More than 50 nominations were submitted for consideration, and a committee was formed to whittle the number down. Eric Phillips, CHS athletic director, said there was a clear divide between the top 17 and the other nominations.
Every nomination was judged based on the following four attributes: the heart of a Raider, life of service, community impact and outstanding achievement.
“Each one of them has had a significant impact on their community,” said Cleveland High School principal Autumn O’Bryan. “We are proud of what they did in high school, but they could have done everything or nothing in high school. It is really about their community impact and what they have done since they left the school.”
She emphasized how important it was for the committee to judge each nominee based on their activities following high school. A nominee’s high school athletic record or the number of clubs they were a part of did not affect the final decision.
All nominees had to be out of school for at least 10 years to be considered. O’Bryan explained most people are in their late 20s, early 30s by the time they really establish themselves.
“We would like to have a hybrid of graduates who are more recent so it does connect the different parts of our student population,” O’Bryan explained. “We want to make sure [students] see different versions of themselves at their 20s, 30s, 40s and their 50s.”
Added Phillips, “This is not about what they have done here. It is about what they have embodied after [graduating]. We want to see what kind of life they lead, not what they did in this school.”
Those to be inducted on Sept. 13 include:
n Dan S. Cooke, class of 1968
n Bill Emendorfer, class of 1969
n Allan Jones, class of 1972
n Vicki Gregg, class of 1972
n Pamela K. Vaught, class of 1973
n DeWayne Bunch, class of 1977
n Kellye Bender, class of 1978
n Mark Smith, class of 1978
n Mike Sharp, class of 1979
n Elvis Brandon, class of 1982
n Howard Langford, class of 1986
n Jay Elliot, class of 1986
n Madison Torrence, class of 1988
n David Skidmore, class of 1989
n Sarah Murphy, class of 1996
n Athena Davis, class of 1998
n Travis Beacham, class of 1999
The idea is to reconnect with alumni while providing another roadmap to success for the current students.
O’Bryan said some alumni may be surprised to learn Cleveland High School is still alive and thriving. She ventured current students are still experiencing the same school spirit and challenges faced by those who walked the halls 20 years ago.
Some alumni may not have been by the school in years.
“As proud of [the alumni] as I am, I am equally as proud of Cleveland High School,” Phillips said. “I think they are going to come back and think, ‘Wow, what an awesome place.’ I don’t think it has been a deliberate disconnect. I think they have gone on with their lives, and Cleveland High School has just kept going.”
Nominees will be honored at a school-wide assembly on Friday, Sept. 13. Each will have about two minutes to impart a piece of their life experience following their high school graduation. Each nominee will have a plaque with their picture, achievements and a personal quote placed in the school’s hall of fame. The inductees will receive a tour of the school. Festivities will end at Friday night’s football game when the inductees are introduced to the gathered Raider fans.
“We really have a good layering of every season in Cleveland High School and every type of person who comes here,” O’Bryan said. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t have 17 doctors. It has been a lot of work, but as far as the process, it was really very simple.”