Student Spotlight – Spurgeon Sanders

Spurgeon Sanders has been a Cougar since third grade; now in his final year at Hillcrest, he serves as Drum Major and as a member of the “pit” of the One Spirit One Sound band, is President of both Honor Society and of Student Council and the Class of 2017, AND he is a member of the Quiz Bowl team and the Yearbook staff. When asked why he feels it is important to be so involved in a wide variety of activities at school, Spurgeon states, “High school, or life, really, is short, and there’s no time to look back with regret, thinking you’ve missed something.  Life is always going to be full of choices and risks: take them.  The only risk you should avoid is the risk of doing nothing.  I don’t want to look back on my life and think about what I didn’t do.”  His advice to lower classmen at HCS is along the same lines: Spurgeon advises, “Give everything but up.” Outside of school, his pursuits are somewhat more relaxed; his hobbies include traveling, painting, reading, and writing.

Spurgeon’s creative nature, organizational and planning skills, ability to focus, and his willingness to lead are the qualities he believes to be his greatest strengths. Not only does his impressive resumé attest to that, but a Greek word, meraki, which he discovered several years ago drives him and “has really become the byword for my life.  It means ‘to put something of yourself into your work; to do something with soul, creativity, or passion.’ When I saw this, it was very refreshing: I think, in general, there is this kind of stigma around being passionate about something, when in reality, it is a truly wonderful thing to find something you can care deeply about.”  To this end, after graduation Sanders will attend Mississippi State University in order to pursue his passion for architecture, and he will also work toward completing the Cursus Honorum, a rigorous curriculum for students admitted to the Shackoul’s Honors College.

Finally, Spurgeon shares his favorite Bible verses, James 2:18 – 19, which state, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” He finds these words “to be a powerful reminder that Christianity is not an idle religion. We do not pray to a dead God, and therefore we should not serve Him as if He were dead. He is very real and powerful; even the demons know that, and if we are to be the ‘Light of the World,’ we must produce a flame, not just believe that sparks exist.”

Student Spotlight – Colton Mayfield

Senior Colton Mayfield has attended Hillcrest for 7 years and has made a name for himself on campus not only as a bit of a jokester — his greatest strengths, he says, are his “back and biceps” — but also as one of the main members of the HCS Hype Squad, the Upper School’s always entertaining spirit leaders at athletics events throughout each school year. When asked why he believes school spirit is important, Colton states, “I believe without school spirit every game would just be dull and boring. We created the ‘half timies’ during basketball season and performed skits and other funny acts in order to get the crowd laughing and having a good time.”

As a talented football and baseball player himself, Mayfield recognizes that the energy generated by the crowd often overflows onto the field and helps players stay motivated for success.  He experienced that just this past football season “in the game against Amite [when] I ran a 90-yard touchdown and nearly tripped and fell at the 5-yard line, putting the touchdown in danger of being called back, but then spiked the ball down.” Moments such as that memorable one also inspired his advice to fellow and younger classmates: “Don’t take the sports you enjoy for granted, and play anything you want. I would do anything to restart in 7th grade and play football every year, enjoying the time given.”

When not at school, Colton enjoys working with cattle, hunting, fishing and “making money.”  After his graduation next month, not only does he plan to continue these pursuits, he also will attend Hinds Community College to study beef animal science, and then will go to Mississippi State to become a large animal veterinarian.  With his strong sense of self-motivation and his favorite Bible verse, 1 John 2:17, guiding him, Colton Mayfield will, no doubt, be successful.

Student Spotlight – Brandon Howard

Brandon Howard came to Hillcrest at the start of his 9th-grade year and quickly gained a reputation as a bit of a “wild child and class clown.”  His sense of humor may have gotten him in trouble in the past, but now as a senior, Brandon has a much better understanding of when being “the funny guy” is appropriate and when it is not.  He has matured in other ways as well, such as taking his school work much more seriously than he did in past years.  In fact, he advises lower classmen, “Don’t wait ’til the last minute to study for tests or complete assignments.” This is especially good advice as he gets ever closer to conquering what he and most HCS seniors consider to be the greatest challenge of their high-school careers: Mrs. Noble’s research paper. Brandon states, “Having to accurately cite each quote and make my content interesting is difficult, but I’ll be fine.”

