Mandy Rutland attended Hillcrest for 13 years, beginning in 5-year-old kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade, graduating as part of the Class of 2002. Mandy was a member of the yearbook staff for 2 years, and she was a cheerleader from 6th through 12th grades.
After graduation, she attended Mississippi College and majored in Elementary Education. She has been teaching for 9 years at the k-5 and first grade levels. She currently teaches K5 at Hartfield Academy in Flowood. She is married to Jason Horton (another Hillcrest alumnus), and they have two children: Hunter, who is 9, and Baliegh, who is 9 months.
Mandy’s message to Hillcrest students is “never give up on your dreams. Always try hard in everything you do and give over 100 percent. Most of all, keep your eyes and heart open to the Lord and listen to His ways; they are always better than your own.”
It’s always a joy when former students pay a visit to their “old” teachers and school to share memories, but it’s a special blessing when alumni return in order to share their love of the Lord and their life experiences with current Hillcrest students. Chandler Key — HCS Class of 2014 and Hall of Fame member — is in his third year of study at Mississippi College, majoring in Christian Studies with a focus in Ministry. He also has recently taken the job of youth minister/director at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Byram. Chandler returned to Hillcrest’s Upper School today to speak during Chapel; his message was a reminder to students, faculty, and staff that all believers have access to God all the time, due to the sacrifice of his son Jesus. Our responsibility, then, is to spend time with Him, not just as part of a community, but one-on-one in prayer and Bible study.
Christians also have a responsibility to care for others when we see a need. Proverbs 14:31 states, “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.” To this end, Hillcrest will be sponsoring Christmas giving projects — one among elementary students, and the another in the Upper School — to help children who may not otherwise have any gifts to open on Christmas morning. Upper School students who want to participate should bring a bag of candy and 5 one-dollar toys. These items will fill stockings for approximately 80 needy children (between the ages of 3 and 10) who live in the metro area. The deadline to bring items is Thursday, December 1st. The Lower School is sponsoring a “Giving Tree.” Elementary parents, please ask your children to share what they know about this service project, and detailed messages were sent today on Notify.
Hillcrest families have always been generous to those who are in need, and no doubt, we will once again meet (or surpass) our giving goals to help metro-area children have a Merry Christmas too.
Tripp Douglas attended Hillcrest for 9 years, graduating as Valedictorian in 1996. During his time at HCS, he played football, soccer, tennis, and ran track. He was also involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, and the Yearbook staff, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Douglas then attended Mississippi College, where he was an All-Conference goal keeper for the Choctaw soccer team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and graduated Summa cum Laude (with a perfect 4.0 GPA) in 2000. During his college years, Tripp became involved with Brilla Soccer Ministries and now serves on the board of that organization. This and his many other athletic achievements led to his being inducted into the Hillcrest Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Douglas is the owner of two businesses in the city of Ridgeland: a creative agency called Crema Design Studio and a coffee shop called Fusion. He has also enjoyed using his design skills over the years to support his high-school alma mater. While still in high school, he created the HC logo which Hillcrest still uses; then, in his college years Tripp designed the Hillcrest Christian logo as well as the Cougar mascot image which is featured on the wall in the high-school gym. Furthermore, he has designed nearly every yearbook cover for the past 15 years. And most recently he assisted the school by designing the “United” t-shirts, creating graphics for the Color Run, and setting up the Hillcrest Annual Fund website. Probably his greatest “claim to fame,” however, at least among HCS students and alumni, is that he is the son of our very own beloved Mrs. Bridges, librarian and yearbook sponsor-extraordinaire!
Tripp’s message to current Hillcrest students is the same one he tries to instill in his staff: Whatever you do (whether it’s school, athletics, or work), glorify God by doing it with excellence. He also reminds believers that Colossians 3:23 tells us to work as if we’re doing it for God Himself, not only for a teacher, coach, or boss. Douglas further states, “Glorifying God is not just for church – we as Christians are called to do it in every part of our lives. And working with that attitude will also bring you success!”
HCS is thankful to Tripp Douglas for his continued love and support for our school, and we’re so glad to call you not just an alumnus, but also part of the family (Sorry, Mrs. Bridges, but you have to share)!
Caitlin Bingham began attending Hillcrest in the third grade and stayed until her graduation in 2009. During her years at HCS, she was involved in Honor Society, Student Council, Honor Council, HCTV, and Yearbook, and she was a cheerleader in her senior year. She met Josh Childs, another graduate of the Class of 2009, at the 2008 Homecoming dance. They started dating right before Christmas. Both then went to Hinds Community College, graduating in 2012; they married in the fall of 2014.
Caitlin worked for a time as a cosmetologist, but her dream was to become the proud owner of a business which would allow her to do what she truly loves. After much research and hard work, she opened All That It Seams, LLC, which features her hand-knit and hand-sewn accessories for women, and every purchase benefits shelter animals. She is most excited to have launched her business website — www.allthatitseams.com — just yesterday, November 1st. Childs states, “I never quite realized how much of a foundation Hillcrest had given me until I began my journey as an entrepreneur. It’s so much more than knitting and sewing, I had to learn the ins and out of how the business world operates. Hillcrest gave me the capacity to learn and the tools to expand my knowledge on my own. The teachers at Hillcrest gave me more than just a typical high school education, they taught me how to continue to educate myself.”
With all that she has learned in pursuit of her goals, Caitlin has some sage advice to offer to the current students of Hillcrest: “Make the most of your education, especially if you’re intending on pursuing a career in business. History is important for learning from others and learning from the past. No business would be able to function successfully without math, you have to know your numbers. English may be the most important of all. Whether it’s using proper grammar and spelling, or researching, your business will NOT be professional without knowing all of the facets that a high school English class will teach you. Find the learning style that works best for you and never stop learning because knowledge truly is power.”
Caitlin Childs proves that a strong educational foundation, lifelong learning, and hard work are the keys to living out your dreams. The Hillcrest family is proud to support her and wishes her continued success as her business grows.
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!