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V103<br />

323<br />

Be Where<br />

Your Feet Are<br />

Touch A Truck®Jackson<br />

Fighting for Mississippi’s Veterans

2 • JANUARY 2023

More kinds of<br />

care for all of<br />

Mississippi.<br />

All for Your Health<br />

umc.edu/YourHealth<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 3

4 • JANUARY 2023


GOOD ON YA,<br />

MATES!<br />

Every time you dine with us, you’re helping local charities<br />

thrive with great food, good fun, and plenty of warm smiles<br />

through our “BLOOMIN’ IS BOOMIN’!” program.<br />

So, keep joining us for our Awesome food served with care<br />

and a BIG heapin’ helpin’ of Southern charm.<br />

Flowood Location:<br />

586 Park Way, Flowood<br />

601.992.4045<br />

@jrrestaurantgroup<br />

See how we’re Servin’<br />

the South & helping the<br />

community bloom.<br />

servinthesouth.com<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 5

6 • MARCH 2023


North Mississippi was home to me for my growing up years.<br />

I see a lot of similarities in my Rankin County home except for one<br />

major difference–the wind! It seems the wind is always blowing in and<br />

around Brandon. I know March is known for its wind, but so is every<br />

other month in this hometown.<br />

This month’s Hometown Rankin features a whirlwind of activities<br />

and events that help make this place we call home anything but stagnant!<br />

Our area is on the move in so many positive ways, and it’s our intention<br />

to highlight those. See for yourself inside these pages of our March issue.<br />

Sometimes life’s winds blow in hardships like sickness and tests to<br />

our faith. Our March cover story describes our Northwest Rankin High<br />

School baseball coach, and his second fight with cancer. You will be<br />

inspired by his attitude about this second attack on his body and faith.<br />

I remember my first time to meet Coach Aldridge. I also remember<br />

leaving that meeting, being so impressed with his great attitude and<br />

love for his job of coaching. He never mentioned the stormy winds<br />

that were attacking him; I learned about his cancer from others who<br />

knew and were inspired by his fortitude.<br />

We’ve all wrestled with those winds that blow in troubles and<br />

heartaches. They are a part of every life. But it’s how we respond to<br />

those winds that can impact other lives. You may be enjoying the<br />

balmy winds of a warm spring day or caught up in your own turbulent<br />

season of life. Whichever it may be, use your present situation as a<br />

positive impact for all those that see and watch you.<br />



The Way We Were 10<br />

Hometown Family 34<br />

Woman of Impact 14<br />

Kids Who Care 56<br />


Tahya Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />



Alisha Floyd<br />

Reader Spotlight 21<br />

Be Where Your Feet Are 22<br />

Go Ahead, Use The Good China 64<br />

Fighting for MS Veterans 78<br />



Caroline Hodges<br />



Lexie Ownby<br />


Stacy Everett<br />


Nikki Robison<br />

...see you around town.<br />


Daniel Thomas<br />

3dt<br />

STAFF<br />


Othel Anding<br />

STAFF<br />


Debby Francis<br />



Melissa Kennon<br />

www.facebook.com/hometownrankinmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 200 Felicity Street / Brandon, MS 39042<br />

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Rankin may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Rankin is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.<br />

Hometown Rankin maintains the unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted material. All advertisements are subject to approval by the publisher. The production of Hometown Rankin is funded by advertising.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 7

8 • MARCH 2023<br />

601.326.2755<br />


Hometown RANKIN • 9

Marie & Arnold Jackson<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Sitting aboard their thirty-<br />

Marie’s mom invited him to<br />

Georgia. The next move carried<br />

While his jobs carried him<br />

eight foot cruiser anchored to<br />

join their family for a meal.<br />

them to California.<br />

throughout the states, Marie<br />

a pier in the Barnett Reservoir,<br />

Marie’s fond memory of that<br />

Arnold’s appetite for better<br />

was a stay at home mom to<br />

Marie and Arnold Jackson laugh<br />

first meeting was actually the<br />

job opportunities kept him<br />

their three daughters. When<br />

and joke about the circumstances<br />

reverse order. “Usually the girl<br />

actively pursuing education<br />

they were 5th, 6th, and 9th<br />

that afforded them dating<br />

carries the boy home to meet<br />

and advancing his options.<br />

graders in 1983, the Jacksons’<br />

privileges. She was a 10th grader<br />

her parents. Mother brought<br />

Law school was one of those<br />

lives took a drastic turn. Marie’s<br />

from Toomsuba, Mississippi,<br />

the boy home to me,” Marie<br />

opportunities, and while<br />

parents were in a serious train/<br />

and he was a freshman at a<br />

said through her jovial laughter.<br />

working days (with Marie’s<br />

car collision that killed her<br />

community college in Meridian.<br />

After three years of dating<br />

help) and attending night<br />

father and put her mom in a<br />

Arnold worked as a grocery<br />

and one quarter from Arnold’s<br />

classes, he added attorney to<br />

six week coma. One leg had to<br />

sacker in the Meridian A&P<br />

graduating from the University<br />

his job titles. That degree led<br />

be amputated, and her eyesight<br />

Grocery, and it was Marie’s<br />

of Southern Mississippi, the two<br />

him into the oil business where<br />

was destroyed.<br />

mother who ran the cash register<br />

were wed on April 12, 1968.<br />

he and three other businessmen<br />

Marie understood then<br />

next to him. The two became<br />

Arnold soon got a job that<br />

eventually launched Denbury<br />

why God’s plan for her hadn’t<br />

good friends, and over time<br />

moved the newlyweds to Macon,<br />

Resources, Inc.<br />

included a degree and career<br />

because the next thirty years<br />

10 • MARCH 2023

“ We’ve got<br />

lots of friends,<br />

and we love<br />

people!”<br />

she was her mother’s caregiver<br />

designer in Madison, and<br />

jewel for always calling her<br />

moves on the dance floor.<br />

in their home until her mother’s<br />

Missy McMinn is an OBGYN<br />

every night he was on the road.<br />

arie says about her joy of<br />

death.<br />

at East Lakeland.<br />

Life is full as Marie and<br />

entertaining, “We’ve got lots<br />

The Jacksons don’t speak of<br />

As for the attraction that<br />

Arnold approach their 55th<br />

of friends, and we love people!”<br />

those thirty years as hardships<br />

brought Marie and Arnold<br />

year of marriage. Their six<br />

They both credit God for His<br />

or a challenge to their marriage.<br />

together, Marie says Arnold’s<br />

grandchildren’s activities are a<br />

abundant blessings and the<br />

Their love for each other and<br />

kindness and work ethic<br />

treat to follow, and Marie’s gift<br />

reason they are blessed to share<br />

commitment to their vows<br />

attracted her as well as his being<br />

of hospitality continues to<br />

with others. As a wise Sunday<br />

were broad and deep enough<br />

a “city boy” and an identical<br />

bloom. They entertain their<br />

school teacher at Crossgates<br />

to overcome life’s struggles.<br />

triplet. Arnold was captivated<br />

friends and family at their<br />

Baptist Church, Arnold says,<br />

Today all three of the Jackson<br />

by Marie’s beauty and quiet<br />

Crossgates home or on the<br />

“To whom much is given, much<br />

daughters are happily married<br />

spirit. He still applauds the way<br />

Reservoir onboard their<br />

is required.”<br />

and living close to home. Liesa<br />

she supported his many business<br />

pontoon or cruiser. They host<br />

As for Marie’s appetite for<br />

Holeman is the assistant BSU<br />

ventures over the years.<br />

three large parties a year in<br />

keeping life active and full of<br />

director on the Ole Miss campus<br />

The secret to their “sticking”<br />

their back yard and an open<br />

merriment, Arnold says, “I’m<br />

as well as College Students<br />

glue? Marie is certain that it’s<br />

house for friends during the<br />

married to Marie, and I hang<br />

Minister at FBC Oxford.<br />

because they’ve never gone to<br />

Christmas celebration. And it’s<br />

on for dear life!”<br />

Sonya Covey is an interior<br />

bed mad. She also labels him a<br />

a fact that they still cut enviable<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 11

