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Star Student and Teacher Q & A


The Mississippi Economic Council sponsors the Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program to encourage scholastic achievement among high school students. The STAR Program emphasizes scholastic excellence and recognizes the teaching profession. STAR students are chosen based on having the highest ACT score in the graduating class, along with other academic achievements. Each STAR student selects a STAR teacher.  Jackson Academy’s 2017 STAR student and teacher are (from left) Dr. Dennis Conklin and Nancy Usey. The celebration for star students and teachers is April 27 at 9:30 a.m. at the Jackson Convention Complex.

Over 500 STAR Students and STAR Teachers will receive recognition from MEC’s M.B. Swayze Foundation at the celebration. The top 20 STAR Students –The ALL-STAR Scholars – will receive scholarships, and their STAR Teachers will receive awards provided by the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation. The highlight of the event will be the naming of the Mississippi ALL-STAR Scholar for 2016-2017 school year, winner of the coveted $24,000 Cook Foundation Scholarship.

Read further for inspiring thoughts from Nancy and Dr. Conklin:

How do you feel about being selected STAR student?

Nancy: Being selected as STAR student feels like a nice acknowledgement for my hard work throughout these years of high school. I very much appreciate the recognition and the confidence that comes with it.

How do you feel being chosen as STAR teacher?

Dr. Conklin: I am profoundly honored.  Nancy has had some outstanding teachers here at Jackson Academy, so to be selected from such an incredible group of educators is a truly humbling experience.

What about Nancy makes you proud that she was chosen as STAR student for Jackson Academy?

Dr. Conklin: I think that everyone who knows Nancy knows that she is a gifted young lady, but what people might not realize about her is that she genuinely embraces and enjoys a challenge. When a wall is placed in our path I think we often turn around or complain about the wall.  Nancy is excited to discover ways to get over, around, or through the wall. So it is not just her intellectual ability that makes her who she is, but it is her inquisitiveness, determination and willingness to take on new challenges that makes me most proud of her.

How did you make your decision about which teacher to select as STAR teacher?

Nancy: Dr. Conklin’s class pushed me to up my game in a way I hadn’t previously been required to do. His history class not only taught me about the subject, but also equipped me with the tools I needed to form my own opinions and to back up those opinions with hard evidence. Overall, Dr. Conklin taught me how to think for myself as an individual.

What qualities does Nancy possess that other students could emulate?

Dr. Conklin: To confront challenges in their lives in the same way.  We will always have walls placed in our path whether academically, socially, spiritually, or something else and embracing the challenge makes us stronger when we do reach the other side. I also think that her interest in hearing different perspectives is something we can all learn from.

Any thoughts about what you like about teaching at Jackson Academy or the learning environment here?

Dr. Conklin: To piggyback on the last question, I am so happy to be part of the team of outstanding faculty we have here.  Not just do the teachers here do a marvelous job at their craft, they (we) are equally committed to creating an environment that stimulates not only academic development, but social and ethical development as well. On top of that, JA really is a family.  If somebody is hurting or needs help in any way, there are always a slew of folks ready and eager to lend a hand. I feel blessed to be a part of our community.

Golf Prodigy Wilson Furr

JA senior Wilson Furr was part of a group of 12 junior golfers who competed at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota in the fall of 2016 as part of the 10th Junior Ryder Cup. The US team reclaimed the Ryder Cup title after competing against European counterparts.

The competition between the U.S. and Europe includes the “top boys and girls from both sides of the Atlantic” according to the Ryder Cup website. U.S. Captain Jim Remy noted in the opening ceremonies: “These are the future Tour players; the future best players in the world.”

“It was incredible to be able to represent the USA,” said Wilson about being a part of the Junior Ryder Cup team.  “It really doesn’t get any better than that.” Wilson was 2-1 in his three matches.

Wilson has committed to play for the University of Alabama. He hopes to have a PGA Tour in his future and doesn’t rule out hopes for a spot on a professional Ryder Cup team one day. “If that experience doesn’t give you more motivation to be on the Ryder Cup team, I don’t know what would!” he said.

