Student Spotlight – Tori McCray

Senior Tori McCray has been attending Hillcrest for nine years; she is a member of Honor Society, and plays on the Cougar softball, basketball, and tennis teams.  Tori also runs for the track team. Outside of school, this busy young lady is an active member of the Girl Scouts of Mississippi; she always becomes one of the most popular people on campus during Cookie sales time each year. When she (rarely) has free time, Tori enjoys playing tennis with her parents on the weekends.  More than anything, however, she loves to read and to write fiction.  In fact, the back of her senior jersey read, “Books > People.”

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Tori admits that her extremely competitive nature — while useful when playing sports — is often a weakness; on the other hand, she believes that her greatest strength is the ability to see what is ahead of her, rather than only focusing on the here and now.  This characteristic has led her to make large-scale plans for her future: Tori wants to attend Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, and to major in Intelligence and National Security Studies.  After that, she plans to go to law school. These goals fit well with the motto that drives her: “Be better and do better than you did yesterday.”

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In her advice to underclassmen at Hillcrest, Tori states, “Never take what you have for granted.  Sooner than you realize, you will be a senior in high school, preparing for the next chapter.  Don’t be dependent upon friends or even on parents; they won’t be there throughout your life, but Jesus will be.”  Finally, her favorite Bible verse further illustrates this bit of wisdom; Psalm 40:4 states, “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!”

Where Are They Now? – Adam McWilliams

WAPT meteorologist Adam McWilliams, HCS Class of 2007, recently took time from his busy schedule to write about his years at Hillcrest Christian School and what he’s been doing since then:

I attended Hillcrest from K4 through to graduation. My love for the weather started at about 4 or 5 years old, although my parents say I was still in a walker watching the Weather Channel. When I was at Hillcrest, I quickly earned the nickname “ The Weatherman,” and my reputation proceeded me throughout my entire school career there. Usually, it’s a bad thing when teachers know your name before you step in their classroom, but not in my case! All the teachers would talk, and let the next grade’s teachers know that if they had me I would do the weather.

I wasn’t involved in any sports throughout high school; I was too busy either with schoolwork or interning with 16 WAPT chief meteorologist David Hartman. I actually met David at Hillcrest. My 10th grade Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Jennifer McAdory, had David surprise me during class one day. It was quite a shock when David walked into my classroom; my eyes must have been the size of saucers! A year later, I started an internship with him that lasted until I went to Mississippi State.

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And then in my junior year, Mrs. Sandra Bridges asked me if I would like to do the weather for the morning announcements on HCTV. I quickly accepted and had a blast doing it. I remember forecasting Hurricanes Katrina & Rita  in 2005 on HCTV before they hit the Gulf Coast.  I tell people Mrs. Bridges is the reason I’m in TV today, she gave me my first on-air job doing the weather. I really believe doing HCTV got rid of my TV jitters. I will always be indebted to Mrs. Bridges for doing that for me. It really was a confidence booster at a time when I didn’t have a lot of it. She gave me something to look forward to, and she will always have a special place in my heart for that.

After I graduated Hillcrest in 2007, I went to Hinds Community College for a couple of years, and then I transferred to Mississippi State University in 2009 (Hail State!) and earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Meteorology in 2012. During my time at MSU, I anchored the school’s Campus Connect Forecast on the university TV station. My last semester there, I won the 2012 Associated Press Award for Best College TV Weathercaster in the state of Mississippi. My biggest memory at MSU was chasing the monster tornadoes that rolled across Mississippi and Alabama on April 27, 2011, the Dixie Alley Super Outbreak. That day, 2 EF-5, tornadoes came within 50 miles of the MSU campus. Seeing the destruction first-hand changed me and solidified my resolve to keep people safe during severe weather.

I graduated MSU with a 3.2 GPA and had a job before graduation at WXVT-TV 15 in Greenville, doing the weekend weather.

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Then in July of 2013, I accepted the job at WAPT as the weekend morning meteorologist. It is surreal sometimes [to realize that] I’m working with the man I looked up to as a kid. I learn so much from David everyday, and I quickly realized why he is the most trusted weatherman in Central Mississippi. His calm during severe weather is something I hope to learn as I progress throughout my career.

Hillcrest has some of the best teachers in this state who really take a vested interest in their students. I had so many teachers who loved me and supported me in what I wanted to do, and they created an environment where I could flourish. The teachers there truly love God and show Christ to students each and every day.

