2017-04-05 / Columns

LEDGER COLUMNIST

‘Hall of Success’ nominations needed
CODY SOSSAMON
Ledger Publisher

I think we all agree there is a perception among many that a quality education is unattainable in Cherokee County.

There are also many who beg to differ. Some of them are in the process of creating a “Cherokee County Hall of Success” to help change that perception and honor some of the county’s eminent graduates.

This stigma of poor educational opportunity hurts our county in that many industries will not locate here because of it.

And the executives of those that do often choose to live in surrounding counties. Industrial recruitment is not the only issue this perception affects.

Those in the medical profession will often scratch us off their list of potential locations because of it.

To counter this impression of limited educational opportunities, various entities have joined together to initiate this “Hall of Success” project and need the public’s help in identifying those people who should be considered for the first class of inductees and receive this prestigious honor.

Joe McKowen and Oscar Fuller were discussing this problem several weeks ago and decided to broach the subject with others they felt shared their concern. Representatives from the school district, KNOW(2), Chamber of Commerce and the local media met and decided to proceed with the above-mentioned project. Several others were asked to join this group and another meeting was held.

That group included representatives from the media, KNOW(2), Chamber of Commerce, Cherokee County, City of Gaffney, Town of Blacksburg and the Cherokee County School District.

It was decided to begin a “Hall of Success” (or some other similarly-named venture) and induct 10- 15 Cherokee County graduates who have achieved great success in their chosen field.

Inductees in succeeding years will be chosen from a group of nominees picked by the school district.

If you know of someone who you think should be included in the inaugural class, please submit their names and a brief biography to Jonna Turner, executive director of the Chamber. Submissions should be emailed to jturner@cherokeechamber.org.

The selection committee will be comprised of the following:

Executive Director of Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director of KNOW(2)

Cherokee County Administrator

City of Gaffney Administrator

City of Blacksburg Administrator

Principal of Blacksburg High School

Principal of Gaffney High School

Principal of Adult Education

At-large member (The eight representatives listed above will select this individual.)

There are dozens of highly successful individuals who graduated from either Gaffney or Blacksburg high schools. We’ve published stories about many of them. Just recently we had a story about Andre Stanley and his election to the executive board of the American Public Health Association. Another article announced Jenna Gibson’s promotion by CBS.

Or how about Charlene Blackwell-Thompson? She serves as launch director for NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations and is NASA’s first female launch director.

Then there’s Zack McKown, a renowned architect based in New York City. His company, TsAO and McKown, has designed projects worldwide, including Suntec City in Singapore, the largest development of public spaces by private developers in Singapore’s history.

A list of “Hometown Heroes” was compiled for the KNOW(2) Education Liftoff several years ago and dozens of Cherokeeans were on that list. The late Alan Tate, who established one of the largest real estate companies in the Carolinas; Dennis Blanton, renowned archaeologist; Jamie Bernanke, producer/screenwriter for National Geographic documentaries and dozens more have made their mark.

And there are many more we don’t know about.

The names of those inducted and their accomplishments will be displayed in a prominent, but yet-to-be-determined location. This display will be used as proof that Cherokee County schools produce highly successful graduates.

More information and details will be forthcoming in the coming months. Meanwhile, send your suggestions to Jonna at jturner@cherokeechamber.org.

Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students. — Solomon Ortiz

Cody Sossamon (cody@gaffneyledger.com) is publisher of The Gaffney Ledger.

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