashville Trip Receives Update USJ sixth graders have taken a field trip to Nashville for over 20 years, but the traditional trip recently underwent some changes. Sixth graders study Tennessee History during their first semester of the year. Until last year, the excursion was history-centered, with students visiting the Capitol, Tennessee History Museum, Parthenon Museum, and the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. Last spring, Coach Billy Hight, sixth grade science teacher, suggested a change. Sixth graders study earth science, so the activities at the Adventure Science Center and the movie “Forces of Nature,” shown in the Sudekum Planetarium, were a perfect match to their curriculum. Coordinators worked to integrate this idea, making the trip the first to focus on both history and science. This visit featured the Capitol, the Adventure Science Center, and the Hermitage. The changes in the itinerary made it possible to spend more time at each venue. Students loved the Adventure Science Center, as well as the other tour sites. “It was a great day for the 95 students, teachers, and parents who attended,” says Mrs. Shay Young, field trip coordinator.


Wake Up!

Students Use Drama to Benefit Community Organization Two years ago, drama students wrote and performed a play for Wo/Men’s Resource & Rape Assistance Program (WRAP), a Jackson-area nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence. Audience members were blown away, but one in particular saw how the talents of USJ’s drama department could benefit another nonprofit organization. Greg Stewart, a member of Aspell Recovery Center’s board, realized that students could use the stage to spread awareness and break the stigma of drug abuse, and he soon brought his idea forward. “The first time we took on a project like this, it was overwhelming,” says Theatre Director Erica Davidson. “I felt more prepared this time around.” Aspell’s Executive Director Richard Barber was excited for the opportunity to shine stage lights on what he refers to as “our community’s number one public health issue.” He met with Mrs. Davidson last spring, and the work began. “We here at Aspell were amazed by the students’ diligence and research to ensure Wake Up went to the very core of addiction, that it is not a moral weakness but a treatable illness,” says Mr. Barber. “In our early meetings as the play was in development, we asked the students to help us remove the stigma attached to addiction. Without a doubt, they knocked it out of the park!” Mrs. Davidson chose three students who exhibited passion in both the arts and writing to develop the production: Sydney Lofton, Harrison Hamm, and Lauren Nicola. “I had never written anything outside of class before,” says Sydney. “Performing is my first love, but because of this experience, I feel well-rounded now.” The students were shocked to learn the stigmas surrounding drug addiction are often misconstrued. While many imagine addicts who are in and out of prison and faced with poverty, the new playwrights realized that middle-to-upper class families are often impacted by prescription drug abuse. They were determined to craft a realistic story that resonated with their audience and honored Aspell as a nationally recognized program. They decided to entitle their production Wake Up.


“The challenge of portraying such a modern-day topic was daunting at first, but with Mrs. Davidson’s support, we accomplished our goal,” says Harrison. “The staff members at Aspell were huge assets as well, coming to rehearsals to make sure we were providing an authentic example of the experience and even supplying set pieces.” The students wrote their script over the summer despite their busy schedules that included a study abroad trip in Costa Rica, a screen-writing camp in Michigan, and Governor’s School. Auditions were held the week after school started, and three performances took place September 23-25. The production was funded by the Arts Guild, as all proceeds were donated to Aspell. “It is encouraging to witness students take on such a tremendous challenge and then donate the success of that challenge,” says Mr. Barber. “The proceeds from Wake Up will afford someone who would not have had the opportunity otherwise the chance to better his or her life.” Wake Up provided USJ theatre students with another first. They took Act I of the show to the Tennessee Theatre Association (TTA) Competition at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN on October 20. Sydney Lofton won best actress for the show while Alexander Peftoulidis was awarded the gold medal for best actor. “I was honored that Aspell’s staff trusted us with such a monumental task,” Lauren says. “We really brought their work to life on the stage.”

“We plan to continue supporting other local nonprofits in need in the years to come,” says Mrs. Davidson. “This is more than a passion for theatre; it’s a passion for USJ’s students and making sure they realize that they do have the ability to make their community a better place.”

A Synopsis of Wake Up Act I The play centers around an upper middle class family that seems to have it all together, until the truth begins to surface. The father is a doctor with an addiction to oxycodone. His two daughters— one in middle school and one in high school—appear to be normal kids, but the older of the two begins to make bad choices with dating, alcohol use, and Adderall. One day, her younger sister finds her; she has overdosed and their father is so deeply under the influence that he can’t wake up to save her. The scene ends with the mother leaving, but not before she gives her husband the phone number to Aspell Recovery Center.

Act II The father goes through a version of treatment at Aspell—a condensed program for the stage. As the play ends, he is celebrating one year of sobriety. Act I therefore illustrates the tragedy of drug addiction, but Act II reveals the hope that Aspell Recovery Center provides.




Snow White in the ‘70s This funky adaptation of Disney’s Snow White had the audience grooving to the music in January. Snow White, an orphaned child prodigy, realizes that she has a long lost great-great-great-uncle. Unfortunately, he dies after she meets him, which leaves her with her wicked stepmother, Lola. Not wanting to lose her husband’s fortune, Lola tries to get rid of Snow White but ends up in the basement of the discotheque where seven swanky dwarves are cursed to run the music for the discotheque above. “This was such a fun show to direct, especially following the serious production we did back at the beginning of the school year,” says Erica Davidson, Theatre Director. “The kids and I had a great time during rehearsals, and I hope it showed during their performances.”