12 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 13

2023 METRO JACKSON<br />

Woman<br />

of IMPACT<br />

The American Heart Association, Metro Jackson, is proud to be<br />

celebrating the Woman of Impact Class of 2023, a complement<br />

to the Metro Jackson Go Red for Women movement. Over the<br />

past few months, AHA received nominations for a select group of<br />

local women to be recognized for their passion and drive in building<br />

stronger communities. The areas of impact were limitless – from<br />

healthcare to philanthropy, from business to faith. If they “lead<br />

with heart,” they were eligible for nomination.<br />

Women of Impact are changemakers, dedicated to making a<br />

lasting impact on the health of the Metro Jackson community;<br />

women who lead by example, improving the well-being of those<br />

around them. By joining the Go Red for Women movement as a<br />

Woman of Impact, each honoree has assembled their own team of<br />

volunteers, set a fundraising goal, and made a meaningful impact<br />

on the health and wellbeing of the Metro Jackson community.<br />

For more information on how you can get involved with the<br />

Metro Jackson American Heart Association, please visit<br />

www.heart.org/en/affiliates/mississippi/Jackson.<br />

For more information about the Go Red for Women Movement,<br />

visit MetroJacksonGoRed.heart.org<br />

Dr. Nicole Cleveland<br />

Jackson Oncology<br />

Jackson native Nicole Duncan Cleveland<br />

MD is a hematologist/oncologist at<br />

Jackson Oncology Associates. She and<br />

husband Kenneth are the parents of three<br />

girls. The best part of her day is after<br />

work— “downtime with my husband and<br />

daughters, whether just sharing the shiny<br />

or hard moments from our day, or preparing<br />

dinner together.”<br />

Heart disease has inherently affected<br />

members of her family, some surviving<br />

only for the advances in medicine.<br />

Professionally, the practice of oncology,<br />

specifically the women and men who<br />

undergo chemotherapy and radiation for<br />

breast cancer, often leads to her patients<br />

developing cardiac disease. “There is a<br />

united front from both our disciplines to<br />

aggressively focus on screening, monitoring,<br />

and treating that type of cardiac disease.<br />

We are working hard to continue to<br />

advance our own cardio-oncology<br />

program, diminishing morbidity and<br />

mortality during cancer survivorship.”<br />

14 • MARCH 2023

Teri Oakes Dyess MD, FACP, FHM wears<br />

two hats: as physician/director of hospital<br />

medicine, and the co-chief medical officer<br />

for St Dominic’s Hospital. Originally from<br />

Ocean Springs, Dr. Dyess lives here with<br />

her blended family of five ranging from<br />

21 to 32 years old.<br />

Dr. Teri Dyess<br />

St. Dominic’s<br />

How does she live a healthy life?<br />

“Practicing what I preach! I work out before<br />

work, so that time does not get in the way<br />

of exercise. I eat a healthy diet. I do not<br />

ask my patients to do anything that I do<br />

not do myself. When asked why she is<br />

fighting cardiovascular disease, Dr. Dyess<br />

said, “I’ve committed my life’s work to<br />

healthcare as a physician in hospital<br />

medicine. As a doctor dedicated to caring<br />

for patients during their time in the hospital,<br />

I see firsthand the impact that heart<br />

disease and lifestyle choices have on our<br />

loved ones. I also see the potential to<br />

find new ways to prevent and treat these<br />

conditions through research and education<br />

offered by organizations like the<br />

American Heart Association.”<br />

Dr. Janet Harris<br />

UMMC Professor Emeritus<br />

Dr. Janet Young Harris DNP, RN,<br />

NEA-BC, spent 45 years in nursing. She<br />

and husband Joe Mac Hudspeth Jr will<br />

celebrate a 40-year wedding anniversary<br />

soon. They have a son and two granddaughters.<br />

Time spent with family “makes<br />

my heart sing, but I also love helping<br />

others—I’ve been so blessed. I give back<br />

through community involvement and<br />

service to organizations that I care about.<br />

I also love my involvement with Lakeland<br />

Presbyterian Church.”<br />

Dr. Harris is has been involved with the<br />

American Heart Association serving as a<br />

former Go Red for Women chair and as<br />

a Circle of Red member since the group<br />

began. When asked why, she offered, “I<br />

have dealt with hypertension for over 40<br />

years. I take meds every day to prevent<br />

stroke and heart attack. Secondly, my<br />

51-year-old dad had a massive heart<br />

attack in 1970. He survived but suffered<br />

congestive heart failure until he died<br />

years later. Lastly, I do it for my grandgirls.<br />

When we stand together, there are three<br />

of us. And, one in three women will<br />

suffer from heart disease. I believe in<br />

being a part of change so that other<br />

mothers, children, sisters, and friends do<br />

not have to suffer or die early from this<br />

disease - our #1 killer!”<br />

Jamie Higdon<br />

TempStaff<br />

Jamie Higdon is the vice-president and<br />

co-owner of TempStaff, a local staffing<br />

agency. She and her husband, Scott, live<br />

in Florence where they are raising two<br />

active daughters. What sparks joy in this<br />

family of four? Jamie says, “We love<br />

traveling as a family, solving escape<br />

rooms, or cheering on the Mississippi<br />

State Bulldogs. We are also involved in<br />

various ministries at First Baptist Church.”<br />

She is committed to bringing awareness<br />

to the American Heart Association<br />

as a Woman of Impact because, like so<br />

many people, “There is a history of heart<br />

disease in my family. Bringing awareness<br />

of the signs of heart disease and promoting<br />

preventative care will help both the men<br />

and women in my family and others to<br />

live long and healthy lives.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

Janie Jarvis<br />

The Bridal Path,<br />

Madison the City – Alderman<br />

Janie Jarvis is the co-owner of the Bridal<br />

Path and serves the City of Madison as an<br />

alderman. Thirty years ago, she married her<br />

husband Mike, a retired owner of a cellular<br />

tower construction company. Thirty years<br />

is the same amount of time they have<br />

lived in Madison, where they have raised<br />

two daughters, one of whom owns the<br />

business with her mother.<br />

As you can imagine, Janie loves meeting<br />

people. Traveling and volunteering make<br />

her happy but she said, “Spending time<br />

with my family in the outdoors brings me<br />

the most joy.”<br />

When asked why she is involved with<br />

bringing awareness to heart disease, Janie<br />

shared, “My grandfather died from a massive<br />

heart attack at age 47 and my father-in-law<br />

died from heart disease at age 62. Both<br />

of them died way too early in life! I also<br />

have two daughters and statistics show<br />

that one in three women face heart<br />

disease and it is the leading cause of<br />

death for women in the United States.<br />

It is important, especially in Mississippi<br />

with even higher death rates, that we<br />

educate women on the risks and<br />

prevention of heart disease.”<br />

Dr. Yolanda McElroy<br />

M3A Architects<br />

Yolanda Jones- McElroy, PhD, is one of<br />

four children born to Annie Gipson and<br />

Bobby Jones in Brandon. She was the<br />

only girl in a family with three boys. She<br />

“greatly remembers the strength, love,<br />

and endurance of not having a sister.”<br />

She now lives in Jackson and describes<br />

herself as a faithful member of New Hope<br />

Baptist Church.<br />

Dr. McElroy’s finds joy in “serving others<br />

through volunteerism, awareness, and<br />

ministry.” As an administrator for a local<br />

architect firm, she is making time to serve<br />

as a Woman of Impact nominee because,<br />

“heart disease is the number one killer of<br />

women, particularly African Americans.”<br />

Her goal? She says, “To increase cultural<br />

awareness, prevention of heart disease,<br />

and promote a better environment.”<br />

Dr. Sara Sanders is originally from Durant<br />

and lives in Ridgeland. As a physician, she<br />

practices geriatric medicine at Baptist<br />

Premier. Her husband Sean is a cardiologist,<br />

and together they have two young<br />

children, ages 10 and 8. They spend most<br />

of their free time watching their kids in all<br />

their myriad activities. Watching a New<br />

Orleans Pelicans basketball game is a<br />

favorite pastime.<br />

Dr. Sara Sanders<br />

Baptist Premier<br />

Dr. Sanders is focused on her volunteer<br />

work with the American Heart Association<br />

because, “I am in the fight against heart<br />

disease for my patients. I care for patients<br />

as they age and usually after they have<br />

received a diagnosis of heart disease.<br />

Raising awareness earlier (in the lives of<br />

people) is so important.”<br />


2023 Metro Jackson Go Red<br />

for Women Luncheon<br />

• Wednesday, May 3rd<br />

• Sheraton Flowood The Refuge Hotel<br />

& Conference Center<br />

• 10:30am - 12:00pm<br />

Health & Wellness Expo<br />

• 12:00pm - 1:00pm<br />

Luncheon<br />

Chair: Melanie Morgan, Trustmark<br />

16 • MARCH 2023

Erin Pickens<br />

WAPT<br />

Erin Pickens is a television news anchor<br />

for 16 WAPT and is a professor at Tougaloo<br />

College in the mass communication<br />

department. She was born and raised in<br />

Memphis, Tennessee, but has lived in<br />

Jackson for almost 21 years. Memphis is<br />

a special place for Erin as it is home to her<br />

parents and all of her family, “including a<br />

handsome little 6-year-old nephew<br />

named Bryant,” the son of her brother<br />

and sister-in-law.<br />

We asked her about what brings her joy.<br />

“I like to make sure others are happy,<br />

comfortable, and enjoying themselves.<br />

I never want someone to feel left out or<br />

misunderstood. If everyone around me<br />

is content, then I have joy.”<br />

Erin said that she is committed to<br />

raising awareness about heart disease<br />

because, “with cardiac arrests making<br />

headlines recently with Damar Hamlin and<br />

Lisa Marie Presley, then, with us embarking<br />

on American Heart Month, the focus is<br />

on the heart. I was ashamed to admit that<br />

I didn’t know CPR. I work in a stressful<br />

profession and I’m sure I need to be more<br />

heart healthy. I feel I need to do more to<br />

educate myself, and at the same time,<br />

why not help educate others as well?”<br />

Erin is now trained in CPR.<br />

Dr. Julia Thompson<br />

Merit Health Heart<br />

Dr. Julia Thompson is an interventional<br />

cardiologist at Merit Health. Originally<br />

from Thornton, she now lives here with her<br />

husband Michael and two young children.<br />

Rounding out the household are a dog,<br />

three cats, two chickens, and a snake! Her<br />

family and the people in her life are what<br />

bring joy to this busy physician.<br />

Following a stint in nursing in the cardiac<br />

ICU, she went back to medical school and<br />

never wavered from her focus on cardiology.<br />

Dr. Thompson said, “I love working in<br />

the cath lab, but the most rewarding part<br />

of my job is seeing patients back in clinic<br />

doing well after a heart attack or other<br />

major heart issue.”<br />

Heart attacks and cardiac arrests have<br />

been in the news recently, but she says,<br />

there is so much more to heart disease<br />

and lists high blood pressure, congestive<br />

heart failure, heart rhythm problems (atrial<br />

fibrillation), and women with peripartum<br />

cardiomyopathy as examples. Then,<br />

Dr. Thompson says, “There are issues<br />

like high cholesterol and diabetes that<br />

increase the risk of cardiac events like<br />

heart attack and stroke. In short, when<br />

you include the entire spectrum of heart<br />

disease, it is really difficult to find someone<br />

that it hasn’t affected. So, I’m in the fight<br />

to try to limit the impact of heart disease<br />

on my family and yours,” she said.<br />

Amy Lampton Walker<br />

Ergon<br />

Amy Lampton Walker is the area sales<br />

manager for Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions.<br />

She and husband, DeFord, enjoy spending<br />

time with their three children and attending<br />

their sports and performance events. Amy<br />

said heart disease has greatly impacted her<br />

family. Her father Lee Lampton’s struggle<br />

with heart disease began at age 52. “His<br />

road to recovery was long and taxing. But<br />

thanks to God, because of his commitment<br />

to being more intentional about healthy<br />

heart habits, along with the support of our<br />

family, he has persevered and is enjoying<br />

another chance at life.” Her maternal<br />

grandfather died at 52 from a heart attack<br />

and Amy lost her father-in-law and<br />

sister-in-law the same tragic way.<br />

She shared with us, “Realizing how<br />

heart disease has impacted generations of<br />

family members has driven my commitment<br />

to ensure my children have a chance<br />

to live long and healthy lives. Heart disease<br />

claims the life of a woman about every 80<br />

seconds. I want to work against this statistic.”<br />

Amy’s goal is to find ways to encourage<br />

more health-conscious mindsets early on<br />

and not as a reaction to the disease; to<br />

help facilitate the growth of communities<br />

that support access to healthy choices;<br />

and to help ensure equal and adequate<br />

access to health care and healthy lifestyle<br />

resources for the whole family.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 17

