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Lancaster County School District saluted its outstanding students, teachers and retiring staff members during the 16th annual Celebration of Excellence banquet Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, April 30.
The two-night event drew hundreds of guests to the Lancaster Golf Club’s Fairway Room for an event that honored 275 outstanding students, 27 retiring staff members and four new inductees into the district’s Education Hall of Fame.
“We hope each of these nights helps show the value we place on our students’ successes and our staff’s dedication,” Moore said.
In kicking off the honors, Moore welcomed the district’s retiring educators and staff members. There were 27 in all, whom Moore said spent their careers “nurturing, supporting and molding our children.”
“Tonight, we publicly acknowledge their contribution to our district, our community and our profession,” Moore said. “Retirees, we congratulate you and we honor you for our years of service to help our children succeed.”
Among the students honored were three who won this year’s Elementary, Middle and High School Good Citizenship awards: Indian Land Elementary fourth-grader Robbie Bowles, Buford Middle School eighth-grader Jacob Miles and Lancaster High School senior Justin Ware.
The students were chosen from a pool of nominees, based on their demonstrated qualities of honor, service, courage, leadership and patriotism. Each received a medal and certificate.
Another was Indian Land High School valedictorian Daniel Crofford, who delivered Tuesday evening’s keynote address. He was chosen for the honor because he earned the highest GPA, at 5.074, among all Lancaster County high school seniors.
Crofford will graduate with 33 credits, two more than are actually offered at ILHS over a typical school year and an achievement completed by passing six of the nine advanced placement (AP) classes offered by the school.
“As I talked to teachers, principals and staff about Daniel, they commended him for how focused and committed he is to excelling in everything he does,” Moore said, “for how extremely intelligent, thoughtful and insightful he is, for how humble he is and fun to be around – and most of all, for his intense love of learning.”
The district honored 272 students both nights for outstanding grades. All of the elementary students honored earned straight As throughout elementary school. The middle school students either maintained an A average throughout their middle school years and/or scored high enough on the PSAT to be a Junior Scholar.
Seniors honored included student body presidents, students with the highest SAT and/or ACT scores in their schools, students with grade-point ratios of 4.28 or higher at the end of the first semester and/or seniors on track to graduate with highest honors.
“Students, tonight we congratulate you on your achievements, and we celebrate you as well,” Moore said. “We also challenge you to continue to make the most of every opportunity you have to learn, to grow, to achieve.
“And I want to say to your parents what I said to the parents who were with us last night: Thank you for nurturing and supporting these students,” he said. “Thank you for giving them your love of learning and thank you for showing them by your example what excellence is. Tonight is a celebration of you as well as your child.”
Education Hall of Fame
The district inducted four new members into its Education Hall of Fame. In addition to the honor, each received a Bob Doster sculpture.
The first of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees was former ILHS principal, coach and Indian Land area schools superintendent Bennett Gunter, who served the community’s schools for 29 years.
Among Gunter’s many accomplishments was a successful effort to build a new high school, now Indian Land Middle School, without an increase in taxes. He was also responsible for the school’s ball field.
Former Indian Land teacher Norma England introduced Gunter, saying he set high goals for teachers and students alike and emphasized that his teachers work as a team in the students’ interest.
“Bennett Gunter always reminded faculty members to see each student as an individual and find a way to teach and reach every student,” England said. “He would often remind us, and this is a direct quote, ‘The worst child in your class may be the best child that mother has.’
“He asked us to see the potential in every child,” she said. “He would also remind us that every child had different talents and gifts and that we needed to work together so each child learned to use his or her potential and talents to the fullest.”
Gunter noted how he’d taught both Moore and Indian Land school board member Don McCorkle.
Gunter said he would not have been able to achieve anything were it not for students, parents and community members “and their loyalty to Indian Land schools.”
“For tonight, I would say, what an honor! And what a ride I had,” Gunter said.
Coleman C. Hanson Jr. was the founding principal of the Brooklyn Springs school. He was introduced by former students and Lancaster businessman Mike Jenkins.
Jenkins said Hanson took over as principal of the Brooklyn and Springs schools shortly after graduating from State Teachers College in 1949 following the death of his father, who had been the schools’ principal before him.
Hanson served as a principal and teacher at both schools until 1962 when the schools were consolidated and became Brooklyn Springs. He would later serve at South Junior High and in the superintendent’s office.
“We knew Mr. Hanson didn’t like any discipline problems,” Jenkins said. “As an adult, I realized that this disciplined environment was the foundation of my education.”
Jenkins said one of the most important life lessons Hanson taught his students was the importance of giving back to the community. Hanson’s insistence on his students achieving in life, Jenkins said, affected his students deeply.
“Tonight, we recognize the long career of Coleman C. Hanson Jr.” Jenkins said. “I’m just one of the thousands of students he taught along the way, but tonight, we say ‘Thank you, Mr. Hanson, for your love of teaching.
“There’s no one more deserving of this award.” Hanson was unable to attend Monday night’s banquet.
Ann Hough was a longtime English and composition teacher at both Kershaw and Andrew Jackson high schools. Hough was introduced by one of her former students, former state Rep. William D. “Billy” Boan.
Boan said Hough’s classes were demanding and challenging, but in a way that made you want to work harder. Her influence on her students led 12 members of the Class of 1967’s 54-member graduating class to become teachers – and five of them English teachers, Boan said.
Boan said he still thinks about Hough’s classes every day.
“Her classes emphasized the proper way to communicate – verbal and written, and she introduced us to the legends of literature,” Boan said. “All who passed Mrs. Hough’s class and have written a letter – or is it ‘who has written a letter?’ – or those of us who have made a speech, can remember her teachings, even after 46 years.
“This is an occasion to say, ‘Thank you, Mrs. Hough,’ and congratulate the Lancaster County School District Hall of Fame for the induction of Ann Hough – English teacher,” Boan said.
Hough attended the banquet, but was unable to speak. Her daughter-in-law, Karen Hough, accepted the award, reading a statement from Hough’s son.
Pete Hough recalled how even though he was one of his mother’s students, he got no special favors.
“I remember reading in one of my high school year books, ‘It’s tough with Mrs. Hough,’” Pete Hough wrote. “It was tough, but when we grew older, many of us realized our lives would have been even tougher without her having been tough on us.
“Very simply, it was because she cared so much for us that she made it tough.”
Floyd White coached basketball, football and track, and taught science and physical education in his 43-year career at Barr Street and Lancaster high schools.
Former student Bobby Bailey said White influenced many of Lancaster’s young men with his blend of toughness and caring.
He said White had a natural ability to connect with each of his students, and knew just how to reach them.
When it came to discipline, coach White was firm, but also fair and reasonable, Bailey said.
“I had many students tell me firsthand that he was the only father figure they ever had,” Bailey said. “Coach White is called father, teacher, friend, activist. He has touched the lives of thousands of students throughout his years.”
Taking the podium, White gave credit for his success to God, and kept his thank-you speech short.
“I’m honored. I’m thankful. I love the Lord. I love you,” White said. “I just love, love, love. Thank you very much.”
In closing, school board Chairman Bobby Parker said he was proud to be a product of the Lancaster County school system. He thanked his fellow board members, Moore and district personnel, both current and those set to retire. He also offered a special thank you to the students and their parents.
“And we especially want to thank again our parents and community members who support and encourage our schools and our students,” Parker said. “Thank you for supporting our children and teachers. Thank you for working to give them the resources they need. And most of all, thank you for giving our children a love for learning.”
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151