The Little Mermaid The University School of Jackson’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid was a huge success. With the first two shows packed and the Sunday matinee sold out, the students gave three outstanding performances. The cast was comprised of students from grades 2-12, and it truly showcased the talented range of students at USJ. Once again, Dr. Tammy Grant, Musical Theatre Director and ninth grade choir teacher, gave her audiences a family-fun show that had everyone smiling as they left the Blankenship Theater. Dr. Grant is excited to have nominated this production for the Orpheum’s High School Musical Theatre Awards, which is modeled after the Tony™ Awards. This event is part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program, which includes 30 programs from across the United States. Participants will gather at the historic Orpheum Theatre for a night of performance and an awards presentation on Thursday, May 25 at 7 p.m. To our USJ actors, we say, “break a leg!”

Performing Arts Department Grows Relationship with Music Theatre International Music Theatre International (MTI) contacted Dr. Tammy Grant, Musical Theatre Director, in the summer of 2015 to ask if the USJ Performing Arts program was interested in piloting a new MTI program called BANDestra. The program provides orchestration for MTI JR. musicals adapted for middle school and high school band students. Tom Grant, USJ Director of Bands, along with Dr. Grant, had the opportunity to work with MTI to adapt the arrangements and

Upcoming Theater Productions 14

orchestrations for performances and those of any future organization that rents these musicals. The USJ Bruin Band played for the show in the spring of 2016. “It was an exciting and educational experience for our outstanding students,” says Dr. Grant. “We received very positive feedback from MTI.” This year, the Performing Arts Department was asked to pilot BANDestra for two more shows:

DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID JR. Middle School Musical Saturday, April 1 – 7 p.m. Sunday, April 2 – 2 p.m.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR. and Shrek The Musical JR. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with MTI,” says Dr. Grant. “The outstanding composers, arrangers, and orchestrators at Music Theatre International are doing so much to further the musical education of students in our nation.”

SHREK THE MUSICAL JR. Middle School Musical Sunday, April 30 – 2 p.m. Monday, May 1 – 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

USJ Choir Students Excel This Fall The fall semester always brings numerous opportunities for choral students to showcase their talents, and students at USJ did not miss out. From the local stage to the national arena, choir members represented the school well this November. The National Association for Music Education All-National Honor Ensemble is made up of the top-performing high school musicians in the United States. So much more than a musical ensemble, it is a comprehensive, musical and educational experience. The NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles are represented in the following components: Concert Band, Mixed Choir, Symphony Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble. Four University School of Jackson students were selected for the organization’s prestigious Mixed Choir: Patrick Aherrera, Tyler Bruno, Sydney Kwasigroh, and Alexander Peftoulidis. The ensembles met at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas from November 10-13 under the baton of leaders in the field of music education. One other student from Jackson, Ethan Baskin, Madison Academic High School student and son of Becky Baskin, participated in the choir under the direction of Lindsey Patterson, Madison’s choral director.

Painting and Learning in the Cub Club Mrs. Karen Morganti’s Cub class recently enjoyed learning about primary colors while practicing their sponge painting techniques. The students loved seeing what they created when they mixed the colors together!

“The All-National Honor Choir put in hard work that elevated them to a high level of ensemble-ship and an excellent performance,” says Dian Eddleman, Choral Director. Other choral happenings for USJ included the Quad State Honor Choir, All-State Honor Choir, and the Tennessee Regional Honor Choir. The Quad State Honor Choir festival took place at Murray State University in Murray, KY on November 6-7. Students who participated on behalf of USJ were Tyler Bruno, Meg Howell, Kate Petrinjak, Abby Vaughn, Brylee Whitsitt, John Henry Woods, and Nick Zerfoss. The Tennessee Northwest Regional Honor Choir’s concert was held November 19 at West Jackson Baptist Church. USJ students who performed were Patrick Aherrera, Tyler Bruno, John Giampapa, Sydney Kwasigroh, Chet Ngien, Alexander Peftoulidis, Landon Sellers, Abby Vaughn, Brylee Whitsitt, John Henry Woods, and Nick Zerfoss.

Choir Unites to Produce Christmas Concert USJ’s middle and high school choirs joined those from Jackson Christian and Trinity Christian Academy for the second annual Choral Christmas Concert on December 4. The students worked for a month to prepare for the concert that was free to the community.


Athletics N E W S Trey Smith Ends Remarkable Career with USJ When Trey Smith pulled out a University of Tennessee hat to announce his choice for college live on ESPN on December 6, the crowd inside the Blankenship Theatre went wild. “Coach Jones has done phenomenal things with Tennessee’s program since his arrival,” says Trey, when asked about his decision. “I really like his attitude and the way he treats others.”

“Tennessee has grown its number of wins each season. I want to help the program take its next step and compete for our conference and the national championship,” says Trey.

Trey had narrowed his college choice down to six schools: Ole Miss, the University of Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, and the University of Tennessee. He led the room in a round of “Rocky Top” after orange and white confetti rained down.

He also remembered to give credit to his father, his late mother, his sister, and his teachers, coaches, and friends at USJ. “I know why I am where I am today, and I know I haven’t done it alone.”

Anna Jones Breaks School Record Anna Jones’s senior season as a Lady Bruin isn’t one that will soon be forgotten. Not only did she score the 2,000th point of her high school career; she went a step further and broke the school record on January 3 in a 70-40 win over Jackson Christian School. The record of 2,235 points was previously held by Lisa DePriest Morris of Old Hickory Academy, who went on to play at the University of Alabama. “I am most excited that I get to share this achievement with my teammates,” says Anna. “I care most about the things we accomplish together.” She has started for USJ all four years of her high school career and was a Division II-A Miss Basketball finalist for the last two years. Anna will soon continue her time on the court at Middle Tennessee State University.

Photo Credit: Angela Spencer 16

“I loved the coaching staff there, and the idea of having the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament each year is really exciting for me.”

