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Show Choirs Impress Judges and Audiences for Big Wins

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Showtime 2018 (photo by Richard Stafford)

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Cannon Bosarge, solo winner

Jackson Academy’s show choirs began their competition season Friday and Saturday on a high note. JA’s Middle School and Upper School groups delivered impressive performances that yielded enthusiastic applause, accolades, and the judges’ top award for Encore at Jackson Prep’s Show Choir Masters Competition.

 

Showtime

Showtime earned first runner up in the Large Division for middle school show choirs. Cannon Bosarge won first place in the middle school solo competition.

Showtime is under the direction of Amy Arinder with Megan Rowan as accompanist. The group’s program is choreographed by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme.

 

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Encore 2018 (photo by Richard Stafford)

 

Encore

Encore captured first place in the Large Division for upper school show choirs. Then the group “swept” the competition in finals, meaning the show choir won every category, taking home Best Vocals , Best Visuals, Best Show Design, and Best Costumes . To end the evening, in overall competition among all divisions, Encore was named Grand Champion. Latham Nance earned first place in the high school solo competition.

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Encore after the big win

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Latham Nance, solo winner

 

Encore is under the direction of Katie Shores, with accompanist Nancy Cheney, and choreography by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme.

To see Encore and Showtime, as well as many other impressive show choirs from our state, come to JA for the Jackson Academy Showchoir Invitational this weekend. Click this link for the weekend schedule that begins Friday, February 2.

Both of JA’s show choirs will continue their competition seasons with the following appearances:
February 9-10 – Opelika, Alabama
February 16-17 – West Jones
February 24 – Auburn, Alabama (Encore only)
March 2 – Oak Grove (Showtime only)
March 24 – Heart of America, Orlando, Florida (Encore only)

Bannerman Finds Joy in Mississippi, Teaching, and Challenges

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“I like to let them think I’m boring,” said Sara Bannerman. Describing her interests and activities, though, the ninth-grade honors English teacher rapidly dispelled any possibility of being referred to as “boring.” Bannerman’s day-to-day life, including experience in contact combat, fencing, photography, and music, rivals that of the literary characters she teaches students to understand and appreciate.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Bannerman said, “I left and came back to my roots.” Her family moved to Louisiana when she was 12 years old. Her father worked there as a petroleum engineering consultant for two years. The family then moved to the coast of Mississippi to be nearer to their extended family. When it came time for college, Bannerman returned to Jackson to attend Belhaven University.

Bannerman brought her own welcoming committee when she returned to Jackson. “My closest friends from every place I’ve lived ended up going to Belhaven,” she said. When not studying English, she taught herself upright string bass and explored every corner of campus alongside her friends. 

Her time at Belhaven changed the way she viewed literature. “I think I came to understand reading literature beneath the surface as opposed to just skimming the top, which is what I had always done,” she said. Studying under professors whose love of language and story infused their teaching pushed her to “find deeper meaning in the text.”

“I had never really planned to be a teacher; it was a really natural thing,” she said. After college she continued to study English in graduate school at Mississippi College. Bannerman worked at Starbucks for a time before being hired to write textbooks. In 2012, she began work as an adjunct professor at MC where she now teaches American, British, and World Literature.

Between teaching at JA and MC, Bannerman pursues her certification to teach krav maga, an Israeli form of contact combat. During the summer of 2016 she trained in Los Angeles at the same facility as Christian Bale’s daughter. He came to watch. She has studied fencing and Victorian post-mortem photography, and learned upright string bass on a whim.

From the intricacies of literature to running into celebrities, Bannerman’s life seems to be anything but boring. One day at Starbucks she heard a voice address her, “Don’t you just love vanilla lattes? I love vanilla lattes.” It was Rene Zellweger. From her seat at the coffee bar Bannerman replied, “Yeah, I do.”

Jennifer Wahl Communicates Complex Mathematics

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Jennifer Wahl discovered her purpose in first grade. She would be a school teacher. For the next 15 years that dream persisted and became refined as she progressed through elementary, middle, and high school. Jackson Academy is glad to welcome Wahl’s focus and passion to our community as she teaches mathematics in the Upper School.

“You have to be careful because her mom makes the best cupcakes in the world and she can kill you with one finger,” a teacher at Winfield High School jokingly warned Wahl’s classmates. Wahl’s mother served in the Army Special Forces and specialized in hand to hand combat before opening a fabric store in Winfield, Alabama, where she and Wahl’s father raised their six children. Wahl’s father served in the Air Force and now works as a mechanical engineer.

