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 – 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.

Student Spotlight – Jake Lape

Whenever a group of HCS students is “fired up” and having fun at a school event, Jake Lape can be found right in the middle of, if not at the front of and leading, them.  Jake has been a student at Hillcrest for 8 years, and not only is he a long-standing member of the “Hype Squad,” he has played football, basketball, baseball, and has run track throughout his years as a Cougar.  His experiences in athletics here have led to some of his favorite memories as well as some valuable lessons.  Jake recalls that his JV basketball season, in particular, was particularly memorable because the team “went 21 and 2, and [we] formed great friendships.”  That season also taught him that “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.  The lesson learned was never give up.  We came back and beat Prep AT Prep after being down by 20 points.”

Jake has learned other lessons during his years at Hillcrest as well; for example, he advises his fellow classmates and younger students to “listen to your teachers and stay out of trouble… even though the chairs in the [adminstration] office are actually pretty comfortable.”  This sense of humor and his friendly, outgoing nature are some of the qualities for which Lape is known; however, he believes that earning good grades is one thing not to joke about.  Jake is intelligent and is proud to find his name posted on the honor roll at the end of nearly every term.  Philippians 4:8 is a verse which helps keep his mind focused on “the right things” too.  It states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

After his graduation in May, Jake plans to attend Hinds Community College and then go to Ole Miss to pursue a career in physical therapy.