Golf Teams Finish Third at State Both the Bruins and Lady Bruins came in third in the Division II-A state tournament. The Bruins shot a 639, while the Lady Bruins finished with a 326. Senior Ryan Davis also came in third, ending his USJ golf career with a 4-over 148. Thank you for representing your school so well, Bruin golfers!

Bruins Represent at West Tennessee All-Star Game Rhett Peel and Peyton Taylor took to the football field in the postseason although this time the two were on opposing teams. The pair was invited to play in the West Tennessee All-Star Game and represented the U well. Trey Smith and Wells Smith were also invited to play but declined. Rhett started at defensive end and earned Defensive MVP honors, while Peyton started at linebacker. Both said they had a great experience playing with and against other local all-stars.



Congratulations to the four seniors who signed to play collegiate sports this fall.

Ryan Davis Golf • University of Tennessee at Martin

Anna Jones Basketball • Middle Tennessee State University

Trey Smith Football • University of Tennessee

Eric Whisenant Swimming • Harvard University

Postseason Teams Includes: All-District and All-State FOOTBALL Jacob Buie Charles Campbell Campbell Carlock Trey Corley Wesley Craig Thomas Ivy Griffin Laird Ryan Miller Rhett Peel Thaddeus Puzdrakiewicz Trey Smith Wells Smith Peyton Taylor

GOLF Ryan Davis SOCCER Abbey Fleming Anna Jones Morgan Williams VOLLEYBALL Caitlyn Brown Josie Seals Taylor Tenpenny




School Nurse Joins USJ Staff On January 9, Mary Ann Giampapa, RN, BSN, MSN joined the USJ faculty as a part-time school nurse. This is the first time in the history of USJ that the school has employed a school nurse to help address issues related to student/family health.

Oliver Simmons Named Coach of the Year We are excited for Boys’ Basketball Coach Oliver Simmons, who received the 2015-16 Don Meyer Coach of the Year award for Division II. Congratulations, Coach Simmons! “Coaching has always been my passion,” says Coach Simmons. “I thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity each and every day to impact the lives of these young men. However, it is the work of many people that goes in to me winning the Coach of the Year award. It always begins with the administration and their support of me and my basketball program. They see my vision and help me follow through with each step. The parents have also been wonderful. They have entrusted me to push their boys to sometimes uncomfortable levels in order to see growth. The studentathletes that I work with are part of my family. We spend an insurmountable amount of time together; we share wins and losses both on and off the basketball court. My assistant coaches Lucas Pyron and Chase Boehms deserve the Coach of the Year award just as much as I do. They are with me through it all and often help keep me focused. Without my assistants, this job would be impossible. Winning this award is not just a reflection of my coaching but one of the USJ boys basketball program as a whole.”

“I am very excited to begin my new role as school nurse at USJ,” says Mrs. Giampapa. “It will be so rewarding to develop programs that will help students, parents, and faculty enhance good health practices and manage health-related matters. The school nurse position will increase understanding and management of health and promote positive health behaviors.” Mary Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. Her work experience began at Regional One Health, followed by many years at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Memphis. She has a strong background in music, having started off as a music major in college. She worked as a Lower School music teacher at USJ for over ten years. She has also served the school as a substitute teacher for the last two and a half years. Mary Ann’s husband, Chris, is a physician with Jackson Pathology. They have three children: Matt is a 2011 graduate of USJ, Rachel, a 2015 grad, and John, a current junior.

Libby Lynch Named Visual Arts Director for TAA Art department chair Libby Lynch is the new visual arts director for the Tennessee Arts Academy (TAA). Mrs. Lynch will be coordinating visual arts workshops and mini sessions and hiring the Academy’s instructors in the visual arts discipline. “It is really quite an honor to be chosen for this position,” says Mrs. Lynch. “I have been facilitating the Academy’s summer teacher intensive for the past several years, and I’m ready to become even more involved.”

The Tennessee Arts Academy is the nation’s premier professional development institute for arts education. A program of the Tennessee Department of Education, the Academy has been held annually since 1987 on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Academy trains over 325 teachers every summer, who in turn impact over 150,000 Tennessee students each year. “Tennessee is fortunate to be the home of this innovative program that has become the national example for artsbased teacher training institutes,” says Mrs. Lynch.


Faith Dixon Returns to Saipan for Celebration After School Care and Camp Bruins Director Faith Dixon has been part of the USJ family for 10 years. Before her time here Ms. Dixon spent seven years as a missionary in Saipan, working at both Grace Christian Academy and Grace Christian Assembly Church. A U.S. commonwealth, Saipan is a small island in the South Pacific and is part of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Faculty Anniversaries

Last year, Grace Christian Academy celebrated its 30th anniversary. In honor of this occasion, the School Board invited Ms. Dixon to take part in the celebration. “The best part of my trip was being able to reconnect with former students and their families, as well as staff and faculty of the school,” says Ms. Dixon. “A piece of my heart will always belong to the island of Saipan and the people of Saipan.” Ms. Dixon does great work for the younger members of the USJ family. One of her many projects this past year was the End of Summer Showcase that concluded Camp Bruins, a 10-week summer daycare program that was full of learning experiences and fun activities for 2-year-olds through rising 6th graders. The showcase featured musical performances for parents, as well as artwork composed by this summer’s campers. She credits her traveling with helping to shape her into the person she is today. “As the ASC and Camp Bruins Director, the people skills that I have gained by learning from other people and cultures have helped me in building relationships with USJ students and families from all backgrounds,” says Ms. Dixon. “It has also taught me to be open to new ideas. I am always looking for ways to improve the ASC program and Camp Bruins.”