Some of Wilson’s accomplishments include:

  • Currently ranked 6th overall worldwide; 3rd in 2017 graduating class for junior golfers by Golfweek.
  • Named to the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rolex All-American Team for 3rd consecutive year
  • Had Top 10 finishes 2015-16 at Rolex Tournament of Champions, Thunderbird International, Haas Family
  • Invitational, Polo Junior Classic, Junior Players, and PGA Junior.
  • Won the 2015 Mississippi State Amateur—youngest winner in 100-year history.
  • Competed as a member of the East Squad in the AJGA Wyndham Cup (4-0).
  • One of only six American boys on the Junior Ryder Cup (2-1) team in 2016. USA won.
  • Played in the United States Golf Association USGA Amateur Championship

Quarter 3 Honor Roll

Academy Honor Roll
Twelfth Grade Alexandra Barlow, Hope Berry, Lizzie Bowman, Mary Kathryn Brogan, Catherine Burford, Kathryn Butler, Grace Cartwright, Conley Chinn, Grace Herfurth, Mary Hunter Johnston, Claire McClure, Milla McCormack, Emily McNair, Chloe Owens, Sahil Patel, Travis Rogers, Elizabeth Scott, Livvie Strickland, Phillip Talley, Mitchell Tyner, Nancy Usey, Dray Willson  Eleventh Grade Avery Anderson, Hadley Brennan, Hannah Collums, Lacey Irby, Will Laird, Braden Lewis, Dolph Maxwell, Allie Perkins, Emma Ward, Anna Claire Williams Tenth Grade Skylar Alexander, Eeshaan Bajaj, Ashton Berry, Elliott Butler, Lucy Clement, Camille Couey, Mary Beth Dyess, Camille Felder, Avery Hederman, Erin Hederman, Ansley Hill, Columbia Holeman, Megan Lacey, Lexi Lomax, Kit McCormack, Preston McWilliams, Brandon Miller, Gabrielle Morris, Burkette Moulder, Kaylan Sanders, Webb Strickland, Logan Thomas, Pier Thompson Ninth Grade Reese Anderson, Kelsey Burke, Steven Chustz, Carter Elliott, Courtney Francois, Simeon Gates, Logan Hatten, Caroline Hill, Miles Johnson, Christian Luckett, Azaria McDowell, Kennedy Nations, Virginia Parry, Anna Katherine Ray, Anna Roberson, Lily Grace Thigpen, Mary Gray White Eighth Grade Drew Antici, Parker Bracken, Emmy Brown, Gracie Coe, Emma Collums, Sophie Hays, Parker Kirby, Zoe Ladner, Emory Ann Laseter, Isabelle Lee, Isabel Lehman, Miles Taylor Leverette, Priya Ray, Emma Roberts, Lila Robertson, Anna Claire Seago, Gibson Smith, Emery Thigpen, Ty Usey Seventh Grade Cannon Bosarge, Gibson Cheney, Joseph Ciaccio, Caroline Courtney, Rachel Beth Deaton , Morgan Dilworth, Regan Felder, Connor Gee, Sandon Guild, Reid Hewitt, Tray Holeman, Harrison Johnston, Annalee LeDuff, Clayton Mahaffey, Anna Carlisle Nichols, Anne Barret Roberson, Ashton Tate, Sarah Beth Usey, Annalee Willson

