Future of the Ozarks: Hollister High School Siblings Ranked No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Senior Class

Four seniors from the same family will graduate together from Hollister High School in May.

If that is not remarkable enough, the Schultz siblings — Michael, 18, and triplets Allison, Brooklyn, and Samantha, 17 — are academically ranked No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Class of 2022.

The four, born just eight months apart in 2003, are student leaders who have made their mark in different ways.

“As a group, they set an example for the other kids in the building because of that drive, because of that work ethic, because of that character,” said Principal Jared Terry. “No matter what they’re in, they’re in a leadership position.”

Terry said the siblings have a variety of interests and have found ways to stand apart.

“They’ve each found their own little niche but collectively they just bring so much to our student body,” he said. “They’re really kids that you can point (out) to freshmen and sophomores and say ‘Hey if you want to be successful, look at them and follow their lead.'”

All four are in the National Honor Society and have packed resumes based on involvement in a wide range of student groups. Here are the highlights:

Allison, the valedictorian, is the color guard captain in the marching band, which competed at high levels this year. She is on the student council and secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America.

“I’m in AP,” she said, of advanced placement courses. “My biggest accomplishment is AP. I pretty much pushed for an AP Calculus II class.”

She plans to study accounting or finance and was recently admitted to the University of Notre Dame. She was selected in the first round, one of 1,675 students picked from the 9,683 applicants.

Samantha ranked No. 2 in the class, is president of FBLA, dance coordinator for the student cabinet, and performed in show choir. She is part of the agronomy team, which went to nationals last year.

“That was a really big accomplishment,” she said. “This year we are hoping to go as far.” She plans to study interior design or plant science at the University of Arkansas.

Ranked No. 3 in class, Brooklyn is editor-in-chief of the yearbook and an accomplished photographer who has worked with the Branson Globe and Branson Tri-Lakes News.

“I’ve had a Facebook page called Brooklyn Schultz photography for three years now,” she said. She is frequently booked for shooting senior pictures, engagement photos, and local events.

She plans to study journalism and has been accepted to the University of Missouri. Her goal is to work internationally as a photojournalist.

Michael, the student body president, is ranked No. 4 in the class. He has played football as well as basketball and golf.

He was selected to attend Missouri Boys State and be part of the Missouri Leadership Seminar. The Academic All-State student-athlete wants to study law.

“I received my congressional nomination from Billy Long to get the chance to apply to the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the United States Military Academy,” he said this week. “I will find out if I get into either of them anywhere from January to April.”

‘Grandma prayed too hard’

The story of the family starts in Doniphan, nestled in the Ozark foothills in the southeast part of Missouri.

The parents, Stan and Kathy Schultz, already had son Patrick — currently a student at Benedictine College — when they welcomed Michael in April 2003.

Three months later, Kathy went to the hospital thinking she had a bad stomachache.

“She was like ‘Doctors I don’t know what is happening’ and then they had an ultrasound and they’re like ‘Well, actually you’re pregnant — and, wait, with triplets,'” Samantha said. “My grandma prayed for girls and they got girls.”

Brooklyn added: “We always say ‘My grandma prayed too hard.'”

Twins and triplets do not run in the family so the surprise was overwhelming at first. The pregnancy was difficult.

The triplets arrived on Dec. 21, three months early, but just in time for Christmas. Samantha was first, followed quickly by Allison. They each weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Brooklyn, at just 1 pound, 6 ounces, was last.

There were serious health complications. Allison and Samantha remained in the hospital until early February. Brooklyn did not get to go home until mid-March.

Of Brooklyn, Michael said: “Her middle name is Faith because she had a life-saving surgery on Christmas Eve.”

That night, in the hospital room, the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” was playing.

“So, we watch it every year now,” Brooklyn said.

‘We want to do our own thing’

Despite having triplet girls and a son less than a year apart in age, the siblings said their parents raised them as individuals.

Each child has their own room. The triplets share a striking similarity but do not look or dress identically. With vastly different styles, they rarely share clothes.

They have sidestepped other multiple-birth clichés as well, like trying to fool teachers by swapping classes.

“We were so adamant when we were younger, and still now, that we want to do our own thing,” Samantha said. “We all have completely different interests.”

Their parents also insisted the children do their best, explore their talents and find ways to give back.

“They say all the time ‘We are not going to get mad at you for getting a slightly lower grade than you always get,” Samantha recalled. “But, we are going to get mad at you if you don’t try.”

Michael said his parents set high expectations with their example. “Our mom got all As from fourth grade through college and our dad is an engineer. Part of the drive is from them.”

The seniors were in fifth grade when the family moved to Hollister.

The parents relocated to the community based on academic and extracurricular options available in the school district.

“When we moved in, we were included in everything right off the bat,” said Michael. 

The four siblings believe their close relationship and competitiveness have helped them all excel academically.

