Saturday, April 7, 2012

2012 AGG Hall of Fame and Springtime Tallahassee

The seventh annual Association of Godby Graduates Hall of Fame Banquet was held Friday night, March 30th, for the second consecutive year on the eve of the annual Springtime Tallahassee Parade.

The Godby Air Force JROTC Color Guard presented the US and Florida flags.

We ate a chicken dinner, cooked by Manny Joanos and served by Mrs. Tatum and Godby's National Honor Society. Many of us arrived early and helped set up.

Mrs. Mary Jean Curles Yon (1974), introduced by Janet Hinkle, Civic-Philanthropic Category, for her long-term service to the community and especially for her work with Audubon Florida and more than twenty years' direction of the Tallahassee Turkey Trot, which benefits the Shelter, Refuge House and the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend. 

Ms. Kathy Miller Corder (1976), introduced by Gwendolyn Lynn, Educator Category, Leon County Schools Curriculum Services, former teacher at Lawton Chiles High School, 2006 Leon County Teacher of the Year, who now teaches teachers. 
Mr. Todd Sperry (1978), introduced by Allen Nobles, Business Category, Chief Executive Officer, Oliver Renovations and Kimmel Development, 2010/11 Chairman of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, HGTV Dream House of 2003, leader of Sperry and Associates and Vice-President of Construction at St. Joe Company.   

Dr. Shantanu Basu (1982), introduced by me, Professional Category, Department Chair/Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Western Ontario, Godby Valedictorian, for his academic achievement at Godby and afterward as a research scientist specializing in the study of star and planet formation.

Mrs. Debbie Orth Shearer (1982), introduced by Roger Day, Medical/Health Category, PGA Tour Management, a live kidney donor responsible for saving at least five lives through Alliance for Paired Donations, with "George's Chain of Life", named in dedication to her son who was an organ donor, but was unable to do so due to the tragic circumstances of his demise at 22.

Coach Darius Jones (1996), introduced by Manny Joanos, Sports/Athletics Category, Godby Guidance Counselor and Track Coach, decathlete, for his athletic achievement, and dedication to and coaching Godby students, five of whom to State championships. 

Godby's longest serving principal, my friend Florida Senator Bill Montford, attended and spoke of Godby's beginning, and strong relationship between its faculty, students and especially parents. He told us that everyone is an expert on education, although some might not know anything about it, and asked us to please let him know of our ideas to improve education.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons spoke about how proud he is of our school system and Godby High School, and especially our alumni efforts.

Godby Principal Gillian Gregory talked about how she was new at Godby and she had previous Principal Jean Ferguson's big shoes to fill, and Principal Montford's shoulders to stand on, and that she is very dedicated to Godby High School.  

We commended and thanked the attendee who had traveled farthest, and it was Shantanu, from London, Ontario, in Tallahassee for the first time since 1988. His flight had been late, and he had only arrived a couple hours beforehand.

We recognized the Hall of Fame members who are no longer with us, including last year's inductee, Jimmy Everett (1972), and our two posthumous inductees, Spc4 Robert Wise (2000, inducted 2006) and PFC Anthony Simmons (2003, inducted 2011), killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. I had met Anthony, son of my late friend Steve, and his brother Nicholas still serves.

We thanked Teresa Deffenbaugh Featherstone (1978), President of Cruises by Sea, Inc, "Godby Alumni Travel Agent", for organizing four alumni cruises which contribute directly to the AGG Scholarship Fund.

We thanked Bobbie Fountain, who has been providing supplies and decorations for all of our Hall of Fame events.

We recognized the AGG's very first scholarship recipient, James Croft, who was in attendance.

2008 Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Patti Skates (1972), served as Master of Ceremonies, and presented the AGG with a check for $500 by, as she described it, "sacrificing 2 Starbucks a week for a year." She told us that there are now forty AGG Hall of Fame members, and asked us to look for other outstanding alumni to further the AGG's mission and to honor at future Hall of Fame banquets.

At my class reunion last July, Class President Karen Mitchell announced that the reunion committee  had taken up a collection for the AGG in my name. We realized a budget surplus from the reunion, and voted to augment the collection to reach the public recognition threshold, and saved the remaining balance toward our next reunion. Tamara Gray and Debbie Rivest and I presented a check for $250 to the AGG on behalf of the Class of 1981.

