Senior Courtney West has been attending Hillcrest since fifth grade; she is a member of Honor Society, serves as statistician for the Cougar softball team, and plays clarinet in the One Spirit One Sound band. Being part of the band family led to her most memorable moment from her years at HCS: it happened just a few months ago when they took top honors — all superior ratings, first place in their division, and overall best band — at the Copiah Marching Festival for the third year in a row. Outside of school, Courtney keeps her hobbies simple; she says she enjoys “shopping and tending to my 14 cows.” The latter pastime fits right in with the qualities which she believes to be her greatest strengths: a strong work ethic and compassion for others. That same compassion is, in her opinion, the best thing about attending Hillcrest too; she observes the quality in “teachers that know and care about every single student. They are willing to go the extra mile.”
Courtney’s desire to follow Christ is evident in all aspects of her life, and the confidence and hope she gains as a Christ-follower leads her to advise lower classmen, “Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.” That bit of wisdom is also strengthened by the truth found in her favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 40:31, which states, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Courtney says this passage further reminds her of her late grandfather and of his favorite hymn, “On Eagles’ Wings,” which is based on the verse, and which tells her that “everything will be okay, and I’ll see my Pepaw again in Heaven along with our Father.”
Finally, after she graduates in May, Courtney plans to attend Hinds Community College in Raymond, to continue participating in marching band there, and possibly to pursue a business major.
For 6 years Alana Price has brought her bright smile to Hillcrest’s halls; she carries her cheery nature onto the softball fields for the Lady Cougars, as well as onto the football field during halftime performances as part of the One Spirit One Sound Color Guard. When she’s not at school, hanging out with her friends, watching her favorite shows on Netflix, playing with her dog Riley, and singing are the activities which make her happiest.
Alana tries to help to others when they are struggling; she wants people to know that she is trustworthy and will truly listen to what they have to say. It’s no surprise, then, that her favorite Hillcrest teacher shares those same qualities; librarian Sandra Bridges “listens to you when you have a problem and does everything she can to help you. She helps me so much in my walk with Christ. She is a perfect example of who I want to be when I grow up.” Mrs. Bridges’s faith in the Lord is an inspiration to Alana, who wants to remind her classmates that “it’s ok to love God. He loved us first, so we don’t need to be afraid to love him back. Put him first in everything you do, and trust in him to guide you.” Along those lines, the Bible verse which guides Alana is Romans 10:9, which states, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” She credits this verse with showing her that she should never be ashamed to share her love of Christ with others.
After she graduates in May, Alana plans to attend either Hinds or Holmes Community College, most likely majoring in athletic training and minoring in theater and drama. She also intends to continue participating in color guard.
Senior Kaitlyn McBride is a relative newcomer to Hillcrest’s halls, having attended for only 3 years. However, it did not take her long at all to make new friends and fit in as a Hillcrest Cougar; Kaitlyn is a member of the National Honor Society, plays tennis and volleyball, serves as a basketball statistician, and she plays clarinet in the One Spirit One Sound band. In fact, if she were asked by someone considering transfering to HCS, she would tell that person, “HCS is an amazing school, academically and spiritually. When I got here, I knew no one, but I was immediately welcomed with open arms. After a few weeks at HCS, I already felt like I was family.”
Family and friends are important parts of Kaitlyn’s life. When she is not busy with one of several school-related activities, McBride enjoys spending time with her mom, hanging out with friends, and watching a lot of Netflix. The theme of family also plays a significant role in her favorite memory from her time at HCS: winning first overall/best band at the Copiah Marching Band Festival three years in a row as part of the band family. Kaitlyn states, “After all of the hard work, sweat, tears, bug bites and sunburns… it felt amazing. #3-peat!”
Matthew 6:34 is Kaitlyn’s favorite Bible verse: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” This, she says, is a constant reminder that God is in control, and her worries should be left at His feet. Those words will, no doubt, help guide her in the future as well, since after graduation Kaitlyn plans to attend the University of Mississippi and take on the demanding field of pharmacy. Finally, her advice to her peers and to lower classmen as she prepares to leave Hillcrest is, “Follow your dreams, but get an education first. Stay close to God, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.”
Andrew Mitchell has been attending Hillcrest most of his life; for 13 years, beginning in K-5 and continuing through his upcoming graduation in May 2017, he has been a Cougar. Now in his senior year of high school, Andrew is a member of National Honor Society, and he plays several sports, including basketball, baseball, football, and running track. Even when he is not at school, Andrew says he enjoys “anything to do with basketball, baseball, or football.” This love of all things athletic is also greatly featured in his favorite memory from his years at Hillcrest: Mitchell recalls that during his 8th-grade year, the varsity basketball team played in the Division II State Championship. He states, “They won the game. I was in the student section, and that was the most fun I’ve had in all of my time here.”
Andrew is known among his peers for being a kind and friendly guy; in fact, he himself believes that his caring nature is his greatest personality trait. Andrew affirms, “I’m not a judgmental person at all, and I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.” More than likely, this is a result of his own struggles with self-confidence in the past; having worked through his doubts, he now advises others his own age to “always believe in yourself.” He also credits his favorite HCS teacher, Mrs. Jessica Matthews, with helping him realize his self-worth beginning in his 5th and 6th grade years. Andrew states that not only was she “a great teacher… she always helped me with anything I needed.”
After graduation, Andrew plans to attend Hinds Community College for 2 years and then to continue his education at either Mississippi College or Ole Miss. He wants to major and work in Sports Management.
Emily Walker has been a Hillcrest Cougar since second grade; in her eleventh and final year at HCS, she serves as co-section leader of the trumpets and chaplain of the One Spirit One Sound band, and she is a member of the tennis team. When she’s not at school, she enjoys participating in fellowship activities with the youth of Country Woods Baptist Church and meeting with her discipleship mentor Amanda Wilson. In fact, her positive experiences with her discipler have influenced Emily to advise her peers at Hillcrest “to find somebody that you trust; having someone to fellowship with is one of the most important things.”
One of Emily’s favorite memories from her years at HCS happened only a month ago, when the band took top honors at the Copiah Competition for the third year in a row. She says that at times, “We had a pretty rough marching season, so when I heard the announcer say that our band won first place, I was extremely shocked.” She further states that their victory helped the band remember that they are a family; “we were finally One Spirit, One Sound again.” This special memory no doubt was due in part to the efforts of Emily’s favorite teacher, band director Joshua Landrum. She reflects, “I’ve had so many wonderful teachers who have helped shape me into who I am today, but… Mr. Landrum always has a smile on his face and does everything he can to help us improve.” Perhaps Mr. Landrum is her favorite because they have something in common: Emily believes that one of her best qualities is that she loves to make people smile.
Another of Walker’s strengths is her ability to trust God completely when it comes to meeting her needs. As a result, she is not worried about the future. After she graduates in May, Emily plans to attend a community college for two years and to allow God to lead her into the career path he has planned for her.