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If I could give any advice to the students there now, it would be chase your dreams no matter how big they may be. My grandfather always used to tell me, “Find your passion and then find out a way to get paid for it, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I did that, and it’s 100% true. I don’t dread going to work like most people do. I’m so thankful to the good Lord that he has blessed me with a job where I can do my passion for the weather and get paid for it! I couldn’t be luckier and am truly blessed.

Thank you so much, Adam, for sharing about Hillcrest’s impact on your life, about following your passion, and about God’s blessing your efforts.  HCS will forever be proud to call you one of our own.

AR Hall of Famers

So many of our elementary students seem to have taken this classic Dr. Seuss quote to heart: “The more that you read, the more things you know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  The following have reached at least 25 Accelerated Reader points during the first nine weeks of school; this earns each of these remarkable readers a spot on the “Wall of Fame.” Some of them have even earned over 100 AR points. What an accomplishment!!

1st grade – Kenzie Allen, Myles Brown, Zander Coleman, Summer Epperson, Annalise James, Olivia Jones, Michael Lacey, Madison McMillan, Sophia Nino, and Deeya Sharma

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2nd Grade – Colton Adams, Sadie Beazley, Ryker Brooks, Brooke Cadwallader, Silas Chambers, Brayden Cohn, Jovie Donelson, Coleston Foster, Molly Godbold, Michael Gonzalez, Alex Holm, Amari McNeal, A’niya Morris, Logan Powers, Mary Grace Tomlinson, Matthew Watkins, Layla Williams, Colby Zillinger, Trey Askew, Addison Cohn, Kimberly Davis, Dylan Harris, Brock Horner, Mason Oexman, Jay Shuff, and Mercie Wilson

3rd Grade – Hallie Alexander, Ivy Bankston, Madison Cooley, Chayce Cooper, Kannon Cowart, Kayla Epperson, Audriana Gonzalez, Teagan Hammond, Bria Mallet, Aiden McGloster, London McKenzie, Lauryn Moore, Dhvani Patel, Damion Portis, Skyler Ramage, Jaden Rhymes, Drew Ross, Sadie Shanks, Caden Thornton, and Makenzie Ward

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4th Grade – Bert Burns

5th Grade – Cole Bankston, Brooke Boney, Mason Brown, Emily Diggs, Hannah Holm, Lena Matthews, Brooks Rutland, and Danielle Wallace

6th Grade – Brooke Bankston, Cole Hatch, Kirsten Hill, Avery Mitchell, Ally Noone, Ekkaleo Quartey, Lily Thompson, Ethan Watkins, Allison Harvey, McKenzie Myers, Tiffany Price, and Lauren Shuff

Mrs. Lum wants to encourage all of you to “keep on reading”!

Homecoming Wrap-Up and What’s Next

We came, we saw, we conquered… Homecoming week!  Congratulations to the Cougar varsity football team for an exciting win over Amite Friday night.  Our boys fought hard and came out with the victory, which they then celebrated at the Homecoming dance.  Prior to that, it was a week filled with games, costumes, and a parade, which allowed upper-school classes to compete for points and yet-to-be-determined prizes.  The seniors earned the most points in the high school, and the 8th grade took the win in the junior high.  Congratulations to both classes!

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Congratulations also must go to Madelyn Banks, who was elected 2016 Homecoming Queen.  She and all the other maids not only looked beautiful Friday night, but they represented Hillcrest well.

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School has now returned somewhat back to normal; however, the upper school will be taking 9 Weeks’ Exams this week, and we will be on regular schedule each day.  Today, due to an early-morning power outage, students will only take their second period exams; the first period exam has been moved to Thursday.  Tuesday’s exams are third and fourth periods; Wednesday’s exams are fifth and sixth periods; and Thursday’s exams are first and seventh periods, as well as any make-ups students may have.  After that, school will be closed for a well-deserved four-day weekend for Fall Break!

Disney Goes to College!

The annual Hillcrest college fair for juniors and seniors just happened to fall at the same time as Homecoming this year, so college and armed services recruiters were bombarded with questions from the likes of Dory, Cinderella, a slew of Star Wars heroes and villains, and many more.

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Maybe Hillcrest is the real “happiest place on earth”!

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