Jones College student releases country music single

ELLISVILLE – He’s a country singer, musician and songwriter and he’s about to graduate from Jones College with something maybe a little better than his associate’s degree in Music Industry & Recording Arts. As nearly 600 JC students graduate on Friday, May 3, Eli Carter’s first country song, “These White Lines” will hit the airwaves. The 20-year-old Collins native has been singing and songwriting since he was a teenager and he is on the verge of launching a career in songwriting, with the hope of a career performing in Nashville too.

“It’s going to be a pretty wild day!” said Carter. “I felt like I had to have something before I left Jones, so some friends helped me out. Daniel Baldwin played piano and sang harmony, along with Matt Taylor. We knocked it out in two nights and sent it to Matt McGuffie, our instructor and audio engineer in the Free State of Jones Recording studio on campus. He added the lead guitar to the track, fixed and mastered it in three hours and put it in distribution.”

The song, “These White Lines” could be interpreted a couple of ways, according to Carter. However, his intent was that everybody has moments of desperation, and everyone has these times of hopelessness.

“That’s kind of what the song leads with, ‘God if you can hear me now, I’m not begging for a miracle.’ You’re crying out for anything, something to help,” said Carter.

B95 Country radio station’s morning DJ, Grey Manning, loved the opportunity to be the first radio station to debut the song on Tuesday, April 30, at 8 a.m., before its official release on May 3.

“I think this is awesome to have a new artist that is local, that has a new song coming out, that’s one of the coolest things about radio. When you can play a song before anyone has heard it or before anybody else can buy it or play it. It’s pretty cool!” Manning said excitedly. “This song could be interpreted in a few different ways and that’s what makes it an incredible song.”

Carter shared that singer songwriters like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Tyler Childers, and Jason Isbell have all influenced his, American traditional country style of music. Nonetheless, his favorite is Isbell.

“Jason Isabell’s writing is insane. I like to say I write bad Jason Isbell songs because I’m trying to imitate his writing but it kind of turns into my writing,” said Carter.

While Eli Carter has been performing live locally for the last year, his debut singing and playing the guitar was at the Okatoma Festival last May. He will return to Collins on Saturday, May 4, for another performance on the Okatoma stage at 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. His first song, “These White Lines” will be available on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and just about anywhere you can stream music on Friday, May 3, 2024.

Jones College and WDAM-TV honor Top of Class 2024

ELLISVILLE- Jones College was thrilled to be able to host WDAM-TV’s annual Top of Class 2024 recognition program with a live, “red-carpet” event. WDAM-TV news/weather personalities Elle Davis, Brandy McGill and Ryan Mahan, along with Jones College executive vice presidents, Dr. Tessa Flowers and Dr. Finee’ Ruffin were photographed with the area’s valedictorians and salutatorians to commemorate the special event held at Jones College. The group of nearly 100 high school students were celebrated with a day of recognition including breakfast, entertainment and inspiring comments from WDAM-TV News Director, Emily Forrester, Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith and Jones College sophomore, PTK President and 2022 Wayne Academy Salutatorian, Kadin Johnston.

Kadin Johnston

Each student was recognized and received a special, Top of Class Certificate of Achievement, commemorative T-Shirt and participated in the traditional, Hat Toss while the WDAM-TV production crew documented the event to be featured during WDAM-Sunrise at 6:58 a.m., on May 6, through June 14, and on the WDAM-TV webpage.

“We always look forward to hosting Top of the Class with WDAM-TV because we get to see these bright students reach the pinnacle of their high school academic careers. Plus, we get to learn about how they have already impacted their communities and hear their future plans which include continuing to do some great things,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith.

Check on the WDAM-TV Top of Class website, for a schedule of when each high school’s Top of Class video will air on WDAM-TV Sunrise News.

Hat Toss by Josh Bowen

Jones College’s 2024 yearbook recognized for excellence, again

ELLISVILLE – For the third year in a row, the Jones College yearbook, the Lair, has won an exclusive award, the Gallery of Excellence Award from Walsworth yearbooks.  The gallery is an annual collection of Walsworth Yearbooks comprised of the most distinguished yearbooks in the country. Only a small percentage of the 5000 schools’ yearbooks that Walsworth publishes are included in the Gallery of Excellence, which features superior examples of coverage, design, photography, and copy.

Jones College student publications advisor and journalism instructor, Kelly Atwood commended the 13-member, Jones College student staff for continuing the legacy of excellence.

“The 2024 yearbook theme is ‘Picture This’ and it is filled with students, faculty and staff throughout the year with senior editor Jaylynn Conner of Waynesboro, leading the student group. My job is to oversee the entire process and ensure we meet deadlines, but this is a student driven yearbook,” said Atwood. “This is their award.”