“It’s like a game,” Samantha said.

Allison added: “We’re competitors. We’re pretty much just pushing each other all the time to be better because we don’t want to be the worst.”

Despite being the oldest, Michael was not as competitive at the start of high school.

“Freshman year, I was 26th in class,” he recalled. “On our first report card, they were all, like, I don’t know, top 5 or something.”

Allison added: “We made fun of him quite a bit.”

Michael interjected as the others laughed: “They absolutely ripped me to shreds, OK? I have not gotten anything other than an A+ since my freshman year.”

‘Cherish those conversations’

Over the years, the family has created many traditions but the most important may be at the dinner table.

“We all eat dinner together,” said Brooklyn, noting their grades are a frequent topic, especially when two or more siblings are in the same class.

All four of the siblings work part-time jobs in the area at places such as Silver Dollar City, Chick-fil-A, and Top of the Rock.

The siblings said dinner occurs when everybody is finally home from school or work —even if it’s not until 8 p.m.

“That is something my parent’s stress … Even if we’re mad at each other, we’re going to sit down and have a family meal together,” Samantha said.

“It has brought us so close and I will always cherish those conversations.”

With graduation just five months away, the reality of parting soon has hit each one of the siblings.

They have tough classes, leadership positions in extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs.

But they have been making time to get together this year. And they’ve been celebrating each other.

“Our whole lives we’ve been trying to be different from each other,” said Brooklyn. “Like he’s a history buff. We have an art person, we have a math person, an English person.”

During an interview with the News-Leader, the four took turns bragging on each other and pointing out accomplishments others forgot or were too modest, to mention.

The siblings said they realize the constant togetherness — and all the support and the motivation they’ve gained from it — will be gone, or at least different, next year.

In the fall, they’re planning to be on college or military campuses hundreds of miles apart. They are enjoying the time they have now.

“Us girls will go eat breakfast in the morning. We’ll have study sessions at the Landing (in Branson). We’ll have, like, random 2 a.m. talks in somebody’s room,” Samantha said. “That is what I am going to miss the most.”

Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. 

Cox Medical Center Branson dedicating “Prayer Square”

Cox Medical Center Branson is dedicating a space on their campus for prayer. The “Prayer Square” is being dedicated Aug. 23, starting at 10 a.m., at the top level of the main parking lot near the Medical Center’s flagpole, according to a press release. 

Cox Branson President William Mahoney hopes the square can be a place of unity. “We’re asking folks to say a prayer for our entire community,” Mahoney said in the release. “This is to support our hospital staff, patients, teachers, students, families, and anyone else making decisions or having a hard time in what has been a really difficult 18 months.”

Hospital officials credit College of the Ozarks Vice President Dr. Sue Head with the idea for a prayer space on the medical campus.  “The Ozarks is known for its warm hospitality and for its core values: faith, family, flag, friends, and future. This is our legacy,” Head said in the press release. “Now is the time for us to unite in our shared values rather than focusing our differences, which are pulling us apart. What if we all took a day to be united in prayer for our medical professionals, our non-profits, our first responders, and our schools that have all heroically worked to meet the needs of our community during this pandemic? We are all better together, so let’s gather in the “Prayer Squares” throughout the Ozarks to pray for our friends and neighbors who are struggling.”

Dr. Head is a member of the hospital’s Board of Directors. Another member of the hospital’s board, Pam Yancey, said in the press statement she hopes the “Prayer Square” will become a representation of the best of the community. “The heart of this community is so good,” Yancey said in the press statement. “Coming together to support each other is what we’ve always done. We hope this special Square will help us get back to that.  “This isn’t about politics, it’s about our people. Our community may not always agree on everything, but I know we all want health and happiness for our friends and neighbors.”

Options Pregnancy Held Grand Opening for New Clinic in Forsyth

April 16, 2021

Options Pregnancy Clinic invited the public to the Grand Opening of their newest clinic location in Forsyth on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The new clinic is located at 10726 State Highway 76, about a mile and a half south of Highway 160.

The Grand Opening was held from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and included complimentary lunch and tours of the new facility. For more information, visit Options Pregnancy Clinic on Facebook @OptionsPregnancyClinic.

COLLEGE OF THE OZARKS CHALLENGES BIDEN ORDER THAT OPENS DORMS, SHOWERS TO OPPOSITE SEX

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent College of the Ozarks

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks filed suit in federal court today, April 15, against the Biden administration.

The lawsuit challenges a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening their dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex.  The directive accomplishes this by requiring entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The administration’s rule change forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males and vice-versa, or face fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. The reinterpretation of “sex” in the Fair Housing Act comes in light of President Joe Biden’s executive order titled, “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” signed in January 2021.

Attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom will represent the College.

