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V114<br />


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Hometown RANKIN • 5

6 • APRIL 2024


April 11th is National Pet Day, and our team has had a great time<br />

putting together this issue featuring a variety of pets.<br />

I was reminded of my childhood and<br />

being blessed with two outstanding dogs.<br />

One was a black Lab we named Belle.<br />

She lived up to that name because she<br />

was a true, caring southern belle among<br />

her canine breeds. Our other favorite<br />

dog was Flick, named after the sound<br />

of my dad’s camera that my brother and<br />

I grew up hearing.<br />

Belle was a chosen, purchased pet.<br />

Flick was a rescue animal—a full-bred<br />

German shepherd but suffered from<br />

malnutrition and was in poor physical<br />

condition. My dad felt the animal could<br />

be saved and began treating him with<br />

medicine prescribed from our veterinarian<br />

and lots of TLC. Flick responded beautifully<br />

and gave the rest of his life and<br />

allegiance to every member of our family.<br />

He stood constant watch wherever my<br />

brother and I played and only barked<br />

when a car pulled into our driveway.<br />

Both pets always had their fill of Purina,<br />

but we never denied them table leftovers.<br />

On winter nights when temps were<br />

below freezing, we allowed them to<br />

sleep by the den fireplace. They repaid<br />

this kindness by staying statue-still,<br />

never moving from their lying position.<br />

Yes, they were outside dogs and never<br />

felt the pull of a leash on their collars.<br />

They ran free around in the country,<br />

experienced life without pens or cages,<br />

and always reaped loving care from their<br />

human family. What a life for a dog – and<br />

what indelible memories they gave us.<br />


Tahya Dobbs<br />


CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />


Barbie Bassett<br />


The Way We Were 10<br />

Reader Spotlight 15<br />

BGC Tablescapes 18<br />

Hometown Family 24<br />

Pet Parade 30<br />

Irelynn & Skidder 42<br />

Kids Who Care 48<br />

Hoppin' to Help 52<br />

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


Amy Forsyth<br />



Melissa Kennon<br />



Alisha Floyd<br />


Susan Wolgamott<br />


Daniel Thomas<br />

3dt<br />

STAFF<br />


Othel Anding<br />

STAFF<br />


Debby Francis<br />


Jodi Jackson<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 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 9

Sondra & J.W. Beck<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Five years in the Navy carried<br />

J.W. was “wowed” by Sondra’s<br />

When she shared the news<br />

home – a great place to raise their<br />

J.W. Beck all over the world – miles<br />

personality, good looks, and her<br />

with her employer, he asked why<br />

three children, Heatherly, Christy<br />

and oceans from his hometown<br />

reputation as the “Miami beauty.”<br />

on earth she would move to<br />

and Johnny.<br />

of McComb, Mississippi. After<br />

They were both older, twenty-<br />

Mississippi. Without hesitation<br />

When asked about any points<br />

the Navy, an offer as football<br />

coach and math teacher at Miami<br />

nine and thirty-five, and knew<br />

what they were looking for in a<br />

she answered, “We’re in love;<br />

we’re getting married and will<br />

of contention in their fifty-three<br />

years of marriage, they agreed that<br />

Senior High carried him to<br />

mate.<br />

live happily ever after.” They were<br />

disciplining their children had<br />

another rewarding career and an<br />

J.W. proposed, and she<br />

wed on June 19, 1971, at Plymouth<br />

been the source of most disagree-<br />

even more rewarding discovery.<br />

accepted. When J.W. had to move<br />

Congregational Church, the<br />

ments. Sondra explained,<br />

Sondra Conner, a legal<br />

back to McComb to help with his<br />

oldest church in Miami.<br />

“Mothers take up for their kids,<br />

secretary for a Miami law firm,<br />

aging parents, the long distance<br />

They moved to Brandon in<br />

and I would discipline, but I<br />

was introduced to J.W. by<br />

phone bills were sky-high between<br />

1988. J.W. thought it was ironic<br />

would do it more lovingly.”<br />

a mutual friend. “He was strong,<br />

the engaged couple. Sondra<br />

that he sailed aboard the USS<br />

J.W. spoke up with one other<br />

handsome, and loved football<br />

recalled those days and with<br />

Rankin, a naval ship named after<br />

pet peeve – being on time; not<br />

as much as I loved it,” Sondra<br />

laughter said, “It was cheaper<br />

Rankin County and now was<br />

late. “Sondra starts to leave, but we<br />

remembers.<br />

to get married!”<br />

making Rankin County their<br />

don’t leave – she picks up this and<br />

straightens that.”<br />

10 • APRIL 2024

“Do things<br />

together that<br />

make you happy<br />

and do them<br />

often.”<br />

Sondra was quick to explain,<br />

“I always think, what if we should<br />

die when we’re on the road, and<br />

I’ve left the house a mess!”<br />

They offered timely advice<br />

for young couples approaching<br />

marriage. She said, “Think twice<br />

before you speak. It’s easier to be<br />

nice than to be ugly. Also, be<br />

examples before your children.”<br />

Sondra believes a simple thing<br />

like regularly giving the tithe in<br />

the offering plate establishes a<br />

positive principle for your<br />

children to witness.<br />

J.W. said, “Do things together<br />

that make you happy and do them<br />

often. Also, don’t have anything<br />

except ‘ours’ – never ‘his or hers.’”<br />

Today they enjoy being a part<br />

of their eight grandchildren’s lives<br />

and being involved in community<br />

and their church, Brandon First<br />

Methodist.<br />

Their role model influence is<br />

now affecting an additional<br />

generation, and they’re quite<br />

successful at their endeavor<br />

of living happily ever after.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 11

