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JA Students Participate in Governor’s Inauguration

Gov. Phil Bryant and Kelvin Gardner

At least four JA students took part in the inauguration festivities of Gov. Phil Bryant this month, serving in volunteer roles for the day, for the evening, or during the week leading up to the event.

Kelvin Gardner, a JA eight grader, served as a greeter at the inauguration. He was among five students selected for this role by Kathy Henry, an educator who has held committee and board appointments from three Mississippi governors and currently serves on the Mississippi Parole Board. While serving as a greeter, Kelvin had the chance to meet the governor. He also helped with organizing, packing gifts, checking tickets, and assisting in the VIP room, which hosted small groups of guests such as college presidents. Henry says when recommending students for these volunteer roles, she looks for students with potential and encourages all teens to be involved in their communities, try different things, and meet new people.

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Volleyball Coach Signs on with JA

VB-CoachJackson area native and captain of the NCAA Division III Lady Barons volleyball team Christina Lawrence will lead the Lady Raiders as head volleyball coach beginning June 1. Lawrence began playing volleyball in the seventh grade in Mississippi. She joined the Lady Barons of Franciscan University in Ohio in 2012, serving as captain in 2015-16. In 2015, Franciscan University Athletics named Lawrence Most Valuable Player. She received the St. Sebastian Leadership Award in athletics and was named to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Third Team All-Conference that same year. She was nominated for and elected to the Center for Leadership at Franciscan University where she will complete a bachelor of arts in communication arts with a concentration in radio and television in May of 2016.

“I’m so excited about joining the family at Jackson Academy. I’m impressed by the culture of JA, by the loyalty of the community, and by the student-centered focus of the faculty and staff,” she said. “I’m excited to offer my coaching ability and mentoring to the volleyball team and to learn as much as I can from the notable staff around me.”

Lawrence chose to attend Franciscan University, a small catholic school in Steubenville, Ohio, where she found a college home that allowed her to “encounter God more closely” and pursue NCAA volleyball. She sees athletics as a “chance to use your gifts and be a witness of good virtues and faith to those with whom you play.”

Members of the JA community may already know two members of Christina’s family, her sister Nicole Lawrence, a JA seventh grader, and her mother, Angela, who works in Preschool.

National Geographic Bee

Bee - 1Bo Barbour, a JA fourth grader, won first place during the school level National Geographic Society Geography Bee on January 8 in the PAC. Regan Felder came in second place, and Ty Usey came in third place. Runners up were Bryan Eubank, Bailey Berry, Reese Anderson, Chase Rush, Joseph Ciaccio, Thomas Antici, and Ethan Hill.

Jackson Academy students have participated in the National Geographic Society Geography Bee since 2005. The bee is designed to encourage the teaching and study of geography. This year, students in fourth through eighth grades participated.

There are three levels of competition: school, state, and national. The JA school level winner takes an online, 70 question multiple-choice test that has to be completed in 60 minutes to quality for the state bee. Our winner must score in the top 100 students in the state to advance to the state bee, which is usually held in April. The state winner moves on to the national competition in May. The national competition is usually televised. Every year since JA began participating in the National Geography Bee, our winner has qualified for and participated in the state bee.

Volleyball Wins Second Straight Championship


Congratulations to the JV and varsity volleyball teams! JV finished the season 13-3. Varsity finished 35-3 and won the MAIS championship title for the second year. Ranked No. 1 in the state on MS MaxPreps, varsity also won the Gulf Coast Kick-off Classic and the Madison Madness Invitational. Volleyball is coached by Jennifer Bracken, head coach, and Brittany Ammons and Riley Busching, assistant coaches.

ACT Test Scores Trending Up


From back, left to right, Tyler McClellan, Dalton Gibson, Reid Fracchia, Davis Rippee, Kyle Kantor, Mac Temple, Steven Winford, Parker Kennedy, Nathan Lucas, Nic Beddingfield, Brennan Canton, Ben McDowell, Cory Tirman, Caroline Nall, Hannah McCowan, Amanda Ray, Glennis McWilliams, Annalee Purdie, Rose Maxwell, Madison Carroll, Georgia Gibson, Robyn Hadden, Clarke Wilkirson, Sydney Hays. Not pictured are Rebecca Nosef and Bryn Noble.
ACT scores among Jackson Academy students are showing an upward trend in several categories. The class of 2015 averaged a composite score of 25.3, up from the past two years and above JA’s recent five-year average of 25. The state average is 19 and the national average is 21.

Two particular categories of JA test takers demonstrate notable figures. Students attending JA since Lower School averaged 26.2 this year. Students in advanced curriculum averaged 30 in 2014 and 2015.

Overall, 28 percent of seniors have already scored 29 or above to date, making them eligible for Mississippi’s Eminent Scholars Grant, a $2500 per year grant awarded to in-state residents pursuing their first degree at an approved post-secondary institution in Mississippi. Recipients of the grant also must have maintained a high school cumulative grade point average of 3.50 on a 4.0 scale. Testing dates remain for this ACT testing cycle, so additional Eminent Scholars are expected. Juniors are also scoring 29 and above at a rate similar to the senior class.

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