Josh Horner, a class favorite and Prom King of Hillcrest’s Class of 2000, was a highly awarded football player during his high school years. In his senior year, he shared the bench-press record and was co-named MVP for football, and he earned the MPSA (now MAIS) All-Star linebacker, All-Conference and All-District linebacker and offensive line, and best defensive back and offensive lineman awards. These led to his receiving a football scholarship to Belhaven College where he played as a linebacker. Horner then finished his bachelor’s degree in coaching at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2004.
Josh worked as a firefighter and EMT for five years, most of that at the Clinton Fire Department, during which time he laughingly states that his most heroic acts were saving “a couple of dogs and an attempt to save a cat” from house fires. He then briefly worked at the Flowood Fire Department before returning to Hillcrest in order to teach and coach in 2010.
Horner’s career path changed drastically in 2012 when he surrendered to the Gospel ministry. That decision, along with his love of reading, learning, preaching and teaching God’s word, and helping others led him right back to Hillcrest, where he serves as high-school Bible teacher. Josh also is Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Byram and is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree in pastoral leadership at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Josh and his wife Jessica have been married for ten years and have two children, Brock, who is 7-years-old, and Rhett, who is 2. The Hillcrest family is blessed to have not just this Cougar alumnus, but his entire family, as daily fixtures on campus.
Kayla Thornton is a 2010 graduate of Hillcrest who played in the One Spirit, One Sound band and served as drum major in her final year at HCS; she also was a member of Envirothon, Quiz Bowl, and Honor Society during her high school career. Kayla was voted as Most Talented by the upper school student body and graduated as Salutatorian of her class, earning numerous scholarships toward the college of her choice.
Kayla accepted a vocal scholarship to Delta State University and was a member of both the Delta State Chorale and the Delta Singers during her time there. She was also active in numerous other areas of campus life, including Kappa Delta sorority, Omicron Delta Kappa (a national leadership honor society for college juniors or seniors who rank in the upper 35 percent of their class), Alpha Epsilon Delta (the national health pre-professional honor society), and she was a staff member of The Broom, Delta State’s yearbook, serving as Editor-in-Chief during her senior year. Thornton graduated with cum laude honors in 2014, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.
At present, Kayla is a Pharm.D. candidate at Union University’s School of Pharmacy in Jackson, Tennessee. Despite the amount of time required for study and keeping necessary certifications up-to-date in this very demanding field, she continues to take part in numerous community service projects, and she is a member of several professional pharmaceutical organizations, such as the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International (CPFI). Thornton currently serves as president of Union’s chapter of Phi Lambda Sigma, the pharmacy leadership society, and she was recently awarded the Walgreens Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Scholarship.
If her past is any indication of her future, Kayla Thornton is nowhere near finished adding to her already long list of accomplishments and honors, and Hillcrest continues to be proud to call her one of its most distinguished alumni.
Lee Ogletree graduated from Hillcrest in 2013; he was an all-around athlete, playing baseball, basketball, and football, even being named as a Blitz 16 Scholar Athlete and a recipient of Wendy’s High School Heisman. Ogletree was also STAR Student, a member of Honor Society, and his above-average grades kept him on the honor roll all four years of high school.
Currently, Lee is a junior at Millsaps College, and he was recently selected to participate in the pre-matriculation portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program (MRPSP). This program identifies college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the required commitment and academic achievement to become primary care physicians in rural areas of our state. Upon completion of a pre-med program, Ogletree can be admitted to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine or to William Carey University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. Furthermore, each MRPSP scholar may receive up to $30,000 per year toward medical school expenses. Additional benefits include mentoring from practicing physicians as well as academic enrichment and clinical experience.
The purpose of MRPSP is not only to address Mississippi’s small-town health care crisis, but also to allow participants to make a difference in rural areas similar to those in which they grew up. Upon completion of his medical training and residency, Ogletree must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community with 20,000 or fewer residents, located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.
Congratulations on earning your place in this preeminent program, Lee!
Scott Pope, a Cougar beginning in K4, graduated from Hillcrest in 2012. While at HCS, Scott participated in band and was chosen to receive the Director’s Award his senior year; he also was an avid soccer player and ran track throughout high school.
After graduation, Scott attended Mississippi State University, where earlier this year, he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, graduating with Cum Laude honors.
Scott’s hard work at MSU has led to his receiving numerous awards and recognition, including the Undergraduate Research Award for the College of Education in 2015 and Personal Trainer of the Year at the Joe Frank Sanderson Center. He has now been accepted into graduate school at MSU and is working toward his degree as a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology. He is also getting ready to take the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist examination later this month.
In his free time Pope enjoys competitive powerlifting in the American Powerlifting Association, and he is engaged to Bethany Lossau; their wedding date is set for May 20, 2017.
Scott says that he is always thankful for the education that he received at Hillcrest Christian School because his time here prepared him not only for studying both as an undergraduate and now as a graduate student, but also helped tremendously in making life’s biggest decisions.