Every month we compile a list of students doing great things across the River Region. We have so many talented students in our area. River Region Parents joins with their families and schools to celebrate their achievements!
Saint James Equestrian Team Hosts Inaugural Auburn New Year’s Classic
Saint James School hosted the inaugural Auburn New Year’s Classic January 8-9 at the Auburn University Equestrian Center. The Saint James team placed third overall at this event. Maggie Harris placed first in her flat class. Anne Kingsley Shaul placed fourth in her over fences class; Ava Donaldson placed first in her varsity over fences class and fourth in the flat class. Alex Clenney placed third in over fences class and sixth on the flat.
Coach Jessica Williams and her assistant coaches, Saint James alums Oliva White and Lauren Sullivan, worked with the team this season and arranged a wonderful event. The Saint James Equestrian Team is the only school-sponsored team in the state. Students from grades 6-12 are able to participate.
In addition, on December 18, the Saint James Equestrian Teams competed at the Tallahassee Riding Academy Winter Classic in Florida. The high school and middle school teams each competed alongside 10 other teams in each age group. The STJ high school team placed sixth and the middle school team placed third in the event.
Shown from left are Saint James School Athletic Director Katie Barton, Ava Donaldson, Anne Kingsley Shaul, Maggie Harris, Elley Goff, Alex Clenney and Coach Jessica Williams.
Two Academy Seniors Earn Tournament Honors
The Montgomery Academy Speech & Debate Team traveled to Birmingham recently for its first overnight, two-day tournament since March 2020. With 20 schools from five states competing in the Bishop Guild Debates at Samford University, MA had two students earn distinct honors. Senior Tristan Dumas finished in third place in Lincoln Douglas Debate and junior Charlie Hill finished in first place in Lincoln Douglas Debate and earned the second-place Speaker Award.
ACA Helps Train Little Eagles In School Volleyball Program
Alabama Christian Academy offers a variety of after- school clubs and programs that you can be involved in as a student, and the after-school volleyball club is one of them. Coach Amber Hogan wears several hats at ACA including teaching third grade, head coach of the JV volleyball team, and after-school volleyball club director. She works with all ages including K5 to 5th grade. She works on all the different foundational techniques needed to be successful at volleyball at the upper school level.
STJ Announces New Early Childhood Learning Center
Saint James School announces the addition of an early childhood learning center featuring a program for two-year-olds for the 2022-2023 school year. The new early childhood learning center will add high quality preschool options focused on developing the individual potential of each child and preparing students from their earliest years for lives of responsibility, service and achievement. As a part of this expansion, Saint James plans a renovation of its current preschool classrooms and play areas to accommodate the new program. This program will also enhance the current Pre-K programs offered to 3- and 4-year-olds at Saint James.
This new opportunity for children and parents in the River Region will be named in memory of Nicole McKinney Burton. “Mrs. Burton attended Saint James School from kindergarten until her graduation in 1994,” said Head of School Dr. Larry McLemore. “With a passion for and commitment to early childhood learning, Mrs. Burton earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in early childhood education before spending more than 20 years teaching young learners. Her sons are currently students at Saint James School, where they have both attended since Pre-K3.”
Saint James began as an early childhood center in 1955. Today, the school serves nearly 800 students in Pre-K3 through 12th grade. Applications will be accepted for the 2022-2023 two-year-old program beginning February 1. Interested parents should contact the Saint James School admissions office at (334) 273-3021 or email@example.com.
“As part of our current strategic planning process, Saint James has identified a unique opportunity to expand and invest in the foundations of early childhood and the foundation for the school with the addition of a new early childhood learning center,” said Dr. McLemore. “According to the Alabama Partnership for Children, 95 percent of a child’s brain development occurs between birth and five years old. Additionally, two-thirds of children ages birth to five years old have both parents in the workforce who are in need of a high-quality childcare solution that will prepare their children for lifelong success.”
Saint James Holds Winter Choir Concert
On December 9, the Saint James School Performing Arts Department held its annual
Winter Choir Concert which provided an evening of music from all of the Saint James choirs. Each choir had individual performances, culminating in a number performed by all of the choirs combined.
The Elementary Choir, comprised of students in grades 3-5, performed “The Santa Claus Rock!” and “A Peaceful Round,” both composed by Teresa Jennings. The Elementary Show Choir, The Holiday Stars, performed “Snow Globe” (arr. Andy Beck) and “Like It’s Christmas” (arr. Mac Huff).
