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East High's Academic Performance
Measurements Are "daunting, downright scary"
New Executive Principal Says She Looks Past the Numbers
Exclusive by The East High Alumni Page
April 7, 2017 - "Of course, right now, when I look at the data, when I look at the numbers, it's daunting, downright scary. But those numbers aren't people. So I put the numbers to the side then I just look at the people, " says East High's Executive Principal Lischa Barrett ('91), now Lischa Brooks.

East High's overall academic performance has been dismal for many years. A succession of principals, eight in the past 21 years, have not been able to substantially raise the levels. For the past school year, 2015-2016, the average composite ACT score at East was 15.7. (For those who are more familiar with the ACT before 1989 when it changed, the 15.7 score is roughly equivalent to a composite ACT score on the old test of 12. ) That's up about a half point from the previous year. The graduation rate was cited at 76.1%, a seven point increase from the 2014-2015 rate.

The East High Alumni Page has focused on the ACT scores as the one consistent and comparable measure of academic performance for many years and believes it to be the best measurement available.

Barrett was appointed Executive Principal February 20 to lead East High into its transition into an admission-by-application-only optional (magnet) school using the transportation industry as a focus for a science, technology, engineering, and math oriented curriculum, or T-STEM for short. The conversion will take place over the next four years, with the ninth graders starting in August, 2017, being the first group of all optional students. Barrett was principal at the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy (STEAM is STEM with arts included), a middle school at what was once known as Fairview Junior High. Although she will be the top administrator at East High, her executive principal role also leaves her as the top administrator at Maxine Smith. Both schools will also have interim principals overseeing day to day operations.

"I'm over at the school [East High] almost every day and I look at the kids and that's what it's about, it's about children. And while the data is scary, while the numbers, we could talk about the graduation rate, the literacy and the math, that doesn't tell the picture," according to Barrett.
The Shelby County School system, of which East High is now a part, often describes itself as "data driven." School districts across the nation are looking at measurements in efforts to determine what is working in the classroom. If Barrett puts the numbers aside and looks at people, what does she see?

When I was talking to two young ladies [at East High] yesterday, they don't know who I am. They don't even know why I was in the building but we had a very good conversation. Those experiences are what make me forget about the data and just see the children as children... And so when I look at things that to me are daunting or that are scary, I have to remind myself that those are people that live there, that attend that school. So who am I just to stand back and say, oh, that's scary what they have to deal with. That is their life. They wake up, they go to school there and if I don't embrace that with my whole heart and see them as more than a number then I'll stay in that place of fear and I refuse to because when I see them I see children. Yeah, it is, so that's when I go walk the halls and see children – it kind of reminds me of why I came into this business in the first place.

Despite her relating to the children as people instead of numbers, Barrett admits, "There's a lot of work to be done but I can't forget we're talking about people and we're talking about a community."

The new leader at East High hopes to take a broader approach to education than just East High and Maxine Smith STEAM Academy. Barrett says she has a four pronged plan to reach out beyond the school, a plan she said she would reveal at a later date.

"The plight of East High is larger than what is in those four walls. Right? The plight of East is about our community... I think the work that needs to be done is work that has to occur outside the four walls. I have sort of, and I'll discuss it later, a plan to look at what those scaffolding things should look like, you know, within the community because we can't do it by ourselves. I can have all the ideas in the world, but there is some work that has to be done but I don't think it belongs to us as educators alone."

East High has not been isolated and alone in its efforts in recent years. For almost a decade and a half the Peer Power Foundation, originally known as The Greater East High Foundation, has held after school tutoring sessions and other academic enrichment opportunities for students without cost to them. Alumnus Chas McVean ('61) was the impetus and, for the most part, the money behind that effort, which continues to this day. Christ United Methodist Church has been involved in supporting and encouraging athletics at East. Despite these efforts, the academic achievement for the East High student body as a whole has not made significant progress, according to ACT scores.

Barrett believes that additional outside involvement will help turn the tide. "Over the past few years there have definitely been organizations like Peer Power and First Baptist Broad and I mean various organizations that have just poured in resources and people into that school and will continue to do so. And I think us continuing to work together and maybe looking at some other areas, maybe bringing in industry which is really exciting about T-STEM, is that right now we have almost 20 different companies that are going to come along side the work that's being done there right now."

It might be noted that at an open house at East High in January and at a few other occasions the number of outside entities promising support for East High STEM was touted as being 25. It is not known whether the lower number now being used repeatedly by various sources represents an actual pull back by some outfits or, probably more likely, a more realistic assessment of what kind of support an entity is likely to give.
With the broader approach, Barrett emphatically proclaims, "I believe in wrap around services!" Wraparound services are generally thought of as comprehensive plans that address multiple life situations across home, school, and community, including living environment; basic needs; safety; and social, emotional, educational, spiritual, and cultural needs (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, 2017). It often includes things such as primary health, mental health, and dental care, family engagement, including adult education,  preschool learning, academic enrichment, expanded after school learning time or summer programming, mentoring, and post secondary education and career options awareness (National Education Association, date unknown).

Barrett thinks the wider scope of services should extend beyond the East High families. " I believe reaching to the middle schools that should feed East. In the plan there won't be a per se feeder but I definitely believe in wrap around services for those potential feeders. So I think we'll still be able to tap into the community... I want to look at the students that could be here, the students that could benefit from all the industry partners that are coming along side saying, you know what, at the end of your high school career we're going to have people that are going to work with you and get you ready to get industry certified. And I think that is going to be a huge lift for the entire community."

Barrett's philosophy appears to mean she's going to be concerned and involved not only with her primary responsibilities as executive principal of East High and Maxine Smith STEM Academy but for many other students and families. "So if I just concentrate on the students that automatically come in [to East High] because of the entrance requirements, I've missed it. If I don't go in and say, you know what, if we don't do something, we can't get these kids in, you know, and they would benefit from these industry partners that want students to come out of high school with industry certification, that want kids to come out of high school an go into two year institutions with industry certifications, or in my case, graduate from East High School ready for the certified nurse's assistant exam, and go on to Ivy League schools – that's the East I went to."

Speaking about the education provided during his era, a top performing graduate of East High of the 1960s decade once said, "everyone who graduated from East High got a good education." Although a step up is provided by the T-STEM optional program's entrance requirements, including scores at or above the 50th percentile on accepted reading and math tests and a 3.0 grade point average, Barrett envisions an East High where everyone, not just the highest in academic performance, get a good education. "I have to be sensitive to what's happening in schools around the community, getting those students prepared, so, yeah, when it's time to look at that 50th percentile: that they're read. But at the same time the rigor is going to be such that students that are in the 99th percentile are going to be able to soar... There will be a lift there for everyone."

The new executive principal has laid out an extensive picture of her work: directly overseeing East High School and the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, helping guide other middle schools in preparing students for East, incorporating the support of industries and other entities that wish to contribute in some way to the new program, figuring out how to address the needs outside of the "four walls" that will foster a successful educational institution, and supporting wraparound services not only for students at her two schools but also other middle schools.

"If I only concentrate on the students that would automatically come there because they already have the 50 percentile, and I ignore the ones that, you know, with some support could be in that group, then I've done a disservice for the entire community."

The transition of East High School from a mainly traditional neighborhood school to an optional only T-STEM institution has begun with curriculum planning, setting admission requirements, the appointment of an executive principal, and requiring that all who wish to teach at East High to apply, or reapply, to do so.

It gets real in exactly four months, on August 7, 2017, when school opens with the ninth grade at East High consisting entirely of T-STEM optional students.

East High's Executive Principal To Divide Time
Between East and Smith STEAM Academy

