Vocabulary Matters

One of the critical skills taught regularly, and at nearly all grade levels, at Hillcrest is vocabulary knowledge.  While students often complain that vocabulary is “just busy work” or is “just a way to get grades in STI, teachers of all subject areas know that in order to comprehend what they read and learn, students must first understand what words mean, both individually and when placed together.  This skill is crucial not only in school, but also in the work force, where employers value educated employees who can make informed decisions on their own.


For many decades, vocabulary instruction was rarely a planned part of classroom instruction; instead, student questions often led to “teachable moments,” after which students were directed to a book’s glossary or a dictionary.  Numerous studies have shown that this “method” did not result in long-term retention.  People of all ages need multiple exposures to words in a variety of contexts before they understand, remember, and apply them.  According to Scholastic.com, “Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons:
1.  Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean. Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development.
2.  Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.
3.  ….When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.


For these reasons, Hillcrest teachers will continue to promote the regular learning of vocabulary at every level: elementary, middle school, junior high, and high school.  Furthermore, teachers of all subject areas — not only English and language — will use a variety of instructional methods to improve students’ vocabulary knowledge so that when they leave HCS, they will be prepared and successful, no matter where life leads them.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

The weather may not reflect it, but it’s almost time for winter sports to begin!  Last night Hillcrest hosted Meet the Cougars in the high school gym and previewed our basketball and soccer athletes.


Basketball season begins Tuesday, November 1 for both the JV and Varsity girls’ teams, who will play in a pre-season tournament at MRA beginning at 5:15 PM and 6:30 PM, respectively.  The boys’ teams will play their first games at home versus West Memphis on Saturday, November 5; games will begin at 1:00 PM that day with the JV girls’ team.


Soccer season begins the following week on Monday, November 7, at Porter’s Chapel beginning at 5:30 PM.  The soccer team’s first home game will take place on Thursday, November 17, versus Copiah; kickoff is at 4:30 PM that day.

Schedules for all teams (5th & 6th, 7th & 8th, Junior Varsity, and Varsity) can be found by clicking on the “ATHLETICS” tab above.  Please make plans to support all of our hard-working Cougar athletes!

Where Are They Now? – Elizabeth Simmons

Elizabeth Simmons attended Hillcrest for 13 years and graduated in 2004 as Salutatorian of her class; she was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. During her high school years, Elizabeth kept busy and was involved in National Honor Society, Beta Club, Teenage Republicans, Quiz Bowl, Mu Alpha Theta, Science Club, Dance Team/Color Guard and Drama Club.


In 2008 she graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi College with her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology Medical Science. While at MC, Elizabeth was involved in Mortar Board Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, and she was an active member of Swannanoa Social Tribe and Scouts student recruiters.  Simmons then attended medical school at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and earned her Doctor of Medicine in 2012.  After that, she matched in Pediatrics at University of Tennessee Health Science Center/ LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, completing her residency and becoming board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2015.  Dr. Simmons then joined Pediatric Associates in Memphis, which is affiliated with the LeBonheur Pediatrics clinics.


Dr. Simmons wanted to relay the following message to current HCS students:  “When I was a student at Hillcrest, I knew I was getting a quality education, but I didn’t truly realize the full extent of how my time there would affect me long term. I was more than adequately prepared to start my classes at Mississippi College, and in turn, that helped me be prepared for medical school and beyond. However, I know that the growth in my relationship with Christ during these years was far more impactful on my future! Don’t miss or take for granted the wonderful opportunities that are provided at Hillcrest to grow personally, academically, and spiritually!”

Thank you for your wise advice, and congratulations on your hard-earned and well-deserved success, Dr. Elizabeth Simmons!

Student Spotlight – Katelyn Wyatt

Katelyn Wyatt has been a Hillcrest Cougar since K-3, meaning that for 15 years, HCS has been her second home.  Now in her senior year, Katelyn is a member of National Honor Society; she serves as reporter for Mu Alpha Theta, the honors organization for math; and she is the clarinet section leader for the One Spirit One Sound band.  Wyatt can often be found in Hillcrest’s library, scouring the shelves for a title which is both unfamiliar and intriguing, though this is becoming rather difficult for this prolific reader. When asked about her love of reading historical fiction and fantasy, Katelyn states, “Through reading books, I can fly, time-travel, or do anything I wouldn’t normally be able to do.  I enjoy learning about and exploring different places, even if they are only make believe.


When she’s not on campus, Katelyn enjoys “rocking out” to the band Skillet with her brother, scouring Pinterest, and dancing, which is yet another important aspect of her life and one which she has been practicing for as long as she can remember.  She takes ballet and pointe classes two nights a week and claims, “I love how ballet is freeing, elegant, and has been around for centuries.”


Katelyn believes her imagination and her loyalty to those whom she loves to be her greatest strengths along with her positive attitude, which always leads her to try to find joy in every situation.  This sense of joy is further motivated by the knowledge gained in her favorite Bible verses, Luke 23:42-43: “And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Katelyn says these verses remind her that “as a Christian, I can look forward to being with Christ in Heaven.”  Wyatt also looks forward to attending Mississippi State University after graduation, and she plans to major in history.

HCS Promotes the Vote

Today during their morning break, Hillcrest’s Upper School students took part in a mock Presidential election as part of the Secretary of State’s “Promote the Vote” campaign.  Student Body officers monitored the voting and collecting of ballots.


Promote the Vote is a non-partisan program created to teach the fundamentals of American democracy to students while also encouraging them to practice their civic responsibilities. The program further seeks to help students improve their decision-making abilities and increase their interest and enthusiasm in current political issues. The ultimate goal is to empower a new generation of voters.


The Secretary of State’s office organizes this statewide mock election in which students vote for our next U.S. President. In years past, the student vote has closely mirrored results statewide and presents an eye-opening view of the election just weeks before the real polls open.