The Middle School Choir sang “Antiphonal Noel” (arr. Greg Gilpin), “Happy Hanukkah, My Friend” (arr. Ed Lojeski), “Jazz Cantate” (Andy Beck), “Wintersong” (text by Emily Bronte, music by Audrey Snyder), and “Ring-a Ring-a Ring” (arr. Mark Weston).
The High School Choir performed after the Elementary and Middle School Choirs. Their song list included “A Jubilant Song” (Victor C. Johnson), “Eight Days of Lights” (Judith Clurman), “Baroque Christmas Festival” (arr. Audrey Snyder), “While the Snow Lay Sleeping” (text by John Parker, music by Heather Sorenson), and “Amen” (arr. Russell Robinson). Soloists for the High School Choir during the evening’s performance were Selina Sun on cello as well as Emily Headley, Rain Johnson and Anna Colson. The high school a capella group, Fortissimo, sang “Mary, Did You Know?” (arr. Roger Emerson) featuring soloist Anna Dickey.
As the evening of music neared its close, all of the choirs performed several numbers together. The middle school and high school groups performed “Carol of the Bells” (Mykola Leontovich, arr. Peter J. Wilhousky) and “That’s Christmas to Me” (arr. Audrey Snyder). Soloists were TJ Vance and Park Hobbs. All three combined choirs closed the show with “Step into Christmas” (Elton John, arr. Mac Huff).
The Elementary Choir is led by Will Reese, and The Holiday Stars is led by Reese and Dr. Sallye York. The Middle School Choir, grades 6-8, is under the direction of York. The High School Choir, along with the a capella group, features students in grades 9-12 led by York. Piano accompaniment for the evening was performed by York.
The Elementary Choir, above, shares the gift of song at the Saint James Winter Choir Concert.
Members of the Saint James Middle School Choir include, from left, Cassie Casteel, Jacob McNally, Abigail Roark, Nancy Bradford, Mary Ann Coon, Ruthie Blakeney and Kenedee Campbell.
High School cello soloist Selina Sun along with, from left, Lizzie Dickens, Anna Colson, Rain Jonson and others as a part of the Saint James High School Choir.
From left, High School choir members Brea Ledford, Austin Oh, Paul Kreischer, Anna Dickey, TJ Vance, Jack McGraw, Hamilton Cunningham, Jalen Trammer, Morgan Montgomery and Taylor Schofield.
Forest Avenue Robotics Club Participates in First Competition of Season
The Forest Avenue Academic Magnet Robotics Club participated in its first competition of the season at the Pike Road Elementary Patriot Pride Vex IQ competition. There was much excitement, learning and teamwork at play during this well-organized event. The FAAM Robotics Club placed 14th out of 28 teams. This competition was a great chance for team members to grow and learn as they prepare for the next event.
Montgomery Christian Students Learn to Serve Others
Montgomery Christian School students love to serve the Montgomery community. During the holiday season, the fifth-grade students were asked to play the bells/chimes for a group of English Language Learners at First Baptist Community Center. Because of the emphasis at MCS of learning to serve one another, Jenny Renner led our students in playing for the culturally diverse crowd, where even a round of Silent Night was sung together. This field trip allowed the students to share with and experience other cultures plus receive the gift of service.
Montgomery Christian is taking applications for its 2022 kindergarten class. Please visit www.montgomerychristianschool.org for more info or call us at (334) 386-1749.
Montgomery Academy Writers at Work!
Montgomery Academy Middle School teacher Caroline Sease uses a lesson she pulled from her Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL) training with her 7th-grade English class. She created a new writing assignment for her students to show their comprehension of The Diary of Anne Frank and to hone their writing skills, she had them rewrite a scene from the diary from a different character’s perspective. CTTL training, and using resources such as NeuroTeach and Think Differently and Deeply, are ways that teachers at Montgomery Academy put continuing education to effective use in their classrooms.
Highland Avenue Elem. Receives Reading Grant
Highland Avenue Elementary has received a $5,000 Vann Reading Fund grant from the Central Alabama Community Foundation. Highland Avenue Principal Heather Grayson is shown here with CACF Vice President of Community Affairs Clare Johnson. The CACF continuously supports MPS and its teachers and students. The foundation is currently funding all DonorsChoose projects submitted by MPS teachers up to $500.
Montgomery Academy Artwork Chosen for Exhibition
Six Montgomery Academy Upper School art students had works on exhibit in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Artworks Gallery Corridor exhibition, “Turn of Phrase: Words and Images.” Students were challenged to create works that conveyed the power of language and symbolism. Schools from across the region submitted works to the juried exhibit.
