Some might debate such counsel, but fundamentally it is a sound perspective spoken by voices of the wise who walked these paths long ago.
And that points to the significance of an event taking place Friday at Cleveland High School, and later during the Blue Raider home football game that evening.
We refer to the local high school’s induction of its first Hall of Fame class. The 17 community-minded adults, all of whom are CHS graduates from at least 10 years ago, have been named by a specially appointed selection committee based on 50 nominations made from the community. This endearing group will be recognized in a schoolwide assembly where each will speak to the student body.
Here’s what makes this inaugural Hall of Fame so unique. Selection of inductees isn’t based on what they did as CHS students; instead, it is a recognition of their success in the real world and their positive impact on the Cleveland and Bradley County community in the years following their graduation.
Autumn O’Bryan, CHS principal, described it best in a recent interview with our newspaper when she told staff writer Delaney Walker, “Each one of them has had a significant impact on their community. We are proud of what they did in high school, but they could have done everything or nothing in high school. It is really about their community impact and what they have done since they left the school.”
Her words were the charge to the selection committee. Its members were asked to judge nominees on four key attributes: the heart of a Raider, life of service, community impact and outstanding achievement. Nominees were not judged on athletic record, academic performance or the number of school clubs and extracurricular activities they were involved in during their Blue Raider years.
So what does a Hall of Fame, whose members are selected on postgraduation experiences, have to do with “cherishing your high school experience,” as elders advise? It has everything to do with it.
A positive high school experience serves as a steppingstone for similar successes at the college level and this straightens all winding corridors into the real world, one that is anchored in three measures — business success, community involvement and personal happiness.
A listing of the CHS Hall of Fame’s inaugural class best makes our point. Those who will be presented to the school’s student body and to the community Friday include:
- Dan S. Cooke, class of 1968;
- Bill Emendorfer, class of 1969;
- Allan Jones, class of 1972;
- Vicki Gregg, class of 1972;
- Pamela K. Vaught, class of 1973;
- DeWayne Bunch, class of 1977;
- Kellye Bender, class of 1978;
- Mark Smith, class of 1978;
- Mike Sharp, class of 1979;
- Elvis Brandon, class of 1982;
- Howard Langford, class of 1986;
- Jay Elliot, class of 1986;
- Madison Torrence, class of 1988;
- David Skidmore, class of 1989;
- Sarah Murphy, class of 1996;
- Athena Davis, class of 1998; and
- Travis Beacham, class of 1999.
Friday’s inductions will be a well-deserved recognition of Cleveland and Bradley County community leaders whose roots of success, and whose seeds of civic impact, were first planted in the hallways, in the classrooms and in the off-campus experiences of their years at Blue Raider High.
But most importantly, these select alumni will serve as role models for current and future Cleveland High School student bodies — and any high school student body — because the early molding of their lives began at the Raider Drive school, or at any high school. It truly is what this four-year “experience” is all about.
Long live these proud alumni. Longer live their youthful descendants.
And congratulations to all who had a hand in the design and implementation of the CHS Alumni Hall of Fame.