A public display of old-fashioned school pride

Annapolis High to unveil its trophy case tonight

May 30, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,SUN REPORTER

For years, the trophy case outside the Annapolis High School gymnasium sat empty, unnoticed by the students who gathered there, sitting on the banister to wait for practice.

That changes tonight, when a group of alumni and school officials is set to unveil a new case full of dusted-off trophies that attest to the achievements of athletes past.

"This is a chance to start over and to make sure that the athletes know that when they wear that `A,' it is not only pride that goes along with it, but it's an expectation from the athletes that came before them," said Janice Hayes-Williams, a local historian who organized the effort. "We were feared in Anne Arundel County, and we do not want that legacy to be lost."

The legacy of championship trophies dating to the pre-1950s was previously stashed in cardboard boxes and on shelves in two storage areas. Four months ago, Hayes-Willams, a 1975 Annapolis High School graduate, decided to gather a group of alumni and start a fundraising effort for a proper display case.

It raised $25,000 at a time when the school struggles with low academic marks, brawls between students, and a possible overhaul of the school staff for next year.

Jon Schwartz, a senior linebacker, said the new case would spruce up the gym and boost school pride.

"It's good to finally show all the accomplishments we have," he said. "I always wanted to see the (1978) state championship football trophy, and now we'll have all the trophies on display, the old ones and new ones."

Old and new faces will also be on display as part of a 3-foot-by-7-foot-tall montage of photos from 1920 to 2007 that will serve as the backdrop of the case.

The alumni group leafed through old yearbooks to pick Panther standouts like former mayor and hoopster Roger "Pip" Moyer, basketball coach John Brady and Michelle Dechant from the 1996 national championship lacrosse team.

The centerpiece of the new display case, which measures 20 feet long and stands 10 feet high will be the 1974 state championship basketball trophy, brought home in part by Kevin "Jack" Slade, a three-sport star who many consider to be Annapolis High School's finest athlete.

Slade was a long jumper on the track team and was named all-county in football.

"We were teammates ever since we were little kids," said Greg Maggio, the project manager. "He was gifted and wiry, very fast and had good hands. Not overly tall but could leap just as high as anyone."

The Morgan State University graduate was a popular substitute teacher at Annapolis Middle School and active in the local sports community. He died in 1982 after suffering a heart attack at the age of 25.

His family helped raise money for the trophy case, which will be named in Slade's honor. Lois Slade, his mother, said classmates, friends and fraternity brothers--in and out of the city--all pitched in with money and memories to make it happen.

"It's just an awesome gesture on everyone's part and I am elated and grateful and thankful," she said. "Just to know that he's been dead all these years, but he hasn't been forgotten, it really warms my heart."Hayes-Williams, one of Slade's cousins, said the case is also a way to reaffirm community ties.

"This is one small area where the community can show our commitment to the high school," she said. "It's a way to say, `Stop talking bad about our kids,' and to lift up the name of the mighty Panthers."

The ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Annapolis High School gymnasium.

nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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