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JA Swimmers Earn Overall Championship


The Jackson Academy Swim Team once again has shown that we’re simply better together! JA swimmers won the MAIS Overall Championship that is awarded to the school with the most points in first through twelfth grades. In the elementary division, JA brought home a second place trophy. Congratulations to all the JA swimmers!

Individual and team placements and records:

  • Isabella Conn broke a record in 25 Free with a time of 13.34
  • Parker Bracken 2nd in 50 Free
  • 7th-9th Boys Free Relay 3rd
    Jackson Conn, Ford Hudson, Adams Kennedy and Parker Ryan
  • 7th-9th Girls Free Relay 1st
    Ava Crawford, Julianna Copeland, Alice Williams, Parker Bracken
  • Jackson Conn 1st in 50 Breast
  • Parker Bracken 3rd in 50 Breast
  • Jackson Conn 2nd 50 Back
  • Ava Crawford 3rd 50 Back
  • Ava Crawford 2nd 50 Fly
  • 7th-9th Boys Medley Relay 3rd place
    Jackson Conn, Adams Kennedy, Ford Hudson, Will Adams
  • 7th-9th girls Medley 2nd place
    Julianna Copeland, Parker Bracken, Alice Williams, Ava Crawford
  • 1st-3rd boys Free Relay 2nd
    Smith Haralson, Parker Orr, Barron Mosal, Walter Towery
  • 1-3 girls Free Relay 2nd
    Anna Hollady Craft, Brianna Wang, Adrianna Wang, Sarah Kathryn Williams
  • Walter Towery 1st place back stroke
  • Brianna Wang 3rd place backstroke
  • Walter Towery 2nd place 100 IM
  • Brianna Wang 2nd place 100 IM
  • Parker Orr 2nd place 25 Breast
  • Adrianna Wang 2nd place 25 Breast
  • Smith Haralson 2nd place 25 Fly
  • Sarah Kathryn Williams 3rd place 25 Fly
  • Smith Haralson 3rd place 50 Free
  • Adrianna Wang 1st place 50 Free
  • 1-3 Girls Medley Relay 1st Place
    Anna Holladay Craft, Sarah Kathryn Williams, Adrianna Wang, Brianna Wang
  • 4-6 boys 3rd Place Free Relay
    Baird Kennedy, Major Quin, Cole Gideon, Cam Walker
  • 4-6 Girls Free Relay 1st place
    Katherine Gault, Anna Kate Lucas, Liles Williams, Isabella Conn
  • Major Quin 2nd Place 50 Back
  • Major Quin 2nd Place 100 IM
  • Baird Kennedy 3rd Place 25 Free
  • Isabella Conn 1st Place 50 Breast
  • Liles Williams 3rd place 50 Fly
  • 4-6 Girls Medley Relay 1st place
    Katherine Gault, Anna Kate Lucas, Liles Williams, Isabella Conn

Former Governor and JA Grandparent Haley Barbour Visits Lower School

fullsizeoutput_757eIt was a toss-up as to who was the most impressive: our former governor who wowed fourth graders with little known historical facts about Mississippi, or the fourth graders who peppered him with questions until teacher Sandra Triplett called for the last question due to time constraints.

Fourth grade classes thoroughly enjoyed their time with former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as he described what it was like to be a governor, information about the inhabitants of Mississippi before statehood, and how Mississippi will become the first state to build a state-funded Civil Rights Museum. Governor Barbour encouraged the students, who demonstrated a keen interest in the subjects presented, to not lose their interest in politics. He also urged students to take responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Governor Barbour was joined by his wife, Marsha, and greeted warmly by fourth graders, and especially his grandchildren Ava, Haley, and Ebbie.


JA Graduate in ‘Same Kind of Different as Me’


Mary Hunter Johnston’s credited role in “Same Kind of Different As Me” opened the acting door for the 2017 Jackson Academy graduate and gave her a chance to step inside one of her favorite books.

“I really enjoyed the experience and would do it again if I have the opportunity,” she said.

The movie starring Renée Zellweger, Greg Kinnear, and Djimon Hounsou is based on the book by the same title, about a wealthy art dealer, a homeless man, and the woman who brought them together. The true, inspirational story became a best seller.

Mary Hunter’s dad, Stephen D. Johnston, was a producer of the movie filmed in metro Jackson in fall 2014. They made sure the cast felt at home while filming, having them over to the house and taking them out to dinner. Spending time on set with Olivia Holt (Disney Channel’s “I Didn’t Do It”), who played the lead couple’s daughter in the film, was a particular treat.

Mary Hunter’s role as The Little Girl at the homeless mission is a small, dramatic part in a crucial scene. With a credited role, she had her own trailer during her week of filming, breakfast delivery included. “I also had my hair and makeup done while sitting next to Renée Zellweger.”

The movie’s release is set for Oct. 20, with a premiere October 19 at Malco Grandview in Madison. Mary Hunter cannot wait. “This movie is so powerful and has a great message for our country.”

Seeing herself on the big screen? “A little weird,” she predicted. “I have a feeling I will go see it more than once!”


View the movie trailer at

800 Seats x 5 Performances = 4,000 Spoonfuls of Sugar

fullsizeoutput_667eSpelling a snippet of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious are (from left) Latham Nance (Bert), Reese Overstreet (Mary Poppins), Francie LeDuff (Mrs. Crawley), Lucy Allen (Jane Banks), and Willis Thigpen (Michael Banks).

