U.S. Attorney Addresses Hillcrest Students

Hillcrest was honored to welcome a special speaker in Upper School chapel Wednesday; U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst was nominated by President Trump and unanimously confirmed by the Senate to become the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi in October of 2017. Hurst is well-respected for his work, having received numerous awards from the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and other federal law enforcement agencies throughout his career. Yesterday he shared with our Upper School students and faculty the scary-but-true facts about the dangers of opioids and synthetic drug use, which claimed the lives of over 42,000 people in 2016, leading the President to declare a public health emergency and pledge government resources to address it.  Hurst’s first-hand knowledge of the terrible effect this growing epidemic is having on people from all backgrounds and all over the United States was both interesting and heart-breaking; however, his goal is to arm students with the truth, so that they can not only avoid these dangers for themselves, but also perhaps do their part to fight against the crisis in the future.

Band Clinic & Where Are They Now? – Nathan Pepper

MAIS Band Clinic is an intense three-day experience which occurs annually and allows band students to sharpen their musical skills; it was held January 10 – 12 at Hinds Community College in Raymond. Students learned new techniques, which they then applied to challenging musical pieces after trying out for and being placed in one of two ensembles. They practiced for two days, and then, on the final day of Clinic, they performed in a concert held in Cain Cochran Hall.

This year’s Clinic featured 133 participants from seven schools across the state. Representing Hillcrest were the following: Micah Parkinson, Jesse Fountain, Phillip Hutchins, Talayeh Jones, Jared Bewley, Sarah Grace Brownlee, Danielle Wallace, Sancenia Johnson, Reece Hill, Trinity Amos, Brandon Thomason, Maddy Hughes, Josh Canoy, Alex Howell, Braxton Lewis, and Caitlyn McNamee.

One of the clinicians for this year’s event was a Hillcrest alumnus. Nathan Pepper is a graduate of Hillcrest’s Class of 1999; he was a member of the Cougar Band (prior to our band being named One Spirit, One Sound), participated in All-State Lion’s Band two years in a row, and was voted, “Most Talented” during his senior year. After earning both his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi, Mr. Pepper began his teaching career. He started working with the Ocean Springs High School band in 2006, and he is currently serving as Assistant Band Director for the “Blue-Grey Pride,” Director the OSHS Symphonic and Jazz Bands, and instructor for the 6th-grade low brass. He still enjoys playing trombone with First Baptist Church in Gulfport, the Coast Big Band, the Entertainment Cartel, and the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Pepper is a member of various professional music organizations and an active band clinician as well. He and his wife of thirteen years, Brandy, have two daughters, Olivia and Abigail.