18 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 19

20 • MARCH 2023

READER<br />


Kinley<br />


Why did you decide to make Rankin<br />

County your home?<br />

Rankin County is my home because of the<br />

opportunities it provides. Puckett is my home.<br />

This school and community are like a family.<br />

How long have you lived in Rankin County?<br />

I have lived in Rankin County for 18 years.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My mom is Candice Ainsworth. She is a<br />

licensed and registered CT technologist.<br />

She does CTs, MRIs, and X-rays at Baptist.<br />

She has worked in radiology for 23 years. My<br />

dad is Mark Ainsworth. He is an industrial/<br />

commercial HVAC project manager. He has<br />

been a project manager for the last 10 years at<br />

Upchurch Services and has been in the HVAC<br />

business for 37 years now.<br />

What is your favorite memory of living in<br />

Rankin County?<br />

My favorite memory is definitely being<br />

baptized.<br />

Where are your three favorite places to eat<br />

in Rankin County?<br />

El Sombrero, The Cleaners, and Newks.<br />

What are some fun things to do in Rankin<br />

County on the weekends?<br />

I love to go to the movies, go out to eat, and<br />

shop.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your<br />

spare time.<br />

I love to go shopping! In the summer I enjoy<br />

swimming and doing anything outside.<br />

What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

I’d love to go to Hawaii, surf, and watch the<br />

sunrise on the beach.<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

I admire my Aunt Sarah. She is an amazing<br />

mom to three kids and works so hard to be her<br />

best for them. I look up to her because of the<br />

type of person she is. She is a Christian and<br />

does everything through Christ. She is the<br />

most thoughtful person and always puts other<br />

people’s needs in front of hers. I pray to be the<br />

type of person and mother she is one day.<br />

Where do you see yourself ten years<br />

from now?<br />

In 10 years I see myself working as an X-ray<br />

technician, married, with a little baby.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

My favorite childhood memory is going to the<br />

beach with my family.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

There is always room at the top.<br />

What is your favorite thing about<br />

Hometown Magazines?<br />

It spotlights people around Rankin County.<br />

I like to see familiar faces!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • MARCH 2023