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12 • APRIL 2024

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Hometown RANKIN • 13

14 • APRIL 2024

READER<br />


Davis<br />


Why did you decide to make Rankin County<br />

your home?<br />

Rankin County is full of some of the nicest and<br />

most genuine people you will ever meet. Most<br />

of my friends and family live in or around<br />

Rankin County, and I have strong ties with the<br />

local community. I cannot think of a better<br />

place to call home.<br />

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

My whole life, and I have loved every minute<br />

of it. In 1916, when my great-grandfather<br />

was three years old, he traveled, along with his<br />

siblings and parents, from Tennessee by train<br />

to the community of Fannin, and there our<br />

family has remained for generations.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My wife and I make up the fifth generation<br />

of our family that have raised animals on our<br />

family farm in Rankin County. We currently<br />

don’t live on the farm but are there daily<br />

tending to the animals and doing farm work.<br />

My parents and grandparents do live on the<br />

farm, and we all work together to keep things<br />

running smoothly. Cool Creek Farm is<br />

definitely a group effort, and we each play a<br />

special part in its operations. I am blessed<br />

and very thankful to be able to do something<br />

I enjoy so much with my family.<br />

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

Rankin County?<br />

Bringing my Highland cattle to the CelticFest<br />

on the Rez. I’ve brought them for several years,<br />

but it’s so fun to see the community come out<br />

and support such a fun event. My family and<br />

friends help me, and it is always a fun time.<br />

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

in Rankin County?<br />

The Pelahatchie Bay is definitely one of my<br />

favorites. My family has been eating there my<br />

whole life. I remember being a little boy and<br />

going several days a week with my greatgrandfather<br />

to eat and drink coffee. Another<br />

place I enjoy is Sunset Grill on Highway 43<br />

before you go across the Rez. Their food is<br />

wonderful, and my uncle is one of the chefs<br />

there. It is a newer restaurant, so if you have<br />

not been, I highly recommend it. Osaka is also<br />

one of my favorite places. I think they have the<br />

best hibachi, and the volcano roll is fantastic!<br />

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

County on the weekends?<br />

If you have kids and enjoy the outdoors, you<br />

can take the family to Winners Circle Park or<br />

the Flowood Nature Park to get some fresh air.<br />

McClain’s Resort is also a fun place where you<br />

can eat good food and see some cool animals.<br />

If you want something more competitive, try<br />

Black Axes or Fannin Lanes.<br />

Tell us about your occupation.<br />

I work at the Mississippi Department of<br />

Agriculture & Commerce as the outreach<br />

coordinator for the produce safety division.<br />

I work with growers of fruits and vegetables<br />

that are considered high risk because they are<br />

normally eaten raw, and there is no-kill step to<br />

reduce the risk of microorganisms that cause<br />

foodborne illnesses. I also work with MSU<br />

Extension to conduct trainings with growers<br />

so they can safely produce healthy and safe,<br />

local food for people in Mississippi.<br />

Tell us about Cool Creek Farm.<br />

Cool Creek is a family farm with the primary<br />

focus of raising heritage breeds of livestock.<br />

We raise Scottish Highland cattle, the oldest<br />

registered breed in the world, Hereford cattle,<br />

Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, which are a<br />

critically endangered breed, Kiko goats, and a<br />

variety of poultry. We sell eggs and beef locally<br />

and plan to sell pasture-raised pork and goat<br />

meat next year as well. We also produce<br />

breeding stock for people who are interested<br />

in the breeds we raise.<br />

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

To go to Scotland and visit with Highland<br />

cattle breeders. I would love to go to Balmoral<br />

Castle and see Queen Elizabeth II’s Highland<br />

cattle. I would also love to go to Africa on a<br />

safari and see animals in the wild. I would also<br />

love to go to New York for the Macy’s<br />

Thanksgiving Day Parade!<br />

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

I admire my dad because he instilled in me a<br />

love for animals and the farm. He is the MVP<br />

on the farm, and I definitely would not be<br />

able to do anything without his wisdom and<br />

guidance. He also taught me by example how<br />

to treat people with love and respect, whether<br />

they deserve it or not.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

When I was very young, my dad, great-grandfather,<br />

and I were in the pasture taking care of<br />

the cows. It’s a simple memory but it’s one that<br />

makes me smile, and it inspires me to keep<br />

working hard because I want my kids to know<br />

the peace and joy that comes from growing up<br />

on a family farm.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging quote,<br />

what would it be?<br />

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will<br />

in the end contribute the most to real wealth,<br />

good morals, & happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

16 • APRIL 2024






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promise. So, tell us what concerns you. Tell us your story. The doctor<br />

will hear you now. Learn more at stdom.com/listen.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 17

Brandon Garden Club<br />

Tablescapes<br />

Luncheon<br />

February 24<br />

Brandon Municipal Complex<br />

18 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 19

20 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • APRIL 2024

Gates Open<br />

Light of Mine<br />

Anne Wilson<br />

Casting Crowns<br />

Fireworks<br />

4:00 PM<br />

4:00 PM<br />

6:45 PM<br />

8:30 PM<br />

9:45 PM<br />


MORE INFO!<br />

Space Jumps, Kids' Karaoke, Petting Zoo, Fair Food, & More!<br />



Hometown RANKIN • 23

24 • APRIL 2024

The Morgans<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Brad (54) is the owner of Morgan’s Stone in Brandon.<br />