We have many faculty members who have spent the last 20+ years at USJ. 30+ YEARS:

20+ YEARS:

Mickey Marley

Tammy Grant

Jane Ramer

Lisa Marley

Lisa Cates

Shay Young

Donald Newman

Karen Morganti

Sylvia Bell

Regina Sills

Linda Yates

Amber Anderson Debbie Ford

25+ YEARS:

Heidi McDaniel

Cindy Fisher

Sarah Pate

Marcia Moss Rhonda Klipfel Phyllis Gayton Bridget Clark Larry Jones Kay Shearin Tony Shutes

Thank you to all of our outstanding faculty and staff for your dedication and commitment to USJ!

Mickey and Lisa Marley Celebrate Special Anniversaries 2016 was a special year for the Marley family, with Mickey celebrating his 30th year at USJ and Lisa marking her 20th. We are thankful for their work and the lives they impact each day! 19

Marley Recognized Across the State Congratulations are in order for Mickey Marley, who was inducted into two football Halls of Fame this fall. In September, Coach Marley was named one of this year’s four inductees to the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “When your career accomplishments are strong enough to earn you consideration for an honor like this, it means you’ve had the opportunity to work with some great people,” says Coach Marley. He was also named as a member of Franklin High School’s Hall of Fame. Coach Marley was recognized for his time as a valuable player at his alma mater and in the years that followed at UT Martin, as well as his time leading the Bruins to 245 wins and five state championship appearances.

Dian Eddleman Wins Alumni Award Bruin Choral Director Dian Eddleman was chosen by her alma mater, Harding University, to receive the 2016 Outstanding Alumna - College of Arts and Humanities award. Dian was chosen for her degree of excellence and recognition in her field, consistency with University ideals, active support of the University, and service to the community, church, and God.

Head of School Receives Jackson Award Head of School Stuart Hirstein was honored at the 2016 West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Charity Gala as the recipient of the Jackson Award for Education on November 12. This recognition is a huge honor for both Mr. Hirstein and USJ and comes as a result of all that USJ does to make our community a better place. Congratulations, Mr. Hirstein, on this well-deserved honor!

Head of School Blog Check out the words of Head of School Stuart Hirstein on the USJ website. Stu writes about campus happenings, his own experiences in education, and much more. You can find the blog here:



Kathy Brandt Spends Summer Abroad The summer of 2016 will forever be a special time in the life of our family. My husband, Eugene, was granted a well-deserved sabbatical, and this gave us the time to travel to two personally significant destinations. With the final school bell still ringing in our ears, Eugene, the kids, and I boarded a plane to cross the Atlantic. Sixteen long (looong) hours later we arrived in South Africa. A naturalized American citizen, I was born in South Africa. It was also the childhood home of Eugene. It was there that we grew into maturity, met, and married. We had returned to the home of our youth, and we brought our kids to witness it all. One of the primary objectives of this trip was to introduce our children to our heritage. There is so much of our lives that, up to this point, was foreign to them. This trip was aimed at introducing them to our past, and they ate it up. They enjoyed it all, and there was a lot to enjoy. We reconnected with old friends, ate exotic foods, and visited incredible sights. Beginning in our home city of Johannesburg (pop. 4.5 mil), we then drove down the escarpment to spend five days on Safari in the lowveld. The encounters we had with the African wildlife were utterly incredible. It was like living in a National Geographic special. Our journey continued with an eventful trip to the majestic Drakensburg Mountains. The trails winding along these mountains are filled with family lore. On both sides of our family there is rich history, and now our children trod these same paths. This chapter reminded us of family, adventure, and courage. This heritage adventure concluded with a visit to the North Coast of KaZulu Natal. It was here, beside the Indian Ocean, that my faith in Jesus was first ignited. These cherished beaches now provided the setting for new memories as my children collected shells, just as I once had. After three weeks of touring, we tearfully left the eastern horizon behind and returned home to Jackson.

If that was all the summer had for me, it would be enough, but there was so much more. Leaving the kids in the capable hands of Eugene’s mother, my husband and I flew east yet again. This time we stayed in the northern hemisphere and landed in Tel Aviv, Israel. Eugene is a pastor, and it has long been our ambition to visit the Holy Land. As Christian believers, we wanted to see the land of our Lord. In a fit of ambition, Eugene planned the trip himself. Rather than crowd on a bus with fifty of our closest strangers, we would travel from place to place on our terms. In our rental car, we headed north towards Haifa and stopped off at Caesarea Maritima, where Paul famously defended his faith. The ruins were magnificent, and the heat...oh, the heat! The next two days were spent in Western Galilee as we travelled from Mt. Carmel through Nazareth to Mt. Tabor. It’s said that every stone in Israel is a monument, and with the amount of history squeezed into such a small parcel of land, the idiom rings true. Our journey took us to the gorgeous Sea of Galilee. I think I left some of my heart on those shores. Face-timing our kids while wading in the waters that Jesus walked upon was just sublime. Returning south we entered Jerusalem. This historic city is notorious for its traffic, but the real challenge is parking. Ancient cities simply weren’t planned to include car lots. That difficulty aside, the time in the City of God was utterly mesmerizing. The things we saw, touched, smelled, and tasted all left an indelible impression. From haggling in the old market, to praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was an entirely joyous experience. Much more deserves to be told, but let this be enough—2016 gave us a precious experience that we will forever cherish.





