There’s a lot of tradition and history related to Forsyth County’s oldest high school, and four former students and educators were recently honored for their accomplishments both in and out of the school.
On Thursday, the Forsyth Central High School Alumni Association welcomed Maxine Hubbard Burton, former principal Kenny Foxx, Dr. Shannon Mize and Steven Slaton to the school’s Hall of Fame at a special ceremony.
“This is a special place, you know that, and we want to carry that on for the next 63 years,” said Principal Mitch Young.
Burton, who graduated then-Forsyth County High School in 1969, went on to attend the University of Georgia, earning bachelors and master’s degrees in education and taking executive courses at Harvard Business School between 1998 and 2001.
Along with her husband, Bob, she formed burton + BURTON in the balloon and gift business and sold baskets through her charity, Weaving Hope, to raise money to build schools in Rwanda.
“Thank you so much, I really appreciate everyone for this honor,” Burton said. “When you look at the people on the board and all the people that have graduated from Forsyth County — Forsyth Central High School, it’s really a wonderful honor. I hope the school continues to grow and prosper as it has done in the past.”
Holding degrees from Georgetown College, Georgia College and Georgia Southern, Foxx served as the school’s principal for 17 years after first teaching in Kentucky before coming to Georgia, where he worked in Laurens and Treutlen counties.
“This school was my life,” Foxx said. “I love everything and everyone [who is] a part of it, and I appreciate you giving me an opportunity to be part of this.”
Foxx recalled his tenure at the school, saying when he arrived there were 39 trailers on campus. He read from his last newsletter to the school’s community in May 2006 and told a few stories from his time at Central. There was the cold soccer game against West Hall where he went to his truck and flashed lights every time the team scored. Or the time students commented to him after the Forsyth County News published his and other school officials’ salaries. Or when students wanted to come through his serving line when he worked in the cafeteria because, as one lunchroom worker said, “You’ve got those big ol’ hands serving all those fries, of course they’re coming through your line.”
“It’s kind of interesting, I wrote that [newsletter] over 13 years ago, and that love and pride that I have for Central is still engraved in my heart,” he said. “Serving the Central family and serving this great county was probably the best 17 years of my 34 years in education.”
Principal Mitch Young said when he took over at the school, some of his proposals were met with, “That’s not what Kenny would do” and joked that Foxx’s tenure “just made his life miserable” and his picture on the wall of fame meant he would see Foxx every day.
“I say all of that, of course, tongue-in-cheek because there is a standard of excellence in this county, and when it comes to principals, Kenny is the standard,” Young said.
Mize, a 1968 graduate, earned his MD from the Medical College of Georgia in 1976 before completing his family medicine residency at UAB Huntsville in 1979.
He soon returned to his hometown, where he served as chief of staff at Forsyth County Hospital and chief of medicine at Northside Hospital, along with serving as the Bulldogs’ football team doctor for 25 years.
Like several of the inductees, Mize’s connection to Central is a family affair, with he, his wife Gail, sons Shan and Alex, and daughter-in-law Jamie all graduating from the school.
“This is a tremendous honor for me, this recognition, because it was given to me by my peers, people that have known me for a long time and have worked with me in different areas of life,” Mize said, “and I’m very humbled by it. I don’t think I deserve it, but I thank you.”
The final honoree of the evening was Slaton, who was the school’s first wrestling state champion, winning the 189-pound weight class in 1989. Slaton finished his career at Central with an 80-9-1 record, three region championships and three years as most valuable player for wrestling, while also lettering three years in football.
After high school, Slaton attended Garner Webb University on a wrestling scholarship, where he was a two-time national qualifier, before transferring to Georgia Southern University where he earned a degree in marketing with an emphasis in logistics and intermodal transportation in 1995. Today, he owns North Georgia Reprographics and Imaging near downtown Cumming.
Despite his successes on the mat, Slaton said one of the biggest lessons he learned at the school was in the classroom.
As an undefeated sophomore whose older siblings attended the school, he said he “forgot to study” for biology and failed the class by less than a point. After he, his parents and coaches spoke with the teacher, Slaton said he was confident the grade would be bumped up, until he was told he would have to retake the course the following semester.
“She said, ‘There’s nothing I can do for you. I’m sorry,’” Slaton recalled. “From that point on, that was probably one of the greatest life lessons that I learned, that it doesn’t matter, you have to do the work, you have to put the work in. I wound up retaking the class and aced it: I made a 71.”