He enjoys turkey and deer hunting and loves a competitive game of<br />

golf. Prior to his golf game, he spent many years as an accomplished<br />

steer wrestler in professional rodeo.<br />

Ellen (57) enjoys being available for her family and helping them<br />

reach their goals. She is a long time resident of Rankin County and<br />

has a strong background in coordinating special events and advertising<br />

and uses that experience to help promote their family stone<br />

business. She, too, has competed extensively in horse shows and<br />

professional rodeos throughout her life. They have been members of<br />

First Baptist Church of Brandon for nearly thirty years.<br />

Zoe (15) enjoys church, rodeo, cooking, and theatre.<br />

Zayda (15) enjoys church, rodeo, hunting, and dancing.<br />

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

We met in college thirty-seven years ago in the fall of 1988. Brad was<br />

from Oklahoma and I’m from Brandon. We were on the rodeo team<br />

at Southern Arkansas University. We married at First Baptist<br />

Church of Brandon in 1997. In 2008, we had our beautiful twin<br />

girls. We have been married twenty-seven years.<br />

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

Yes, it is a priority in our home. Funny thing, when our twin girls<br />

were two years old, they would literally pick out our clothes for date<br />

night up until they were preteens. It was as though they imagined in<br />

their little minds we were going to a glamorous ball of some sort…<br />

and boy what they chose for us to wear! We have admitted later we<br />

would change out of the glamour and into more casual clothes in<br />

the car. We had been married eleven years when the twins came, so<br />

we always believed God was using them to remind us to keep our<br />

marriage a priority during those busy toddler days. We still enjoy<br />

date night. The girls actually enjoy it more since they’re old enough<br />

not to need a sitter.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 25

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

Brad Watching them grow and learn things that they enjoy and<br />

seeing them succeed in things they try to accomplish.<br />

Ellen Knowing they have both accepted Jesus as their Lord and<br />

Savior. We are grateful for our church family, friends, and teachers<br />

that have help influence them along the way.<br />

When your children were young, what was your discipline<br />

philosophy?<br />

The words of Proverbs 22:6; be hands on, live by example, teamwork,<br />

the golden rule, reward good behavior, and, of course, provide<br />

avenues for them to be productive to help keep them between the<br />

ditches.<br />

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

And who does the cooking?<br />

We still value praying and eating around the table even if it is on a<br />

paper plate so we can move on with the next project. We love all<br />

kinds of foods. We have chickens, so fresh eggs go a long way. Brad<br />

loves to grill steaks, I love to make soups and cornbread dishes,<br />

Zayda likes to create her own tasty treats, and Zoe has taken charge<br />

of the kitchen with numerous, wonderful recipes.<br />

What are some of your favorite things about<br />

Rankin County?<br />

Leadership. As long as we can remember, our county supervisors<br />

and City of Brandon have always supported youth, 4H, rodeo, and<br />

agriculture-related programs. In addition, our city and county are<br />

the most wonderful places to live! We credit our emergency<br />

personnel, law enforcement, and the people who have kept our<br />

community safe and clear of misconduct.<br />

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

That’s easy: volunteerism, rodeo finals, the beach, and hanging out<br />

at home with friends and family.<br />

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

your family?<br />

We were in our early forties when the girls came. So, being established<br />

and owning our own business has given us the flexibility to<br />

be available for our children and the many opportunities they have<br />

encountered over the years. We have spent countless hours with<br />

them. Yet, all of it still seems like a blur. It all happens so fast, and<br />

now they are nearly grown and gone. We are so grateful we have<br />

been available for them and the memories we have shared.<br />

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

We both share that role. Being a good steward of our resources is<br />

equally valued. Before we married, it was important to us to be debt<br />

free. Over time, we grew, and so did our financial responsibilities.<br />

Through that process, we gained much wisdom by not growing too<br />

fast in our home or business. Looking back over the milestones in<br />

our lives, you can see we do not move too fast in decisions that have<br />

a lasting impact. Luke 12:48, “To whome much is given, much will<br />

be required,” always reminded us to choose wisely.<br />

26 • APRIL 2024

What accomplishments make you proud during your<br />

time living in Rankin County?<br />

There is no doubt the horse industry is huge in Rankin County.<br />

Our family and many other families are hardcore competitors in<br />

rodeo all across the country. There is not a major rodeo city in<br />

America that has not heard an announcer introduce ‘The next<br />

contestant is from Brandon, Mississippi’ or ‘Rankin County,<br />

Mississippi!’ It is heartwarming to hear our community mentioned<br />

at some of the largest rodeos in the country. Many of the stadiums<br />

host thousands of rodeo fans. These mentions of our community<br />

have been positive tourism boosts for over the last four decades or<br />

more. It is an honor to have a community that supports our<br />

agriculture and equine industry.<br />

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

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

Brad Fear of failure to be unable to provide for my family<br />

motivates me. Being a productive citizen means a lot. It is a privilege<br />

to sell and ship stone and other building materials statewide since<br />

1997.<br />

Ellen When Brad moved here from Oklahoma in 1997. I said,<br />

‘Lord you will need to give him something to do, something to give<br />

him his own identity in our community. I won’t be near enough.’<br />

I am extremely grateful God heard my prayer. He has blessed us<br />

abundantly through the stone yard. Brad literally started out of the<br />

back of his truck. Many, including us, had no idea where the stone<br />

yard would be today. The business has not only provided for us but<br />

several wonderful employees and their families as well. We are<br />

grateful the community embraced it and helped us grow.<br />


What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?<br />

Zoe Watch movies.<br />

Zayda Go to rodeos.<br />

What are your favorite holiday traditions?<br />

Zoe Cooking and decorating<br />

Zayda Having a fierce, but friendly, gingerbread house-building<br />

competition.<br />

What’s your favorite restaurant?<br />

Zoe Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi<br />

Zayda Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi<br />

What’s your favorite TV show?<br />

Zoe Outer Banks<br />

Zayda Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team<br />

What TV shows do your parents like?<br />

If they get time to watch: sports, Andy Griffith Show, Family Feud,<br />

Wheel of Fortune, or reruns from the Price is Right.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 27

