Annapolis High graduate pushes for a `hallway' of fame

Showcasing achievement

February 09, 2007|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to the Sun

Janice Hayes-Williams finally found out what happened to all those trophies and awards her classmates won at Annapolis High School.

In two storage rooms, she discovered dozens of trophies, haphazardly piled on shelves, sideways on the floor and gathering dust in cardboard boxes.

Hayes-Williams picked up the 1999 Capital City Classic Basketball trophy from the floor and blew off the cobwebs. From a shelf, the local historian pulled down a women's basketball trophy from 2000.

"Oh, we're going to have a ball," Hayes-Williams said.

A 1975 graduate of the school, she and other alumni will be gathering and cataloging decades of awards won by students in hopes of giving them a proper showcase - and reminding everyone of the school's proud history at a time when morale is sinking.

After Annapolis High failed to meet benchmarks on standardized tests for four consecutive years, Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell dropped a bombshell on the school last month: Everyone on the staff would have to reapply to keep their jobs next year.

"It's our responsibility as alumni to do something for our alma mater," she said. "It doesn't feel good to see what's happening."

She has set up a meeting for Sunday to start talking about how to raise up to $20,000 for new display cases and to restore the jam-packed ones in the hallway outside the gym to create an athletic "hallway" of fame.

The last repair cost $4,000, and school officials aren't prepared to shell out several thousand more for another fix, said David Gehrdes, the school's athletic director.

At least six state championship trophies from boys' and girls' lacrosse and wrestling are in his office. Over the past few years, he said, several parents have suggested something be done to more properly show them all, he said, "but their kids have moved on, and they moved on."

He said he's pleased that Hayes-Williams has taken up the cause: "It instills a great sense of pride when kids can look back and see what others have earned and achieved."

Her daughter, Stacie Williams, 17, is a senior at the high school, captain of the cheerleading squad and runs on the spring track team. Hayes-Williams said she would like Stacie to be able to point with pride to her mother's award for most valuable player of the 1974 volleyball team.

"Wouldn't it be great to see your parents on the wall?" Hayes-Williams said. "These are the positive images that make people feel good."

Stacie Williams has seen her cousins' basketball team trophies. Lenny and Brian Barber were named all-county basketball players in the mid-1990s. Stacie said she has been trying to find her mother's picture in old yearbooks, but they also are in storage.

"People need to connect with their family and say, `That's my uncle. He did that,'" she said.

This is the fourth location for Annapolis High School in its 100-plus years. Hayes-Williams attended the school when it was at Smith and Chase Avenues. It moved to its current location on Riva Road in 1979.

She said the alumni group would work on displaying trophies from the 1970s and 1980s before moving on to those from previous decades.

The new cases would be dedicated to Kevin "Jack" Slade, a 1974 graduate who died in 1982 of a heart attack at age 25. Slade competed in the long jump on the track team, led the basketball team to the 1974 state championship and was named all-county in football.

"He was probably the best athlete I've ever seen, and I've been coaching for 30 years," said Mike Hampe, a retired teacher who coached Slade in 1972 and 1973.

Slade went on to play football for Morgan State University. After graduation, he became a popular substitute teacher at Annapolis Middle School, said his younger sister, Eunice Slade-Dorsey of Annapolis. The school bused children to the wake and funeral, she said.

Slade-Dorsey said her brother was her best friend, and she is proud that the trophy case would be dedicated to his memory.

"I think it's wonderful," said Slade-Dorsey, who will be helping with the fundraising efforts.

Larry Beavers, a 1974 graduate who played alongside Slade on the championship team, also shared his heart problems, suffering a heart attack eight months before his friend's death.

Now the father of a 2004 Annapolis High graduate, he said he has been disappointed by the lack of spirit he has seen at basketball and football games in recent years. He wants the students to be able to look at the trophies and identify friends, relatives and local leaders.

Maybe then students can see themselves as part of a larger Annapolis family, Beavers said.

"Let the students know that you can succeed," Beavers said. "Let them know it was a privilege [to go to Annapolis High] and show them some positive things."

The fundraising meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at American Legion Post 141, 1707 Forest Drive. Information: Janice Hayes-Williams at ourlocallegacy@ aol.com.

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