Congratulations to Harbert Alexander (’90), and his wife Tausha on the birth of their triplets. Mary Harbert Rice, Dorothy Lucille Cline, and Elizabeth James Happel were born on August 26, 2016. Congratulations to Jamey Tankersley (’90), and his wife Jennifer, on the birth of James McGill Tankersley. James was born on October 22, 2016 weighing 8 lbs. 5 oz. Congratulations to Meridith Vanderford Raspberry (’99), and her husband Shane on the birth of Stella Kate on August 2, 2016. Big brothers Weston, age 6, and Graham, age 4, are proudly pictured here with Stella Kate. Congratulations to Jennifer Dudney Davidson (’01), and Dow Davidson (’96), on the birth of Beckett August Davidson. Beckett arrived on December 18, 2016, weighing in at 7 lbs. 4 oz. and 20 inches long. Etta Jane Platt, daughter of Jessica Ramer Platt (’01), faculty member, and Robert Platt, faculty, was born on July 21, 2016, measuring 22 inches long and weighing 8 lbs. 9 oz. Proud big brother, Noah Milone, is in Jr.K at USJ. Etta Jane is the granddaughter of Jane Ramer, faculty, and the niece of Justin Ramer (’99), and Katie Ramer, faculty. Congratulations to Rebecca Bailey Twyman (’02), and her husband Dustin on the birth of Tucker Mark. He was born on October 22, 2016, measuring 19.5 inches long and weighing 7 lbs. 7 oz. Proud big sister Caroline is 4 years old. Congratulations to Liz Shearin Davis (’03), and her husband Ben on the birth of Collins Elizabeth Davis. Collins was born on July 28, 2016 and weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz. 22

We are excited to announce the birth of Emily Ruth Collins, who was born on September 15, 2016. Emily is the daughter of Katy Fisher Collins (’06), and her husband Jake. Congratulations to Todd Bateman (’09), and his wife Sarah, on the birth of Cooper Todd Bateman, who was born on May 26, 2016. Cooper weighed 9 lbs. 4 oz. and measured 21 inches long. Congratulations to Destini Kramer Pierce (’12), and Will Pierce (’11), on the birth of their second daughter Emerson Kathryn, who was born on December 20, 2016, at 7 lbs. 7 oz.


Katie Brush Nickey (’05), celebrated the opening of her Pure Barre studio in Jackson, TN with a ribbon cutting on August 1. Congratulations, Katie! Ryan Ross (’05), is working as a seasonal intern for the Denver Broncos. Ryan earned his undergraduate and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Constance Jones (’08), U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Constance J. Jones graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San AntonioLackland in San Antonio. The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Keely McMahon (’08), recently moved to Washington D.C. where she is now a recruiter at Bloomfield & Company. Keely previously worked for Reprizent, Inc. in New York City.

Courtney Byrd (’10), and former Miss Mississippi USA, is currently cheering professionally for the Tennessee Titans. She was recently featured in country music star Drew Baldridge’s video “Curious Girl.” Courtney has also been busy modeling with The Block Agency and was recently seen in a Brantley Gilbert music video and the new Scott Brothers video “My House.” Joey Moore (’11), is pursuing a master’s of music degree in trumpet performance at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Joey recently graduated from Union University with a bachelor’s degree in music and a minor in communication arts. Currently he is studying with world-renowned trumpet soloist and teacher Richard Stoelzel. Joey is also 4th/utility trumpet with the McGill Symphony Orchestra. Lee Mayhall (’12), was recognized at the 2016 UNA Homecoming Banquet with the Promising Future Alumni Award and was recently selected by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) as a member of the 2016 Hampshire Honor Society. He was also featured on this season’s 2016 UNA Football advertising billboard. Congratulations to Ashley Nkadi (’12), who was named Miss Black Ohio having received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati. She is now pursuing a double master’s degree in sociology and business administration. Last summer, Anna Garrett (’13), had the opportunity to travel with Academic Programs International (API) to study at the Lorenzo de’Medici: The Italian International Institute in Florence, Italy. Her class, the Science of Nutrition, held cooking classes inside the Central Market. During her time abroad, she traveled to Tuscany, Rome, Cinque Terre, and the Amalfi Coast. Will Cobb (’14), is helping Pokémon trainers worldwide “catch’ em all” with the development of his Go Radar App. Will is currently attending Rhodes College as a Computer Science major.

Haley Hall (’14), participated in an engineering study abroad program in Pamplona, Spain for the month of June. Three local engineers taught her about energy efficiency in passive houses. Sam Darnall (’15), was chosen as a Wright & Ferguson Athlete of the Week at Mississippi College. Sam posted his collegiate-best 8K mark with a time of 26:44.3 at the Watson Ford Invitational. He finished ninth among the field of 93 non-Division I runners.

In Memoriam

We are saddened by the loss of Paula Blankenship Masoud, OHA Class of 1979, who died on August 25, 2016. Paula was born in Jackson, Tennessee. She graduated from Old Hickory Academy in 1979 and the University of Tennessee in 1983 with a B.S. in communications. Paula moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1984 where she was employed by Presbyterian Publishing and later Store Value Solutions from 2005-2011 as Senior Manager. In 2011, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and worked as Sr. Director at InComm until the time of her death. Paula will be missed by the entire OHA and USJ community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Will Magee (’06), who passed away in his sleep on October 1, 2016. Classmates remember him as a kind and wonderful young man. Will began preparing for a career in tennis from the age of 12 continuing throughout his high school and college years. He realized his dream in Boca Raton, where he was a tennis instructor. Will was also a gifted musician and played guitar in the praise band at First United Methodist in Jackson while in college at Lambuth University. He will be greatly missed by all of us at USJ. We extend our sympathy to the family of former EDS Board Chairman Robert Alderson, who passed away on November 22, 2016. Robert served as chairman, 1985-86, and was a member of the original board of trustees for USJ. He also served on the Joint Consolidation Task Force in 1987 that worked on the consolidation of Episcopal Day School and Old Hickory Academy. He and his wife Jane have two children who graduated from USJ, Amy Otto (’93) and Allison DeMarcus (’95). Robert was a purposeful leader and friend to USJ who will truly be missed by all.