Exclusive by The East High Alumni Page

    March 19, 2017 - Lischa Barrett ('91), now Lischa Brooks, was appointed Executive Principal of East High School February 20. In announcing the new leadership role it was explained by Shelby County Schools that "Brooks will be supported by Dr. Marilyn Hilliard [current principal] at East High, while Assistant Principal Keith Booker will serve as Interim Principal at Maxine Smith for the remaining of this school year."
    What was not clear was that Barrett would be executive principal of both East and the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, for which she was the founding principal and was still in that role when SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson placed her over East High, too. Maxine Smith is a grade six through eight fully optional middle school where academic achievement has impressed the school district. It is located in the building which once was Fairview Junior High. STEAM is like STEM but adds the A for arts.
    When Hopson asked if she would be interested in leading East High into its transition to an all-optional, enrollment-by-application-only, T-STEM (Transportation oriented focus on science, technology, engineering and math) school, Barrett says, "my first thought was yeah, and then my first-and-a-half thought was, what about STEAM? "
    "So when he asked me, I said what about STEAM, and he said "oh no, see you're thinking small," as Barrett reflects on the moment. She asked what he was thinking, and he said a six through twelve [grade] continuum and recalls the idea Hopson presented.
The unique thing about the way he envisions this is that as executive principal I would still have a role in both schools and so that this would end up being, maybe, a six through twelve continuum... I would still have a principal here at Maxine Smith and a principal at East High School and we all sort of work together with me as executive principal to move forward, to move this whole idea of STEM education forward and looking at it as a six through twelve continuum.
    What does that mean for East High as it begins its transition beginning, for students, in August with the new school year and completing the change over in 2020? "My primary focus right now is to get the T-STEM academy up and running and to build a really solid faculty that's committed to children and that believes, you know, in STEM education... and to make sure they have all the support that they need," says Barrett. She continues, "And then to build a culture where students are valued, that they are challenged, that they really feel inspired to think out of the box and that we are preparing them, you know, to once again strengthen our city."
    Nevertheless, Barrett now has responsibility for both schools. "I believe you can have someone who kind of embraces the middle school and high school piece and sees that there should be more of a bridge there. That's the vision he [Hopson] had for it and I'm just trying to run with it." she says.
    During a four year transition, there will be both traditional students at East, today's ninth graders will be given the chance to graduate at East through the traditional curriculum, and T-STEM or Engineering. Barrett, therefore, has responsibility not only for Maxine Smith STEAM Academy and East High's T-STEM program, but also East High's traditional curriculum students.
    "Of course I'm split. I'm here, I'm there... When you look at next school year, I've thought of a lot of different models: I've thought of three-two, two-three, half morning, half afternoon, half afternoon, half morn, I've thought of a lot of different things. I think my personality probably lends itself to be, like, being here, there, and everywhere.
    Barrett says she does not yet know exactly how the administrative functions at East will be structured after the end of this school year. She says there will be a discussion then about the leadership personnel. "I will say it's going to take a lot of people. It's going to be more than one person. It definitely won't be about me. It's going to require different leadership positions in order to make that happen and what that looks like I dare not tell my superintendent. So, we'll see."
    "Let me tell you what the superintendent said and so what he said is what I do. He said my job number one is to get T-STEM up and running and the day to day operations of Maxine Smith and of East High School are going to rest with the interim principals of those respective programs...

Coming soon: an important report on how Executive Principal Lischa Barrett Brooks sees East High now and her approach to the school.

[Editor's note: The East High Alumni Page has a long standing policy to refer to alumni by the names by which they were known at East. In the case of Lischa Barrett this causes a dilemma. She is now connected to East not only as a former student and graduate of the school but also as its executive principal under her married name of Lischa Brooks. The East High Alumni Page is choosing to follow its policy in most references. No disrespect is intended.]

Getting to Know East High's New Executive Principal
Who is Lischa Barrett Brooks and what was her path to her new job at East?

Exclusive by The East High Alumni Page

    March 12, 2017 - Lischa Barrett ('91 and Faculty), now Lischa Brooks, thought she was going to be a medical doctor. One of her majors in college was pre-med but she eventually pursued another career. Now she is being called upon to heal an ailing East High School.
    Barrett was asked to lead East High as it transitions from an under enrolled and under performing traditional high school with one optional (magnet) program to a fully optional-only, admission-by-qualifying-application, transportation oriented science, technology, engineering, and math (T-STEM) focused high school.
    It will not be the first time Barrett is heavily involved with East High. She attended the school from seventh grade through graduation in 1991. Years later as she worked in educational administration, East was in the school district's region she helped guide.
    Growing up in the city as a native Memphian, Barrett says she did not live in the East High attendance zone but was attracted to the school because of its health sciences optional school program. She was heavily involved in the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) club, the Honor Society, the student council, and was a cheerleader. She attended a summer program in the northeast between her freshman and sophomore years and found New England to be to her liking. As an upper classman at East, Barrett joined the Memphis Challenge program, an endeavor which describes itself as one that "coaches high-achieving, under represented students, through leadership and professional development, preparing them to become future Memphis leaders" and was an early graduate of that program. Speaking about Memphis Challenge, Barrett says "what they wanted was for students actually, for college, to leave Memphis... but then come right back to plug into the Memphis economy and help build the city ..." She took to the program's ideals. "When I left for college I always had in my heart to come back to Memphis."
    Memphis Challenge, by the way, began as a pilot program in 1989 at East High as the idea of Memphian Pitt Hyde.
    Dartmouth College successfully recruited her. She majored in the classics, emphasis on Latin, and in pre-med.
    After college she returned to Memphis and took a job with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center as a senior research lab assistant. One of the duties in that position was to work with high school students involved in a UTHSC summer program. Barrett says one of her UTHSC colleagues who observed her interaction with the high school students told her, "you really have a knack for teaching, you're really good with kids." Barrett says she thought "yeah, I like it, this is kind of my wheelhouse, I'm enjoying what I'm doing." The associate asked her if she ever thought about teaching. Barrett's response, "it's like no, I'm going to med school." She admits, however, that exchange planted a seed.
    At the time, her high school principal at East High, Ronnie Bynum, was principal at Central High School. She had kept in contact with him since her time at East. She went to see him and told him about the teaching conversation and that she liked to teach. Barrett recalls that Bynum, said, "of course you do, I saw that in you a long time ago, you're a natural teacher."
    Barrett recalled, "[I]t was a pivotal time in my life. I was a year out of college and I wasn't really enjoying the medical field that much... decided I did not like hospitals... I really began to have some conversations with myself about what am I passionate about... and it's teaching."
    She went back to Bynum and said, "I want to teach," and he hired her. She taught Latin, "her first love," in traditional, honors, and AP (Advanced Placement) classes for eight years at Central High.
    While she was at Central, Barrett worked on a couple of projects involving computer integration in the classroom including the VRoma Project at Rhodes College which explored the teaching of classic languages with the use of computer technology (see
http://www.vroma.org/project.html). "That opened my eyes to really what technology integration looked like... I then became more interested in the technology piece."
    That interest lead Barrett to leave Central High to become a technology coordinator at Ridgeway Middle School.
    "I then made the leap over to the dark side and became an administrator," as an assistant principal at Ridgeway High. Barrett was among those helping to write the application to make Ridgeway High School the first in the then Memphis City School system to offer the International Baccalaureate program. (Memphis City Schools were merged into the county school system in 2013. Germantown High School, a county public school, had joined the International Baccalaureate association earlier the same year, 2008.)
    "[I] just really started to think about technology and thinking out of the box, about education and where we're headed and are we really preparing our students for tomorrow."

"I really missed working with kids."

    After leaving Ridgeway High, Barrett began working at the "district level," for about five years with other regional staff helping principals at 18 to 19 schools to do teacher observations, professional development, technology development, "the whole gamut, whatever the school needed..." She says she liked administration "but I really missed working with kids."
    "The opportunity came for STEAM [The Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, a grade six through eight school] and I thought it was the perfect integration of my experiences. With STEAM you have the science, the technology, the engineering, arts and math. You have all of those concepts sort of fused into one class which is the STEM class which all of our students take and then you have the students also being taught their other content areas from, I guess, a STEM focus. So, if you're in social studies, you're still learning about China but you're looking at China as far as what it looked like as far as some of the inventions that they did... That is what is really nice about this school." Barrett, as the founding principal of the Maxine Smith STEM Academy went on to say that "we built it together and we're definitely having fun over here."
    Being successful is often part of having fun on one's job and if so, Barrett probably was having fun. The Maxine Smith STEAM Academy is one of the top performing middle schools in the state.
    But something new was about to happen. "I was minding my own business when I got a phone call from the Superintendent [Dorsey Hopson] about an opportunity I could not pass up. And that I was even honored that he would ask that I would consider leading the charge for the [East High] T-STEM academy, which is an awesome, awesome opportunity for any school leader to be a part of that." Barrett's immediate thought was positive but she says, "honestly, until he asked me then I'd never thought about it," even though she sat on the panel interviewing candidates for the East High T-STEM principal position.
    The T-STEM program is obviously highly involved with modern technology. The East High Alumni Page asked Barrett about her initial interest in technology because it would seem the transition from Latin to computer technology would be unusual. "It is very unusual. I would say my interest in technology comes from my initial interest in science," she said. That interest combined with her "first love" of Latin.