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Hometown RANKIN • 29

Pet<br />

Parade<br />

Fewer things bring more joy than<br />

the bond between a pet and its owner.<br />

When you have a pet, whether it’s a<br />

dog, cat, hamster, chicken, or goat,<br />

life is filled with belly rubs and shared<br />

moments that remind you how good<br />

it feels to be loved.<br />

Hometown Rankin Magazine<br />

wanted to celebrate all the pleasures<br />

that make having a pet in your<br />

life such a treat. We conducted a<br />

photo contest and enjoyed all the<br />

wonderful submissions received.<br />

The winners are included here.<br />

Skidder<br />

Melody Ferguson<br />

30 • APRIL 2024

Leroy<br />

Teah Byrd<br />

Sandy<br />

Sara Beth Everett<br />

Tobias<br />

Leah Lowrey<br />

Patrick Ferguson<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 31

Coco<br />

& Rolo<br />

Aprille Andrews<br />

Ellie<br />

Emily Davis<br />

Teddy<br />

Davis Edwards<br />

32 • APRIL 2024

Sonic<br />

Easton Smith<br />

brody<br />

Molly Foreman<br />

SELAH<br />

Carrie Cook<br />

Hank<br />

Robyn Dixon<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 33

Maxwell<br />

Sara Johnston<br />

Layla<br />

Donna Pace<br />

Chester<br />

& Pepper<br />

Melissa Underwood<br />

Chickaletta<br />

Brittany Smith<br />

34 • APRIL 2024

Duke<br />

Jordan Savell<br />

Moses “Mo"<br />

Meghan Newman<br />

Nash<br />

Allie Harris<br />

Gooey<br />

Keri Hobby<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 35


February 29<br />

Pearl Community Room<br />

Sponsored by Renasant Bank<br />

36 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 37

38 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 39

40 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 41

42 • APRIL 2024

Irelynn<br />

and<br />

Skidder<br />

She may be only three years old, but Irelynn<br />

Ferguson can ride a horse with the best of them.<br />

Only, the horse she rides is the perfect proportion<br />

for her. Standing at about forty inches tall, Skidder<br />

is a mini horse. “That’s a completely different class<br />

from ponies,” explains Melody Ferguson, Irelynn’s<br />

mom. “He and my Great Dane, Kota, are about the<br />

same size. We call Kota our house horse!”<br />

Without anything to gauge his size, you would<br />

think Skidder was a regular horse if you saw him in<br />

a photograph. Unlike a Shetland pony that is very<br />

stocky, a mini horse has the same proportions as a<br />

regular horse. Skidder is a gelding, which means he<br />

has been neutered. He is lean and weighs around<br />

300 pounds. For comparison, the average horse<br />

weighs 900 to 2,200 pounds depending on the<br />

breed. Belgians, Percherons, and Clydesdales can<br />

all tip the scales at over a ton.<br />

Melody says that Skidder is a “community pony,”<br />

who lives with other horses on a farm in Polkville<br />

that belongs to her friend, Dakota Patrick. “Dakota<br />

and I grew up riding horses together,” says Melody.<br />

“I have always been around horses, growing up in 4H,<br />

rodeo, and the National Barrel Horse Association.”<br />

She sold two of her horses to go to college, but when<br />

she had children, she wanted to share her love of<br />

horses with them. “My oldest daughter is sixteen,<br />

and she rode a horse until she got into softball and<br />

boys,” laughs Melody. “Keeping horses is very<br />

expensive. Luckily, Skidder is small and doesn’t<br />

take up much room. He also doesn’t eat much.”<br />

Irelynn is the baby of the family of eight. “She<br />

has liked animals from the jump,” Melody says.<br />

Skidder came into their lives when Irelynn was<br />

just a baby, so she has grown up with the little horse<br />

she calls “He He.” Though Irelynn still requires<br />

some supervision while riding Skidder, other<br />

children have a bit more freedom while riding the<br />

little horse. “Skidder has taught all the kids in our<br />

friend circle how to ride. One of the boys actually<br />

rode him in a Little Britches rodeo. Skidder has<br />

carried dozens of kids on his back. It’s sad to see<br />

the kids outgrow the horse. One of the boys has<br />

just about outgrown Skidder – his feet drag the<br />

ground when he rides.” When Irelynn outgrows<br />

Skidder, Melody says he will be passed along to<br />

another child. The lifespan of a little horse can be<br />

anywhere from twenty to thirty years, and Melody<br />

thinks Skidder is between seven and eight years old.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 43