Brandon has enjoyed playing baseball and football as a Cougar, and his favorite memory happened during his junior year “when the football team made it to the playoffs.  The amount of excitement and energy coming from the locker room was so intense.”  And while his athletic career might be drawing to a close, his plans for success are not.  First, he plans to keep his favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, as an important part of his life because it reminds him “of the sacrifices God made for us and how much he loves us.”  Then, after his graduation in May, Brandon plans to attend Jackson State University, where he will major in biology and then go into the field of nursing.

Student Spotlight – Brycelynn Kelly

There is a very recognizable laugh that can often be heard throughout the upper school halls at Hillcrest, and almost everyone knows that it belongs to senior Brycelynn Kelly.  In her fifth and final year of attendance at Hillcrest, Brycelynn is not only known for her laugh; she also looks for the good in any and every situation.  She believes her other strengths are forgiving and seeing the good in people.

Having attended public schools in the past, Brycelynn said she wasn’t sure what to expect when she transferred to Hillcrest.  “I was used to being an outcast because I was more well-spoken than most of my classmates, but once I came to Hillcrest, I felt like I belonged.  The relationships that I have with my teachers are so genuine and real; it’s rare to find teachers who care about their students anymore.” Outside of class, Brycelynn is a member of the yearbook staff and the archery and tennis teams; she also participates in field events for track. When she’s not at school or at work, Brycelynn enjoys going out with family and friends and being with her dogs: Mufassa, Nala, and Simba.  To truly relax, however, she says there is nothing better than “sitting in my room and knitting while I’m listening to music.”

Brycelynn would advise her peers and students in younger classes not to base their decisions, big or small, on what your friends are doing because their decision is based on what’s best for them, not for you.  She further wants to tell people to keep God in their lives always because at the end of every day, he is all you truly have.  This advice is perfectly in line with the words of her favorite Bible verse, 1 Peter 5:7, which states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  Brycelynn loves this verse because as she matures, she realizes that every decision she makes will shape her future, and that thought causes a great deal of stress.  She says, “When I read that verse, it just reassures me that God has a plan in his hands for me, and he would never put anything on me that I can’t bear.”  This wise outlook will help her as she leaves Hillcrest in May to attend Holmes Community College and then Mississippi State; she plans to major in Accounting and minor in Journalism.

Student Spotlight – Anna Tilghman

Anna Tilghman knows what it feels like to be “the new girl,” so she makes an effort to get along with everyone with whom she crosses paths.  She is also driven to do this by 1 Corinthians 16:14, her favorite Bible verse, which states, ” Let all that you do be done in love.” Anna came to Hillcrest in her 9th-grade year, and her easy-going nature and bright smile helped her make friends easily.  Furthermore, she joined ranks with the One Spirit One Sound band, giving her a sense of belonging to the HCS family almost immediately; now in her senior year, Anna is the trombone section leader.

Outside of school, Anna enjoys being with her family and friends, especially when she can travel with them.  One of her favorite memories from her time at HCS happened when the band made the long bus ride to Orlando last year, and then marched in a parade at Disney World as part of the park’s Performing Arts Series. Not only was it an honor for the band as a whole, but it was extra special to Anna because her best friends were there with her, along with her two favorite teachers, who happen to be “band moms” as well.  Anna says that Mrs. Browning and Mrs. Massey “are always there for you. They’re outgoing and can make you laugh; they’re the ‘Dynamic Duo’.”  Anna also counts the band’s taking top honors at the Copiah Marching Festival in 2016 for the third year in a row as an important memory; she says, “I’ll never forget the feeling, hearing that we won overall again.”

As her high school years draw to a close, Anna advises her classmates and lower classmen to “keep God first in everything, and you will be successful in all that you do.”  These wise words will no doubt help her as she attends Hinds Community College next year, and then goes to Mississippi College in order to major in pre-med.