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Jackson Preparatory School (Mississippi)

Jackson Preparatory School (Jackson Prep) is an independent, coeducational, day school enrolling 820 students in grades six through twelve. The school is located in Flowood, Mississippi, a suburb of Jackson, and has a controversial history as a segregation academy.[1]

Jackson Preparatory School
3100 Lakeland Drive
Jackson, Mississippi
United States
Coordinates 32°19′59″N 90°6′30″W / 32.33306°N 90.10833°W / 32.33306; -90.10833Coordinates: 32°19′59″N 90°6′30″W / 32.33306°N 90.10833°W / 32.33306; -90.10833
Type Independent
Motto Scholarship, Service, Character, Leadership
Established 1970
Grades 6 through 12
Gender Coeducational
Campus size 74 acres (30 ha)
Color(s) Blue and Red
Mascot Patriots
Nickname Prep
Yearbook Precis
Affiliations National Association of Independent Schools, Southern Association of Independent Schools, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, The College Board, National Association of College Admissions Counselors, Southern Association of College Admissions Counselors, Cum Laude Society and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.
Literary Magazine Earthwinds
Tuition Approximately $14,649 per year (before book costs)



The school was founded in 1970 as a segregation academy.[1] A biography of James Meredith cited the school's creation as part of the campaign of massive resistance against the Brown v. Board of Education decision ordering racial integration of public schools.[2]

At the time of its founding, a local member of the White Citizen's Council remarked that schools like Jackson Prep were established because the "educational results of such forced interracial congregation are disastrous for children of both the white and black races".[3]

In 1981, Jackson Prep headmaster Jesse Howell said the school was established because the "upheaval" white parents experienced from desegregation "caused a need for stability, for a place to send their children. We've tried to provide that."[4] Howell claimed not to know why Jackson Prep had never enrolled any black students.[4]

As of 1986, Jackson Prep had never enrolled a black student.[5] The headmaster, Jesse Howell, told a newspaper that the lack of diversity was because "black communities don't choose to attend our school." A black parent disagreed, saying that he didn't enroll his sons because "Jackson Prep was formed in 1970 to try to maintain segregation."[5]

In a 1995 article in the Clarion Ledger, former headmaster Jesse Howell said that "There was resistance from both sides" to school integration. Gail Sweat, a student who had attended Jackson Preparatory before transferring back to a racially integrated public school, said that, in 1970, "initially there was panic, and most whites bailed out and went to private schools." However, leaving Jackson Preparatory was what "prepared her to live in a diverse society." Sweat added that, after leaving Jackson Preparatory "it wasn't that big a deal, blacks and whites going to school together."[6]

As of 2014, Jackson Prep's student body remained over 97 percent white.[1]

Role in electionsEdit

In the 1987 Mississippi gubernatorial election, Bill Waller was criticized for sending two of his children to the "all-white" Jackson Preparatory School.[7][8] In 1989, Jackson Mayor Dale Danks was similarly criticized for enrolling his daughter in Jackson Prep.[9]


The Jackson Preparatory School faculty/staff comprises 85 people, including 43 (51%) who have earned post-graduate degrees. 15 (17.65%) faculty members hold Ph.D. degrees.[citation needed]

Student lifeEdit

The school has a student council, debate team, a robotics club, quiz bowl team, chess club, intramural quidditch teams, student publications, service clubs, academic honorary societies, band, showchoir, drill team, cheerleading, visual arts classes and exhibits, drama and musical theater productions, is a MathCounts team, and other special interest teams.[citation needed]

Prep currently offers one of only two Classical Heritage Programs in the state. Prep offers a wide variety of courses, including East Asian Studies, and is one of four schools to be selected locally for a Cum Laude Society chapter.[citation needed]

Chess teamEdit

The Jackson Prep chess team won the 2015 Mississippi High School Team Championship, which was held at Mississippi State University on March 21, 2015. The top 4 players on the Jackson Prep team combined to score 15 out of 20 points to place 1st among the 8 competing high schools.[10]

Literary magazineEdit

Jackson Preparatory School's High School literary magazine is named Earthwinds. Earthwinds had earned four consecutive Gold Medals in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association's Critique of Student Literary Magazines as of the 2007-2008 school year. Earthwinds has also earned an All-Southern Rating, the highest commendation awarded by the Southern Interscholastic Press Association, judged by the journalism and communications faculty at the University of South Carolina this year.


The Sentry is Jackson Prep's periodically released high school news publication. It is a forum for students in grades nine through twelve to both to keep the Prep community informed, express their opinions, and learn about the process of journalism.