Montgomery Academy student works were chosen from a pool of 90 submissions and included in the show of 65 participants. They include Sadie Sease (‘22): Dissected Prescription; Jai Ivy Raines (‘23): Childhood Memories; Mary Evelyn McLemore (‘22): Mademoiselle Madeline; Emily Rose Benefield (‘22): The Little Thing, Thomas Lester (‘22): The Initial Ride and Fionah Desautels (‘23): F is for Fancy.
STJ’s Harrison Named for ASWA All-State Team
Saint James junior Cosner Harrison was honored as a member of the 2021 Alabama Sportswriters Association All-State Football Team for 4A. Named by the Alabama Sportswriters Association and reported by AL.com, Harrison was named as a part of the offense of the Second Team. He is a Saint James running back.
(photo by Total Image)
Saint James Elementary Choir Brings Holiday Cheer to Oak Grove
On December 7, the Saint James School Elementary Choir, led by Will Reese, visited Oak Grove Senior Living Community to bring songs of holiday cheer. The students enjoyed getting to perform in front of a live audience of residents who were delighted with their rendition of holiday favorites!
Students entertained the audience with “The Santa Claus Rock,” “La Navidad,” “Silent Night” (with soloists Aditi Shyam and Alex McIlwain), “Go Tell It On The Mountain” (soloists Charlotte Wee and Aditi Shyam), “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Up On The Housetop,” “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” “Must Be Santa,” “Peaceful Round” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Elementary Choir is just one of the many enrichments offered in the elementary division at Saint James School.
Choir members from left, Dresden Merritt, Charlotte Wee, Quintin Chandler, Keagan Cantrell, Larkin Honea, Rylee Hoeft, Aditi Shyam, Zain Burney and Alex McIlwain, enjoyed their time at Oak Grove Senior Living Community.
STJ Volleyball Players Earn Honorable Mention
Three Saint James Trojans were named Honorable Mentions for the All-Capital City Conference Volleyball team: sophomore Ava Card, senior Cam Greene, and senior Danielle Greene. Coach Karen Lee led the team to the 6A state championship this year, two classifications above the school’s normal competitive level.
Montgomery Academy Students Help Provide Christmas for Brantwood Children
Over the past twelve years, Montgomery Academy Middle & Upper School students, faculty and staff have had the joy of providing Christmas presents for residents of Brantwood Children’s Home. This annual service project is led by our Upper School H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Eagles Are Right There) organization.
ACA 4th-Graders Begin Bucket Band
Mrs. Kelly’s Alabama Christian Academy 4th-graders began Bucket Band recently. To help them prepare for the percussion unit, the students visit the upper school percussion class for some hands-on learning from our upper school students under the guidance of Band Director Amy Davis.
ECA’s Elementary Classes Celebrate Special Birthday
The Elementary classes at Evangel Christian Academy recently celebrated Winnie the Pooh’s birthday. The annual celebration was held on the birthday of A.A. Milne, the author and creator of Winnie the Pooh. The children were excited to learn that Christopher Robin was the real-life son of Milne and that the characters in the Hundred Acre Wood were based on stuffed animals Christopher Robin owned. The stories about Pooh and his friends were based on bedtime stories Milne told his son. The students concluded the celebration by eating honey buns in honor of their favorite bear.
Catoma Elementary Names Parent ‘VIPs’
The winners of the Catoma Elementary Very Important Parent Award this month are Yusely Luis, pictured here, and Hector Godinez. They are the parents of Britney Godinez Luis, a kindergarten student. Luis and Godinez are dedicated parents who are very concerned about their daughter’s academic well-being and call the school periodically to check in on her academic performance.
Third BrewTech Team Qualifies for Robotics State Championship
Another team from Brewbaker Technology Magnet High is headed to the Alabama VEX Robotics State Championship. A total of four teams from BrewTech competed against 20 others from schools around the state at the Patriots Pride Challenge at Pike Road Elementary School. The team of Jaydon Nguyen, Travis Krvwnaris, Cameron Davis and Ashley Tiblier won one of two Tournament Champion awards.
BrewTech now has three teams qualified for the championship on Feb. 19 at Auburn University. BrewTech will compete in four more tournaments, giving students more chances to place teams in the championship.
Saint James Hosts 24th Julian McPhillips Wrestling Tournament
A longstanding tradition in the state of Alabama, the 24th Julian McPhillips Invitational Wrestling Tournament was held January 7 and 8 at Saint James School. The highly competitive tournament is by invitation only and hosted 16 teams this year, 1A-7A.
