By Dave Ongie
As Johnson City began planning for its yearlong sesquicentennial celebration, uncovering and celebrating the city’s rich history suddenly became all the rage.
That got folks inside Johnson City Schools thinking of ways to honor the educators, alumni and contributors who have made significant positive impacts on the school system. With over 100 years of history to preserve and celebrate, the decision was reached to establish a Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to welcome its inaugural class later this year.
As leaders within the school system began setting criteria for admission into the Hall of Fame, it quickly became apparent how many people have had a hand in shaping the school system into what it is today, not to mention how many former students have gone on to leave an indelible mark on the world.
“How many people have supported this school system,” Johnson City Schools superintendent Dr. Steve Barnett asked. “How many amazing students have gone through this school system, and how many people have been a part of really making Johnson City Schools a special place for students to go to school for over a hundred years?”
Those are questions without easy answers. For every name that seems like an obvious choice for enshrinement, there are dozens of people whose contributions or achievements have been lost to time. There is very little record keeping to speak of when it comes to notable alumni, outstanding faculty and citizens who have championed education in Johnson City in the distant past.
For that reason, Barnett is hopeful the entire community will lend a hand to help shine the spotlight on people from the past who deserve to have their contributions recognized.
“I think one of the hardest parts might be going back and having those nominations from decades ago,” Barnett said. “We’re hoping to get some really good nominations.”
From now through June 1, nominations are being solicited from the community. Administrators, coaches, teachers, alumni and contributors will all be considered for the first class, which will hold up to 20 honorees. As folks consider who deserves to be nominated, Barnett said he hopes educators, alumni and contributors from Langston High School, Dunbar Elementary and Douglas Elementary will be considered.
“One of the things we don’t want to miss is that, at one time, we did have two high schools in this town,” Barnett said. “We had Langston High School and we had Science Hill High School, and we want to make sure we get a lot of nominations from (Langston’s) rich tradition.”
Once all the nominations have been received, a 14-person selection committee will make the final decision on electing individuals into the Hall of Fame. The inaugural class is scheduled to be inducted on Aug. 24.
While Barnett is hopeful the Hall of Fame will help publicize the rich tradition of the school system, he went out of his way to explain the endeavor is not meant to generate revenue for Johnson City Schools.
“It is not intended to be something that’s a fundraiser,” Barnett said. “It was really intended to honor and recognize those who have served and those who have gone through the school system.”
Those wishing to make a nomination or read the full criteria for eligibility in the Hall of Fame can do so by visiting www.jcschools.org/HallofFame.