A robotics team representing Jackson Prep was formed in the early 2000s[specify], but fell apart after a few competitive seasons. A team was reformed fall 2011 to compete in the Mississippi FLL Tournament. The team placed 37 out of about 50.[when?] In 2012, the team again participated in the Mississippi FLL Tournament. This time they placed 17 out of around 55. In January 2013, a FTC team was formed to compete in the state competition that spring. The team was selected to be on one of the two top alliances and went on to help their alliance place first in the competition.[citation needed]

Pregnant studentsEdit

Jackson Prep requires pregnant students to withdraw from the school.[11]



Jackson compete as the Patriots, in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), and currently competes in that league's AAA-I division.

When Jackson Prep was established in 1970, the Murrah High School football coach moved to Jackson Prep, along with all the white players. The Murrah High School weight room equipment was also transferred to Jackson Prep since the booster club said that the equipment belonged to the club and not to the Jackson Public School District.[12]

In 1978, NFL coach Romeo Crennel was working as an assistant at Ole Miss and visited Jackson Prep to scout a player. Crennel later recalled that he was the first black person to attend a game at the school and that he had used the alias "Romano Crenelli" to disguise his racial background.[13][14]

Among the players to come through Prep's program are former All-SEC, former All-SEC Mississippi State and Canadian Football League standout linebacker Paul V. Lacoste; former Tennessee Vols standout and NFL player Will Overstreet; former Ole Miss and NFL offensive lineman Todd Wade.[citation needed]

Cross countryEdit

Jackson Prep's distance running program, the cross country team has won several[quantify] state championships in recent years[year needed].


Jackson Preparatory School is housed on a 74 acres (30 ha) campus. The Junior High and Senior High buildings each include academic classrooms and science labs. Each has a computer center with high-speed internet connections. Division administrators and counselors are located in both buildings, and the Senior High building houses a student publications center. At the heart of the campus is the 42,000-square-foot (3,900 m2) McRae Fine Arts and Media Center, which houses three art studios, a ceramics studio, band hall, choral music room, and art gallery. The McRae Center is also home to the Jesse Howell Library, with holdings that include nearly 20,000 volumes, 60 periodical subscriptions, 24 desktop and 48 laptop computers, databases, and other services. The Guyton Science Center houses six state-of-the-art science classrooms with laboratories and the Lyceum, a two-hundred-seat lecture/meeting facility. A new Dining Commons was constructed in 2008.

The Fortenberry Auditorium and Gymnasium, along with the J.O. Manning Patriot Center, provide athletic venues, a performing arts complex, dressing rooms, weight rooms, coaches' offices, and laundry facilities. Prep's outdoor athletic complex includes a lighted baseball field, a lighted football stadium with 400-meter track, a soccer field, a girls' fast-pitch softball field, eight wheelchair-accessible tennis courts, a cross-country course, and multiple practice fields.

A new auditorium is currently being constructed behind the existing campus. The Fortenberry Auditorium is to be remodeled into a Global Leadership Institute office, and other new things like an internet cafe and a radio broadcast suite. The first stage of this project is projected to be completed in fall 2013.[needs update]

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "What is a 'Segregation Academy'?". Jackson Free Press. December 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ McGee, Meredith Coleman (2013). James Meredith : warrior and the America that created him. Westport: Praeger. p. 40. ISBN 0313397392. 
  3. ^ Bolton, Charles C. (2005). The hardest deal of all the battle over school integration in Mississippi, 1870 - 1980 (1. ed.). Jackson, Miss.: Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 175. ISBN 1578067170. 
  4. ^ a b Demmons, Douglas (May 12, 1981). "Private schools: Quality or bias". Rankin Focus (Clarion-Ledger). p. 1. 
  5. ^ a b Ingram, Ruth (November 9, 1986). "Perception of Racism still Keeping Black Students From Academies". Clarion Ledger. p. G1. 
  6. ^ Kanengiser, Andy (December 10, 1985). "Desegregation Helps them Cope Now". Clarion Ledger. 
  7. ^ "Private School Issue Raised in Race". Hattiesburg American. June 18, 1987. p. 3. 
  8. ^ Davis, Dan (June 18, 1987). "3 Pro-Public Education Dems Sent Their Kids to Private Schools". Clarion Ledger. 
  9. ^ Richards, Rhonda (April 10, 1989). "Candidates sent kids to Private Schools". Clarion-Ledger. p. B1. 
  10. ^ "State Team Tournament Results". Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  11. ^ Plohetski, Tony (September 30, 1999). "Balancing school, motherhood tough". Clarion-Ledger. p. 1 – via 
  12. ^ Lines were drawn : remembering court-ordered integration at a Mississippi high school. Horn, Teena F., Huffman, Alan., Jones, John Griffin. Jackson. p. 184. ISBN 9781626746640. OCLC 924683934. 
  13. ^ "Anything for the team". Tampa Bay Times. February 16, 2005. p. 8C. 
  14. ^ "Overheard". Baltimore Sun. February 16, 2005. p. C2. 
  15. ^ "'The Help' Comes Home". Retrieved 2017-11-10.