Although she knew she would grow up to be a teacher, Wahl did not decide which subject-area would be her focus until her final year of high school. Several teachers helped her recognize her ability to communicate the complexities of mathematics. When her fellow students repeatedly asked for her to explain how to solve calculus problems they studied during her senior year the teacher finally told her, “They want you, not me. You’ve just got a knack for explaining it.”

Wahl studied math education at Auburn University and was in the Honors College all four years. She also worked in the career center as an employer relations student assistant. She met her husband, Stephen Wahl, a graduate of Jackson Academy, the night before Auburn would defeat Oregon in the 2010 national championship. They were married in December of 2014, after Stephen completed his first semester of medical school at the University of Mississippi. Wahl taught at Brandon High School from 2014 until 2017. While there, she took advantage of development opportunities and found her footing in the classroom.

Although Stephen’s match day may mean moving to a different city for the Wahls, for now Jennifer enjoys living close to his family and working at a school that feels like home. Her days start with an energetic group of humorous, interested students, and throughout the day Wahl is excited to visit with students between lessons. Wahl said, “From the first time I came here everyone was so nice I felt like I was already a part of the family.”

Students Tour Texas Colleges and Universities

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Students (from left) Garrett Clarke, Jarvon Gaines, Kelsey Ford, Max Rogers, and Elliott Butler toured several Texas universities together with Jackson Academy Counseling Department staff members. Not pictured: Sean Lackey.

 

As their bus pulled through College Station they watched the busy pace of a college campus. It is a pace that Garrett Clarke and Max Rogers will be diving into next fall as they enter college. For Jarvon Gaines, Kelsey Ford, and Elliott Butler there is still another year and a half at JA, but college decisions already loom on their horizons. Counselors Amy Bush, Paula Pratt, and Danny Robertson led the group through its three-day tour, guiding students to ask questions and observe different schools’ cultures.

“I think these kids realized, if they hadn’t before, that the town that the college is in is just as important as the college itself,” said Bush. “The surroundings and community play a big role in the campus, and vice-versa.” The students were interested in majors ranging from per-veterinary to petroleum engineering. Despite these differences, they agreed that experiencing the atmosphere and size of a campus was an integral part of discovering whether or not it was a good fit for them.

“I wanted to go the next day,” said Kelsey after visiting Texas Christian University. Perfect fall weather accompanied a great visit throughout their three days in Texas. Bush said, “There is no greater advantage to a student than being on the campus, getting to see what the school is like, what the school is about, because no two campuses are alike.”

For the seniors on the trip, the visit did exactly what it was meant to do: helped them move toward confidentially making a college decision. “We’re really close to deciding where we want to go,” said Garrett.

Intergalactic Artist Speaks in Chapel

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Frank Ordaz spoke to JA’s Upper and Middle School students in chapel while visiting Mississippi to create a documentary of his journey as an artist and Christian. “I knew I was an artist by the time I was 7 years old,” he said. He painted the worlds of “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” and many more before God invaded his galaxy with the gospel of grace.

“Non-Christians want to see authentic Christians,” Ordaz told students. “They are looking to see if you walk as Jesus did.” He experimented with world religions, but when he met a true follower of Jesus Christ everything changed. The man whose faith inspired Ordaz’s was a reputable sound engineer in Hollywood, but it was his humility that earned him respect and brought the gospel to life for Ordaz.

Ordaz describes his former self as extremely arrogant, but now he displays the same humility that first drew his attention to Christ. He graciously shared wisdom gleaned from his experience with students who are interested in working in the arts. He told students that to truly thrive as a Christian artist you must have a good support system, and be excellent at what you do.

After working as a matte painter for the movies, Ordaz went on to work as an illustrator. At the request of former first lady Barbara Bush he created the artwork for the 2006 White House Easter Egg Roll. In 2011, Ordaz returned to his first love: oil painting. His fine art landscapes and portraits are sold through shows he attends and his own venue in Auburn, California, where he resides with his wife Jana. The couple has two sons.

JA parent Anthony Thaxton met Ordaz at a Christian arts workshop where Ordaz invited Thaxton to help him share his story. In the three years since their first meeting the men have filmed in California, Mexico, and Mississippi and have become dear friends. Ordaz’s story includes the flamboyance of Hollywood but is ultimately a story of how one man’s humble faith set another free to discover his true Father and, through knowing him, his identity and purpose.

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