Skidder has a specially made saddle that fits<br />

his small frame perfectly. When she has been away<br />

from Skidder for too long, Irelynn gets restless and<br />

starts asking for He He. “Once she’s on him she<br />

doesn’t want to get off. He’s the best babysitter<br />

around.”<br />

Melody says she likes the wholesome aspect<br />

of kids being around Skidder. “They are learning<br />

responsibility and how to take care of him. It keeps<br />

their nose out of devices, too. They are outdoors<br />

and having fun.”<br />

When she describes Skidder, Melody says he is<br />

sassy. “He has a long mane and tail, and he photographs<br />

beautifully.” In the photo Melody submitted<br />

for the cover photo competition, Melody says Irelynn<br />

had some Goldfish crackers, and Skidder wanted<br />

some. “We were taking photos of them for Irelynn’s<br />

birthday,” says Melody. “The photographer got that<br />

shot at just the right time. I thought it was so cute<br />

I had it blown up and put on a canvas. We have<br />

it in our den, and every time Irelynn walks<br />

through and sees it, she waves at Skidder<br />

and smiles.”<br />

44 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 45

Night on the Town<br />

at the Ag Museum<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

46 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 47

48 • APRIL 2024


Sophia Malone<br />

Sarah Rein<br />







NEW ARRIVAL. The months of<br />

pregnancy and anticipation were filled with<br />

excitement, nerves, and expectations. Then, a<br />

few days after birth, Sophia was diagnosed with<br />

a hemangioma - a benign blood-filled tumor not<br />

uncommon among infants. Often referred to as<br />

a “strawberry” birthmark, they are typically minor<br />

and shrink or even disappear after a child’s first<br />

year. However, Sophia’s hemangioma was<br />

compound, meaning it affected both the skin’s<br />

surface and extended underneath, affecting her<br />

cartilage and bone structure. Unlike the usual<br />

pattern of these tumors, hers grew dramatically<br />

after her first year and began affecting her vision<br />

and nasal structure. Sophia had to have her most<br />

extensive operation at the age of eighteen months<br />

when the size of the growth began to threaten<br />

her eyesight. Over the years, she has had more<br />

than twenty surgeries to remove her tumor as<br />

well as correct some of the damage done to her<br />

underlying facial structures.<br />

While it would be easy to be bitter or<br />

frustrated at what she has endured, on the<br />

contrary, Sophia has embraced her journey.<br />

“I remember growing up very comfortable with<br />

myself,” Sophia shares. “I’ve always been confident<br />

and had an easy time making friends. Starting<br />

school did feel a little scary, but I’ve never been<br />

insecure about my hemangioma. I’ve always<br />

welcomed people talking to me about it.”<br />

Tonya admits that she initially was challenged<br />

by Sophia’s diagnosis. She felt worried<br />

about all the things she might not get to do or<br />

how her life might be harder. What she did not<br />

expect was what a gift Sophia’s journey would be<br />

to those around her.<br />

After an excellent elementary experience at<br />

First Presbyterian Day School, Sophia transitioned<br />

to Jackson Prep where she has excelled<br />

personally and socially. Sophia danced for years<br />

before transitioning to Prep’s award-winning<br />

Réveillon Show Choir. “They have really become<br />

like a family,” Sophia relates. “I’ve learned and<br />

grown so much in that program.” She has also<br />

served as a student ambassador and in Prep’s<br />

Service Club.<br />

One of her most colorful memories during<br />

high school was getting to be part of the Prep<br />

sailing team that won the Mississippi Sailing<br />

Championship her tenth-grade year.<br />

Since the age of thirteen, she has worked in<br />

her father’s family’s roofing business and, later,<br />

her aunt’s clothing boutique. Sophia explains that<br />

there has always been an expectation in her family<br />

that the kids would work. “Yes, we learned<br />

something about the business, but it was mainly<br />

to teach us responsibility and discipline. We have<br />

been encouraged to be people who give back.”<br />

Church membership has always been<br />

important in her family, and Sophia has also<br />

become involved in the Young Life organization<br />

where she has made close friends and been<br />

involved in weekly Bible studies. Last summer,<br />

she had the opportunity to work as a Young Life<br />

Capernaum Buddy, where the camps are created<br />

with teens and young adults with disabilities in<br />

mind. “I think, because I don’t look like the average<br />

person who has it all together, people find me<br />

more approachable. So, I’m able to use my birth<br />

defect as a blessing.” When asked how she feels<br />

she has grown from her struggles, Sophia<br />

expresses that, while her hemangioma has been a<br />

big part of her story, God has taught her that it<br />

doesn’t define her. Tonya agrees, “God has<br />

opened doors through this that wouldn’t have<br />

happened otherwise. I mean, even kids who have<br />

no disabilities feel insecure about themselves,<br />

and because Sophia accepts herself just like she<br />

is, she shines a light when she goes places.”<br />

Sophia recently found out that her next<br />

opportunity to do that will be at Samford, where<br />

she has been accepted into their nursing<br />

program. She is following in her mother’s<br />

footsteps (Tonya is a long-time surgical nurse)<br />

as well as honoring all the nurses who have made<br />

an impact on her during her health journey.<br />

As Sophia considers the blessings that have<br />

come from her trials, she thinks about the people<br />

who have been the biggest influence on her.<br />

She is quick to mention her mother, who is her<br />

biggest cheerleader. Her mentor, Amanda Slack<br />

from Prep, also comes to mind. She poured into<br />

Sophia through Bible study and their relationship<br />

for years. She particularly recalls a nurse<br />

anesthetist she had in Arkansas who brought<br />

Sophia stuffed animals from her travels. The<br />

woman would line them up around Sophia as<br />

she woke from her surgeries, so she felt immediately<br />

surrounded and loved. Reflecting on her<br />

future plans, Sophia wonders aloud if she may<br />

also want to pursue pediatric nursing and,<br />

perhaps, work with children with disabilities.<br />

After all the challenges Sophia has faced, she<br />

believes in God’s ability to use them for His glory<br />

and her good. As Romans 5:3-4 reminds the<br />

Christian - “We rejoice in our sufferings,<br />

knowing that suffering produces endurance,<br />

and endurance produces character, and<br />

character produces hope, and hope does not put<br />

us to shame, because God’s love has been poured<br />

into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has<br />

been given to us.” Sophia has faced her suffering<br />

with joy and hope and is confident in the God<br />

who holds her future and looks forward to<br />

continuing to be a light to others.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 49

50 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 51

52 • APRIL 2024

Susan Marquez<br />

Hoppin’<br />

toHelp<br />

Hoppin’ pin’<br />

toHelp<br />

He burrows under blankets,<br />

sleeps in the bed, settles in<br />

on the couch to watch TV,<br />

and rides in a stroller<br />

munching on bananas<br />

and apples.<br />

No, it is not a toddler that Katrinna Miller calls her baby. It is a two-year-old red kangaroo named Twix.<br />

“He’s special,” says Katrinna Miller, who lives with Twix and a menagerie<br />

of other animals on a thirty-acre ranch in Pisgah. “He is a therapy animal,<br />

so he spends time with a host of people who might benefit from his<br />

presence.” Katrinna and Twix have worked with law enforcement and the<br />

district attorney’s office to provide support to victims as well as working<br />

with homeless people. “He also spent time with Gabby Buford, a young<br />

girl dying of cancer. Twix was so gentle with her. Animals can be so<br />

comforting to people who are suffering.”<br />

Katrinna understands. She learned about the therapeutic power of<br />

animals while experiencing trauma growing up. From being put up for<br />

adoption by her dying mother, then suffering years of abuse, Katrinna<br />

found solace in animals and sports. “That was my outlet. I believe animals<br />

saved me. I knew I wanted to help others someday.”<br />

The first in her family to graduate from high school, Katrinna is now<br />

a graduate student at Jackson State University researching the humananimal<br />

bond. “I looked for the best animal to create that connection and<br />

my research led me to kangaroos.”<br />

Katrinna had already had experience in training therapy dogs, and<br />

she has several exotic animals. She also has a USDA zoo license. “We are<br />

only permitted to purchase animals from other USDA licensed owners.”<br />

In the summer of 2022, Katrinna drove to Missouri to pick up Twix.<br />

“He was so tiny, just five- or six-months old,” she says. “I had to bottle-feed<br />

him, and he slept with me – he had to sleep in a sack to replicate his<br />

mother’s pouch.”<br />

Today, Twix comes up to Katrinna’s hips, although she says he can<br />

eventually grow to be six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds. “He is super<br />

sweet and has never kicked. He loves to visit people, and one of his<br />

favorite things to do is ride our animal school bus. He loves looking<br />

out the window.”<br />

Twix is always making Katrinna laugh. “He gets so excited and tries<br />

to hop like a kangaroo, but he will sometimes fall. I tell him his hopper<br />

is broken!” She adds, laughing, “But make no mistake, he can hop just<br />

fine. He’s just a little clumsy!”<br />

There is a special bond between Katrinna and Twix, and when he is<br />

looking for her, he makes a clicking noise. “He loves to hug with his<br />

hands. It’s just so sweet. It’s been so cool to work with him.”<br />

Twix, like so many of Katrinna’s animals, makes appearances at schools,<br />

retirement homes, and medical facilities. “I took him to Mississippi Sports<br />

Medicine recently in his stroller, and the people there fed him apples<br />

and bananas.”<br />

Taking care of so many animals is a huge undertaking. Katrinna has a<br />

non-profit, U.S. Therapy Animals (formerly Mississippi Therapy Animals), and<br />

she says they are nationwide. I train all the animals here, and I serve as<br />

the handler. There is a national process and steps we go through as well.”<br />

While she has two children, a second grader and a<br />

senior in high school who help with the animals on<br />

occasion, Katrinna says she relies on carefully chosen,<br />

qualified, trained volunteers for the day-in-and-day-out<br />

care of the animals.<br />

Keep up with Katrinna and Twix on Facebook at /ustherapyanimals. U.S. Animal Services / usanimalservicesms.com / 601-376-9847<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