Be Where<br />

Your Feet Are<br />

Leigh Ramsey<br />

“The first diagnosis was a gut punch. I was single then,<br />

but it hits a whole new level when you’re married with young kids.”<br />

Coach KK Aldridge, the head baseball<br />

coach, and economics teacher at Northwest<br />

Rankin High School, shared that his first<br />

thoughts after hearing his cancer had<br />

returned were his young kids. The coach,<br />

and his wife, Malorie, a history teacher and<br />

assistant volleyball coach at NWRHS, have<br />

three children, Acey, a five-year-old boy,<br />

Kaynslie, a three-year-old girl, and Kayde, a<br />

20-month-old boy. Coach Aldridge shared<br />

that his original diagnosis came after he had<br />

a swollen lymph node that wouldn’t go<br />

down in 2012. He was diagnosed with<br />

non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma. The<br />

treatment route he and the doctors chose<br />

was to remove that lymph node and use a<br />

“watch and see” approach. For ten years<br />

he’d get an annual check-up with no<br />

issues—until the spring of 2022.<br />

The coach began having stomach pains<br />

that would come and go throughout the<br />

summer. On August 6, 2022, his blood work<br />

showed an elevated white cell count. Doctors<br />

tried to reach KK on the phone, but were<br />

unable to do so. When they called Malorie,<br />

she said God told her to answer the phone,<br />

even though she normally would not have<br />

answered for a number she did not recognize.<br />

The doctor said that KK needed to go<br />

to the emergency room. There, they ran a<br />

CT and found a softball sized mass in his<br />

abdomen and several small masses throughout<br />

his abdomen and pelvic region. His biopsy<br />

results eventually led to the diagnosis of<br />

large B cell lymphoma.<br />

He began his first chemo treatment in<br />

September. Doctors also realized the coach’s<br />

hemoglobin levels were low and he was<br />

anemic. He had to have a blood transfusion<br />

the same time as his first chemo treatment.<br />

Because of this need, three different<br />

community groups were inspired to hold<br />

blood drives. First Baptist Church of Fannin,<br />

Pisgah High School, and Northwest Rankin<br />

High School all held blood drives, which<br />

benefited many people in the community.<br />

Thankfully, one transfusion and an iron<br />

infusion was enough to get the coach’s<br />

levels where they needed to be.<br />

Coach Aldridge continued a couple<br />

more rounds of chemo, but the oncologist<br />

could not tell if it was working. KK was sent<br />

to a surgeon to get a bigger biopsy. He was<br />

told that during the biopsy, if the surgeon<br />

found that the cancer was more intrusive,<br />

they might take the cancerous areas out.<br />

On December 6, KK went into surgery for a<br />

biopsy. Doctors wound up removing a foot<br />

and a half of his small intestine, the mass,<br />

and his appendix. He had to recover for six<br />

weeks. At the time of the interview, the<br />

coach had only been back at work for a<br />

week. The biopsy revealed that there were<br />

no live cancer cells and the chemotherapy<br />

was working.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 23

Even though the surgery was more<br />

intrusive than the couple initially anticipated,<br />

they are able to see God’s provision. The<br />

oncologist assured the couple, “Had we<br />

not gone in and removed this, it would not<br />

have gone well.” Malorie Aldridge shared,<br />

“It was a very big blessing that he had to<br />

have that surgery.”<br />

Through tears and a shaking voice, Mrs.<br />

Aldridge said, “God has been so good to us.<br />

When we found out we were diagnosed,<br />

we called our people and got our prayer<br />

warriors on it and this community has just<br />

put their arms around us.” She went on to<br />

name several teams at Northwest Rankin<br />

and Brandon, the school administrators, the<br />

church, their family, and so many others<br />

who have come together to support them.<br />

She added, “Years ago, Brandon and<br />

Northwest softball teams started a ‘Playing<br />

for the Cure’ game and they are doing that<br />

in honor of KK this year.” The game will be<br />

held March 24. The tee shirts that were sold<br />

to benefit the Aldridge family had a slogan<br />

stating, “Together We Fight.” Malorie shared,<br />

“That’s exactly how we have felt. We have<br />

not felt for one second that we have gone<br />

through this journey by ourselves because of<br />

our community and how much they have<br />

loved us. That is so humbling.”<br />

Coach Aldridge continued, “I’d never<br />

wish this on anyone, but you do get to see<br />

how much people love you by the support<br />

they give you. It makes you want to beat this<br />

thing even more and get out there and<br />

continue what you’re doing.” He went on<br />

to share that he and Malorie consider the<br />

students to be their mission field and<br />

they desire to impact those students and<br />

help them become the best version of<br />

themselves.<br />

“We fully trust in God’s plan. We want<br />

God to get the glory from this whole story<br />

and whatever avenue He chooses to take<br />

us down, we just hope that it’s a platform<br />

where His light can be shone.”<br />

The couple shared about one another,<br />

“She’s been my rock. There are a lot of times<br />

where I don’t have a lot of energy, and she has<br />

stepped up and handled it all,” Coach KK said.<br />

“Days are hard, but God’s word says<br />

when we are weak, He is strong,” Malorie<br />

shared. “I’ve been clinging to the Lord and<br />

watching KK be amazing. He has taken this<br />

on with such poise, and he has not been<br />

shaken.”<br />

Looking back over 2022, it was quite a<br />

rollercoaster of a year for Coach Aldridge.<br />

He experienced everything from the extreme<br />

high of his team winning the state championship<br />

in May, to the extreme low of his<br />

diagnosis. He used the slogan “be where<br />

your feet are” with the team last year. “That<br />

was great for its purpose for baseball, to<br />

enjoy the moment you are in,” he shared.<br />

“But I was able to transfer that just a few<br />

months later to the cancer diagnosis. That’s<br />

one thing cancer will do, is allow you to not<br />

take for granted the things you have, but to<br />

focus on the things that are most important;<br />

family and relationships. Obviously, my walk<br />

with God has grown deeper. I’ve learned, be<br />

where your feet are, so you can grow to be<br />

the person that God wants you to be.”<br />

24 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 25

The Chamber of Flowood would like to thank<br />

for helping make the Winter Gathering a<br />

cherished tradition and celebration of the<br />

Flowood business community.<br />

2023 Winter<br />

Gathering<br />

& Top of the Community Awards<br />

26 • MARCH 2023

Service.<br />

Our legacy and livelihood.<br />

We are driven by dedication to hard work, customerfirst<br />

service and a commitment to delivering the<br />

highest standard of products and service.<br />

To learn more, visit Ergon.com<br />

Students are explorers. Our<br />

job as educators is to help<br />

them FIND THEIR WAY<br />

academically, athletically,<br />

artistically, and spiritually.<br />

Amanda Slack<br />

Head of Lower School<br />

jacksonprep.net<br />

PreK-3 through grade 12<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 27

Touch A Truck ® Jackson<br />

Celebrates 10 Years<br />

Touch A Truck ® Jackson is a family-friendly, hands-on event<br />

offering opportunities for children of all ages to explore,<br />

climb, and touch trucks, emergency response vehicles, heavy<br />

machinery, public service, and other equipment. Learning<br />

will come alive at Touch A Truck® Jackson, providing children<br />

with an opportunity to connect vehicles and equipment to<br />

our Mississippi economy and potential careers in industries<br />

like public service, farming, manufacturing, and construction.<br />

A decade ago, the Junior League of Jackson brought the<br />

Touch A Truck ® Jackson experience to the community as a<br />

hybrid fund development business and community project.<br />

The first Touch A Truck ® Jackson was met with resounding<br />

praise in the community. Katy Pacelli, the first Touch A Truck ®<br />

Jackson event chair, said, “our goal for the first year was to<br />

create a solid foundation for this event that would not only<br />

raise funds for our community partners, but also give children<br />

28 • MARCH 2023

Presented by the Junior League of Jackson,<br />

Touch A Truck® Jackson rolls into<br />

Trustmark Park March 31 & April 1, 2023<br />

The 2023 Touch A Truck ® Jackson<br />

Steering Committee<br />

Meredith McCullough, Chair; Laura Hearn, Co-Chair;<br />

Jennifer Boydston, Chair-Elect; Megan McBeth, Corporate<br />

Sponsor Chair; Jasmine Smith, Finance Chair; Teneisha Wynter,<br />

Placement Chair; Jennifer Gray, Promotions Chair; Barbara Byrd,<br />

Special Events Chair; Sallie Campbell, Staging Chair;<br />

Mimi Arthur and Rebecca Henley, Sustaining Advisors.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 29

30 • MARCH 2023

an opportunity to experience something new. It was a group<br />

effort from the entire League and was so much fun to launch<br />

something new in our community and League. I have enjoyed<br />

watching it grow and evolve over the past ten years,” Pacelli adds.<br />

A unique aspect of Touch A Truck ® Jackson is that it is a<br />

fund development business and a community project of the<br />

Junior League of Jackson. Each year, Touch A Truck ® Jackson<br />

invites 1,600 students from around the Jackson metro area as<br />

part of Field Trip Friday. Thanks to the generosity of our corporate<br />

sponsors, supporters, and Junior League members through<br />

Handy Helper donations, we are able to offer this educational<br />

opportunity to invited second-grade students at no cost.<br />

Meredith McCullough, 2023 Touch A Truck ® Jackson chair,<br />

said, “I wanted to take on this role because I love hearing all<br />

the sweet stories of the children who attend Field Trip Friday<br />

and experience all the excitement that comes with interactive<br />

fun bringing classroom learning and pages of books to life.<br />

This year we have so many great activities planned, and I look<br />

forward to seeing the joy on the children’s faces as they explore,<br />

climb, and touch trucks and equipment at our various<br />

interactive exhibits.”<br />

Over the past ten years, Touch A Truck ® Jackson has raised<br />

more than $350,000, which stays here in the Jackson metro<br />

area. These funds allow the League to fund its mission,<br />

including the support of more than 30 community projects<br />

and initiatives in the areas of children’s health, early literacy,<br />

and social development. “Touch A Truck ® Jackson has evolved<br />

over the past ten years to incorporate activities and opportunities<br />

for children and schools in the Jackson metro area<br />

beyond the initial Touch A Truck ® Jackson experience. In 2018<br />

we introduced a literacy tent with guest readers throughout<br />

the day and in 2019 we established STREAM stations to further<br />

expand the hands-on learning experience. We continue to<br />

evolve the Touch A Truck ® Jackson experience to coincide<br />

with the mission of the Junior League of Jackson. This event<br />

has grown into an experience that showcases how fun and<br />

learning can come together beautifully through focused<br />

volunteerism and an impact-based model of service. I could<br />

not be more excited about this tenth anniversary event for our<br />

community,” said Bethany Smith, 2022-2023 Junior League of<br />

Jackson president.<br />

Touch A Truck ® Jackson 2023 kicks off Friday, March 31,<br />

with Donuts & Dump Trucks, a preschool event; followed by<br />

Field Trip Friday; and Unplugged, an event for children with<br />

sensory needs. The fun will continue that night with a new<br />

special event, Glow in the Park–a glow party like you have<br />

never seen with music from DJ Adam, illuminated exhibits,<br />

and fun activities!<br />

Big Wheel Breakfast will kick off Saturday morning, April 1,<br />

allowing attendees to enjoy breakfast and early access to<br />

exhibitors. General admission opens at 10:00am and will<br />

feature interactive science, technology, reading, engineering,<br />

arts, and math (STREAM) booths for children to enjoy, literacy<br />

fun, and so many exciting exhibitors.<br />

Tickets are available for Glow in the Park,<br />

Big Wheel Breakfast, and general admission at<br />

www.touchatruckjackson.com<br />

Our special events can sell out,<br />

so don’t delay in purchasing!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 31

32 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 33

34 • MARCH 2023

Sponsored by<br />

The Aikenses<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Robin - 47, likes to be called “Rob” and is an offshore oil worker. He<br />

loves working on his truck, and fishing. He did a lot of drawing and<br />

made figurines as a hobby before the kids.<br />

Sherika - 44, I am a registered nurse. I enjoy watching new food<br />

recipes on social media, quiet time, and reading inspirational books<br />

when I get a chance. We will be celebrating 15 years of marriage in<br />

August. We have two kids. Jaiden, 7, and Nekia, 5. Jaiden enjoys<br />

playing drums, and Nekia enjoys ballet. They both enjoy going to the<br />

Mississippi Children’s Museum, Happy Land, and parks.<br />

How did you meet and how long have you been married?<br />

We attended rivalry schools in Columbia, Mississippi. We met in the<br />

summer of 1995. I took drivers education at his school and we became<br />

real good friends. We lost contact after I left for college to attend<br />

Jackson State University in 1997. He reached out to my grandmother<br />

in 2006, and she received permission from me to give him my phone<br />

number. He contacted me during his hitch offshore and when he<br />

came home, he attended my high school’s 2006 football championship<br />

game that was being played in Jackson. We met up, dated, and<br />

went through a year of premarital counseling. He proposed to me at<br />

Disney World Dec. 21, 2007, and we married 8-8-2008 on a Friday.<br />

Two weeks later, we found that my great-grandparents married on<br />

the same date in 1925 which was so special.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 35

Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?<br />

Yes, our last big night out was October 22, 2022, to see Maxwell in<br />

concert at Brandon Amphitheater. We seem to have date nights<br />

every two months which is not enough, because we mostly spend a<br />

lot of time together as a family.<br />

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?<br />

We love being the first to introduce our kids to new exciting things,<br />

and places. It brings us joy to watch them grow, laugh, and play.<br />

Who is the financial manager in your home?<br />

I am officially the financial manager since starting our family.<br />

I write our list of expenses down each month. We have to live as<br />

if we are operating under one salary, because we have experienced<br />

three layoffs that lasted one year each in 2009, 2015, and 2020.<br />

When your children were younger, what was your<br />

discipline philosophy?<br />

I tell them to keep their hands to themselves and be courteous by<br />

saying, “excuse me, thank you, and you’re welcome.” They don’t get<br />

spankings, but may get a pop on the hand if needed. They mostly<br />

take heed to my facial expressions. We tend to ignore behavior we<br />

don’t like and give treats to the behaviors we like. They listen more<br />

to their dad due to his advantage with a deeper tone of voice. He also<br />

has affirmations that they repeat after him, and we make sure they<br />

say their prayers at night.<br />

What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit to<br />

your family?<br />

I sacrifice more because, while my husband is working, I manage the<br />

family. Our son is on the autism spectrum. He has drum lessons<br />

weekly and applied behavior analysis therapy four days a week. Our<br />

daughter has ballet weekly, tutoring twice a week, and occupational<br />

therapy weekly. Therefore, I had to recently change from working<br />

full time on weekend nights at my job, to working as needed.<br />

What’s a quick go-to meal that isn’t fast food?<br />

And who does the cooking?<br />

I love my rice cooker! I quickly can warm up a can of beef stew<br />

to put over rice, with English peas or stemmed broccoli on the side.<br />

The kids don’t favor spaghetti anymore, which was my husband’s<br />

go-to meal.<br />

How long has Brandon been your home?<br />

Brandon has been our home for five years. We’ve lived in Rankin<br />

County since we married in 2008. However, I moved to Rankin<br />

County in 2006. We also lived a year in Ellisville before the kids<br />

while I was becoming an LPN, and a year in Biloxi to attend school<br />

to become a RN. But we returned to Rankin County to start our<br />

family.<br />

What are your favorite things about Rankin County?<br />

We love the convenience of shopping and dining within our<br />

community, and the kids are close to their grandmother who lives<br />

in Pearl.<br />

How do you spend your summer breaks?<br />

We enjoy going to the beach. Our kids love playing in the pool<br />

at Sheraton Flowood–The Refuge Hotel, and the Mississippi<br />

Children’s Museum splash pad.<br />

What accomplishments make you proud during your time<br />

living in Brandon?<br />

We’ve been so proud to see our kids start school and make new friends.<br />

What drives you to have the job that you have?<br />

And what do you do for a living?<br />

The financial support and the much-needed flexibility that our<br />

family needs is our drive to have the jobs we have. Rob works with an<br />

offshore oil rig contract company that gives him the option to take<br />

certain contracts and the length of time needed that may vary from<br />

7-21 days. We agreed that one month away is no longer good for our<br />

family. I work weekend nights twice a week so I can be home during<br />

the week and still be able to be with my kids during the day on the<br />

weekends.<br />


Favorite thing to do as a family?<br />

Eat and travel<br />

Favorite restaurants?<br />

Genna Benna’s, Berry’s Seafood, Dominos, and Chick-fil-A<br />

Favorite TV show?<br />

Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig<br />

36 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 37

38 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 39

Abigail Green<br />

The first item is to eat a big sushi roll<br />

the size of a wheel. I always watch<br />

these mukbang videos of people eating<br />

this mega-sized food and I love sushi,<br />

so it is a win-win. The second item is<br />

to visit Dubai. I’ve always wanted to go<br />

somewhere far away from Mississippi<br />

and Dubai was my first pick.<br />

Richland<br />

High School<br />

Q&A<br />

What are<br />

2 things<br />

on your<br />

bucket list<br />

??<br />

Allison Speegle<br />

Two items on my list include traveling<br />

to Jamaica on a cruise and meeting<br />

Snoop Dogg. Jamaica has beautiful<br />

weather and amazing beaches. Snoop<br />

Dogg will forever be an icon.<br />

Andrew Dowdle<br />

Something I really would like to cross<br />

off my bucket list is to graduate college.<br />

Another thing is to travel the world.<br />

Ashlyn Palmer<br />

I would love to take a trip up to<br />

Tennessee. Another thing that<br />

would be a forever interest is<br />

meeting Bailey Zimmerman.<br />

Chloe Owens<br />

Two things I want to cross off my<br />

bucket list is to visit Punta Cana. I<br />

would also like to go parasailing.<br />

40 • MARCH 2023

Christopher<br />

Hawkins<br />

I am going to Tokyo, Japan, with<br />

my family. I also plan on getting<br />

my business running to support<br />

my family.<br />

Lydia McGarity<br />

One thing on my bucket list is owning<br />

a lot of dogs, especially a Pitbull. The<br />

second thing is traveling around the<br />

U.S. in a van/ house-bus.<br />

Jordan Minor<br />

First, I would like to visit the Bahamas,<br />

swim on the beaches, and maybe<br />

take a cruise. Then, I would like to<br />

take a zipline, maybe in the<br />

Bahamas, Italy, or Japan.<br />

Mikaelah Smith<br />

I want to have peace of mind and<br />

happiness. I want to experience the<br />

world and travel and take on as<br />

many adventures as possible.<br />

Joshua Jackson<br />

One thing is to go skydiving.<br />

Another thing I want to do is win<br />

a PBA Championship.<br />

Paige Fortado<br />

I would really like to meet Garth<br />

Brooks because he is one of my<br />

favorite country music artists.<br />

I would also like to go on an<br />

Alaskan cruise.<br />

Julia Eubanks<br />

Scuba diving and feeding the<br />

homeless with gourmet. The sea<br />

feels like home to me, and I love<br />

animals. It is a mental break and a<br />

happy place. I want to feed special<br />

food to people who can’t afford it<br />

so it encourages them to motivate.<br />

Kaleb Frazier<br />

I want to go to Alaska and hunt a<br />

moose, or honestly just go. I also<br />

want to learn to drift and start doing<br />

it professionally or attempt to.<br />

Tanasia Holmes<br />

Two items on my bucket list are<br />

to adopt a child because I want to<br />

make a difference in a child’s life<br />

and the other thing is to go off the<br />

map. I want to move away from<br />

home so no one knows who I am<br />

when I move to a new city.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 41

Lime in the Coconut<br />

Almond Bark<br />

• 1 pkg. (10-12oz.) white<br />

baking chips<br />

• 4 tsp. shortening<br />

• 2 to 4 drops green food coloring,<br />

optional<br />

• ½ cup sweetened shredded<br />

coconut, toasted<br />

• ½ cup chopped almonds, toasted<br />

• 4 tsp. grated lime zest<br />

Line a 9-inch square baking pan<br />

with foil; set aside. In a microwave,<br />

melt chips and shortening. Stir until<br />

smooth. Stir in food coloring if<br />

desired. Stir in coconut, almonds<br />

and lime zest. Spread into prepared<br />

pan. Chill until firm, 10-15 minutes.<br />

Break into small pieces. Store in an<br />

airtight container at room<br />

temperature.<br />

Roasted Broccoli<br />

with Parmesan<br />

• 1½ lbs. broccoli (about 2 medium<br />

crowns), cut into florets of even<br />

size<br />

• 3 to 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil<br />

• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice<br />

(about ½ lemon)<br />

• Kosher salt<br />

• 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced<br />

• Ground black pepper<br />

• ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese,<br />

or to taste<br />

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a<br />

large bowl, toss the broccoli florets<br />

and minced garlic with olive oil and<br />

lemon juice until lightly coated.<br />

Sprinkle salt over the broccoli and<br />

toss to coat. Arrange the broccoli<br />

florets in a single layer on a baking<br />

sheet that has been rubbed with<br />

some olive oil or lined with<br />

parchment paper or aluminum foil.<br />

Roast at 425 degrees for 16-20<br />

minutes until cooked through<br />

(check with a fork, should be fork<br />

tender) and lightly browned. The<br />

browned bites are the best!<br />

Strawberry Spinach<br />

Salad Dressing<br />

• ½ cup white sugar<br />

• ½ cup olive oil<br />

• ¼ cup distilled white vinegar<br />

• 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds<br />

• 1 Tbsp. poppy seed<br />

• 1 Tbsp. minced onion<br />

• ¼ tsp. paprika<br />

• ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce<br />

Salad<br />

• 1 qt. strawberries – cleaned,<br />

hulled and sliced<br />

• 10 oz. fresh spinach – rinsed,<br />

dried and torn into bite sized<br />

pieces<br />

• ¼ cup almonds, blanched<br />

and slivered<br />

Make dressing: Whisk together<br />

sugar, oil, vinegar, sesame seeds,<br />

poppy seeds, onion, paprika and<br />

Worcestershire in a medium bowl.<br />

Cover and chill for 1 hour.<br />

Make salad: combine strawberries,<br />

spinach and almonds in a large<br />

bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss<br />

to coat. Refrigerate for 10 to 15<br />

minutes.<br />

42 • MARCH 2023

Best Spinach Dip Ever<br />

• 1 (16oz.) container sour cream<br />

• 1 cup mayonnaise<br />

• ½ (10 oz.) package frozen chopped<br />

spinach, thawed and drained<br />

• 1 (4 oz.) can water chestnuts,<br />

drained and chopped<br />

• 1 (1.8 oz.) package dry leek<br />

soup mix<br />

• 1 (1 lb.) loaf round sourdough<br />

bread<br />

Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, spinach,<br />

water chestnuts, and dry leek soup<br />

together in a medium bowl. Chill in<br />

the refrigerator 6 hours or overnight.<br />

Slice off the top of the sourdough<br />

round and pull out the soft interior,<br />

leaving a sturdy bread bowl. Fill with<br />

spinach mixture. Tear removed bread<br />

chunks into pieces for dipping.<br />

Avocado Green Goddess<br />

Salad Dressing<br />

• 1 avocado<br />

• 1 juice of lemon<br />

• 1 clove of garlic grated<br />

• ¼ cup plain yogurt<br />

• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce<br />

• 2 Tbsp. green onions minced<br />

• 2 Tbsp. fresh basil<br />

• 1 tsp. salt<br />

• ½ tsp. pepper<br />

Place all ingredients in a food<br />

processor or blender and puree until<br />

smooth. Add water as needed. Serve<br />

over green salad or use as a dip for<br />

veggies.<br />

Festive Corn & Broccoli<br />

• 1 pkg. (16oz.) frozen chopped<br />

broccoli, thawed<br />

• 1 can (7oz.) Mexicorn, drained<br />

• ¼ cup butter, cubed<br />

• 1 tsp. dried basil<br />

• ½ tsp. salt<br />

• 1/8 tsp. garlic powder<br />

• 1/8 tsp. pepper<br />

In a large cast iron or other heavy<br />

skillet, combine the broccoli, corn,<br />

and butter; cook over medium heat<br />

until butter is melted. Stir in the basil,<br />

salt, garlic powder and pepper. Cover<br />

and cook until vegetables are tender,<br />

8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.<br />

Roasted Cabbage<br />

• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil<br />

• ½ head green cabbage, cut into<br />

4 wedges<br />

• 1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste<br />

• 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste<br />

• Salt and black pepper to taste<br />

• 2 lemons, halved<br />

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.<br />

Brush both sides of each cabbage<br />

wedge with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic<br />

powder, pepper flakes, salt and<br />

pepper over each wedge. Arrange<br />

wedges on a baking sheet. Roast in<br />

the preheated oven for 15 minutes;<br />

flip cabbage and continue roasting<br />

until browned and charred in some<br />

areas, about 15 minutes more.<br />

Squeeze lemon over each wedge<br />

and serve.<br />

Pesto Penne with<br />

Shrimp and Peas<br />

• 12 oz. penne paste<br />

• 2 cups baby spinach<br />

• 1 cup fresh basil<br />

• 1/3 cups plus 1 Tbsp. extra virgin<br />

olive oil<br />

• ¼ cup grated parmesan,<br />

plus more for serving<br />

• ¼ cup pine nuts or almonds<br />

• 1 clove garlic, minced<br />

• Kosher salt<br />

• Ground black pepper<br />

• 1 lb. peeled and deveined<br />

medium shrimp<br />

• 1 cup peas<br />

• Crushed red chili flakes (optional)<br />

In a large pot of salted boiling water,<br />

cook pasta until firm to the bite.<br />

Drain reserving 1 cup pasta water<br />

and return to pot. Meanwhile, make<br />

pesto: In a small food processor<br />

fitted with a metal blade, pulse<br />

spinach, basil, and 1/3 cup olive oil<br />

until combined. Add parmesan,<br />

pine nuts or almonds and season<br />

with salt and pepper. In a large skillet<br />

over medium heat, heat remaining<br />

tablespoon olive oil. Add shrimp and<br />

cook until pink, about 3-4 minutes.<br />

Add pasta pesto and peas to skillet<br />

and toss until completely combined.<br />

Stir in ¼ cup pasta water and stir until<br />

creamy. Sprinkle with parmesan and<br />

chili flakes.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 43

44 • MARCH 2023<br />

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readers and advertisers.<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 45