Best wishes to Ashley Schneider (’00), and Scott Sherrill of Panhandle, Texas, who were married in a garden ceremony in Nashville on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The bride’s sister, Nicole Schneider Jenkins (’03), served as the maid of honor. Best wishes to Margaret Morrison (’01), and Tim Maddux who were married in a private family ceremony on Friday, October 28, 2016. The couple currently resides in Nashville. Best wishes to Meg Gore (’04), who married J.D. Cressman at Covenant Presbyterian in Nashville on August 13, 2016. A reception was held at Brentwood Country Club. Best wishes to Lindsey Hopper (’04), and Ryan Whitmer who were married on October 22, 2016. The couple and their twins Josie and Piper live in Franklin, Tennessee. Best wishes to Sara Kirkland (’05), and Andrew DiCostanzo who were married in Nashville on October 22, 2016. The couple lives in New York City where she is a Senior Principal Consultant for ACA Compliance Group and he is Vice President, Treasury & Liquidity Planning at Credit Suisse. Congratulations to Russ Duck (’06), and Laura Crittendon who were married on October 22, 2016. Best wishes to Laurel Meriwether (’06), and Jake Bateman who were married in Jackson, Tennessee, on September 17, 2016. The couple resides in Kingsport, Tennessee, where they both practice dentistry.

Congratulations to Thomas Baudo (’07), and Jordan Cagle who were married on August 20, 2016, at Twin Oaks in Humboldt, Tennessee. Best wishes to Camilla Bratton (’08), and Ryan Stringfellow who were married on July 23, 2016 at Bagsby Ranch in Gallatin, Tennessee. Congratulations to Ryan Russell (’08), and Danielle Richter who were married on Saturday, July 16, 2016, at Northside Methodist Church in Jackson, Tennessee. Best wishes to Katie Mansfield (’09), who married Patrick O’Neal at Dara’s Garden in Knoxville on October 21, 2016. Congratulations to Russell Hollman (’11), and Holly Hayes who were married on May 28, 2016 in Gates, Tennessee. The couple recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where Russell accepted a position with Atlantic Engineering Services. Best wishes and congratulations to Clare Williams (’12), and Gray Magee (’12), who were married on December 18, 2016, at Fellowship Bible Church in Jackson, TN. They are both currently attending the University of Kentucky. Gray is in medical school, and Clare is pursuing her master’s in diplomacy at the Patterson School at UK. Best wishes to Anna Caroline Lax (’14), and Matthew Elias Gatti who were married at Twin Oaks in Humboldt, Tennessee on November 13, 2016.

Congratulations to William Teague (’06), and Sarah Cox who were married in Jackson, Tennessee on August 27, 2016. 23

Alumnus Spotlight:

Kimbrough L. Dunlap, III

Alumnus Fills in for Art Teacher When Art Instructor Libby Lynch needed to take some time off to care for her daughter and sonin-law after they were injured in an accident, she knew who to call to fill in for her in the classroom.

Last year, his devotion and support of the University of Tennessee was honored when he was named the 2016-17 president of the University of Tennessee Alumni Association (UTAA) by its Board of Governors. This made him the leader of a network of 370,000 UT alumni all over the world.

Grant Whitsitt, class of 2012, came to USJ and kept the classroom going for Mrs. Lynch while she was away. He taught Art II, Art III, AP Art, and Digital Tools.

“The opportunity to serve as president of the UTAA comes at a great time in my life,” says Mr. Dunlap, who retired three years ago after selling his wireless business, American Cellular. “I enjoy advocating for UT and serving our fellow alumni because I really love this university.”

“It was a fantastic opportunity and awfully fun,” says Grant. Grant, who attended the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, completed his BFA in Animation last year. He was hired by Copernicus Animation Studios in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, in October as a 2D Character Animator on a new television show. He also works as a freelance animator. During his time at USJ, Grant focused on emphasizing drawing as students see life, not as they imagine it. “We did this largely by focusing on direct observational drawing methods and then moving into studying other aspects such as composition and color theory,” Grant says. Mrs. Lynch continues to work with Grant in various capacities. As the new Visual Arts Director for the Tennessee Arts Academy, she has asked Grant to teach a workshop this July in Nashville. He has entitled it: “Designing with Purpose: Developing the Visual Narrative.” “In a large way, I owe all of this to Mrs. Lynch, as it was her sincere guidance that led to my first official steps in fulfilling my dreams,” Grant says.


When Kimbrough L. Dunlap, III graduated from Old Hickory Academy in 1981, he headed straight for Knoxville where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration four years later. Despite his decision to start a business and raise a family in the Nashville area, he could often be found visiting his college town and always wearing orange.

“I love the friends I made while I was in school and the friends I made while serving on various volunteer boards over the past 14 years. Leaders are made at UT, and our alumni leaders truly embody the volunteer spirit by giving of their time and talent to UT.” Recent activities as UTAA president included speaking at the UT Health Science Center’s fall graduation ceremonies, as well as their Golden Graduate (graduates from 1966) ceremonies back in September. Other duties include attending various alumni events throughout the state as well as presiding over the UTAA Board of Governors, which is the governing national alumni board for the university. Mr. Dunlap recently toured USJ on his way to Memphis for the UTHSC graduation. “I hadn’t seen the new campus, and I was excited to stop by to visit. I enjoyed lunch with Mr. Hirstein in the library and then he gave me a quick tour. He introduced me to Coach Bradley, who showed me around the new strength and conditioning facility—very impressive. I told them that it was very different than when I played football for Old Hickory Academy!” A Humboldt native, Mr. Dunlap played football, basketball, baseball, and track at Old Hickory Academy. He is the second Humboldtan to serve as president of the UTAA. Mr. Dunlap resides in Brentwood, Tennessee. He is married to Paula, and they have a son, Brody.

