JISD honors former leaders
Jacksonville ISD dedicated common areas of its two newest elementary schools to community leaders during two ceremonies on Sunday.
"This is part of the $49.865 million bond package which was approved by taxpayers in November 2010," Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell said "As most of you are aware, we started school here at the start of 2012-2013 school year, and by all accounts this has been a great school year."
The bond election allowed the district to build replacements for its two oldest schools, Joe Wright and East Side elementary schools, as well as renovate other existing campuses.
As part of the dedication, school district leaders decided it was only fitting to name certain pieces of the facilities, the cafeteria gymnasium and libraries, after influential people who formally walked through the old halls of the campuses.
"One important element of an elementary school is its legacy -- those kids that this campus will send out of the community and into the world to become whatever it is they are going to become," said Kathleen Stanfill, a member of the committee charged with finding honorees.
"It was felt it was important to give current students examples if you will," she said.
East Side's library was dedicated to Dr. Cordell Adams, who was the first African-American valedictorian at Jacksonville High School in 1979, Stanfill said. He went on to medical school and has written a book set in the city of Jacksonville. His mother taught at the school for 51 years.
Phyllis Dacus, of Jacksonville, who accepted the honor on Adams' behalf, said it was the first time the racial lines in the town began to blur.
"Cordell Adams has been my friend for 50 years," Ms. Dacus said. "I learned at East Side that a black child could be my equal. I learned at JHS that he could surpass me. ... We look at this campus, and we see how much has changed. We are not hiding under our desks afraid of Russia, and we have friends who look different than we do."
The cafeteria at East Side was dedicated to the late, longtime Principal Fletcher Wilson, who held the role for 33 years. He also was a World War II veteran serving in the Philippines, and a 50-year Masonic member.
The East Side gym was dedicated to Mary Agnes Lane, who taught for 30 years at the school. Ms. Lane graduated from Lon Morris College before World War II and earned a master's degree from Stephen F. Austin University.
"She marked her greatest inspiration as her students at East Side Elementary," Stanfill said.
The Joe Wright Elementary School library was dedicated to Holley Decker, who retired from teaching after serving 24 years at that school.
The Joe Wright cafeteria was dedicated to Joyce and Wilson Folden. Joyce retired in 1995 after teaching with the district for 30 years. Following her retirement, she continued to substitute teach, while Wilson worked as an teacher's aide.
The gymnasium at Joe Wright was dedicated to Tracey Wallace, who is a 1979 Jacksonville High School graduate, and former Joe Wright Elementary School student, who taught and later served as principal at Fred Douglass Elementary School in Jacksonville during her 23-year tenure with the district. Ms. Wallace later moved from teaching to the administration's office, eventually becoming the director of human resources for the district.
During the ceremonies, held at the respective campuses, school administrators took time to thank voters publically for the new facilities, recognize key players who helped get the bond election off the ground, administrators who are tasked with the daily operation of the schools and parents who entrust their children to Jacksonville ISD.
"I feel a huge since of pride to be involved in a community like Jacksonville, where so many facets of the community have come together to allow us to take on an endeavor like this -- to what I see as an investment in the future of the children which I think comes full circle to become an investment in our community," Joe Wright Principal Brad Stewart said.