We announced that Darius Jones has been elected to serve as AGG Vice-President in 2013, and he will procedurally become President in 2014.

I told everyone that alumni are always welcome to walk along behind the Godby High School band in the parade the next morning, and said to join my grandchildren and me there if they could.

We presented flowers to Principal Gillian Gregory.

I had been up late Thursday night preparing our first slideshow, including all photos from previous Hall of Fame banquets. Steve loaned me portable storage media with which to transport my multi-gigabyte files. I had had some difficulty integrating the audio files with the slide transitions, but Godby Senior Sarah Villa was able to fix the issue, and I thanked her in my closing remarks at dinner. I had included Godby's alma mater as recorded by Godby's band several years ago, and one of my favorite pieces, created especially for "The Inner Light", Star Trek Next Generation, Episode 125. Shantanu and I shared some amusement when we discussed its association with astrophysics, of which he is an expert. The slideshow played throughout dinner and was well received.

AGG Vice-President and Godby "Career" Photographer Roger Day, Class of 1980, took the photographs, assisted by Tyler Shearer and me.

Friday morning, the chance of rain on Saturday was 40%. It was a similar forecast three years ago for the 2009 Springtime Tallahassee Parade, when the Godby band canceled on the parade, which Dylan and Gabriel and I didn't discover until we arrived at the parade. It had been Gabriel's first parade. I was concerned that after many years' hiatus, I would be faced with the prospect of having to crash a parade -- with grandchildren, but Brenda Lake and the Lively Technical School float graciously invited us to join them, which we did, and we enjoyed ourselves.

This year, the same thing happened, and the Godby band announced Saturday morning that they and all other Leon County Schools bands would not be attending. I was prepared for that eventuality, as I had already secured two other float invitations, and would receive another one at the parade.

I attended a Lively Technical School Curriculum Advisory Committee luncheon meeting Friday before the Hall of Fame banquet, and Brenda told me I was welcome to join them again at the parade on Saturday. I was very grateful and told her my first commitment was to my high school alumni at Springtime Tallahassee, but that I would join them as before if I had no other way to participate with Godby.

David C. Jones, Class of 1972, 2011 AGG Hall of Fame inductee, attended the Hall of Fame banquet  the evening before and told me that he would be happy to have my family and me join his float at the parade. David is a survivor of a serious hunting accident, after which he was inspired to found the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association in 1990. Through his Sportsability and Miracle Sports programs, he has enriched the quality of life for countless people.

At 9:30 am Saturday, it was lightly raining, so I brought umbrellas which we would not need. By the time we arrived downtown, the rain had stopped and the clouds had begun moving away. We arrived early enough to walk around and see all the parade floats. We noted that Taylor County Middle School's band had made the parade.

We met Senator Bill Montford at Float 23a, who invited us to walk with him, but I told him that we had already accepted David's invitation, and that we would drop by his office on our way back after the parade. We took our time walking back to David's position, and then boarded his pontoon boat on a trailer pulled behind a white truck in the parade.

Dylan and Gabriel and I rode with David in the boat. I stood, so I could see everyone better, and quickly developed a stilted gait while waving to both sides in the parade traffic. I especially liked waving to surprised people way up high on balconies and roofs, who waved back. Whenever the crowd applauded and cheered us, I gestured to increase the volume.
We saw my brother Joey and his family, owner of Au Peche Mignon French Pastry Shop, and  Peter's and my former roommate Katherine and her family. I missed seeing Karl and his family for the first time in many years, as they recently moved to California and are three hours younger now. Karl came to see Dave the Cat and me at many parades. I had seen Charlie earlier in the year and he and his family were not expected.

After the parade and on our walk north back to my car, we stopped by Bill Montford's office on Monroe Street to talk with him. Thanks to redistricting, Bill is running for re-election this year, and as Godby alumni did two years ago for our former principal, we will be scheduling a Godby alumni campaign rally for him in the near future.

This was my 24th Springtime Tallahassee Parade, and the first one in which I had a ride, as Captain of a brand-new pontoon boat, too new even for a name. David's invitation at the AGG Hall of Fame banquet the evening before made the parade a huge success for my grandchildren and me despite the cancellation by our usual parade float. It was a pleasure to serve as Captain on the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association float on Saturday, and it was a great weekend.

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