Love Where You Live!<br />

Call today to join in the fun!<br />

(601) 664-1966<br />

54 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 55

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56 • APRIL 2024

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Hometown RANKIN • 57



Sat 27<br />

April 2024<br />


Rhett Akins: 7PM<br />


Rhett Akins<br />



Strawberry Lemonade<br />

• 1 lb. strawberries,<br />

plus more to garnish<br />

• 1½ cups granulated sugar<br />

• 2 cups fresh lemon juice,<br />

strained and divided<br />

• Ice<br />

• Lemon slices for garnish<br />

Hull and quarter the strawberries.<br />

Place the strawberries in a large<br />

bowl, stir in the sugar and ¼ cup<br />

lemon juice. Allow to sit covered for<br />

30 minutes. In a countertop blender,<br />

blend the strawberry mixture until<br />

pureed. Strain the mixture<br />

through a fine mesh<br />

sieve to remove seeds.<br />

In a large bowl, combine<br />

the strawberry puree<br />

with the remaining<br />

1¾ cups of lemon juice<br />

and 4 cups of water. Add<br />

up to 1 additional cup of<br />

water to taste if the mixture<br />

is too sweet or strong.<br />

To serve, stir and pour<br />

over ice. Garnish with sliced<br />

lemon and strawberries.<br />

Easy Pasta Salad<br />

• 3 cups uncooked fusilli pasta<br />

• 2 heaping cups halved<br />

cherry tomatoes<br />

• 1½ cooked chickpeas,<br />

drained and rinsed<br />

• 2 cups arugula<br />

• 1 cup cucumbers, sliced<br />

into thin half moons<br />

• 1 cup crumbled feta cheese<br />

• 1 cup basil leaves, torn<br />

• ½ cup minced parsley<br />

• ½ cup chopped mint<br />

• ¼ cup toasted pine nuts<br />

Prepare pasta according to package<br />

directions. Drain, toss with a little<br />

olive oil (so that it does not stick<br />

together), and let it cool to room<br />

temperature. Transfer to a large bowl<br />

with tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula,<br />

cucumbers, feta cheese, basil,<br />

parsley, mint, and pine nuts. Add<br />

dressing and toss to coat. Season to<br />

taste with more lemon, salt, pepper,<br />

and/or drizzle olive, if desired,<br />

and serve.<br />

Dressing<br />

• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil<br />

• 3 Tbsp. lemon juice<br />

• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard<br />

• 3 garlic cloves, minced<br />

• 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning<br />

• ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes<br />

• ¼ tsp. sea salt<br />

In a small bowl, whisk together all<br />

ingredients.<br />

Southern Pimento<br />

and Cheese<br />

• 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese<br />

• 8 oz. cream cheese, softened<br />

• ½ cup mayonnaise<br />

• 1 4 oz. jar diced pimento, drained<br />

• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded,<br />

and minced (optional)<br />

• ¼ tsp. garlic powder<br />

• ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper<br />

(optional)<br />

• ¼ tsp. onion powder<br />

• Salt and black pepper to taste<br />

Mix all ingredients until thoroughly<br />

combined. Season to taste with<br />

black pepper. Enjoy with your<br />

favorite crackers!<br />

60 • APRIL 2024

Deviled Eggs<br />

• 12 whole boiled eggs<br />

• ½ cup mayonnaise<br />

• 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard<br />

• 2 tsp. dill pickle juice<br />

• ¼ tsp. kosher salt<br />

• ¼ tsp. black pepper<br />

• Hot sauce, optional<br />

• Ground paprika, for sprinkling<br />

• Chopped chives, optional<br />

Peel eggs, and cut in half, lengthwise.<br />

Remove yolks from the egg halves,<br />

and place them into a bowl. Mash<br />

yolks with a fork until they are broken<br />

up. Add mayonnaise, mustard, pickle<br />

juice, salt, pepper and a few drops of<br />

hot sauce, if desired. Stir to combine;<br />

mixture should be mostly smooth.<br />

Spoon mixture into a zip-top plastic<br />

bag, and snip ¼ inch of one of the<br />

bottom corners. Pipe the mixture into<br />

the egg white halves. Sprinkle eggs<br />

with paprika, and chill the eggs in an<br />

airtight container until ready to eat.<br />

Chef’s Salad on a Stick<br />

• 4 hardboiled eggs<br />

• ½ English cucumber<br />

• 2 oz. deli ham, thick cut<br />

• 2 oz. deli turkey breast, thick cut<br />

• 2 oz. deli roast beef, thick cut<br />

• 8 oz. Swiss cheese block<br />

• 1 head red lettuce<br />

• 16 grape tomatoes<br />

• 8 large green olives<br />

• 8 12-inch skewers<br />

• Ranch dressing<br />

• black pepper<br />

Cut each egg into four pieces. Slice<br />

cucumbers lengthwise, then cut into<br />

half circles, about a half inch thick.<br />

Cut ham, turkey, and roast beef slices<br />

lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips.<br />

Roll each strip into a pinwheel. Cut<br />

Swiss cheese block into 16 squares.<br />

Alternating pieces, place two pieces<br />

each of cheese, cucumber, tomato<br />

and egg; 1 pinwheel each of ham,<br />

turkey, and roast beef; and three<br />

pieces of lettuce, each folded up into a<br />

bundle, on each skewer. Finish each<br />

skewer with one green olive. Serve on<br />

a platter drizzled with ranch dressing<br />

and sprinkled with black pepper.<br />

Ham Sandwiches<br />

with Quick Pickles<br />

• 2 small to medium Kirby<br />

cucumbers<br />

• ½ cup distilled white vinegar<br />

• ½ cup sugar<br />

• 2 tsp. pickling spice<br />

• 1 Tbsp. kosher salt<br />

• Pinch of cayenne pepper<br />

• 8 large slices of crusty white bread<br />

• ¾ cup Miracle Whip<br />

• 4 large leaves iceberg lettuce<br />

• 1 lb. country ham<br />

• Freshly ground black pepper<br />

Pickles<br />

Cut off the tops and bottoms of the<br />

cucumbers, then slice the ¼ inch<br />

thick. Put in a small heatproof bowl.<br />

Bring vinegar, sugar, pickling spice,<br />

salt, cayenne and ½ cup water to<br />

simmer in a medium saucepan over<br />

medium heat, stirring occasionally to<br />

dissolve the sugar. Remove from the<br />

heat, and pour over the cucumber<br />

slices. Press the cucumbers down so<br />

they are completely submerged.<br />

Let cool to room temperature, about<br />

45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap<br />

and refrigerate until cold, at least<br />

1½ hours and up to 5 days.<br />

Sandwiches<br />

Spread four slices of bread with<br />

2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip. Top with a<br />

lettuce leaf and ham. Drain pickles,<br />

and pile on top. Season generously<br />

with black pepper. Spread remaining<br />

four slices with Miracle Whip and<br />

place on top of the sandwiches.<br />

Corn Salad<br />

• 4 large ears of yellow corn, shucked<br />

or 4 cups of drained, canned corn<br />

• 2 plum tomatoes, chopped<br />

• 1 avocado, peeled and chopped<br />

• 1 cup chopped red onion<br />

• 1 jalapeno stemmed and chopped<br />

• ½ cup chopped cilantro,<br />

plus leaves for garnish<br />

• ½ cup crumbled queso fresco,<br />

plus more for garnish<br />

• Lime wedges, for serving<br />

Salad<br />

Add corn to a large pot of water,<br />

season generously with salt and boil<br />

for 3 minutes. Let cool to room<br />

temperature. Slice kernels off the<br />

cobb. (You should have about 4 cups<br />

of corn). In a large bowl, gently toss<br />

corn, tomatoes, avocado, red onion,<br />

jalapeno, chopped cilantro, and queso<br />

fresco. Drizzle with dressing, and toss<br />

gently to coat. Sprinkle more cilantro,<br />

queso fresco, and chipotle chili<br />

powder. Serve with lime wedges.<br />

Dressing<br />

• ¼ cup sour cream<br />

• 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise<br />

• 2 Tbsp. lime juice<br />

• 2 tsp. hot sauce<br />

• ¾ tsp. kosher salt<br />

• ½ tsp. chipotle chili powder,<br />

plus more for garnish<br />

• ¼ tsp. ground cumin<br />

• ¼ tsp. black pepper<br />

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients<br />

with 1 Tbsp. water.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • APRIL 2024


