Another important group will be part of the processional of Franklin County High School graduates and their teachers who follow them as they enter the arena at the Frankfort Convention Center today at 2 p.m.
Today’s graduation ceremony will also honor the members of the school’s Hall of Fame – formed 20 years ago to recognize students who have gone on to make a mark in either a field of endeavor or perhaps even the world.
It’s a list of Who’s Who among the 50 plus years of Franklin County High School.
This year six former graduates of FCHS will be inducted into the 20th anniversary class of honorees: Dr. Beulah Maxfield-Downey, Meribeth Gaines, Peggy Hall Plessas, David Harrod, Stephanie Wise Decker and Brig. Gen. John Heltzel.
Maxfield-Downey, class of 1965, is an assistant Spanish professor on the tenure track at Kentucky State University, who serves as the chair of the Foreign Language Division of the Department of Literature, Languages and Philosophy. She has taught in Columbia, Puerto Rico, Spain and Peru.
Gaines, class of 1985, is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Eastern Kentucky University. She has spent the past 23 years as teacher, coach, gifted education resource teacher, curriculum resource specialist, assistant principal and principal in Franklin, Woodford and Fayette counties.
Plessas, class of 1983, currently lives in France where she is an international dialect teacher and coach. A chance encounter with French actress Juliette Binoche landed her a job as language coach to the star of “Chocolat.” Because of her command of the French and English languages she has since travelled the world working on movies such as “The Da Vinci Code” and most recently “Quantum of Solace.”
David Harrod, class of 1970, now retired, began his career began as traffic director at the former Old Grandad Distillery. He rose to vice president of various organizational departments and ultimately to vice president for international development of Jim Beam Brands.
Decker, class of 1992, earned national acclaim with her heroism in the face of an April tornado in Henryville, Ind. Decker saved her children from harm at the cost of her own legs as the tornado leveled their home. Her bravery, determination to win her life back and positive attitude in the face of multiple surgeries earned her appearances on the Today show, Ellen DeGeneres, and at Yankee Stadium. Most recently she was inducted to the International Mothers Hall of Fame along with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney.
Heltzel, class of 1975, has been the go-to man for 10 years in Kentucky when natural disasters strike. Heading National Guard relief efforts, he has overseen disaster relief for the Commonwealth including the most recent tornados in West Liberty and Morgan County and the ice storm that shut down the state three years ago.
Terry Johnson, a veteran French teacher at FCHS, serves on the selection committee, along with retired Spanish teacher Rosemary Weddington, former principal Robert Hoagland, Legislative Research Commission employee Dr. Gene Harrell, former social studies teacher and current Magistrate Don Sturgeon and former basketball coach and local businessman David Lee.
“We truly want to create more awareness in the community of the opportunity to nominate individuals who they are aware of and feel deserve to be honored for their contributions as graduates of FCHS,” Johnson said.
“We can’t possibly know all the accomplishments of our graduates, and we need public input. Anyone with a suggestion should feel free to contact any of the committee members.”
Prior to graduation ceremonies, former and current inductees of the Hall of Fame will be recognized at a reception at the Convention Center at 1 p.m.
“We want to honor these members and also hope by their participation in graduation ceremonies, people will see that students who go through Franklin County Public Schools are given the tools to pursue their dreams and to make a difference in the world,” Johnson said.
“From the time they leave the Franklin County Public Schools, our graduates are presented a lifetime to do things and we want them to not only prepare them, but also to know their pursuits matter to us,” Johnson said.
Current members of the Hall of Fame include Franklin County judges Roger Crittenden, Thomas Wingate and Reed Rhorer; attorneys Guthrie True, Paul Harnice, John Roach and Stephen Sullivan; doctors Shawn Jones, Robert Mitchell and Ivan Mefford; dentist Darryl Smith; businessmen C. Michael Davenport, Rickey Harp, Bo Jangles CEO John Jordan and All-Tech executive Nathan Hohman.
Educators and coaches include Gary Dearborn, David Lee, Pat Fannin, the late Ira Fannin, Sam Harp, Gary Moore, Marilyn Holt Cunningham-Amos, Sherrill Smith and Dr. Judith Sherrow Conde.
On the university level are Dr. Byron Walden, Dr. Brett Alan Wright, Dr. Kara Sheridan, Dr. Julia Gray and Dr. David Drake.
Also among the group are FCHS grad and high school band director Tom Brawner and FCHS first band director Dr. David Livingston; University of Florida men’s tennis coach Andy Jackson; trainer for several southeast conference schools Charles Kimmel; and Frankfort minister Todd Lester.
In addition are FCHS graduates Franklin County Judge Executive Ted Collins and County Clerk Guy Ziegler and former Franklin County Judge Executive Bob Arnold along with Patty Norris Peavler, who serves as a public relations director at Farmers Bank.
Also included are graduate Aaron Cardwell, local volunteer and supporter of multiple activities of FCHS; Charlie Hall, who performs as Santa at Radio City Music Hall in New York; Gail Mitchell Hoyt, who is cellist for the Italian symphony; Brooks Giles, nationally recognized musician; and Ann Wells, who formerly served at the American Embassy in Columbia.
Also making their mark are Verona (Ronnie) Clark Dunn, former president of the International Rotary Club; national marathon runner Donald Frank Coffman; Egyptian expert and author Normandi Ellis; and the late Harvard graduate Dr. William Henry Exum (April 1986) former professor at Northwestern University.