Students in the News

Third-grade students win poetry competition

Anderson Preston won the Griot Collective of West Tennessee’s annual poetry contest for the first- through fifth-grade division. Kade McCarter placed second, and Meera Boyapati placed third. The collective is a nonprofit literary arts organization that sponsors monthly poetry workshops for adults, poetry contests and a visiting writers series.

The winning poems – haikus about winter – are below.

Left to right: Kade McCarter, Anderson Preston, and Meera Boyapati.

“One Snowy Winter” by Anderson Preston
Playing in the snow.
Chilly breeze whipping around.
Winter is the best.

“A Snowman’s Life,” by Kade McCarter
Snowmen are very fun.
They laugh and they play, too.
They have a good day.

“Snowflakes Fall,” by Meera Boyapati
Snowflakes are pretty.
So tasty and good to eat.
White and fun to catch.

Teen Court

Congratulations to USJ’s Teen Court representatives: Nate Schwindt, Alannah Yellen, Eric Whisenant, Walker Laird, Adam Sills, Kelsey Sanders, Keyon Kazempour, Alexander Peftoulidis, and Aditya Thota.

Senior wins best video in Jackson Chamber contest

University School of Jackson Senior Jacob Denbrock won best individual video in the Jackson Chamber’s “This is My Jackson” video contest.

Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris and City of Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist presented Jacob with an award during the Chamber’s October Quarterly Membership Breakfast at Union University. The contest asked individuals, businesses and organizations to produce and upload videos showcasing what they love most about Jackson to the Chamber’s YouTube Channel.

“My friend had a GoPro camera so I decided to see what I could do with that camera,” Jacob said. “I decided to put the GoPro on my car and drive around to some locations and connect the individual shots.”

The contest featured two categories for submission: business and individual.  Winners were determined by which submitted video received the most likes on YouTube. The winner of the business category was Studio En Fuego.

 “This video contest was a great way for us to use social media channels to showcase what our community has to offer,” said Lori Nunnery, Executive Director of the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We enjoyed viewing all the entries celebrating our home and appreciate everyone that participated in the contest.”

The contest began August 15. Voting ended October 4. 

To view the other submitted videos, visit the Chamber’s YouTube channel at or visit the Jackson Chamber’s website at

Jr. Rotary Members

Congratulations to the following students for representing USJ as Jr. Rotary Members: Hannah Russell, Aisha Suara, Austin Orr, Govind Bindra, Ali Graham, and Claire Jaggers!

USJ Students selected for the Super Clubs National Team

This summer, four USJ students participated in an 11 day tour of England and Wales after being selected for the Super Clubs National Team.

The students are Nour Nabhan (10th Grade), John Giampapa (10th Grade), Charles Campbell (8th Grade), and Jack Edwards (8th Grade). Additionally, Rachel Giampapa was selected, but was unable to attend due to an injury.

USJ student attends national leadership conference

USJ students on Jackson Elite Allstars

Eighth grader Calley Overton traveled to Washington, D.C., this summer to participate in the prestigious Junior National Young Leaders Conference.

The conference, sponsored by the nonpartisan Congressional Youth Leadership Council, features a unique curriculum where middle school students study leaders of the past. It also focuses on social advocacy to empower attendees to make a positive impact in their homes and communities.

“Calley had to be nominated by a teacher to be eligible to attend, and the program asked students to be responsible for earning their way to get to Washington,” said USJ Middle School Director Courtney Burnette. “She worked very hard to earn her way.”

Overton received sponsorships from members of her church, her family, and many other people in the community. She said it was an experience of a lifetime.

The trip came on the heels of a successful seventh-grade year for Overton. During the last week of school, she went to Nashville and received a medal at a Duke University ceremony for students honored through its Talent Identification Program.

Because of her SAT scores, she was invited to attend Vanderbilt University’s Summer Academy. She took a course titled “Unseen Civil War.”

And at USJ’s awards ceremony in May, she was recognized for her character and achievement in history, honors English, computer science, science, Spanish, and band. She also received awards for her national recognition in physical education, all-A honor roll, and for achieving state recognition in the Duke program.

Chloe Hatcher with her artwork
Edie Allen with her artwork
Symphony’s Color of Music says ‘bravo’ USJ

Kindergarten student Chloe Hatcher win the “Bravo” Award, the highest honor a student can be given in the Jackson Symphony League’s Color of Music contest.

More than 9,000 entries were submitted from public, independent, and home-schooled students. Chloe’s painting was inspired by Waltz from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty.

USJ had several other winning entries in the annual art contest. Earning blue ribbons were Edie Allen, kindergarten; Brooke Phillipps, sixth grade; Trevor Spencer and Harrison Hamm, seventh grade; and eighth grader Sarah Carraher. Sixth graders Bailee Norris and Shereen Haji received Honorable Mention awards.

Middle School Art Teacher Anna McPeaks won an award for having the highest percentage of winners in the sixth- to eighth-grade division. She was allowed to enter nine pieces, and six of those earned awards.

Pictured from left to right, front row, Edie Allen and Chloe Hatcher; back row, Trevor Spencer, Brooke Phillips, Bailee Norris and Shereen Haji. Not pictured: Sarah Carraher and Harrison Hamm