City of Brandon<br />

2023<br />

Princess<br />

Ball<br />

Hometown Magazines had the<br />

privilege of sponsoring nine<br />

beautiful young girls to attend the<br />

City of Brandon’s Princess Ball<br />

held on February 10th.<br />

They were treated to shopping<br />

and picking out their own dresses<br />

which were provided for the event,<br />

and were also provided beautiful<br />

corsages from Chapman’s Florist.<br />

What a fairytale night!<br />

Thank you to these<br />

City of Brandon officers for<br />

stepping up and making the evening<br />

extra special for these young ladies:<br />

Officer William McIntyre<br />

Officer Nick Pittman<br />

Sgt. Brad Martin<br />

Investigator Robbie Reid<br />

Officer JP Dragoo<br />

Officer Aaron Conley<br />

Officer Troy Dukes<br />

Asst. Chief Marshall Pack<br />

Chief Wayne Dearman<br />

46 •• MARCH 2023 2022

Hometown RANKIN •• 47

48 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 49

Bully<br />

Prevention<br />

Awareness<br />

For the past seven years, the Rankin County<br />

School District has hosted a Bully Prevention<br />

Awareness poster contest. Students from<br />

grades Pre-K to 12th are encouraged to<br />

submit original artwork addressing positive<br />

friendships, peer pressure, peer conflict, as<br />

well as physical bullying, emotional bullying,<br />

social bullying, and cyber-bullying.<br />

Most recently, we added a poetry division<br />

for the middle/high division to allow<br />

another creative outlet for students.<br />

CATEGORY 1 PreK – 2nd<br />

Brody Burtnett<br />

2ND GRADE, Steen’s Creek - $100<br />

<br />

<br />

“This contest, along with other programs<br />

and initiatives, serves our students by<br />

allowing them to think outside the box and<br />

visually present problems that they or other<br />

students may face–and offers a way for<br />

them to be a part of the solution. We feel<br />

that when students are reaching out to one<br />

another and striving for positivity through<br />

opportunities like this contest, they are<br />

providing their peers with a message of<br />

support and hope,” said Ginger Jones,<br />

RCSD director of student support<br />

services and counseling.<br />

<br />

The winning posters and poems in each<br />

category are placed in all 28 of the schools<br />

in the Rankin County School District.<br />

Posters were submitted for judging at the<br />

school level and each school submitted<br />

three posters and three poems to go on to<br />

the district level competition. Each of the<br />

six categories had district-level first, second,<br />

and third place winners. Rankin County<br />

School District had the twelve winning<br />

posters and six winning poems reproduced<br />

to display in district schools and offices.<br />

Addilyn Stephens<br />

1ST GRADE, Rouse Elementary - $50<br />

Perry Cook<br />

2ND GRADE, StoneBridge Elementary - $25<br />

The Foundation for Rankin County<br />

Public Schools provided checks in the<br />

amount of $100 for first place winners,<br />

$50 for second place winners,<br />

and $25 for third place winners.<br />

50 • MARCH 2023

CATEGORY 2 • 3rd - 5th<br />

Ace Evans & Hunter Smith<br />

5TH GRADE, Puckett Elementary - $100<br />

Aubrey Henson<br />

4TH GRADE, McLaurin Elementary - $50<br />

Ryker Ready<br />

5TH GRADE, Florence Elementary - $25<br />

CATEGORY 3<br />

6th - 8th Poster<br />

Madilyn G. Ellis<br />

6TH GRADE<br />

Florence Middle<br />

$100<br />

Addison Boteler<br />

7TH GRADE<br />

Northwest Rankin Middle<br />

$50<br />

Bella McCann<br />

8TH GRADE<br />

McLaurin High<br />

$25<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 51

CATEGORY 3 • 6th-8th Poetry<br />

Zoey Perez<br />

7TH GRADE, Florence Middle - $100<br />

Nathan Boyd<br />

8TH GRADE, Pisgah High - $50<br />

Autumn Magee<br />

6TH GRADE, Pisgah Elementary - $25<br />

CATEGORY 4 • 9th-12th Poetry<br />

Avanlea Thornton<br />

9TH GRADE, Florence High - $100<br />

Madison Fortenberry<br />

9TH GRADE, Richland High - $50<br />

Rachel Blackledge<br />

11TH GRADE, Florence High - $25<br />

52 • MARCH 2023

CATEGORY 4 • 9th-12th Poster<br />

Hannah Martin<br />

10TH GRADE, Brandon High - $100<br />

Myisha Ahmad<br />

11TH GRADE, Northwest Rankin High - $50<br />

Fran Bartling<br />

9TH GRADE, Brandon High - $25<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