Always held the first weekend in January, the Invitational Tournament is named in honor of a vital supporter of the wrestling program at Saint James, Mr. Julian McPhillips of Montgomery. In 1997, McPhillips was instrumental in expanding the school’s field house and adding a wrestling room. The school had not had a wrestling team before, but with his support, Saint James launched its first wrestling season and in 1998, the first tournament was held bearing McPhillips’ name.
In this year’s tournament, the Trojans finished third overall with many of its team members placing in their individual weight classes. Clayton Craft placed first in his weight class, and Granger Hicks placed second in his. Braylen Corley, Logan Hartson, Emmett Rasmussen and Owen Penney each placed third in their weight class. Placing fourth in their divisions were Pruitt Conner and Ariel July.
This tournament is a local favorite and continues to be an important one as teams prepare for sectionals. Participants this year included American Christian Academy, Brewbaker Tech, Charles Henderson, Dothan, Holtville, Houston Academy, John Carroll, Catholic, Prattville Christian Academy, Reeltown, Saint James, Stanhope Elmore, W.S. Neal, Westminster Christian, and Wetumpka.
Shown, trophy presenter Julian McPhillips (center) with the Saint James Wrestling Team. (photo by Gwendolyn Smith)
Montgomery Catholic Epiphany Celebration
Montgomery Catholic celebrated the end of the Christmas season by hosting an Epiphany party for the Holy Spirit and St. Bede Elementary campuses on January 6. The event began with a series of social media posts following the travels of our “Wise Men” across the city of Montgomery and ending on the Epiphany with their arrival at the Nativity to host a fun event for the students. The Wise Men were played by school President Justin Castanza, Holy Spirit Parochial Vicar Fr. Patrick Gilbreath, and St. Bede Parochial Vicar Fr. Connor Plessala.
“The idea was to bring awareness to the Christmas season and the story of the Magi,” explained Castanza. “The secular and commercial world wants us all to believe that Christmas ends on December 25. Our faith teaches us of the 12 days of Christmas and how the Magi followed the star to find our God as a baby in a manger. Sometimes we have to be reminded that the child at the center of our nativity scene is God himself, humbled and entering the world as man. And, yes, the wise men brought gifts just as we do for each other on Christmas day, but the real gift was that of our Savior.
“How about a little social media blitz to get that point across!” he continued. “Also, once we knew how we wanted these posts to unfold, we knew we should have them lead up to a big event. With the way school has been over the past two years, we knew our kids needed a happy boost. We needed to celebrate, bring the fun, and get out of our routine a bit. So the Epiphany Party idea was born. On January 6, the three kings hosted two blow-out Epiphany parties at Montgomery Catholic’s two elementary campuses —St. Bede and Holy Spirit. The children got to meet our camel and pet some of the other friends that were “lowing” in our nativity while also making crowns at our craft station, smelling the aromatic gifts of the magi, tasting foods from Jesus time, and ending the day with a classic sweet treat.”
BTW Senior Nominated Presidential Art Scholar
Booker T. Washington Magnet High Photography student Jayden Amir Robinson has been named one of only 60 nominees in the United States for the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. He is the only student in Alabama to receive this recognition. The 60 candidates come from 23 different states and represent 10 artistic disciplines. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will ultimately select 20 high school seniors to be recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
Montgomery Catholic Junior Ring Ceremony
Juniors at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School received their class rings on January 12 at a ceremony following mass. Fr. Patrick Gilbreath, Holy Spirit Parish parochial vicar, blessed the rings before they were given to their respective owners. Principal Eileen Aaron and President Justin Castanza reminded the students to use these rings as a reminder of the values they have learned while being students at Montgomery Catholic.
Trinity Celebrates Pioneer Week
Trinity Presbyterian School’s 4th-graders spent a week celebrating Pioneer Week. They had a wonderful time learning about the “good ol days” by making quilts and raffia dolls, square dancing, and washing socks on a washboard. Each morning before school started they took turns jumping rope. It’s a fun tradition in 4th grade that the students love!
MCS Annual Christmas Music Program
On December 16, Montgomery Christian School presented its annual Christmas Music Program to families and friends. Each grade level performed and the fourth and fifth grades played the bells. The music program at MCS is led by Jenny Renner, and students receive 30 minutes of music lessons each week, providing a time for them to explore a variety of music compositions and cultures. The program certainly set the stage for the Christmas holiday season. Trinity Presbyterian Church kindly hosted the event. If you are interested in learning more about MCS, please visit www.montgomerychristianschool.org or call (334) 386-1749.
