Forsyth County’s oldest high school celebrated former educators, administrators and students by welcoming them to the school’s hall of fame.
On Thursday evening, Forsyth Central High School and the Forsyth Central Alumni Association honored Paula Heard Gault, Donald Glover and members of the 1958 mile relay and 2016 softball state champion teams and welcomed them as the 2018 class of the alumni association’s hall of fame.
Principal Mitch Young said he would refer to the school as FCHS to note the current names as Forsyth Central and its former name, Forsyth Central High School. He said while many things at the school have changed since the hall of famers graduated, many things have not.
“Most importantly, what hasn’t changed is the love affair between the city of Cumming and Forsyth County and what the feeling is, that love affair, with this school,” Young said. “The buildings may be different, the campus may be changed, but there is a real sense of community we have at FCHS that’s just not evident at the other schools.”
Young joked that he was especially excited about one member joining the hall of fame class since “she was the one that hired me when I entered into this county,” referring to Gault, who served as superintendent of Forsyth County Schools from 2001 to 2008.
A member of the class of 1964, Gault earned a degree from the University of Georgia, the first in her family to earn a degree, and taught in Forsyth and Clarke counties before serving as assistant principal and associate superindependent.
“It was an unforgettable experience to serve in this Forsyth County community that is amazingly supportive of its students and schools and with a board of education that always puts children first,” she said. “At that time, as it is now, Forsyth County was one of the five fastest growing counties in the nation and our school enrollment increased from 16,000 in 2001 to over 30,000 in 2008.”
From the class of 1956, Donald Glover, a former county commissioner and drafting and design teacher at the school, recalled his first day as a teacher at his alma mater when students tested him by throwing pennies across the room when his back was turned.
“I turned around and stared at them for a while, and they were dead quiet,” Glover said. “And I told them, ‘Let’s get one thing straight, I don’t bend over for less than quarters.’ I had my way into them. I connected with them, and they were fine from then on.”
Glover currently serves as chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Registration and Elections and was project supervisor of construction of the school’s football stadium in 1979.
The ceremony also honored the school’s first state champions in the 1958 mile relay team made up of teammates Jerry Brannon, Roger Shadburn and twins Jerry and Berry McWhorter, who Shadburn said prompted a coach to want the team to be disqualified after winning the region meet for “running the same boy twice.”
“We had a great relay team,” Shadburn said. “We won state that year. We also went to the all-class meet [and] missed going to the Georgia-Alabama meet by one position. It was a great team, and most of it was due to Berry and Jerry.”
At the time, the team practiced and ran competitions at a field behind the old Cumming swimming pool on Pilgrim Mill Road before construction of the school’s first stadium.
Another state championship team, the 1996 girls softball team was also inducted on Thursday. The team won the first state championship played at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, which was built for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Speaking on behalf of the team was Coach Jerry Cauley, who said he still perfectly remembers the end of the game.
“I can remember those last three outs,” he said. “Fly ball to Terri Fleming in right field for out No. 1, a comebacker right to Jacque Wilson on the pitcher’s mound for out No. 2, then they got a couple of hits… then a ground ball to Becca Jermier at shortstop and that was it.”
Along with Wilson, Fleming and Jermier, other members of the team were Talicia Edwards, Jamie Wilson, Blaire Creamer, Sarah Stewart, Tabatha Densmore, Erin Shultz, Julie Watson, Brooke Bagby, Kelly Giddish, Brianne Coates, Jessica Jordan, Marissa Green, Tori Martin, Melissa Wallace, Emily Pritchett, Julie Vaughan and Deena Martin, along with coaches Bill Richardson and Leah Frederick.
Cauley said coaches are often asked what kind of teams they have every year but sometimes it can take a while to get the full answer.
“The answer is you can’t really tell for 10, maybe 15 years. In this case, 22,” he said. “Because see, you have to wait and see what kind of wives they become, what kind of mothers they become, how many are active in a local church somewhere in the community and what kind of young ladies they turned out to be, then you know what kind of team you have.
“And 22 years later, I can see and you can tell this is definitely a hall of fame group.”