54 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 55

56 • MARCH 2023


Anderson Walker<br />

Mistie Desper<br />



BE DONE AT 110%.”<br />

Words that Anderson Walker learned<br />

from his father growing up that have resonated<br />

with him, inspiring him to leave his mark on<br />

this world.<br />

Anderson, a 16 year old junior at McLaurin<br />

High School, has acquired an impressive list<br />

of accomplishments in his young life but it’s<br />

the act of serving others that he holds most<br />

dear to his heart.<br />

“I was raised in the small town of Star<br />

where everybody knew everybody. My parents,<br />

Jeff and Christy, had a reputation of giving to<br />

others and helping out anyone that needed it.<br />

Both sets of my grandparents were all very<br />

influential in my life also and really laid that<br />

foundation for me. I guess you can say that it’s<br />

in my blood, but they have been such a positive<br />

influence on me and have inspired me to<br />

always want to give back to my community<br />

and school,” said Anderson.<br />

At McLaurin, Anderson plays a wide<br />

variety of sports, from football and baseball<br />

to golf and bowling–but it’s the service-based<br />

activities that he describes as “warming his<br />

heart.”<br />

As a member of Beta Club, MHS Student<br />

Council, RCSD Student Advisory Council,<br />

Rankin County Youth Leadership as well as<br />

being a volunteer at the Mustard Seed and a<br />

student mentor at McLaurin Elementary,<br />

Anderson is busy giving back to his school<br />

and community.<br />

Assistant Principal Katie Nelson said,<br />

“Anderson is an impactful student leader on<br />

our campus.”<br />

Anderson admits that it is his “love of just<br />

talking to people and learning about them”<br />

that makes serving others so special to him.<br />

He recalled an event sponsored by Beta Club<br />

that left an impact on his young heart while<br />

in the 5th grade. His group visited a retirement<br />

community and he was able to sit and<br />

chat with several senior citizens.<br />

“At that time, I knew nothing about life.<br />

Being able to sit with these older people who<br />

shared their life lessons with me was very<br />

special. Even though their circumstances may<br />

have had them down, they took the time to<br />

show me how beautiful life really is and all the<br />

things I could do. It really left an impact on me.”<br />

Anderson says that one of his favorite<br />

organizations to be involved in is the Rankin<br />

County Youth Leadership program. The<br />

program chooses students from local schools<br />

and helps young leaders develop responsible<br />

community leadership roles by becoming<br />

familiar with community opportunities,<br />

needs, problems, and resources. The youth<br />

meet monthly, and throughout their time<br />

together, they perform community service<br />

throughout Rankin County.<br />

“We have all become great friends. Mrs.<br />

Mandi Arinder helps us set up community<br />

service projects like helping at Mustard Seed<br />

and ringing the bell for Salvation Army. This<br />

has been the highlight of my junior year. We<br />

have become so close and have made many<br />

great memories. This program has taught me<br />

so much about leadership and helping in my<br />

community.”<br />

His time spent at The Mustard Seed<br />

through the youth program had a profound<br />

impact on him as well. “I have two sisters,<br />

Taylor and KaLeigh. Taylor is also special<br />

needs and it warmed my heart to serve at an<br />

organization with other special needs people.<br />

It was amazing to see them in their own<br />

world and how they interact with each other<br />

and were just able to be themselves. It is a<br />

great organization and I hope to be able to<br />

help again there soon.”<br />

The Walker family has a history of<br />

serving their community, their school, and<br />

their church, Star Baptist. Both Jeff and<br />

Christy work at McLaurin High School.<br />

Anderson recalled, “From birth, my parents’<br />

roles at school gave me the opportunity to<br />

have lots of older role models around me at<br />

all times. I was able to learn so much from<br />

them and that is a huge part of why I want to<br />

do this for others. I feel it is so important to<br />

be a positive role model for others. What you<br />

give is what you get in return.”<br />

Anderson is looking into more missions<br />

opportunities through his church and looking<br />

forward to his remaining time at McLaurin<br />

High School. He hopes to continue playing<br />

baseball at the next level when he attends<br />

college. “Any opportunity God gives me,<br />

I’ll take.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 57

58 • MARCH 2023<br />

Krewe de Roux<br />

Parade & Block Party<br />

February 17<br />

Sponsored by Rankin County Chamber<br />

and City of Brandon

Hometown RANKIN • 59

60 • MARCH 2023<br />

Krewe de Roux<br />

Gumbo Cook-Off & Car Show<br />

February 18<br />

Sponsored by Rankin County Chamber<br />

and City of Brandon

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 63

Go Ahead,<br />

Use the<br />

Good China<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

64 • MARCH 2023

Why do we insist on saving things for special occasions?<br />

Let me re-phrase that.<br />

Why do “I” insist on doing it?<br />

Twenty years ago, when my husband<br />

and I were in the process of getting married,<br />

the expectation of newly engaged couples<br />

was to register for fine china and fancy<br />

crystal in order to receive them as wedding<br />

gifts. In hindsight, there were certainly<br />

more practical gifts for which we could<br />

have registered. We barely had enough<br />

cabinet space to accommodate our<br />

mismatched combined everyday dishes<br />

and assorted plastic “to-go” cups.<br />

Friends and family were generous in<br />

celebrating our union with dinner plates<br />

and salad plates and bowls and cups and<br />

saucers–all gilded and gold rimmed–<br />

and none dishwasher safe.<br />

When we built a home a decade later,<br />

we boxed up all our gifted tableware–<br />

some still yet to be unwrapped from its<br />

original gift packaging–and we moved it<br />

to its new address. To this day, while yet<br />

another ten years has passed, they remain<br />

mere articles of decoration–or hidden,<br />

entirely, in a seldom-used china cabinet.<br />

My china has become a metaphor for<br />

my life. What am I saving it for?<br />

It has always been my experience that<br />

the purpose of fancy dinnerware is to mark<br />

“special” occasions. I’ve realized, though,<br />

as I’ve gotten older, that my definition of<br />

“special” has changed.<br />

My son is getting older. My husband<br />

travels constantly for work. Special<br />

occasions in our household have become<br />

the everyday ones. The days when my<br />

husband and son and I can sit down<br />

together at the same table and eat and<br />

laugh and talk, are special. The days when<br />

we celebrate simple things like getting our<br />

driver’s license, a win on the baseball field,<br />

or an award at school–are all special.<br />

And our clock is ticking . . .<br />

Oftentimes, our neighborhood friends<br />

will come to our house and gather around<br />

the kitchen island and eat and drink and<br />

howl laughing while sharing stories of their<br />

jobs and their children and their lives–<br />

and those times are special. And the fact<br />

that they want to be there is special.<br />

So when I consider that our special<br />

occasions are the ones that involve the<br />

people I love the most engaging in the<br />

things that make me the most happy–<br />

it makes me wish I had used that china<br />

more often.<br />

If you’re still reading this, stay with me...<br />

What if we actually started to “use the<br />

good china” every day? What if we used it<br />

until every gilded edge on every piece had<br />

been worn down to just a faint brassy haze?<br />

If we are saving our very best, for the very<br />

best, when will that be if not now?<br />

At nearly 53-years old, I find myself in<br />

a transition–a bit of a “new season.” And<br />

I’m not even sure what triggered it. Maybe<br />

preparing to write this story prompted it<br />

as I’ve been thinking about it for quite<br />

some time. But the truth is, I’d gotten lazy.<br />

And because my family is moving at warp<br />

speed, most often in completely opposite<br />

directions, I found myself being alone<br />

more often than not.<br />

My day-to-day routine hadn’t required<br />

much effort beyond getting up, brushing<br />

my teeth, piling my hair on top of my head,<br />

and taking my son to school–most often<br />

in my pajamas. And because I work from<br />

home, I can stay in my pajamas for a good<br />

part of the day, and usually do.<br />

But a year or two ago, I started noticing<br />

that I was having a hard time remembering<br />

things–simple things like being able to<br />

recall someone’s name or a word that should<br />

have, otherwise, come easily. I would go<br />

to the grocery store and it would occur<br />

to me, somewhere around the cereal aisle,<br />

that I had absolutely no idea where I’d<br />

parked my car.<br />

So there I’d be, in a baggy sweatshirt<br />

that covers my back-side, wearing yoga<br />

pants as pants, without a stitch of make-up<br />

on my face, hair piled high up on my head,<br />

standing on aisle eleven and wondering not<br />

only where I had parked my car–but what<br />

had become of me? When did I lose, me?<br />

It was a defining moment.<br />

I had quit trying. And as a result, it<br />

seemed my brain had quit trying, too.<br />

I wasn’t “using the good china.”<br />

Saving things and reserving the effort<br />

for that “special something” or that<br />

“perfect moment” is crazy. None of us<br />

know what’s going to happen tomorrow.<br />

And we certainly shouldn’t take our<br />

moments for granted–because we<br />

never know when we’ll be out of them.<br />

So this new “season” I’ve entered<br />

is actually a season of re-awakening.<br />

Today is my special occasion.<br />

What if we showed up for ourselves<br />

every day? What if we showed up for the<br />

people we care about most and made the<br />

most of every single opportunity? What<br />

if we pulled out the “good china,” showed<br />

it off, and felt good doing it? Literally and<br />

metaphorically.<br />

When it comes to thankfulness, I can<br />

think of no greater way of expressing it<br />

than by using the good stuff. As they say,<br />

wake up, dress up, and show up, right?<br />

I’m still working on it. But now, while<br />

I may still wear my yoga pants as pants,<br />

don’t be surprised if you see me doing<br />

my grocery shopping wearing bright red<br />

lipstick, too. After all, I’m being intentional<br />

about celebrating today.<br />

As hard as it is for me to admit, and<br />

in the grand scheme of things, today<br />

may actually be one of the relatively few,<br />

if not only one, I have left. Therefore,<br />

it’s imperative that I give it all I’ve got.<br />

So go ahead. Use the good china.<br />

Life’s too short not to. Turn the ordinary<br />

into something extraordinary, today. l<br />

Hometown MADISON • 65




Steven Wallace<br />

601-825-5242<br />

swallace@insassociate.com<br />

66 • MARCH 2023

Hometown MADISON • 67

68 • MARCH 2023<br />

36th Annual<br />

Children’s Benefit Gala<br />

Shining Bright in Our Community<br />

February 19

Hometown RANKIN • 69

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and neighbors. BankPlus. It’s more than a name.<br />

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70 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • MARCH 2023

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74 • MARCH 2023

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Hometown RANKIN • 75

Father<br />

Daughter<br />

Dance<br />

february 10<br />

76 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 77

Fighting for<br />

Mississippi’s Veterans<br />

Poppy Williams<br />

“Sometimes the hardest wars<br />

are fought at home.” - Anonymous<br />

Cheryl Bruce is a shining example that one<br />

can use their life experiences to positively impact<br />

the lives of others. Although she is too humble to<br />

admit it, through the work of her nonprofit, the<br />

Wounded Warriors of Mississippi, Cheryl has<br />

shaped the lives of hundreds of Mississippi<br />

veterans.<br />

According to Cheryl, this all started through<br />

the inspiration of her son, Dustin Ryan, who<br />

bravely served in the U.S. Army and was deployed<br />

to Iraq in 2005. After a IED (improvised explosive<br />

device) hit his vehicle and resulted in serious<br />

and traumatic brain and back injuries, Dustin<br />

returned home. However, the Dustin who<br />

returned was admittedly different than the<br />

Dustin who first deployed.<br />

“You might not always see a veteran’s injuries<br />

since not all of them are visible. Post 9/11, we have<br />

hundreds upon hundreds that came back with<br />

physical and/or mental scars. They made the<br />

sacrifice, served our country, and then came<br />

home as a changed person – just like my son,”<br />

said Cheryl.<br />

Through her experience seeing Dustin<br />

struggle with those mental and physical scars,<br />

Cheryl knew, first-hand, that veterans needed<br />

more – more support, more camaraderie with<br />

other veterans, more action, and more prayer.<br />

Though Cheryl initially raised money for the<br />

national Wounded Warriors project, she decided<br />

her time would be best spent focusing on<br />

Mississippi’s veterans. And just like that, the<br />

Wounded Warriors of Mississippi came to life<br />

and is thriving nine years later.<br />

Wounded Warriors of Mississippi is a 501(c)3<br />

nonprofit organization that supports Mississippi<br />

veterans who have served in the armed forces post<br />

9/11. They aim to support Mississippi’s veterans<br />

mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually,<br />

through a wide range of services and aid. They<br />

also stand up for veterans to educate against and<br />

prevent veteran abuse.<br />

78 • MARCH 2023

This support is multi-faceted, and it looks<br />

different for every veteran and their specific<br />

needs. Some examples of the real ways they’ve<br />

put their words into action for Mississippi<br />

veterans are through organizing events where<br />

veterans can meet other veterans and share life<br />

together, by providing physical assistance with<br />

daily tasks that many struggle to complete after<br />

injuries, by matching veterans with a service<br />

dog, and much more.<br />

Some days serving Mississippi veterans looks<br />

like a roof repair, making a wheelchair ramp,<br />

providing physical therapy or counseling,<br />

providing financial advisement sessions, or even<br />

helping to provide Christmas gifts for their<br />

families and kids. No matter how it looks that<br />

day, serving Mississippi’s veterans means that<br />

meeting their needs is – and will remain – a<br />

priority.<br />

“I can’t begin to explain the many ways that<br />

we’ve been able to help Mississippi’s veterans<br />

– mentally, physically and financially,” said<br />

Cheryl. “These things are not gifts to our veterans.<br />

Instead, they are small tokens of our appreciation<br />

for the huge sacrifice that they’ve given. Nothing<br />

we do will ever match that, but that doesn’t stop<br />

us from trying to do everything that we can.<br />

This all started because of my son, but now I<br />

feel like I have hundreds of sons!”<br />

Wounded Warriors of Mississippi speaks<br />

for, and acts, on behalf of our state’s veterans<br />

because not every warrior can speak for<br />

themself. With the support of the community,<br />

donors, and volunteers, they work tirelessly to<br />

give a voice to those needs and empower our<br />

state’s heroes to begin the journey to recovery.<br />

According to Cheryl, their strength, and<br />

the ability of current and future support, is<br />

amplified with collective action. They continuously<br />

welcome others to join their mission of<br />

making a difference in the lives of Mississippi’s<br />

veterans through volunteering, donating, or<br />

learning more about the organization at<br />

www.woundedwarriorsofms.com.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 79