I think my interest in science is what kind of fueled me to think about language a little differently. So that the project I participated in [VRoma] as a Latin teacher was teaching Latin teachers how to really make Latin something students see as relevant... what the program really wanted to get at was what technology integration would look like in education and Latin was the vehicle through which we explored that. And so as part of the VRoma project for about a year and a half I had so many different opportunities, so many different ways to explore technology and to see what that looked like. I think we were the initial people that started this whole idea of a blended learning classroom... where students would come in and have assignments on the computer... this whole idea of using the Internet in assisting in teaching about Latin. The resources we had at the time were very limited. I mean, we had the text book but it's not like you had the Latin Magazine so the students had to go out and sort of, in order to make Latin something they could relate to, they had to do a lot of research. And so technology integration, I think, was key in that.
    The use of computers was not new to Barrett. She grew up with a computer in her home and she, along with all the other students at Dartmouth, were required to have one. "So technology has always been part of my educational experience and it has always been an expectation that I would use it and that I would make it a part of what I did... Because I had some exposure to technology I saw how it could really transform a classroom. And at the time I was one of the few teachers that wanted to use technology..."
    Another side of Barrett is one that might not be in the public view save for the fact she's written a book about the topic. "One of the things I'm really passionate about, and you know when I say this people look at me like 'what?' is prayer. I spend time praying every morning and throughout the day... I think we all have challenges in life and I try to make my first response to be to step away and pray... So that's where my heart is. Even more so, I believe it is my responsibility to pray for others. The book is about the connection that we all have to one another and the responsibility we have for one another to pray for one another" and a "daily fellowship with God."
    She says she prays for "our country, for our world, for our city leaders, for my teachers, for my students, for whatever community I'm working in", and if she sees something disturbing in the media she says she tries to say a prayer right then.
    The book is entitled The Prayer Manifesto for the Globally Conscious: How to Develop a Heart to Pray for Others (iUniverse, 2013).
    There are a couple of more things in Barrett's background that connects her to East High beyond being an alumnus and having worked with the school when she was in the district's regional office. Her brother and five cousins are alumni of the school. As if that's not enough of a connection, she is married to her high school sweetheart, Brandon Brooks ('90), a 1990 graduate of East High.
    Barrett says, "I'm glad to be back. I don't think I ever left. East has always been in my heart. I still have my cheerleading uniform, you know."

In a forthcoming article, The East High Alumni Page reveals more details about the role Barrett will play as the Executive Principal of East High School.

[Editor's note: The East High Alumni Page has a long standing policy to refer to alumni by the names by which they were known at East. In the case of Lischa Barrett this causes a dilemma. She is now connected to East not only as a former student and graduate of the school but also as its executive principal under her married name of Lischa Brooks. The East High Alumni Page is choosing to follow its policy in most references. No disrespect is intended.]

New East High Executive Principal Did Not Apply For Job
School will have a "fresh start," with all teachers having to apply for positions at East

Exclusive by The East High Alumni Page

    February 28, 2017 - Lischa Barrett Brooks ('91) was in her third year as founding principal of the Maxine Smith STEM Academy at what used to be known as Fairview Junior High/Middle School. Under her leadership, the STEAM curriculum, and a partnership with Christian Brothers University, test scores became among the highest in the district for a middle school. The Memphis Business Journal called it the best middle school in west Tennessee.
    In December, Shelby County Schools put out a job announcement for a principal for East High with STEM experience to lead it into the transition to an all optional (magnet) school focused on Transportation oriented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (T-STEM). According to information from the school district, Ms. Brooks did not apply for the position. Apparently she had a good thing going at the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy and presumably she saw no reason to leave that school.
    In early February, the school system began interviewing applicants from what it characterized as a nationwide search. At some point within a couple of weeks of the initiation of interviews, however, it appears to have occurred to Superintendent Dorsey Hopson that he had someone already employed by the school system that was a good fit for the job. Although she did not apply, he selected Ms. Brooks to orchestrate East High's transition from a traditional neighborhood school to an admission-by-application-only STEM optional school. She had played a similar role at Smith STEAM, albeit with middle school students rather than high schoolers and as a total transition rather than a year by year approach. The school with younger children flourished and Brooks' reputation among district administrators likewise shined. Furthermore, parents of students at the Smith middle school knew her and what her school had accomplished and therefore if she were at East they would be more likely to seriously consider applying to send their children to East High's T-STEM program when they were ready for high school.
    So, looking for an experienced and successful STEM school leader, Hopson reached down and asked Brooks to become executive principal of East High. Usually principals take over a school during the summer so as to be on board and functioning with the beginning of a new school year. In this case, however, much is to be done. The T-STEM curriculum at East is still being developed. While East had a small Engineering optional program, most STEM faculty needs to be selected. Since the intent is not only to make East High's focus to be on STEM but also to be an academic center of excellence, the decision has been made to refresh the entire faculty. Any teacher wishing to work at East High next school year must apply to do so, even if they are working there now. According to Shelby County School practices, the principal selects the teachers. With curriculum and staff to be decided, the new STEM principal needed to start work immediately, therefore, Brooks' assumed the new role as executive principal of East High upon her selection on February 20.
    The "fresh start" of faculty at a school is one of several practices Shelby County Schools has used with its "innovation zone" (iZone) schools. Those are selected schools that have been in the lowest five percent of academic achievement according to state reports. iZone schools have been targeted by the school district for extra efforts to improve the children's accomplishments. The iZone methodology has been cited as making significant academic progress at those targeted schools. One of the elements used in iZone schools is that the principal is empowered "to pick every single staff member."
    Another step in iZone schools is to add an extra hour to the school day. That is also planned for the T-STEM program at East High.
    Dr. Marilyn Hilliard, appointed interim principal of East High in 2015 and in her second year at the school, will continue as interim principal, reporting to Brooks. It is likely that Brooks will have her hands full for the next few months developing the T-STEM program and recruiting faculty and students. Hilliard's role is likely to continue functioning as the day to day principal of East, coordinating as needed with Brooks, at least for the remainder of this school year. Since for the 2017-2018 school year only the ninth grade at East will be T-STEM students, either an assistant principal or a principal serving under the executive principal may continue to concentrate on the traditional curriculum students until they phase out with graduation in 2020. As the new optional program gets established, the executive principal will probably become increasingly involved in the overall administration of the school.
    During this second week as East's executive principal, Brooks will not be at the school. She will be out of town picking up ideas about successful STEM high schools in Murfreesboro, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Atlanta. In mid week, she and Linda Sklar, Shelby County Schools Director of Advanced Academics and Optional Schools, will be in Knoxville to visit the L&N STEM Academy. L&N opened as a magnet school in 2011. It graduated its first class in 2014 and in the same year was ranked by the state as being in the top five percent of public schools in academic achievement.
    The East High Alumni Page will continue to bring you details of the transition of East High into a T-STEM optional school as well as other school news of interest to alumni. There is a web page devoted entirely to
East STEM news.

by The East High Alumni Page
    February 24, 2017- Lischa T. Barrett Brooks ('91) is the new "executive principal" of East High School, having been appointed to lead the 68 year old school into a new era as a T-STEM (Transportation oriented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) optional only (magnet) school. The appointment was made February 20 and was effective immediately.
    Ms. Brooks, known then by her maden name Lischa Barrett, is a 1991 graduate of East High School.
    Immediately prior to her appointment to the East High assignment the 44-year old was principal of the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, an optional only middle school (grades 6-8) at what used to be known as Fairview Junior High. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. The Smith STEAM Academy is seen as a likely feeder of students into the East High School T-STEM program.
    Ms. Brooks is a graduate of Dartmouth College and began her teaching career with Latin classes at Central High School in Memphis. She then became a technology coordinator at Ridgeway Middle School while also teaching computer technology. She moved into administrative work as assistant principal of Ridgeway High School where she was instrumental in the development of the successful application for Ridgeway to become part of the International Baccalaureate Organization. She has also served as a regional coordinator in the northeast region of Memphis City Schools and as the GEAR UP Coordinator (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).
    The East High T-STEM program begins for students in August with all the ninth grade members being admitted to either the T-STEM or the pre-existing Engineering optional programs. About 125 students are expected in that class. The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades will continue with a traditional curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year. For 2018-2019, both the ninth and tenth grades will be all optional students, the following year will add the eleventh grade. Next year's ninth graders will become the first twelfth graders in the T-STEM program and will be graduated in 2021.
    Ms. Brooks is author of the book The Prayer Manifesto for the Globally Conscious: How to Develop a Heart to Pray for Others (iUniverse, 2013).
    Dr. Marilyn Hilliard, East High's interim principal will continue in that role, reporting to the executive principal. An interim principal has been named for the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy to take over the duties Ms. Brooks vacates there.
    East High will also undergo a restart for all faculty members. For the 2017-2018 school year all faculty positions are open and will require teachers, including those currently at East, to apply for a teaching position there.
    You can see a Shelby County Schools produced video of Ms. Brooks talking about her new role at East High on
    The East High Alumni Page will continue to bring you details of the East High transition to a T-STEM optional school as well as other news of importance to alumni.

Read all our significant East High STEM stories on our East STEM page.