Honor Roll
Twelfth Grade Parker Alexander, Anna Douglas Almand, Smith Coleman, Brianna Cry, Natalie Ford, Chelsea Francois, Grace Gebhart, Callie Hall, Abbie Knighton, William Mitchell, Micah Morgan, Kassidy Neal, Grace Parry, Elizabeth Payne, Michael Payne, Cole Phillips, Olivia Rule, Alexander Schott, Quon Sterling-Anderson, Malon Stratton, Caroline Watson, Kayla Young Eleventh Grade Janise Bennett, Blaine Bowman, Caroline Childress, Sam Ciaccio, Kellan Clower, Kennedy Collins, Sophie Creath, Frances Anne Fortner, Cailynn Gregory, Katie Johnson, Tre Lewis, Emma Lucas, Meredith McClellan, Elizabeth McCubbins, James McLemore, Gracie Meck, Blake Mills, Kennedy Neal, Lindsey Nosef, Walker Pedigo, Luke Pitts, Baley Reed, Max Rogers, Claire Ross, Maggie Smith, Olivia Stringer, Bryant Thaxton, Sarah Grea Walker, Drake Warman, Brehan Whitehead Tenth Grade Hayden Allen, Addison Avdoyan, Lailaa Bashir, Samantha Brown, Johnny Carpenter, Ellie Brent Cartwright, Blake Fletcher, Charlie Gautier, Ariel Hayes, Thomas Iupe, Sean Lackey, Francie LeDuff, Anne Marie Lundy, Ashley Manning, Reese Overstreet, Charlotte Palmer, Tyler Pitts, Tafarri Pleas, Carneilus Powers, Walker Rippee, Will Spence, Mary Lindley Tharp, Mary Parker Williams Ninth Grade Joseph Adams, Walker Barnes, Mary Liz Black, Emily Burks, Brent Butler, Katie Carter, Yazzy Chambers, Elizabeth Childress, John Eric Clark, Kellum Clark, Ava Del Vecchio, Londyn Dorsey, Ginny Dyess, Sydney Guy, Hannah Hardee, Russell Hawkins, Trey Herrington, Ana Kelly Hontzas, William Janous, Case Kempthorne, Henry Lee, P.J. Martin, Harris McLemore, Asher Morgan, Sydney Morris, Douglas Noble, Nora Pickering, Keishun Pickett, Kayla Shepherd, Nelson Thomas, Will Travelstead, Wisdom Ware, Reed White Eighth Grade Thomas Arnold, Simms Baker, Nicholas Bryan, Mackenzie Coburn, Ava Couey, Isabelle Eiland, Stuart Fullwood, Gus Gordon, Avery Hendrick, Zharia Hill, Michael Hogue, Andrew Holmes, Hallie Gray House, Nicole Lawrence, Michael Lowe, Jonathan Lucas, Lachlan McLendon, Pryor Mehrle, Jesse Montgomery, Hensley Moulder, Thomas Nance, Anna Blake Reed, Elena Roberts, James Smith, Wes Thomas, Jack Varner, Alice Williams, Samia Wilson Seventh Grade Abigail Addison, Leah Anderson, Drew Barrentine, Jade Bennett, Barton Boyll, Anna Claire Bush, Elizabeth Castle, Jalia Coins, Madison Cotton, Davis Cress, Matthew Frost, Tye Gardner, Ferriday Rose Green, Hudson Hadley, Samuel Hadley, Ainsley Kling, Maggie Koury, Davis Lee, Parker Lowe, Daniel Martin, Molly McClure, Ford McDaniel, Kennedy McKee, Banks McNair, Hayden Parr, Will Rhodes, John Moak Scarbrough, Garrett Smith, Reed Travelstead, Natalie Turner, Banks Whittington, John Wicks, Fran Wilkirson, Drew Williams

Middle School Presents Curiosity Cat


Jackson Academy Performing Arts presents Curiosity Cat by Chris Grabenstein. This Middle School Production will be April 7-8 at 7 p.m. at the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online at or at the door. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Curiosity Cat centers around the hardships of being a stray and the joy of finally finding a home, so the Middle School Student Council will also be collecting donations of pet supplies and food for CARA (Community Animal Rescue & Adoption) before the show in the PAC lobby.

Showchoir Season Results


This season, Showtime made appearances at Jackson Prep Showchoir Masters, where the group took second place in the large division; South Jones Showchoir Invitational, where the group won first place as well as caption awards for best vocals and best overall effect; and West Jones Showchoir Invitational, where the group won first runner up and best visuals.  Meagan Gautier was awarded grand champion of the solo competition at Jackson Prep. Cannon Bosarge won second runner up in the solo competition at West Jones. Showtime concluded its season at the Oak Grove Magnolia Invitational where the group took first runner up and best visuals.

Showtime is in its first year under the direction of JA alumna Amy Arinder. The 2017 show featured choreography by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme and arrangements by Katie Shores and Allison Talley with soloists Lily Rhoden, Reagan Bosarge, Anna Claire Seago, Cannon Bosarge, Phoebe Guinn, and Miles Taylor Leverette.

Encore was awarded fourth runner up at the South Jones Invitational, first runner up at the Opelika (Ala.) Invitational, and first runner up at the Oak Grove Invitational. At the West Jones Invitational, the group received grand champion, best vocals, best visual, best overall effect, and best costumes in its division and went on to win grand champion, best vocals, best visual, and best overall effect in finals. Dolph Maxwell and Braden Lewis received best overall performer awards. Also at West Jones, Emily Earle received first runner up in the solo competition. Most recently, Encore traveled to Nashville, where the group closed its season with a performance on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

Encore is in its sixth year under the direction of Katie Shores with choreography by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme, arrangements by Katie Shores and Allison Talley, and featuring soloists Don Waller, Reese Overstreet, Emily Earle, and Latham Nance.

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