Montgomery Academy Fun with Physics
As part of their Physics unit, Montgomery Academy’s fourth-grade students conducted a series of experiments led by their teacher, Kaky Butler. This day’s work was a study of potential energy and kinetic energy. Students used Hot Wheels cars, ramps and stopwatches to determine the centimeters per second their cars achieved between stages of potential energy and kinetic energy.
Trinity’s Little Cheerleaders Join Varsity at Recent Basketball Game
Trinity Presbyterian School’s Little Cats performed with the varsity cheerleaders at a recent basketball game. This is always a special night for the Little Cats!
Eastwood Exhibits Artwork at MMFA
The Eastwood Christian School Logic and Rhetoric school students submitted artwork to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts student exhibition, “Turn of Phrase: Words and Images.” Ninth-grade students Caroline Lynn and Steadman Meadows had Media artwork selected for display.
All As and A/B Honor Roll Students at Montgomery Christian School
Montgomery Christian School is proud to celebrate its students on all A and A/B Honor Rolls from the Fall 2021 semester. Out of 90 students, 15 students received all As and 29 students obtained an A/B Honor Roll distinction. Montgomery Christian School provides a rigorous education program for those with limited school choice. These students have worked very hard to receive hard marks. Visit www.montgomerychristianschool.org or call (334) 386-1749 for more information on the excellent work of Montgomery Christian School students.
Special Guest Visits Montgomery Academy English Classes
Montgomery Academy Upper School English teacher Carole Yeaman invited Mr. Randy Foster to speak with her classes about The Oresteia, plays, and Greek history. “Randy and I co-taught the Law I class at another local high school for nine years,” Yeaman explained. “He taught the philosophy portion and I taught the Ethics portion. We always started the year with The Oresteia because included in that work of art from 2500 years ago was the first trial in the history of the world—and the most logical start for students who hope to become lawyers. Plus, Randy loves all things Greek, all things myth, and has been the perfect introduction to our study of The Oresteia here at MA for the last three years.”
Trinity Wildcat Winterim
Trinity Presbyterian School started a new adventure called Wildcat Winterim. For two weeks, students participated in courses exploring areas outside the normal classroom experiences. From traveling to Europe, Baking Basics, Art of Hospitality and training dogs to Tea with Jane Austen, our Winterim classes were the ultimate experience!
Shown below are some of the students who learned to wrap presents in the Art of Hospitality Class. In addition, Natalie Stanley taught an art class and another group took a college tour to the University of Georgia.
Montgomery Academy Middle School Teamwork
Montgomery Academy Middle School students started the new semester by discussing the characteristics of a good teammate. After the talk, they went outside to put some of those qualities to the test with a challenge activity: the students had to work as a team to lift first, a tennis ball, and then, a baseball, and then place it back to a resting position using nothing but strings tied to a center brass ring and cooperative group talk and observation. It’s harder than you think!
Dalraida Students Attend Board Meeting as Gifted Education Advocates
January was Gifted Education Month in the state, and Montgomery Public Schools were invited to bring some gifted students to a recent State Board of Education meeting to advocate for gifted education in our state. Dalraida Elementary students had the opportunity to attend the board meeting and work session where they presented thank-you gifts to Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, Governor Ivey and all of the state board members for all that they do for gifted students and programs in the state of Alabama.
Shown above with the students and their teacher, Misty Trussell, are State Gifted Education Director Emily Hurst, Troy University Gifted Professor/Adviser Dr. Shirley Farrell, Dr. Mackey, and State Board of Education members.
Macon East First-Graders Enjoy Reading with Larry
Macon East Academy’s first-grade teacher, Victoria Smith, has partnered with Mary Hughes from the Montgomery Humane Society, and her therapy dog, Larry. Together they have been teaching the students about pet responsibilities and dog safety, and are practicing their reading skills as well. Students get to meet and read each week with Larry one-on-one. As they are reading their library books to Larry, he helps calm any anxiety that they may be feeling with reading because he is such a good listener.
“This is a great opportunity that helps our first-graders become stronger readers as they build up their confidence,” Smith said. “We look forward to our time with Mrs. Mary and Larry every week!”
Macon East Attends AISA District Science Fair
Ashley Davis, Caden Luis, Kwesi Jernigan, Sophie Clark, Christian McGalliard and Maggie Whatley recently represented Macon East Academy at AISA District Science Fair. McGalliard won third place in Biological Science at the District Science Fair with his project titled “5 Second Rule – Truth or Myth.”