If you wish to read the credential news media coverage of this appointment you may do so at:
Chalkbeat Feb. 24, 2017,   The Commercial Appeal  Feb. 28, 2017,  Memphis Daily News, Feb. 28, 2017

by The East High Alumni Page
    January 19, 2017 - While indicating plans are still flexible, Shelby County Schools (SCS) has revealed the most about the forthcoming T-STEM (Transportation oriented Science, Technical, Engineering, Math) optional school to which East High is to be transitioned beginning with the fall semester this year.
    An open house for parents and others interested in the East High T-STEM optional school was held January 18. Guests were ushered through three technical laboratory classrooms to meet teachers and hear brief explanations of the programs. An additional presentation gave an overview of the initial curriculum "pathways," admission requirements, and other aspects of the program.
    The transition of East High into an entirely optional T-STEM school is set to begin in August with the ninth grade and will advance a grade each year. SCS says they expect to have about 125 freshman enrolled next year, possibly with 100 in the T-STEM program and 25 in the existing engineering optional program. Saying the building has plenty of room, Brett Lawson, SCS Instructional Leadership Director, says that if there is a groundswell and 300 qualified students apply to the T-STEM program's first year program it will expand to accommodate them. Those in grades ten through 12 will continue the traditional course of studies but administrators say their programs will also be enhanced.
    The classes for the initial ninth grade T-STEM group will be held in the newer buildings at East High, originally constructed as a Vo-Tech and the original optional school center. According to administrators, essentially there will be two schools at East, the T-STEM program in the newer buildings and the traditional students in the original East High building, each with its own principal. The newer facility also has its own kitchen but it appears undecided whether T-STEM students will have lunch there or in the main lunchroom in the main building. T-STEM students may also use the auditorium and gym in the main structure. As grades are added to the T-STEM program it will expand into the larger building. Even though the older building was constructed in 1947-1948, Lawson praised the "beautiful" building saying the T-STEM program looked forward to expanding into it.
    The school system is soliciting ideas from parents as to what should be included in the curriculum. The initial classes will offer three T-STEM pathways of study. "Project Lead the Way," a broad spectrum engineering course which all T-STEM students are anticipated to take, Aviation, and Distribution and Logistics.
    The T-STEM program has a mandatory eighth class period. During their ninth grade year, a T-STEM student could take two T-STEM classes as well as the other general education required and optional classes. In addition, SCS offers a virtual STEM academy for any qualified SCS student in the county in which a East High T-STEM student could enroll, giving them a ninth class each day. The virtual STEM laboratory is already located at East High. A number of courses will offer dual enrollment in which a student gets college credit upon successful completion as well as the high school credit. Lawson said it is possible an East T-STEM student could graduate from the school with 22 high school STEM credits. "If only half of them are dual enrollments, you'd walk away with 33 college credits before you graduate, plus an industry certification or two or three or four."
    It was emphasized several times that even though the new program at East is transportation oriented, that is not all for which the curriculum prepares a graduate. Transportation may be the example often used, but the knowledge and skills taught apply broadly to STEM careers. Even beyond that, the critical thinking needed to complete the T-STEM course work is beneficial for students pursuing other less technical work, from being attorneys to teachers.
    SCS says industry and organizations are excited about the East T-STEM program and have made commitments to participate in one way or another. Earlier, SCS cited 25 such partners but at the open house and in other recent documents about 15 are being listed. Cummins Diesel will work with the school to provide diesel engine technology studies, FedEx provides flight simulators for the aviation curriculum and University of Memphis teachers are participating.
    Acceptance into the East High T-STEM program requires an applying student score at or above the 50 percentile on the reading and math subtests of the NWEA Map, a TCAP End of Course Test, or another nationally normed assessment, including the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. The test must have been taken no more than one year prior to the application for admission to the East T-STEM program. On the reading and math subtests, scores may be from a single administration of the test or multiple instances, which according to Lawson can be merged into a "super score." Applicants must have, and students in the East T-STEM program must maintain, a GPA of 3.0 or above and no semester or end of course grade lower than a C. They must have an attendance record with no more than 15 absences or instances of tardiness to school or class and conduct grades must be satisfactory or above. An interview with the student is required for admission. Lawson says the interview is mostly to determine that the student is interested in the program, not only a parent. Parents or guardians, as well as students, will need to sign an agreement that they understand the expectations of the program and are committed to maintaining them.
    Applications to the East High T-STEM optional school will be accepted beginning January 27, 2017, however, an applicant may reserve a virtual place in line by obtaining a bar code beginning January 23. A portion of the application process is outlined

    Expectatons of the STEM matter to come before the board of Education at its January, 2017 meetings are outlined here.
    See additional stories below on East High STEM and also on our Today's East High page.

East High STEM Plan Next Steps
January 12, 2017 - The East High Alumni Page has spoken with the administration of Shelby County Schools about the status of the East High STEM proposal.
    The SCS administration expects to implement the plan effective with the start of the 2017-2018 school year barring unexpected opposition. It is believed that the members of the Board of Education support the plan. While there may be some opposition by those who currently live in the East High attendance zone, since they or their children might have to attend another school, the administration does not expect any such opposition to derail the proposal.   
    The plan is expected to be discussed at the January 24, 2017, Board of Education Work Session which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Coe building Auditorium, 160 South Hollywood Street, Memphis. No votes are taken and members of the public are not permitted to speak to the board at the Work Session.
    The administration does not plan to bring up the East STEM proposal at the Board of Education "business meeting" which begins at 5:30 p.m.  January 31. The administration believes, as most observers do, that the proposal to transition East High into a STEM optional school does not require a vote of the board. Votes of the board are taken at the business meeting sessions and the public is also allowed a limited opportunity to speak to the board members during the business meeting. Members of the public wishing to speak at the business meeting must sign up before the meeting begins. A sign up sheet is available from about 5 to 5:30 p.m.
    The administration does not propose to change the name of East High, at least initially. There has been some discussion among board members previously about altering the name if the STEM proposal is implemented.
    As reported elsewhere on these pages, the East High STEM proposal calls for the transition to occur year by year, grade by grade, beginning with the ninth grade in 2017. The administration foresees the probability of East having two principals during the transition phase, one for the STEM students and one for the traditional students. In an earlier post here, it was disclosed a job opportunity posting has been issued by the school district for a principal of East High to oversee the school as "a local, regional, and national model focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in Transportation Based Careers (T-STEM)." Also previously reported here, the district has published an estimate that there will be 100 seats available for students in the ninth grade STEM program at East beginning with the fall semester, 2017.
    For more background, follow the links in the above story and those below to additional links to some of the previously published stories.

"Transforming East High School into one of the most high performing high schools"

Handful Hear a Few New Details About East STEM proposal

Decision on "Hyper Underperforming" East High School Needed Soon - Transition would mean many changes

Done deal? - Plan east transition to all optional stem school called official

Report: "It's official. Big changes coming to historic Memphis East High School"

January 7, 2017
Chalkbeat, an on-line education news resource, reported "East High School, open since 1948 and one of the city's most iconic schools, is officially on the list of optional programs being promoted this month as the district prepares to receive applications beginning on Jan. 27."
Read the Chalkbeat article


Handful Hear a Few New Details About East STEM proposal

All commenting spoke in support

by The East High Alumni Page

      November 22, 2016 - There was a decidedly different atmosphere at the "info session" about the proposal to make East High an optional only STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) high school at a very poorly attended public meeting at First Baptist Church Broad November 22. There was nary a negative opinion of the plan to convert East into a high achievement STEM school, very much unlike a similar session held at East October 17 where the vast majority of perhaps 50 members of the general public made up of mostly alumni, parents, guardians, and East teachers had aggressive questions and outright opposition to the idea.

     A handful of East alumni, including Mea King, a 1997 East graduate and now an award winning teacher at East, made rather long comments in favor of the STEM proposal.

     About the only hint of opposition came from three or four alumni who expressed concern about the possibility the name of the school might be changed. Dr. Hedi Ramirez, Chief Academic Officer of Shelby County Schools fielded the question with a somewhat ambiguous answer about wanted to preserve the historic significance of the school and its name and then suggesting about three names that included the word "east" in them but were not precisely "East High School."

     Mr. Brett Lawson an SCS Instructional Leadership Director, who coaches principals at eleven high schools including East, gave a slide presentation but as both he and Ramirez warned, there was not much new revealed that had not been made public at the October meeting or at a school board Academic Performance Committee meeting held late last month.

     New elements in the proposal not expressed in meetings for the general public before were the suggestions that students living in within a two mile radius of East would get a "priority" in the admission process and that there would be a mandatory after-school class for the STEM students followed by a voluntary attendance class which they would be encouraged to attend. It was pointed out that the iZone schools in the SCS system, which special intervention underway and are reportedly making significant progress in helping students close an grade level-achievement gap, have an extra hour of class every day.

     Other aspects of the proposed admission requirements were quite similar to those expressed before including successful applicants being in the 50th percentile on approved reading and math assessments, a grade point average of at least 3.0 with no grade lower than a C, and no bad conduct grades.

     Students in what is now the East High attendance zone would be assigned to either Douglass or Melrose High Schools, both iZone schools starting with the rising ninth graders for the 2017-2018 school year. For each of the next 3 years one additional grade would be added to the STEM curriculum while those currently in the traditional curriculum would be allowed to continue at East in that study regime until they graduate, assuming they graduate on time.