This 2023-2024 yearbook staff includes, yearbook design editor Angel Deforge of Wiggins; senior editor Jaylynn Conner of Waynesboro; photography editor Kami Carter of Columbia; copy editor Lauren Runnels of Mize; sports photographer Andie Freeman of Petal; writers: Sophie Hinch of Hattiesburg, Seth Walker of Laurel, Annie Grace Sullivan of Ellisville and Taylor Garretson of Leakesville and photographers: Shelby Powell of Florida, Marlee Brewer of Hattiesburg, Kameron Upchurch of Laurel, and Haley “Kat” Shepherd of Petal.

Jones College student earning the exclusive Walsworth Yearbooks are pictured in the front row, left to right, Jones College yearbook design editor Angel Deforge of Wiggins, sports photographer Andie Freeman of Petal, senior editor Jaylynn Conner of Waynesboro, photography editor Kami Carter of Columbia, copy editor Lauren Runnels of Mize; middle row, writer Sophie Hinch of Hattiesburg, photographers Shelby Powell of Florida, Marlee Brewer of Hattiesburg and Kameron Upchurch of Laurel; back row, photographer Haley “Kat” Shepherd of Petal, and writers Seth Walker of Laurel, Annie Grace Sullivan of Ellisville and Taylor Garretson of Leakesville. Photo by Kelly Atwood, JC Journalism instructor and student publciations advisor.

Jones College celebrates retiring 2023-2024 employees

ELLISVILLE – Jones College held its annual “Retirement Tea” for two employees who are retiring this year. When combined, these two ladies provided almost 66 years of service to JC. After Bonnie Warren graduated from JCJC, she began working in I.T., the Registrar’s Office, Student Affairs, and is currently serving as the Director of Enrollment Operations.

Also, a JCJC graduate, Missie Meeks has been teaching English for almost 21 years at Jones College. Previously, she enjoyed a career working in marketing for Howard Industries and local financial institutions.   

Jones College’s Dr. Theresa Sanchez named MTNA FOUNDATION Fellow

ELLISVILLE – Jones College music and piano faculty, Dr. Theresa Sanchez of Hattiesburg, was recently honored by Music Teachers National Association as an MTNA FOUNDATION Fellow during the 2024 MTNA National Conference. The MTNA FOUNDATION Fellow program offers a meaningful method of recognition for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to music teaching. The award is bestowed when a peer or group of peers donates $1,500 to the MTNA FOUNDATION FUND in an individual’s name.

“The MTNA Fellow award comes through selection from colleagues in my state branch of the organization, who also fund the award benefiting the MTNA Foundation,” explained Sanchez. “As a 44-year member and former state president, I am privileged to have met and worked with most of the membership over the years. To be honored nationally in this way was a very special affirmation of my professional choices, and a joyful experience.”

This year, Sanchez was honored to be chosen as one of the 24 Fellows. Some states have multiple Fellows, and some don’t participate in the process every year. A few Fellows this year were awarded posthumously for their exemplary service to the organization.

Dr. Sanchez, NCTM, has been a faculty member at Jones College since 1995. She has received several teaching awards over her nearly 29 years of music and piano instruction, including the 2003 HEADWAE award, 2007 Humanities Teacher of the Year, and 2010 Faculty Excellence Award. She is a past president of the Mississippi MTA and the Hattiesburg Music Teachers League. Sanchez was a Southern Division winner in the MTNA Collegiate Artist Competition and served as an official accompanist for the Southern Division competitions for more than 30 years. She is music coordinator for FestivalSouth in Hattiesburg and an avid chamber music performer. Sanchez holds Bachelor of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi and she earned her Master of Music degree at Louisiana State University.

Additionally, Dr. Sanchez has performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals and has been a soloist with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in addition to Meridian Symphony and the USM Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. She currently serves as Chamber Music Coordinator for the Hattiesburg Concert Association and FestivalSouth in Hattiesburg and has been active in arts management with the Vicksburg Chamber Music Festival.

She is listed on the Touring Artist Roster of the Mississippi Arts Commission and performs frequently with the Impromptu Piano Trio. In addition, she is Principal Keyboard with the Meridian and Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestras. Sanchez has been a long-time Official Accompanist for Southern Division competitions for that organization.

About MTNA

MTNA is a nonprofit organization of independent and collegiate music teachers committed to furthering the art of music through teaching, performance, composition and scholarly research. Founded in 1876, MTNA is the oldest professional music teachers association in the United States. For additional information, please contact MTNA national headquarters at (888) 512-5278 or, or visit the website at