“The government cannot and should not force schools to open girls’ dorms to males based on its politically motivated and inappropriate redefinition of ‘sex,’” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “Women shouldn’t be forced to share private spaces—including showers and dorm rooms—with males, and religious schools shouldn’t be punished simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex. Government overreach by the Biden administration continues to victimize women, girls, and people of faith by gutting their legal protections, and it must be stopped.”

College of the Ozarks holds to the Christian belief that biological sex is not changeable, and it operates its dorms accordingly. The College’s sincerely held religious beliefs influence their policies, including dormitory policies, which prohibit male students from living in female residence halls, and vice versa.

“Religious freedom is under attack in America, and we won’t stand on the sidelines and watch,” said College of the Ozarks President, Dr. Jerry C. Davis. “To threaten religious freedom is to threaten America itself. College of the Ozarks will not allow politicians to erode this essential American right or the ideals that shaped America’s founding.”

The lawsuit opposes the HUD directive and the executive order requiring it. The order, issued to all federal agencies, requires them to modify their policies on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The lawsuit explains that the HUD directive contradicts the historical judicial interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which confirms that “sex” means biological sex. The suit also argues that the directive exceeds the administration’s authority and violates the constitutionally protected freedom of College of the Ozarks and similar religious institutions to operate consistently with their religious beliefs.

College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian, liberal arts college in Point Lookout, Missouri. To achieve its vision, the college pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic, and cultural goals that are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, a laboratory school that completes the K-college model.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit The School of the Ozarks, Inc. d/b/a College of the Ozarks v. Biden in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division.

To read the lawsuit, visit https://adfmedialegalfiles.blob.core.windows.net/files/CollegeoftheOzarksComplaint.pdf

To view the Housing and Urban Development directive, visit https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PA/documents/HUD_Memo_EO13988.pdf

To view the executive order, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-preventing-and-combating-discrimination-on-basis-of-gender-identity-or-sexual-orientation/

For additional information, contact the Public Relations Office at (417) 690-2212.

The main reason for moving back to the Ozarks

By Carrie Anne Mitchell – as printed in the Branson Tri-Lakes News – April 13, 2019

Many people have asked me why I’ve come back to the Ozarks after 25 years. The answers have been many. Reconnecting with my family roots and heritage, with the people and scenery here, the love of the small town feel, yet big city metropolis atmosphere here.

There is one answer though, one which I’ve not spoke of until now.

It is my number one reason for returning here, after a very long absence. I have found out over these last five years that I am not the only one with this number one reason, for returning here to Ozarks.

I feel God’s presence here. Everywhere you look here in the Ozarks, in its nature, in the people you see and meet, in the music you hear and listen to. God is here.

I felt God visiting here as a child, then later, as a young 20-year old resident, aspiring gospel vocalist and single parent. It is that strong and loving presence of God I felt here then, which has brought me back to stay for good. Never have I experienced it more so, than right here in the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, it’s lakes, people, hospitality, kindness and music.

God is here, in the small surrounding towns, cities, and rural communities. If you look around, take the time to stop, watch, listen, you will see that God is here. He is here in the place I call home.

I’ve heard his voice through the warmth, kindness and hospitality of the people here, from new and old residents, from community members, citizens of Branson, and the surrounding Ozark area towns, from long time, local area neighbors, from chance meetings with visitors of all ages, both young and old.

I’ve felt his presence when sitting alone on one of the old pews inside Silver Dollar City’s Wilderness Church, when watching the sunsets at beautiful Table Rock Lake.

I’ve seen the hand of God in the blooming of the wildflowers, and flowering trees here, in the turning of Fall color across the mountains, and in a rainbow after an early Spring rain across the lakes.

I’ve seen God’s helping hand when neighbors have helped neighbors after floods, severe wind storms, and, after terrible tragedies have occurred.

I’ve felt the mighty power and presence of God here, while seeing many of the music shows here, during small and large Church gatherings, while singing southern gospel and hymn favorites, through the sounds of many voices all together, in a community choir during Christmas community event gatherings.

I’ve seen hearts touched by God here, when they look at the Image of the Cross, that stands along the highway, just outside of Branson, when pastors, nurses, doctors, police, fire fighters, first responders, city officials, business owners and entertainers, have given of themselves, willingly and freely for their love of Ozarks people, community and for God.

I’ve seen what the hands and feet of God can do here in action, when local area ministries, many community organizations, and churches continue helping the low income, homeless, and less fortunate here.

I’ve seen God’s smile when veterans are honored, remembered, respected, and thanked whether in hugs or handshakes, for their service, when a well known and much respected member of the community, has died, and many come together to remember a life well lived, to the paying of their respects to a kind soul, whose good works were lovingly and unselfishly, done solely for their city, community, or town.

My heart is full here. My reason for loving the Ozarks are many. But, it is because of God, why I came back to stay and live here. I’d say that is the best reason to have, for coming back here. Wouldn’t you?

Carrie Ann Mitchell lives in Hollister.