     This was the fourth meeting for people not affiliated with the school system could attend. In addition to this meeting and the October 17 meeting, there was the afore mentioned Academic Performance Committee meeting and last night, November 21, there was a meeting for parents and students for those pupils in the East attendance zone who would be ninth graders next year. That meeting, too, did not draw a large crowd. An SCS representative said about eight to ten parents and three students attended.

     Several people mentioned that one reason so few attended tonight's event at the church was that the East High boys basketball team was playing a game in the MLK Tournament at the same time. East has been pre-season ranked as being the number three boys high school basketball team in the nation.

      At least two of the meeting attendees mentioned, without criticizing the choice, that the people at the basketball game should have been at the information meeting about East High's future.

     About a dozen people who were not employees of Shelby County Schools were scattered about the church's chapel. Six of those were University of Memphis students who were billed as STEM ambassadors speaking in favor of a STEM education, particularly as it applied to transportation. Their attendance was apparently arranged by another "public" attendee and presenter, Dr. Stephanie Ivey, an associate professor of civil engineering and Director of the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the university. Her comments gave strong support of STEM education and the opportunities it opens for students. The university is one of more than two dozen entities pledging to support in one way or another an East High STEM curriculum.

     If one subtracts the U of M people and the SCS administrative staff from the total, one could count the members of the general public attending in the middle single digits, most being East alumni.

     At an information meeting at East High held October 17 attracted about 60 people total, perhaps 25 East alumni and 20 teachers from the school. Most of the rest were either East students or SCS employees. As we have reported, the tone of that meeting was quite resistant to the STEM proposal.

     In her comments, Rameriz again cited the risk to East saying, "[I]f we don't do something with East High School someone will do something to East High School." It has been noted previously East has about 522 students in a building with a capacity of about 1,500 and it is currently in the fourth percentile of schools statewide academically. That means more than 95% of the public schools in the state rank higher. She said the idea is to offer East STEM students a high quality Dual Enrollment (college and high school at the same time) and/or college credit courses.

     Among the attendees was school board member Teresa Jones in whose voting district East is located. She said that while she was open to being convinced otherwise from the start she has been in favor of the proposal to make East a STEM optional school.

     The Board of Education is expected to discuss the proposal for an East STEM optional (magnet) school at its November 29 meeting and perhaps discuss and vote on the proposal at a December 6 meeting at which a limited time is allowed for public comments to be made to the board. The school administration has, however, says it will also be presenting proposals to close two other elementary schools at the same meetings. School closures often bring crowds of parents, students and teachers from the affected schools and that can reduce even further the time each member of the public gets to speak. Both board meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Coe building auditorium at SCS, 160 South Hollywood Street (see map).

     In addition, SCS announced a few other relevant dates:
January 8, 2017, a SCS optional school\program fair at the University of Memphis,
January 18, 2017, an public open house at East High School, and,
January 27, 2017, optional school\program application acceptance opens at 6:30 a.m.

     Look for further details on the January 18 East High open house in the coming days.

Decision on "Hyper Underperforming" East High School Needed Soon
Transition would mean many changes

by The East High Alumni Page

[Editor's note: a preliminary decision on East High STEM may come in late November and early December, 2016. See our Today's East High page for details.

      October 27, 2016 - Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson says a decision from the school board on whether to proceed with his proposal to transition East High into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) focused optional school needs to be made within "the next month or so." He says the administration needs that lead time to set up the curriculum and choose a school principal and staff, as well as determine a different school assignment for rising 9th graders who will remain in traditional studies but live in the current East attendance zone.

      Hopson first suggested the transition a year ago which would have taken place this school year, but questions from board members and an unsettled situation over closing of other schools led him to delay the proposal for a year. The idea includes a lot of the STEM curriculum involving the transportation industry, so much so that the school system has called it a T-STEM school proposal, the "T" standing for transportation. However, the top academic department official said that the transportation aspect could be over played in the discussion but that transportation is a major employer in Memphis with many career opportunities.

      At an Academic Performance Committee meeting of the Board of Education attended by board members Miska Clay-Bibbs, Teresa Jones, Mike Kernell, and Chris Caldwell October 25, Hopson and SCS Chief Academic Officer Hedi Ramirez outlined the proposal for the transition of East High to a STEM school with about the same information presented to parents, teachers, and the public at a meeting at East High October 17. It calls for a year-by-year transition with the ninth grade to be all STEM students in 2017-2018, progressing by one grade each year until 2020-2021 when the entire 9-12 grade structure would be fully STEM.

      Hopson said it would be "too much to do it well" to change all grades four grades to the STEM curriculum in one year. The year -by-year transition would also allow all those students currently enrolled at East to continue in traditional classes until they graduated from East, presuming they were promoted to the next grade each year.

      As The East High Alumni Page reported earlier, East is now in the lowest four percent of all schools in the state in academic performance. Attendance is down to about 522 pupils while another 245 who live in the East attendance zone go to other SCS or SCS Charter schools. The administration says the current capacity of East is 1,364. The engineering optional program which once thrived at East has less than 40 students enrolled in it. Ramirez described East at "hyper underperforming."

      Weighing in on the side to make East a STEM school in addition to the poor academics and low enrollment is the report that 21 entities have pledge to support the East STEM school in one way or another, including the University of Memphis and FedEx. The potential partners are said to be "really excited" about the possibilities if East is transitioned into the optional school and, the school administration says, many have agreed to support those in the traditional curriculum during the year-by-year transition. The physical condition and location of the East High School building are attributes favorable to maintaining it as a viable school.

      As has been said repeatedly, and reported previously here, the poor academic performance of East combined with the low attendance makes East a target for closing or for take over by the state's Achievement School District (ASD). The ASD does not plan to acquire any schools next year because of the changing of the state assessment tools. The ASD is likely to be back to taking over poor performing schools for the 2018-2019 school year. Memphis has already been the locale where the ASD has taken over the vast majority of schools and the number of SCS schools in the lowest five percent of academic performance continues to make it a target rich environment.

     Arguments against making East a fully STEM school include those often expressed by attendees at the October 17 meeting at East. Of the sixty or so alumni, teachers, parents, and members of the public that attended that meeting, there was strong sentiment for keeping East a neighborhood school for all children in the attendance zone. Parents and other guardians just want their children to be able to walk to school. A related concern was that neighborhood children who might want to attend an East STEM school would not qualify to attend. Alumni, particularly from the 1990s and early 2000s it seems, believed the school was a good school when they attended and thought it could be restored just by raising the standards while keeping it a traditional school. Many at the meeting said enrollment was down because Career and Technology Courses (CTE), previously known as vo-tech, had been cut. They said attendance would rebound if more CTE courses were brought back to East.

      A successful STEM school in the SCS system is Maxine Smith STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Academy, a middle school which is in the building previously known as Fairview Junior High. Those middle schoolers could continue their STEAM/STEM studies at an optional high school devoted to that curriculum. It was said, however, however, that when speaking with parents of Maxine Smith STEAM Academy students they expressed concerns about safety issues at East High. It was also noted that Maxine Smith has less than 150 enrolled it its six through eighth grades and not all of them would choose to attend East even if it were a STEM school. Ramirez said that a freshman STEM class at East would expect to have between 100-120 children.

      It was revealed at the October 25th meeting that there could be two principals at East if the STEM proposal is implemented, one for the pupils in the traditional curriculum and another for those in STEM.

      Hopson also indicated an interest in having higher admission standards for an East STEM school than were included in the failed federal grant application and mentioned at the October 17 meeting. He said there was a thought that to push for a higher performance STEM school those seeking admission might be required to have a grade point average higher than 3.0 and to take an admissions test. Some other SCS optional programs have admissions testing, including the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy. With a GPA requirement of "3.2 or 3.5 then, I think, the opportunity for long term rigor and high performance is probably even greater," Hopson added. It was made known that the earlier mentioned admission criteria with no admissions test and a GPA of 3.0 was related to the competitive federal grant application and since SCS did not get that grant it was free to improve the requirements. Ramirez did say that hiking the GPA requirement or requiring admission testing would probably make it "not worth the time to reapply" for another federal magnet school grant as those grants favor a more open admission policy.

      The superintendent said the easiest way to transition East would be to close it as a traditional school and then reopen it as a fully STEM school but because of tradition and allowing current students to finish at their school, the grade by grade transition would be preferable. He said there was plenty of space to, in essence, be running two schools within the building.

      It might be noted that for the years prior to the 1972-1973 school year, East did run two, perhaps three, schools in the same building: East Elementary, East Junior High, and East High. The elementary had a separate principal while the junior high and high school were served by the same principal.