Register Now for<br />

Summer & Fall Classes!<br />

Whether you’re starting your college journey or<br />

returning to advance your career, we’ve saved<br />

a seat just for you. Hinds is the perfect place<br />

to learn, grow and succeed. Enroll today and<br />

make your mark at Hinds Community College.<br />

Your future is waiting. Visit hindscc.edu or call<br />

1-800-HINDSCC<br />

1-800-HINDSCC<br />


In compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 of the Higher Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and<br />

other applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or<br />

veteran status in its educational programs and activities. We recognize our responsibility to provide an open and welcoming environment that fosters a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion for employees and students<br />

to collaboratively learn, work and serve our communities. The following have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies:<br />

EEOC Compliance: Office of Campus Culture and Diversity, PO Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601-857-3569 or Email: EEOC@hindscc.edu<br />

Title IX: Associate Vice President Student Services, Title IX Coordinator Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601-857-3353 or Email: TitleIX@hindscc.edu.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 63

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

What made you decide to work as a first responder?<br />

I grew up around the fire service. Both my dad and uncle were<br />

both firefighters. Most of my childhood was spent going to the<br />

fire house. I guess you could say it’s in my blood. I had more<br />

interest in the medical aspect of it and chose to become a<br />

paramedic.<br />

How long have you been with the Pafford EMS?<br />

In total, three-and-a-half years between two stents. I worked at<br />

AMR between the two stents, but I’m at home with Pafford.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Brittany.<br />

We’re approaching our seventh year of marriage. We have<br />

an eight-month-old son, Baker, and our dog, Sadie.<br />

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

I enjoy spending time with my family as much as possible.<br />

I also enjoy being in the outdoors, hunting, and fishing.<br />

Paramedic<br />

Collin<br />

PINTER<br />


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

I want travel and attend a game at all the Major League Baseball<br />

stadiums, visit all of the National Parks in the U.S., and go on an<br />

elk hunt.<br />


64 • APRIL 2024

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

My Pop. He recently passed, but the love he had for<br />

his family was second-to-none. He taught me so much,<br />

and I took for granted all he did and meant to me.<br />

What advice would you give to a young person?<br />

Find what you’re passionate about, and pursue it. When<br />

you do pursue it, find someone with experience, and<br />

soak up as much information as you can. Never have the<br />

mindset of “I know everything.” You have the opportunity<br />

to learn new things every day; take advantage of it.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?<br />

I like the sense of community. I really get to see it first hand<br />

being a first responder. Neighbors helping neighbors, and<br />

strangers helping strangers. That is hard to find nowadays.<br />

I’ve lived in Rankin County for the majority of my life.<br />

I’m proud to serve in the county I live in.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 65



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Hometown RANKIN • 67

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• Ongoing psychiatric medication management<br />

• Alcoholics Anonymous ® and Narcotics Anonymous ® meetings<br />

• Develop relapse prevention coping skills<br />

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• Improve mental and physical wellness<br />

• 24/7 access, call to learn more<br />

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Walk-ins are welcome and most<br />

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Model representations of real patients are shown. Physicians are on<br />

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68 • APRIL 2024<br />

Hometown Rankin April 2024 ad 4x5.indd 1<br />

3/7/24 9:15 AM

Prep athletes endure and strive<br />

to reach their personal best. While<br />

winning will always be our goal, it<br />

is not our purpose. Our purpose at<br />

Jackson Prep is to help our students<br />


academically, athletically,<br />

artistically, and spiritually.<br />

Will Crosby, Athletic Director<br />

PreK-3 through Grade 12<br />

j a c k s o n p r e p . n e t<br />

Jackson Preparatory School admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 69

70 • APRIL 2024<br />

National Wild Turkey Federation<br />

Rankin County Chapter<br />

March 7 / Brandon Municipal Complex

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 73

I like chickens<br />

because they run<br />

around funny.<br />

I like to watch them.<br />

Georgia, Age 8<br />

My favorite animal is a dog<br />

because my dog is silly when<br />

he meets new people and<br />

makes them happy.<br />

Linley Kate, Age 8<br />

I love sharks. I think they’re<br />

cool because they are<br />

almost at the top of the<br />

food chain in the ocean.<br />

Mason, Age 7<br />

What’s your favorite<br />

animal and why?<br />

Cats are my favorite<br />

because I have two of them,<br />

named Cookie Dough,<br />

and Slushie.<br />

Eliza James (EJ), Age 8<br />

74 • APRIL 2024<br />

Dogs are my favorite<br />

because I have one named<br />

Sookie. I love playing<br />

fetch with her.<br />

John Wesley, Age 8<br />

My favorite animal is an owl<br />

because I like how they<br />

can turn their heads<br />

all the way around.<br />

Megan, Age 8

My favorite animal is a<br />

cat because I have one,<br />

and she makes biscuits.<br />

Ava, Age 8<br />

I love dogs<br />

because they<br />

bark at<br />

new people.<br />

Mae, Age 7<br />

My favorite animal is a dog<br />

because I have a pet dog<br />

named Major. When I go to bed,<br />

he always snuggles with me.<br />

Olivia, Age 7<br />

My favorite animal is a wolf.<br />

They have white and gray fur,<br />

and those are my<br />

favorite colors.<br />

Lou, Age 7<br />

Cheetahs are<br />

my favorite<br />

because they<br />

are fast.<br />

Chase, Age 8<br />

I like sharks because they<br />

have cool teeth. I love finding<br />

shark teeth in the sand.<br />

Ivey, Age 7<br />

My favorite animal is a<br />

goldfish. I like them because<br />

they swim underwater.<br />

Jonah, Age 8<br />

My favorite animal is a<br />

baby white tiger because<br />

they’re so cute.<br />

Louis, Age 8<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 75

76 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 77


Northwest Rankin<br />

Elementary<br />

NWRE is “shining bright” and sharing kindness.<br />

Recently, our entire school immersed itself in a thematic unit<br />

of kindness. By learning to walk in another’s shoes through<br />

read alouds, videos, and hands-on-activities, our Cougars have<br />

discovered what it is like for those who must think outside of<br />

the box to create their own practical skills for living.<br />

We kicked off the spring semester with Kindness Week,<br />

where 2nd through 5th graders began a read aloud adventure<br />

through the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, while our pre-k<br />

through 1st graders studied We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio.<br />