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. To submit an address or email update, please email


New York Several young USJ alumni chose to call New York City home after graduating from college. Many of these former Bruins have found themselves involved in the fashion, entertainment, and marketing worlds in the Big Apple. Here’s a glimpse of their lives in NYC! Sara Barnes, Class of 2010: Handbag Designer at Elizabeth and James, a contemporary line by Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen

Christina Graham Hayes, Class of 2004: Vice President at The Door, a PR company where she works with clients in food and hospitality

Bridget McMahon Moore, Class of 2004: Content Director at a custom publishing division of Time Inc. called The Foundry

Jennifer Taylor, Class of 2008: Social Media Community Management associate at Kate Spade New York

Sue Williamson, Class of 2008: Beauty Editor at Milk Makeup in Milk Studios

What led you to New York City? Sara: “College was the driving factor in my move to New York. I knew I wanted to study fashion and wanted to go to the best school—Parsons. The city seemed to be the best fit and most inspiring place for me.” Christina: “I moved to New York for a summer internship in public relations between my junior and senior years at the University of Alabama. After senior year, I accepted a job with that same global PR agency.” Bridget: “I wanted to pursue a career in magazines, and NYC was the place to do it, so I moved up here with two suitcases and a couple of friends.” Jennifer: “The summer before my senior year of college, I was selected to a magazine editorial internship program at Time Inc. As cliché as it may be, I fell in love with New York City—the pace, the different neighborhoods, the uniqueness, amazing restaurants, proximity to the beach, walking everywhere—all of it.” Sue: “I first came to New York when I was in high school to attend Pre-College at NYU and just felt really at home here. I came back for college at Pratt Institute and interned with stylists and magazines throughout school.”

What do you love about life in New York City? Sara: “I am a big foodie and I love art—those are two things you can get a lot of here. I enjoy everything from ramen at a hole-in-the-wall in SoHo to eating at an amazing Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side, but truthfully, it’s all about the experience and the people you are with.” Christina: “One of my favorite things about the city is its serendipity. Despite the eight million people that live here, I’ll bump into Sue Williamson on 14th Street.” Bridget: “New York is such a big city, but you can really make it your own and create your own little village of people and experiences.” Jennifer: “I love being in the center of so many industries and working directly with thought leaders and influencers in those industries.” Sue: “A lot of my friends live in my building as well, so it’s kind of like the real-life version of Friends! Because my job is very demanding, I try to make my life as fun as possible. New Yorkers fit a lot into their days, so there’s always a workout class or restaurant open 24/7—and someone around to go to said workout class or restaurant with you.”

What do you miss most about home? Sara: “My family and the relaxing, calm nature of being in Jackson, Southern food, and driving a car—if anyone will let me!” Christina: “I miss Southern accents, $3.50 barbecue sandwiches, Friday night football, and the way the sky looks at dusk in West Tennessee. I miss knowing my neighbors, lightening bugs, really good air conditioning, and our front porch swing. Mostly I miss family and living somewhere that everyone feels like family.” Bridget: “My mom’s cooking, my dad’s tomatoes, and my three cats!” Jennifer: “Being close to my family. My parents, two of my four brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in Jackson or West Tennessee.” Sue: “Family and friends, of course, as well as nature and the state of Tennessee itself—and thunderstorms!”




Basketball Homecoming 2017


The Bruins and Lady Bruins basketball teams wrapped up another successful Homecoming Week at the end of January. The week’s festivities included basketball tournaments throughout the week, with each class selecting four boys and four girls to make up their teams. During lunch, the seniors played the sophomores and the juniors played the freshmen. The winner of each game played each other, with the winner of that game challenging the faculty team. Faculty won!


The week’s themes included: Monday - Sweet Dreams (pajama day) Tuesday - Dream Team (favorite team jersey day) Wednesday - D  ream Works (movie character day) Thursday - Dream On (rock and roll) Friday - USJ Spirit Day


Fall Festival Fun

The Bid & Boogie

The Lower School’s biennial Fall Festival was the product of hard work by both parents and teachers—a team effort all around. Parents set up ageappropriate games and activities in both gyms, creating fun for all Lower School students.

The music of Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster brought everyone to their feet at The Bid & Boogie on Saturday, January 28 at The STAR Center. The evening featured live and silent auctions.

Funds for the event come from the Parents Club, as well as the spaghetti supper where Lower School teachers provided the desserts and manpower. “I believe that this was our best Fall Festival ever!” says Debbie Ford, Lower School Director. “We definitely created memories for our students.”

Guests enjoyed a cocktail buffet by Coyote Blues and Rock’n Dough and lighting decor from TB Lighting. Forty West Designs’ Whitney Overton provided the lounge seating. “I would like to thank all of our auction donors, our corporate and table sponsors, and everyone who joined us for a fabulous night to benefit USJ,” said Cathy Garrett, assistant director of development. The Bid & Boogie was sponsored in part by West Tennessee ENT Clinic P.A./Dr. and Mrs. Karl Studtmann. All proceeds benefited the University School of Jackson.