      The recent reputation of East was mentioned in connection with drawing students to an East STEM school. It was said that just changing the curriculum and calling it STEM would not necessarily attract students, that the reworked school would need to be well marketed to parents in Shelby County. Bibbs, the committee chairperson, said she thought the name would also need to be changed both because of the lingering reputation of recent years and to differentiate the traditional classes from the STEM classes during the transition period, but she added the new name should incorporate the word "East" in it.

      East athletics were mentioned as a positive attraction for students and both the administration proposal and at least three board members at the Academic Performance Committee meeting expressed a desire to continue the "championship" tradition of athletic programs at East. It was suggested that some athletes who excel academically are going to schools outside the district or private schools because there were too few choices of high schools in SCS with good athletic programs and high academic achievement. Kernell said careers now call for teamwork and that is a valuable lesson sports can teach.

      Jones asked about the possibility of ASD taking over East after the transition began but before improved academic results starting showing in the annual statistics. She suggested the administration talk with the ASD to get some assurance that would not happen and that there would be some number of years for the turnaround to take effect. Hopson indicated he "couldn't imagine" the ASD not giving some leeway but that he would talk with the ASD about it.

      Jones told the superintendent she and the board needed a time line giving the "ideal" dates for each step to happen. Hopson appeared to agree and said the most immediate need was planning the assignment of next year's ninth graders to another school. Ramirez added that the brochures for optional school programs for next year go to the printer in December.

      Jones, the immediate past chairperson of the school board, said she might like to see both a traditional school and the STEM optional school in the building if funding and other factors would allow. Furthermore, she said she would prefer the vision be broader than a transportation STEM to increase its appeal. Hopson said STEM was the headline feature, suggesting the studies would entail a considerably wider focus than just STEM for transportation.

      Kernell called an East High STEM school a "beautiful thing we could point to for ourselves and for the rest of the world."

      In her Academic Performance Committee report at the school board "business meeting" later October 25, Bibbs mentioned that the group had discussed the East High STEM proposal but did not go into any detail. Two East alumni and two East seniors spoke to the board during the public comment period. Their main point seemed to be a desire to be fully informed and the opinions of alumni and students be included in the decision making process.

      The Shelby County Board of Education's next scheduled meeting is a "work session" (no votes, no public comment, but open for public observation) November 29. The next scheduled business meeting (with votes and public comments) is December 6. Various board committees may meet before those dates and a special called meeting could also occur if needed. Board policy requires at least 24 hours notice of any board meeting be posted and placed on the SCS web site. Committee meetings require a five day notice unless an emergency situation exists. The Board of Education's section of the SCS web site can be found at http://www.scsk12.org/board/.

Read an additional story on the October 25, 2016, Academic Performance Committee meeting in Chalkbeat.

Initial Public Meeting on Future of East High School As a STEM Optional School
Parents and Public Question the Proposal

by The East High Alumni Page

     October 17, 2016 - The top academic officers of the Shelby County School system along with the Board of Education member in whose district East High sits tonight met with about 60 people comprising a few current East High students, a contingent of perhaps 25 alumni of the school, about a dozen East teachers, the remainder were parents and guardians of current students, and a few concerned members of the larger Memphis community. It appeared the largest group were alumni.
     East High's future is in question because it is in the bottom five percent in academic performance of schools in the state. With the decline in enrollment (currently at 522), and the low academic rating, East is open to be taken over by the state's Achievement School District or, as SCS administrators have said, on a trend that could lead to a closing of the school.
     After introductory remarks from East Principal Marilyn Hilliard, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson, and Board Member Teresa Jones, SCS Chief Academic Officer Hedi Ramirez conducted a presentation outlining some ideas the district administration has about transforming East High.
     As was reported here a year ago, the administration's initial proposal is to make East High a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) optional school. In particular a T-STEM school, with the first T standing for a focus on how STEM applies to transportation. Ramirez noted that Memphis is a transportation hub with thousands employed in the industry. While emphasizing that the purpose was to inform and get ideas from the public, the initial proposal called for all ninth grade students in the 2017-2018 school year to be STEM students, admitted to the program upon application and meeting the requirements of no more than 15 combined tardies and absences from school during a year, a grade point average of 3.0, and no N (needs improvement) or U (unsatisfactory) in conduct, and participating in an application interview. Current East pupils in grades 10-12 would continue their traditional curriculum during that first year of the STEM program. The second year grade ten would be added as exclusively STEM, the third year grade eleven, and finally in school year 2020-2021 all four high school grades would be STEM.
     The presentation was interrupted with a few questions and after trying to answer one or two administrators asked the group to let the presentation continue and save questions for discussion in small groups that would assemble in a few minutes. It was clear from the initial questions, however, that the proposal was meeting some resistance.
     In the small group this writer attended, there seemed to be little support for the T-STEM program. Instead, those speaking mostly advocated for maintaining the neighborhood school, more diverse courses, more tutors, and more career technology education (CTE) classes (what used to be called vo-tech).
     In answering the question if East were to transition to STEM, would the small group prefer year-by-year transition or to make the change all at once and rezone all traditional curriculum students to another school the first year, the small group overwhelmingly indicated a year-by-year transition. That may not mean, however, that they like the idea of a STEM optional school at all.
     After the breakout sessions, there were reports on some of the ideas that came from each group. Some of the summary comments:
Group 1:

  • bring back the great things East High has had going for it in the past (in this case it appeared the past was defined at 5-10-20 years ago)
  • if the choice is between converting to STEM all at one time or transition grade year by grade year, a transition was overwhelmingly desired
  • for traditional curriculum students remaining at the school, the group wanted great teachers, a dedicated counselor, dual enrollment classes, and stepped up tutoring
  • "some reluctance" for real high admission standards
  • suggestion to "recombine some middle school populations" to increase the feeder pattern into East High so as to increase enrollment
  • get community support to rebrand the school to restore its reputation
  • a current teacher expressed the opinion that things had turned around in the past couple of years and that things would continue to get better;
Group 2:
  • want East to be back as the esteemed East it was once before
  • bring back CTE (vo-tech)
  • opportunities for students to engage in athletics – that in the past students came to East because of the successful athletic opportunities
  • continue Peer Power (paid peer tutoring)
  • want students grades 10-12 the option to stay at East through the 12th grade
  • questions about how students at middle school or at Lester would be supported to attend the T-STEM program at East
  • Melrose and East students should not be brought together
  • there should be an optional program, a CTE (vo-tech) STEM program, and a traditional program at East
  • that students should not have to leave East to get a quality education
  • support for elementary and middle schools that will feed into the program
  • mostly the big idea is support for a quality program at East without students having to leave, enhance what's already here;
Group 3:
  • could there be someone in the community to act as a liaison between the board of education and the community to provide input on the next phase of planning
  • the question does it have to be an exclusive optional school or could it be both optional and traditional school combined;
Group 4:
  • on curriculum and instructional practices our group had a focus on vocational offerings: mechanics, early childhood, liberal arts, performing arts, with opportunity for real world experience
  • peer to peer learning is important (probably referring to the Peer2Peer tutoring program)
  • in regards to STEM, make sure the program is sustainable over time and that the morale within the program is upheld
  • in the past vocational students and optional students didn't mix, if it goes through a combined STEM and traditional curriculum transition, students ought to have the opportunity to do both, academic and vocational and have some input on what their schedule is going to look like
  • if the transitional approach to STEM is used, provide enrichment programs, guest speakers and alums who are very wealthy would be perfect for that.

     Following the small group summaries, there were a few additional questions from the audience.
     One questioner wanted to know why SCS was pursuing the T-STEM idea since it was rejected for the federal grant. Ramirez said that while the federal government chose not to provide the grant it was not because of the T-STEM focus. In fact, she said SCS got very high marks on the plan design. But she pointed out that the grant application was very competitive and despite losing out on the funds it also was a learning process which could lead to other outside grant applications. She further indicated the existence of the application allowed SCS to go to potential partners in the business community to get their support.
     It might be mentioned here SCS says numerous businesses are excited about the T-STEM proposal and have indications they would like to partner with the school system in implementing it.
     Another question was about permitting the students of East High a voice in the process. Ramirez said that was a good idea.
     SCS administrators and board members repeatedly said that no final decision has been made about the direction East High will go and that additional opportunities for the public to provide opinions will be offered.

[See also the October 18, 2016, Chalkbeat
(webnews) story about this event.

Mid-South Memories: East alumni among those rallying for Eisenhower

from The Commercial Appeal

October 11, 2016 - Sue Tushingham ('55) pictured far left, Vivian Garland ('54), second from left, and Butch Bassett (class association undetermined), second from right, were among the young women in support of Dwight D. Eisenhower's bid for a second term as president.

