“Wealth consists… in having few wants.” – Epictetus

As part of our efforts to ensure that our students are well prepared not only for college, but also for the rest of their lives, Mrs. Browning’s Computer Applications I classes are currently studying a unit of curriculum entitled Foundations in Personal Finance.  This program teaches young people how to avoid debt, how to budget, how to invest early, and how to build wealth so that their financial futures will be worry-free.  Students watch videos hosted by finance experts Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey, and then they complete various computer-based activities, including math exercises, journal questions and reflections, and word problems.  Students also are shown real-life case studies to further their understanding of how to practically apply financial principles.

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With an ever-changing American economy, very few high-school graduates considered to be financially literate, and more than 7 million borrowers defaulted on student loans for college, it is obvious that young adults need to be better educated about money matters.  Toward this end, the ultimate goal of Hillcrest’s use of this program is to empower and equip students, building their confidence in their own financial decision-making, to ensure a secure future.

Mock Election Results

More than 28,300 Mississippi students participated in the 2016 Promote the Vote Mock Election sponsored by the Secretary of State’s office.  This year’s Promote the Vote theme, “My Voice, My Vote,” sought to highlight the importance of voting to our democracy and how one ballot truly can make a difference in an election.  Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said, “Promote the Vote is one of my favorite election events because it involves teaching the next generation of Mississippi leaders about one of their most important future civic duties: voting for their elected leaders.”

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First-time voters! Seniors Spurgeon Sanders and Mayowa Asagunla

Students who cast their ballots represent about 103 schools across the state, and the results of this mock election are as follows:

· Republican nominee Donald Trump received about 49.2 percent of the vote (13,977 votes);
· Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received almost 42 percent of the vote (11,918 votes);
· Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson received about 2.7 percent of the vote (752 votes);
· Green Party nominee Jill Stein received 1.8 percent of the vote (511 votes);
· Constitution Party nominee Darrell Castle received about 1.3 percent of the vote (372 votes);
· American Delta Party nominee “Rocky” De La Fuente received 1.3 percent of the vote (360 votes);
· Prohibition Party nominee Jim Hedges received about 0.7 percent of the vote (195 votes); and
· About 1.1 percent of the votes cast (303 votes) were write-in candidates, which do not count.

The results from Hillcrest’s mock election are as follows:

  • Republican candidates Trump and Pence – 134 votes
  • Democratic candidates Clinton and Kaine – 50 votes
  • Libertarian candidates Johnson and Weld – 3 votes
  • Green candidates Stein and Baraka – 1 vote
  • American Delta candidates De La Fuente and Steinberg – 8 votes
  • Prohibition candidates Hedges and Bayes – 1 vote
  • Write-ins, among them our very own Ms. Flemmons, received 8 votes

The faculty and staff of HCS recognize that not only are we educating students in specific subject areas, we also “expect growth in character.” Therefore, ensuring Hillcrest students understand the importance of voting in our democratic nation is as important as knowing how to add and subtract or how to spell. As headmaster Jason Estabrook recently reminded the faculty, “We get to have elections for our next President of the United States on Tuesday. We all get to cast our ballots for the candidate that we believe is the best choice to represent our country. Come Wednesday morning there will be a new President in office AND whoever is elected, our GOD will still be on his throne. Presidents are important, but our trust and faith is in our Father in heaven.”

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

ACT (Over)Achievers

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The students pictured above recently received certificates which designate each of them as members of the MAIS ACT “25 and Over” or “30 and Over” Clubs.

Pictured from left to right:  Ansley Myers made a 30 on the ACT; Anna Grace Browning made a 31; Kofi Quartey made a 26; Lauren Parkinson made a 29; and Spurgeon Sanders made a 31 on the ACT.

Congratulations to all of you on your impressive achievements!