As all twenty-six classroom teachers read, we learned that life<br />

is not perfect. We should always choose kindness because we<br />

never know what someone is going through.<br />

In February and March, NWRE continued their journey of<br />

empathy as we embarked on a One Book-One School read<br />

aloud for Read Across America. Aven Green, Music Machine<br />

by Dusti Bowling shares the struggles of an eight-year-old girl<br />

who was born without arms. We followed Aven as she paved<br />

her own way through everyday experiences that many of us<br />

would find easy to accomplish in our own lives.<br />

On March 21st, we partnered with the Central Mississippi<br />

Down Syndrome Society for World Down Syndrome Day.<br />

Each class read You are Enough: A Book About Inclusion by<br />

Margaret O’Hair and Sofia Sanchez, which taught our students<br />

that being unique is what makes us all special! Our goal is for<br />

everyone to feel valued and included!<br />

A tremendous take-away from these social/emotional<br />

lessons this semester is that we are all limitless. If we try<br />

our best and do not give up, you never know what can be<br />

accomplished. We encourage our students to always lead<br />

with their hearts and choose kindness. Shine bright, NWRE!<br />

“When you let your light shine, you brighten the world.”<br />

-Margaret O’Hair<br />

78 • APRIL 2024

Northshore Elementary<br />

Students at Northshore Elementary love learning! Teachers work hard to provide the<br />

students with engaging activities – from educational field trips, to learning how plants<br />

grow, to seeing if you really can fry an egg outside on a hot day.<br />

Students love learning outside of the regular classroom at Northshore. Students<br />

attend STEM, computer class, library, music, and PE weekly. Students also have<br />

opportunities to be in the honor choir, the school’s book club, dance class, chess club,<br />

and the Lego club.<br />

Students at Northshore love helping others. In September, the students participated<br />

in Go Gold Day and collected toys for the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital. Northshore<br />

teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and donated over $5,000, which enabled<br />

a local child to get his wish! In February, the students had their Booster-thon Fun Run,<br />

which is their yearly school fundraiser.<br />

Students at Northshore love to have fun. In the fall, students dressed up during<br />

Homecoming Week and Red Ribbon Week. The PTO held a fall festival for the students<br />

in October; the students played games, ate treats, and got their faces painted. In January,<br />

Northshore celebrated the 100th Day of School. In March, Northshore celebrated Read<br />

Across America Week by having the whole school read Judy Moody Was in a Mood.<br />

Each day, the students listened to “secret readers” and dressed up as different<br />

book-related themes.<br />

Dedicated staff and parents make Northshore Elementary a place that students<br />

love to be!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 79


McLaurin High<br />

The McLaurin High School art department is a vibrant,<br />

special part of the MHS community and gives students<br />

a space to express their creativity and hone their artistic<br />

skills. For the past four years, the department has<br />

cultivated and executed a relatively new annual event<br />

for the community titled “Night of the Arts.” This event<br />

serves as a showcase for the work students have<br />

created throughout the year as well as an opportunity<br />

for families in the community to enjoy performances by<br />

the talents of the McLaurin band and theater<br />

departments. This year’s event will take place on<br />

Thursday, April 18th, at MHS.<br />

In addition to enriching the culture on campus,<br />

McLaurin’s chapter of the National Arts Honor Society<br />

recently took a field trip to the Mississippi Museum of<br />

Art to view the celebrated exhibit “Picasso Landscapes:<br />

Out of Bounds.” Here, students were able to delve<br />

deep into discussions about Picasso’s work and the<br />

motivations behind it. These opportunities for students<br />

to grow as young artists would not be possible without<br />

the dedication and leadership of McLaurin’s art<br />

teachers Mrs. Lindsay Pecou and Mrs. Lydia Herd.<br />

80 • APRIL 2024

Pearl Public School District<br />

Read Across America 2024 • “You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”- Dr. Seuss<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 81

TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Othel and I went for a walk this morning.<br />

It’s a blessed part of retirement.<br />

We can choose our morning times without the interference of work schedules – and morning times are my<br />

favorite. My body feels more “recharged” than in the evening walks, and the brisk, spring air is easy to breathe.<br />

I’ve never had the luxury of walking through neighborhoods. If I walked in Etta, I descended and ascended<br />

our mini Mt. Rushmore hilltop or walked out the “back 40” which was less challenging but on a dirt road<br />

and into more woods. I loved our wooded, rural paths but paved neighborhoods are more suited to retirement<br />

age.<br />

I enjoy viewing the variety of homes and yards. We pass homes without tree swings or basketball goals in the<br />

driveway. The lawns are neat – no ruts or worn home plate sports. The little ones have most likely left the nest,<br />

and the home remains but never will be quite the same.<br />

A few yards stand out as unkempt. The weeds are springing up and out of the flower beds, and the shrubs<br />

are growing with no intimidation of shears or clippers. Could be time and health have left their marks on the<br />

homeowners. Death could have robbed the home and left Loneliness to share the half-empty house along with<br />

a yard that doesn’t seem to matter anymore.<br />

Some homes have indoor watch dogs that alert their owners to strangers near their homes. Lots of homes<br />

have barking security systems in their backyards. I’m grateful that leash laws are enforced in our neighborhoods!<br />

I’m a walker – not a runner!<br />

I enjoy the homes where Green Thumbs live. Flowers around homes always cause me to slow down and<br />

enjoy the beauty and appreciate the many varieties God has created. Spring is flowers’ happy time in the south,<br />

and this season makes for comfortable walks as well as a lot of blooming joy.<br />

Some carports house cars with overflow vehicles in their driveways. Most likely,<br />

it’s a sign of teenagers or multiple family members. Either way it’s a sign that extra<br />

prayers are needed. I’m grateful God hears prayers for strangers, too.<br />

There’s usually an occasional “For Sale” or realtor sign in a yard – regardless of our<br />

walking route. My mind conjures up possible reasons – a job change or promotion,<br />

retirement to another home closer to relatives, heartaches due to life’s trials and<br />

tribulations, or growing families in need of more space.<br />

Today’s walk only led us one and a half miles – not a true calorie burner but enough time and sights to remind<br />

me that a home is a wonderful blessing – especially in our neighborhood. We didn’t hear any exploding bombs<br />

or sporadic artillery fire. Protestors weren’t crowding any of the streets, and we didn’t hear the first siren. No<br />

armed militia stood at any corner, and we didn’t see any yellow tape fixed to a dwelling or yard. Home – peaceful,<br />

safe homes – they make for happy walks and another reminder of how grateful we should be.<br />

82 • APRIL 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 83

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