Newspaper caption:
October 10, 1956 - Their political persuasion as obvious as their personal charm, these half dozen young ladies greeted Memphis voters on October 10, 1956, attracted by the Eisenhower Bandwagon as it rolled through town. From left, they are Miss Sue Tushingham of 3587 Mimosa, Miss Vivian Garland of 3195 North Waynoka Circle, Miss Marilyn Marsh of Germantown, Miss Nicky Hurdle of Quincy, Illinois, Miss Butch Bassett of 3209 Cowden and Miss Margaret Marsh of Germantown.
(Photo: Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal files)


Possible future direction of East High discussed at School Board
Superintendent cites 40% drop in enrollment since 2011

by The East High Alumni Page

September 15, 2015 - Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson tonight asked the county board of education if it endorsed staff exploring the possibility of East High becoming a "STEAM academy." He said the proposal was for a "high quality" option with a rigorous, college-ready core academic program.

While the board members had a lot of questions during the 22 minute discussion, it indicated the administration should proceed with its examination of the possibility.

STEAM stands for a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. The idea also provided for an increased focus on career and technical education (CTE) in parallel with the STEAM curriculum. There is already a CTE center on the East campus that is part of the school. CTE generally focuses more on hands on learning, what once was called vocational classes, where STEAM is more traditionally academically oriented but obviously with considerable technical and laboratory elements included.

Hopson cited the reason for the district administration's consideration of changes at East included the drop in enrollment from about 900 in 2011 to 550 this school year and calling buildings underutilized facilities. He also noted a decline in Tennessee Value Added Assessment System scores. of its students over the past year.

The East High Alumni Page reported in late July that Hopson was considering changing the focus of East to a STEM school. A STEM school is similar to a STEAM school but without the additional focus on the arts.

Hopson said there were numerous options the district's administration had and would continue to consider. Among the variations if the school were to become a STEAM academy would be whether that would be all it would include in the academic curriculum or whether it might be a "school within a school" that would have another group of students following the regular high school curriculum. He said the building could easily hold two "schools." Responding to a question from a board member he said the school's capacity was about 1,200. In decades past, East has had enrollments greater than 1,500 when it was a grade 1-12 school. Since then, however, the annex, a classroom add on with nine classrooms, has been demolished and some other classroom space has been converted to other uses, for example, a health clinic for students and staff exists at East.

School board chairlady Teresa Jones, appearing to particularly speak to the decline in enrollment, said, "[I]t is a concern to me and I think to parents to bring it back to the level it was."

Board members told Hopson that there were many questions that needed to be answered in the coming months. Among them, where are the students living that attend East now, what do parents of East students think about the idea, how would those who live in the East attendance zone that thought they would be assigned to East feel if they were no longer assigned to East should it become exclusively a STEAM and CTE school.

For three decades East has been an optional school for engineering and health sciences while also maintaining the general curriculum but enrollment in the optional programs has been very low in recent years.

Optional schools may be exclusive to the focused line of study or may also have a general student population. Optional schools are open to any student in the county who wishes to pursue the area of focused study as long as there is room in those classes and, in some cases, the student must qualify academically for the optional programs. On a small scale, East currently could be considered a school within a school since it has both general education and optional program students in the building.

The superintendent further outlined his proposal pointing out it would provide a STEM focused high school for students "city wide" and create the next level of STEM education for students currently enrolled in the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, a middle school previously known as Fairview.

It is unclear if the presentation was intentionally referencing STEM in some places and STEAM in others.

East currently houses the laboratory for a virtual STEM academy. Students enrolled at any district school can take STEM classes either at their school or on-line, and with appropriate grades, can get practical experience in the advanced STEM laboratory at East.

Hopson acknowledged the evaluation of the idea was just in its "embryonic stage" but with the board's approval the next couple of months would be used to refine the idea resulting in a more concrete plan with answers to many of the questions the board members had.

At this point, making East a STEAM academy is just an idea and if it even comes to fruition the school might also continue to have students enrolled in the regular curriculum. Hopson said he did not want the headlines to misinform people that there was a proposal to close East High and totally repurpose it. What the final recommendation might be is still undetermined and any proposals would be not only presented to the board members for evaluation but also to the community.

The board members gave Hopson the green light to continue exploring the possibility of making East a STEAM academy.


Dr. Marilyn Hilliard is East's New Principal for 2015-2016 School Year

by The East High Alumni Page

August 8, 2015 - (For more on this change of leadership and possible change in direction for East High, see the additional story below.)

Dr. Marilyn Hilliard (Principal) has been named interim principal for East High School for the 2015-2016 school year.

As The East High Alumni Page earlier reported, in addition to the new principal, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is considering a nationwise search for a permanent principal and the possibility of making East fully a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math focused) school.

Hilliard comes to East after serving two years as assistant principal at Southwind High School. Prior to that role she was among faculty in Memphis schools for ten years, including three years at City University Boys Preparatory charter school where she was campus president. Prior to her public school work, Hilliard worked as a Training and Development Specialist for Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division.

The new principal at East has her doctorate in education. She attended Northside High School in Memphis and the University of Mississippi.

[The East High Alumni Page hopes to have more details and an interview with Dr. Hilliard soon.]


East to Get New Principal for 2015-2016 School Year
East alumnus Eric Harris leaving after five years at helm
New direction for school considered

by The East High Alumni Page

July 30, 2015 - Eric Harris' ('91 and principal 2010-2015) five year tenure as principal of East High School has come to an end.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has appointed an interim principal whose name has not been publicly announced to guide the institution through the 2015-2016 school year.

Hopson said he is considering a national search for a principal and perhaps making East fully a STEM school, which means one that is highly focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Acknowledging East's academic "rich history," Hopson indicated something needed to be done to lift the school's performance.

The interim principal graduated from another Memphis high school and has worked in the Memphis and Shelby county school systems for several years, including as an assistant principal.

Harris is an East High alumnus, having attended the school for six years and graduating in 1991. He had long aspired to be principal of the school, having told his mother when he was in elementary school he wanted to be principal of East High one day. When he got the job, he said it was a wish come true.

East High has become a difficult school to lift to higher academic performance. "My biggest challenge is getting the academics where it should be here," said Harris in 2010 after accepting the appointment to East. According to the state's web site, the composite ACT for 2010, the school year immediately preceding Harris' becoming principal, was 16.2 (equivalent to about a 12.2 in pre-1989 ACT scoring). The 2015 ACT scores are not yet available but the 2014 composite ACT score at East was 15.5. (These ACT scores vary slightly from those originally released with the state report card on schools but are those that are now posted on the state's web site).

Harris remembers East from his student days there as having about 50% of the 1,800 students enrolled in the optional programs. He was in the engineering optional program. At that time, East hosted grades six through twelve. When Harris took over East only had grades nine through twelve and the enrollment was about 1,000 and has declined slightly. Despite his efforts to increase enrollment and boost the optional programs, participation in the optional programs has remained quite low, according to Linda N. Sklar, Director of Optional Schools and Advanced Academics for Shelby County Schools.

In addition to the Shelby County School employees efforts to improve academics at East, the Peer Power Foundation (formerly The Greater East High Foundation) has provided free tutoring for East students for more than a decade, paying qualified advanced students to tutor pupils that needed or wanted help. Those getting toutored are typically less than ten percent of the student body. Despite its no-cost-to-the-student or his/her family and rewards to students attending and improving their grades, the academic performance overall has changed little because so few participated. Grade point averages of those who did take advantage of the tutoring program were generally well above average, according to the Foundation's reports. Charles McVean (East '61), who created the foundation and has largely funded it with hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps more, has announced that instead of tutoring after school the program will be integrated into regular classes for the 2015-2016 school year. It is hoped that will overcome the participation problem and lift academic performance of many more pupils.

Mr. Harris became the sixth principal at East High to serve five years or longer. The new interim principal will be East's 15th principal in its 67 year history.

Classes for the 2015-2016 school year begin August 10.

When the name is publicly released, The East High Alumni Page will have more about the new principal.

You may see a report on East High's 2015 academic measurements on our "Today's East High" page.