Richland<br />

Father Daughter<br />

Mardi Gras Ball<br />

February 18<br />

Richland Community Center<br />

80 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 81

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

Why did you decide to be a fireman?<br />

One day, I was watching an episode of the show “Tru Calling”<br />

and it was about a fireman who died saving someone from a<br />

river. For some reason it made me think that there was a reason<br />

for me to see this and my interest in becoming a firefighter was<br />

born.<br />

How long have you been with the department?<br />

I have been with 172nd Airlift Wing Fire Department since 2005.<br />

I started my career in 2004 with the Reservoir Fire Department<br />

under Chief Scott Berry.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I have been married to my wife Stevie Adams since 2011 and<br />

I have three children: son Dylan (24), son Mason (20), and<br />

daughter Kennedy (17). My wife is a charge nurse at UMC<br />

(Batson North Clinic).<br />

What is the toughest thing you have experienced in your job?<br />

The toughest thing ever was having to be present as a 3-year-old<br />

died after what seemed to be a routine medical emergency. That<br />

one still crosses my mind anytime I have a medical call.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.<br />

In my spare time I try to stay busy doing something. I own a<br />

landscape company and my oldest son Dylan has his own as<br />

well, so spare time is rare.<br />

Station<br />

Kenny<br />

Captain<br />

ADAMS<br />


What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

Bucket list items are to visit Yellowstone National Park, visit<br />

Canada, and to go on an African safari. All of which may be<br />

impossible since I truly hate flying!<br />

82 • MARCH 2023

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

My grandfather, John Quincy Adams (1935-2022). He was a civil<br />

rights pioneer and a truly remarkable man. He instilled in me a<br />

work ethic and a sense of fighting for what you believe in. He also<br />

taught me that no matter what is against you, to stand firm and<br />

have courage to speak up for what is right. He taught me that<br />

being a man of your word is most important.<br />

If you could give one piece of advice to a young person, what<br />

would it be?<br />

Always give your best. Even if things are difficult, just know that<br />

it can be done. Don’t let people’s doubts infect you. You are you<br />

for a reason.<br />

What is your favorite thing about your position?<br />

My favorite thing about the 172nd Fire Department is the fact<br />

that I have gone from the ranks of firefighter to station captain<br />

and have learned a ton from a bunch of the guys who have<br />

shaped my career. Guys like Josh Swales (Reservoir) showed me<br />

to never be afraid to speak up for your guys and that we are<br />

family. I went from the youngest at the department to now being<br />

a veteran and seeing kids come in that are my son’s ages and<br />

trying to help mold them. I have been blessed to have a number<br />

of amazing men help me along the way.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?<br />

My absolute favorite thing about Rankin County is the feeling of<br />

family. Rankin County is safe and I feel good knowing that my<br />

neighbors all look out for me and I will do the same for them. If<br />

I’m gone for a few days and my neighbors don’t see my truck, I<br />

can assure you that I’m getting a call. I’m sure other places may<br />

be like that, but Rankin County is home and I love it here. I was<br />

born here and don’t ever foresee leaving. No matter what<br />

problems may arise, it can all most likely be fixed by a friendly<br />

conversation.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 83

Annual Awards Banquet<br />

February 16 / Pearl Community Center<br />

84 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 85


Brandon High<br />

Brandon High School Dance team recently competed at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Championship in Orlando, Florida, competing with 29 members.<br />

The BHS dance team made history by being selected as finalist in both the Hip Hop and Game Day Categories. The dance team has had a successful season earning<br />

two Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) State Championship titles in both Hip Hop and Game Day. Preparations for another successful season are<br />

under way as the team plans to continue building a legacy of championships!<br />

86 • MARCH 2023

McLaurin Elementary<br />

Winter Wonderland ‘Twas the 28th night of the first month in the year 2023. Princes and princesses of McLaurin Elementary set off to enjoy a night on the town. The McLaurin<br />

PTO invited all mothers and sons, as well as fathers and daughters to visit the winter wonderland. Special guests from the Enchanted Memories LLC paid them a visit, including<br />

Elsa and Spiderman. Visions of snow flurries and candid smiles were captured by Courtney Fox of Wiggles and Giggles LLC. Musical selections were provided by Shelby Herrington.<br />

Stay tuned, this school year is not over! A red-carpet fashion show is just over the horizon.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 87


Northwest<br />

At Northwest Rankin High School, we<br />

strive to, above all, inspire learners and<br />

develop leaders. We are home to almost<br />

2000 students in grades 9-12 and have a<br />

strong belief in pushing our students to<br />

their utmost potential, while providing<br />

the appropriate resources so all students<br />

can grow. We take pride in preparing all<br />

students for life after graduation<br />

regardless of their future pathway.<br />

With award-winning sports teams, fine<br />

arts programs, career academies, and<br />

community service centered clubs and<br />

organizations, there is no shortage of<br />

opportunities for students to find their<br />

home on campus.<br />

No one individual is perfect, but when<br />

we work together as a team by supporting<br />

one another, we achieve wonderful things<br />

and have the full potential of being the<br />

best. Northwest Rankin High School<br />

works to encourage every student to<br />

develop the belief that they can successfully<br />

achieve whatever they want. Northwest<br />

Rankin prides itself in recognizing the<br />

true potential that all students, teachers,<br />

teams, and administration hold to acquire<br />

numerous accolades through capitalizing<br />

on the diverse community and innovative<br />

activities offered.<br />

The hallways of Northwest consist of<br />

lots of smiles, greetings, good times and<br />

happiness. With a focus on unity and<br />

opportunity, we are Northwest.<br />

88 • MARCH 2023

Florence<br />

Elementary<br />

2022 National Blue Ribbon Award<br />

Friday, October 21<br />

The zone celebration was held at the newly<br />

completed multipurpose center at Florence High<br />

School and honored students from Florence<br />

Elementary and Steen’s Creek for their hard work<br />

and achievement. FHS cheerleaders, dancers, band<br />

members, city and county officials, as well as<br />

distinguished alumni came together to celebrate<br />

the students, staff, and teachers. Video messages<br />

from former Florence students including Mississippi<br />

Governor Tate Reeves wished the students well and<br />

congratulated them on their award. It was a day to<br />

celebrate teamwork – the successful coming together<br />

of every student, teacher, staff member, parent and<br />

community member.<br />

Florence Elementary is one of only 297 schools<br />

across the nation to be named a 2022 National Blue<br />

Ribbon school by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel<br />

Cardona for their exemplary achievement as a “Gap<br />

Closing School.” According to the National Center for<br />

Education Statistics, achievement gaps occur when<br />

one group of students (e.g., students groups by race/<br />

ethnicity, gender) outperforms another group, and<br />

the difference in average scores for the groups is<br />

statistically significant (i.e., larger than the margin of<br />

error). In the case of FES, recognition was based on<br />

their overall academic performance and progress in<br />

closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.<br />

Florence Elementary’s Head Principal Amanda<br />

Clark expressed gratitude for receiving the honor.<br />

“On behalf of everyone at Florence Elementary<br />

School, we are excited and honored to be awarded<br />

the distinguished title of 2022 National Blue Ribbon<br />

School. The achievement of this award is based on<br />

teamwork from every student, teacher, staff member,<br />

parent, and community member, working together to<br />

find the best in every student! It is our goal to form<br />

strong relationships, set high expectations, and work<br />

together to create high levels of student achievement<br />

for ALL,” said Clark.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 89

TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

When my parents built their child-raising<br />

home, ranch styles were the trend-setters.<br />

Knowing our family of six would need growing room, the ranch style fit perfectly with<br />

their plans.<br />

One end of the house was the carport, breezeway, kitchen and dining room, living room<br />

and den. The three bedrooms were in the opposite end of the house with its single, family size<br />

bathroom. Each bedroom led into the hardwood floor hallway, rug-less and concrete-cold<br />

in the winter.<br />

Heating bills could do havoc to Daddy’s paycheck, so during the coldest parts of the<br />

winter, the hall door stayed closed and so did the kitchen door at the other end of the house.<br />

Heat lived behind those two doors, but it was arctic temps between the two.<br />

When my siblings and I were dressed for school, and we heard the call to breakfast, we<br />

sprinted from the hall door, through the living room, past the frosted picture window, past the<br />

mahogany table for ten, and burst through the kitchen door.<br />

Warmth met us! Glorious warmth – the kind that every child should have the<br />

privilege to know was routine for us. The warm smiles and pats from our parents<br />

were a daily welcome. A table with six chairs, real plates and forks were set for us.<br />

The oven door was warm to the touch because homemade biscuits were<br />

browning inside. Bacon, sausage, or ham was saturating the room with aromas we<br />

smelled most mornings.<br />

We sat down to spread Mother’s muscadine jelly or a neighbor’s fresh sorghum<br />

molasses on our biscuits. Every delicious bite warmed our stomachs and strengthened<br />

our young frames for the icy weather just beyond the kitchen door.<br />

The Bible doesn’t give nearly the information about heaven that I would like.<br />

We just accept it as that most perfect place. I guess that’s why I often compare it to home.<br />

Our warm bedrooms are where we’re born and nurtured. At the right time we begin our<br />

sprint through life – and life has its share of cold, harsh experiences.<br />

BUT finally, we reach the destination. We arrive and the door is already open. It’s bright with<br />

the glory of God and warm with His love. We are welcomed by our loved ones, and we join<br />

Jesus at the banquet table. There’ll be no more sprints! Eternity will have begun, and time and<br />

winter will be no more.<br />

90 • MARCH 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 91





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If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

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