June 19-23

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 2017:

May 23-25 Athletic Fitness Camp (Rising 1st-7th) 2-5 p.m. $80 Boys Basketball Instructional League (Rising 4th-11th) 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. $45

May 30-June 2 Basketball for Boys and Girls (Rising K-1st) 9 - 11 a.m. $105 Boys Basketball (Rising 2nd-6th) 12:30 - 3 p.m. $105 Girls Basketball (Rising 2nd-8th) 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. $105 Guided Summer Reading Book One (Rising 6th-10th) Week 1 of 3; $130/8 sessions

June 5-9 ACT English Prep (Rising 10th-12th) 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. $155 ACT Math Prep (Rising 10th-12th) 1 - 3 p.m. $155 *Adventure Camp Week 1 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Art-Rageous Art Camp (Rising 1st-8th) 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. or 12:30 - 2 p.m. $155 Best of the West Soccer Camp (Rising K-7th: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.) (Rising 8th-12th: 5 - 8 p.m.) $125 Guided Summer Reading Book One (Rising 6th-10th) Week 2 of 3 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 1 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Little Bruins Beginner’s Gymnastics (3-6 years old) 9 - 10:30 a.m. $120 SCRATCH 2 (Rising 4th-6th) 1 - 3 p.m. $155

June 12-16 *Adventure Camp Week 2 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Baseball Camp (Rising K-4th: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. $105) (Rising 5th-8th: 1 - 4 p.m. $130) Driver’s Ed (Age 15 by June 16) 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $400 Guided Summer Reading Book One (Rising 6th-10th) Week 3 of 3 LEGO Programming and Robotics (Rising 5th-9th) 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. $180 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 2 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Little Bruins TOT Basketball (3-6 years old) 9 - 10:30 a.m. $120 SCRATCH 1 (Rising 2nd-3rd) 1 - 3 p.m. $155 Volleyball (Rising K-4th) 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. $105

*Adventure Camp Week 3 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Drama for LS (Rising 1st-5th) 10 - 11:30 a.m. $125 Drama for MS/US (Rising 6th-12th) 1 - 3 p.m. $155 Football Basic Skills Camp (Rising K-5th) 8 - 10 a.m. $105 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 3 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Offensive/Defensive Lineman Camp (Rising 6th-8th) 4 - 6 p.m. $105 Quarterback/Wide Receiver Camp (Rising 6th-8th) 4 - 6 p.m. $105 Tennis Camp 1 (Rising K-2nd: 8 - 10 a.m. $105) (Rising 3rd-12th: 8 - 11 a.m. $155) Volleyball (Rising 5th-8th) 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. $105

June 26-30


May 30-July 28 (closed July 3-4) (Mon-Fri) 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Registration opens March 1. Total cost: $1,287 for 5 days a week all summer; $1030 for 4 days; $875 for 3 days; $670 for 2 days. 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.

*Adventure Camp Week 4 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 4 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160

No Camps July 3-7 July 10-14 *Adventure Camp Week 5 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 July Soccer Camp (Rising K-8th) 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. $105 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 5 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Little Bruins Dance Camp (3-6 years old) 9 - 10:30 a.m. $120 Musical Theater Camp Week 1 of 2 (Rising 1st-9th) 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. $175 for both weeks Tennis Camp 2 (Rising K-2nd: 8 - 10 a.m. $105) (Rising 3rd-12th: 8 - 11 a.m. $155)

July 17-21 *Adventure Camp Week 6 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Guided Summer Reading Book Two (Rising 6th-10th) Week 1 of 2 $130/6 sessions July Boys Basketball (Rising 2nd-6th) 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.. $125 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 6 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Musical Theater Camp (Rising 1st-9th) Week 2 of 2 Tennis Camp 3 (Rising K-2nd: 8 - 10 a.m. $105) (Rising 3rd-12th: 8 - 11 a.m. $155) Upper School Study Skills (Rising 9th-12th) 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Free

SUMMER LIBRARY Wednesdays: June 7, June 14, June 21, July 12, and July 19.

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.

Movie @ The U

1:30 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: June 6, June 20, July 11, and July 25.

July 24-28

Join us for a fun family friendly movie afternoon in the Blankenship Theatre. Free.

*Adventure Camp Week 7 (Rising 1st-6th) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Algebra Boot Camp (Rising 8th-9th) 2 - 4 p.m. $155 Guided Summer Reading Book Two (Rising 6th-10th) Week 2 of 2 *Little Bruins Adventure Camp Week 7 (3-6 years old) 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. $160 Middle School Math Fundamentals (Rising 6th-8th) 1 - 3 p.m. $155 Running Camp (Rising 5th-8th) 8 - 10 a.m. $105

Camp registration opens April 1 at Questions?

* Note: Optional childcare is available before and after each Adventure Camp for $40 per week or $12 per day.

Contact Director of Summer Programs Melissa Zerfoss at 731.300.3686 or


Upcoming Events USJ Weekend • April 21-22, 2017 Friday, April 21

• 11:30 a.m. Alumni Parent Luncheon – Mary Frances Campbell Library • 5:30 p.m. USJ Softball vs. Trinity Christian – Hall of Fame presentation • 7 p.m. Arts @ The U – Alumni Invitational Art Exhibit, Student Art Exhibit, and musical performances in Blankenship Theater

Saturday, April 22 • 9 a.m. Soccer Alumni Girls game (alumni only) • 10 a.m. USJ Varsity Boys vs. Alumni Boys game • 11:30 a.m. Barbecue @ The U – Look for the tent at the baseball/soccer gate • 12 p.m. USJ Baseball vs. Henry County - Honoree presentation • 2 p.m. USJ JV Baseball vs. Henry County JV

Commencement 2017 Saturday, May 13

West Jackson Baptist Church at 3 p.m.

Homecoming 2017

Friday, September 29 USJ vs. St. George’s at 7 p.m.

Upcoming Reunions

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

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

USJ Spring Magazine 2017  
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