Two leading ladies are making appearances at Jackson Academy: Mary Poppins and Kerri Courtney Sanders.

Reese Overstreet, a junior at JA, is thrilled to portray Mary Poppins. “Every time I run a scene or a musical number, I feel as if I need to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. I watched this movie nonstop as a kid.” Reese loves everything from wielding the iconic green-parrot umbrella to conveying the heart of the story. “Mary Poppins is about family. Mary doesn’t just come to the Banks’ household to be a nanny for Jane and Michael, she was trying to mend a broken family. George Banks gets lost when trying to decipher between important and insignificant things in life, but in the end realizes that family comes first,” she says. “I hope everyone who watches the show experiences a similar realization.”

After six years at New Stage Theatre, Kerri Sanders is directing Mary Poppins as her debut in the role of Director of Theatre at JA. “It has been such a joy for me to work with such a supportive staff, enthusiastic students, and dedicated parents on this huge project.  I always say theatre is a team sport, and we definitely have a fantastic team here at JA,” she says.  “Mary Poppins is certainly a production that presents many theatrical and technical challenges, and we have been able to rise to those challenges with our group of people willing to tackle them! The local theatrical community has also been so supportive of our production.”

With the JA family and local theatre community supporting our students as they prepare to tell the Mary Poppins story, the cast members themselves have become a family. “Being in a show is like being in one big family, so I love being able to embrace that aspect and having so many amazingly talented kids join in on the fun,” Reese says. For Sanders, overseeing the production has already proven to be an extremely rewarding experience. “The most enjoyable part of this production so far has been working with the talents and creativity of the students,” she says.

The classic story of familial love and conflict, adventure and imagination will come to life as a cast of 88 students presents the show in JA’s Performing Arts Center October 28-30 and November 4-5. After the October 29 performance, JA will host ‘A Jolly Holiday Tea Party’ where characters will spend time taking pictures and snacking on sugary snacks with guests. This family-friendly entertainment is available to the greater Jackson community, so bring your family, your friends, and your friends’ families. Eight hundred seats and five performances offer 4,000 opportunities to sweeten lives with a spoonful of sugar.

To select seats and purchase tickets, visit

Students Invited to Grow Through Community Service

At the October 24 JA Community Service Fair, Upper School students will learn about area community partners where they can volunteer. The event is from 9:45 a.m.–10:30 a.m. in the Performing Arts Complex.

During this time of focus on community service, three students reflected on previous service and what they learned from serving others.


Two years of volunteering at Stewpot and the Natural Science Museum have given JJ insight into why it is important to volunteer. “Everyone should volunteer because you want to—not because somebody told you to or for recognition,” he said. “I volunteer to help the community because there are some people less fortunate than us.”

At Stewpot, JJ serves lunches and passes out drinks to people who don’t always get a meal on a regular basis.

He is also a museum summer camp counselor, helping with exhibits and giving tours.

“It is fun to teach others about the animals and the environment,” JJ said. “Volunteering makes me feel good because I am helping others.”


As a volunteer camp counselor working with children on a daily basis, Kaylan realized that the counselor is considered a role model for campers.

“Serving the community was an eye-opening experience for me because it showed me how much responsibility I was held to,” said Kaylan. “It also showed me how many children and parents look up to me and see me as a role model, meaning that my actions are words. Moreover, the experience really taught me leadership skills and more responsibility for others and myself.”

Not only does serving make Kaylan feel good because people are benefitting from her service, it also reminds her to be thankful. “It keeps a spirit of gratitude in my heart to continuously be thankful,” she said. She suggests students look for an organization with a mission that interests them to make the experience meaningful and fun. She also has learned the value of volunteering somewhere that is different and somewhat uncomfortable to break out of our natural comfort zone. “Get a group of friends together and go volunteer because the community needs us to make it a better place,” she said.


This summer through the WH&OH Missionary Department, Carneilus set up a distribution station and handed out food and clothing to homeless citizens in Poindexter Park. He also worked with Cathedral Church outreach ministry serving meals to homeless women and children at Flowers House.

“When volunteering at Poindexter, I was shocked to see how many homeless people are in need in our surrounding areas. It made me realize that there are so many people out there who need our help. This experience lit a match that starting a burning desire in my heart to further help the city of Jackson as much as I can,” he said.

“Serving the community makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself that is making a major difference in my community. I feel very happy and heart warmed when I see the smiles on the people’s faces that I serve, and it makes me want to never stop helping,” said Carnelius.

Carnelius believes when students volunteer they get to be a part of something that helps people who really need it. “It is a life changing experience,” he said. “You learn things about yourself that you would have never discovered if you had not embarked on this journey. Every little action helps. There is nothing you can do that is too small or not important.”

JA does not currently require volunteer hours, but sees many students developing servant hearts naturally through their experiences at school and in the community. The school designs the Community Service Fair to help more students connect with the many service opportunities available. Questions about the Community Service Fair can be directed to Audrey Wilkirson at or 601-613-1555.

“Even though JA does not require you to get volunteer hours, volunteering is a great way to hang out with your friends and have fun while also improving the community around you,” said Carneilus.

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