Tommie Henderson ('91 and Faculty 1998-2003) Appeals to School Board to Keep Charter School Open
Dramatic vote allows charter school to stay open

by The East High Alumni Page
July 29, 2015 - Tommie Henderson ('91 and Faculty), executive director of the charter school New Consortium of Law and Business (NCLB), appeared before the Shelby County Board of Education July 28 to ask that it not approve a recommendation from the county school district's superintendent Dorsey Hopson to revoke the charter school's authorization. The board voted to delay any consideration of closing the school until its regular timetable for considering closings, which is in the first quarter of the calendar year, giving the New Consortium of Law and Business the green light to start classes for the new school year in a few weeks.
While charter schools have a great amount of autonomy in operation, they are part of the public school system in Tennessee and the local school board is empowered to authorize charter schools and to revoke any of those it has chartered for cause.
In a presentation by Shelby County Schools Chief Innovation Officer, Brad Leon, the district outlined numerous alleged violations of the charter contract between NCLB and the school district as well as violations of state education laws and regulations, particularly in regards to financial statements. There were also allegations by the district administration of violations of federal regulations regarding student Individualized Education Program for Special Education students.
During the period for public comments which was limited to three minutes for each speaker, Henderson admitted NCLB made some mistakes. He said missing a payroll and missing payments to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System were both associated with a cash flow problem resulting from a faulty financial forecast. Henderson seemed to take issue with the district's characterization that enrolling employees in an insurance plan other than that offered by the school district was "illegal," and said at one point the charter school was not permitted to enroll its employees in the district's insurance program. The Commercial Appeal reported that after the board vote Henderson said some of the allegations cited by the district administration he was hearing for the first time and could not verify whether they had occurred or not.
The district's administration countered Henderson's comments saying that charter schools have always been allowed to enroll employees in the district's insurance program. Board member Chris Caldwell said financial issues are not new to the NCLB and have plagued it for years. He said an auditor's finding indicated a significant problem with financial reports and that it would not be a surprise if there was a lack of trust in the charter's financial reports. "My gut just tells me this is not best for kids to keep the school open," said District Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.
About eight parents or guardians of children enrolled or planning to enroll at NCLB spoke during the public comments period. One had complaints about the school but the others praised the charter school and asked that it be allowed to continue operation.
NCLB serves about 160 students with a faculty of approximately 26.
The board debated the recommendation to close the charter school and various motions for an hour and a half. Many school board members said their main concern with the recommendation to close the school was timing, that two weeks before classes begin would be chaotic for parents and students if NCLB were closed.
The discussion ended in a dramatic manner in which three members of the nine member board passed when their name was called to announce their vote. Then, as those who passed were given the opportunity to cast a vote, the tally was four to four with only the decision of Miska Clay-Bibbs remaining. After pausing before speaking, Bibbs voted for the motion to delay consideration of the charter revocation until the regular period for considering school closings.
The vote cleared the way for Henderson's school to open for the new school year's classes in about two weeks.

From the archives: Even the FBI couldn't find the killer

By Daily News Library,
Northwest Florida Daily News, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
Jun 25, 2013

On a hot June afternoon in 1975, with the summer tourist season in full swing, someone attacked a bikini-clad young woman on the beach a scant 500 yards west of Okaloosa Island's biggest condominium.

Editiors note: This story was published April 20, 1983 as a part of a 12-part cold case series written by Staff Writer Tom Conner. Today marks the anniversary of Lynn Pyeatt's murder in 1975, which remains unsolved.

FORT WALTON BEACH -- On a hot June afternoon in 1975, with the summer tourist season in full swing, someone attacked a bikini-clad young woman on the beach a scant 500 yards west of Okaloosa Island's biggest condominium.

The pretty vacationer was left dead - or near death - close to the surf. Thirty minutes later, a young man strolling along the beach mistook her for a nude sunbather until he noticed she was not breathing.

The victim was Lynn Elizabeth Pyeatt [associated with the Class of '74], the third 19-year-old woman slain in Okaloosa County within 27 months. Her murderer remains at large.

Until her death on June 25, Pyeatt had led an enviable life. She came from a well-to-do family and attended a good college, but on that Wednesday she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time," says local FBI agent Mike Dill. "Her murder was one of happenstance."

Pyeatt was the daughter of Wayne Pyeatt, a prominent civic and social leader who was then chairman of the board of the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis, Tenn. She had been a cheerleader and an honor student in high school, and had just completed her freshman year at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she was studying architecture.

In early June she and a friend, Marian Dickerson, left home to vacation in El Matador Condominiums, where Dickerson's father owned a unit. They had been in Okaloosa County about two weeks on the day of the murder.

On that day, Pyeatt and a group of friends pitched an umbrella on the beach in front of El Matador. About 3:45 p.m. Pyeatt decided to take a walk along the shore. She went alone and headed west, toward the Eglin Air Force Base reservation.

"You must remember this was 1975 and the contour of the beach was different then than it is now," Dill says. "The hurricane (Frederic in 1979) altered the beach, but back in 1975 you could look east to west and soon lose visibility."

The contour of the beach served Pyeatt's killer well. She was attacked just a quarter of a mile west of the friends she had left sitting under the umbrella. Her companions saw nothing.

Exactly what happened is unclear, but 1st Judicial Circuit Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Edmund Kielman has tried to untangle the string of events.

"I felt that perhaps somebody came up to her and she told him to get lost," he says. "Then, maybe after she had turned her back on him, he attacked her."

She was hit repeatedly on the head and suffered "several deep scalp hemorrhages that must have rendered her at least semi-unconscious if not unconscious," Kielman told the Daily news after the autopsy. "She was knocked out much like a boxer in the ring."

Then, he thinks, she fell or was pushed into the Gulf and inhaled a good deal of water. The killer dragged Pyeatt onto shore and tied her hands behind her back with a nylon cord "to preclude active resistance should she regain consciousness," he says, reading from his autopsy report.

The cord scratched her wrists, but not seriously enough to suggest Pyeatt put up a fight after being bound.

"It appears the assailant then attempted to sexually assault the victim, not realizing she was already dead or very close to death," Kiel-man says.

The killer bit Pyeatt's right breast, Kielman thinks, when "abandoned any further action because he realized she was dead or he thought he saw someone coming."

Kielman placed the time of death at 4 p.m., just 15 minutes after Pyeatt had left her friends. She apparently lay on the beach for about 30 minutes before Paul Michael Quinn, an 18-year-old from Smyrna, Tenn., found her body.

Kielman says Quinn told him he walked past her "and couldn't believe what he saw. He thought she was alive. He looked back and saw that her chest was not rising and falling, so he returned to her."

She was lying near the water's edge, both top and bottom of her bikini missing. A gold earring was pierced through her right ear, but the left one was missing. A gold ring was on her left-hand ring finger.

Quinn untied Pyeatt's hands to get a better grasp and dragged her up onto a ledge of sand, according to Dill.

"She had faulty breathing and was foaming at the mouth when I found her," Quinn told the Daily News. "I started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and stuff would come out of her mouth. I put my arms around her and squeezed and more stuff would come out of her mouth."

Quinn spent what he judged to be half an hour tying to revive Pyeatt, stopping occasionally to try to summon help. From his position up on the beach, he could see the red-roofed El Matador and sunbathers basking on the sand. They were oblivious to Quinn's frantic efforts.

"I was afraid to stop," Quinn said. "I was afraid she would die. I'd never run across a dead person before and I didn't know how to tell. So I kept on trying to save her."

He removed a blue shirt he was wearing and put it on Pyeatt's body. He grabbed seaweed from the sand and placed it atop her. "He had just taken some Boy Scout courses and was trying to keep her warm," Dill says, explaining Quinn's actions. "He was afraid she might be in shock."

All the while Quinn was thinking Pyeatt would recover and "I'd have to walk her down the beach to where other people were."

He eventually was aided by a jogger who approached from the east. Quinn explained what was happening and the jogger ran to the condominium and called for an ambulance.

When authorities arrived, Pyeatt was dead.

The incident occurred on government land, the concurrent jurisdiction of federal and county authorities, so the FBI led the investigation with the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department assisting.

Dill says lawmen did recover some physical evidence, "but I can't talk about it" because the case could end up in court someday.

It is known that authorities recovered the nylon cord used to bind Pyeatt's hands and the top and bottom of her bathing suit. A man and a woman strolling the beach found her bikini bottom in the surf about 200 yards from the spot where her body was found.

"We saw them (the bottom) in the water's edge and went out to get them," the unidentified man said at the time. "Once we saw what they were we just tossed them up on the beach for the owner to come back and claim them. We didn't know then that the owner wouldn't be back."

Lawmen also found footprints in the sand. "A variety of naked footprints are present between the body and the wave-washed beach; also noted are two sets of grooves at right angles to the beach line suggesting that a body had been dragged in that direction, toes down," Kiel-man wrote in his report.

Dill says the investigation was launched largely on information supplied by Quinn, Marian Dickerson and Pyeatt's other friends.

Also, he said, a public request for anyone who may have seen someone in that area of the beach generated a large response.

"The general public is very good about coming forth with information," he says. "They would call us and say, 'How about looking into so-and-so. He's known to hang out on the beach.' Then we'd start checking him out, finding out his background and his general description."

One person who came forward was another vacationing woman. She said that on June 14 a man had run up to her and grabbed the top of her swimsuit. She was not hurt and the man did not carry the assault any further.

The sheriff's department looked for a connection between that incident and Pyeatt's murder, because they occurred just 11 days apart on the beach east of El Matador. No link was found, says Sgt. George French.

Quinn was never a suspect, he adds. "We interviewed him and found out what he was doing out there. We talked to him several times and were convinced his story was accurate and that he was not involved."

Agents talked to people staying in the El Matador's beachfront units to determine whether they had seen Pyeatt being attacked. No one had.

Next, the FBI "tried to find out who was on that beach. It was a laborious task," Dill says, "because of the number of tourists. We tried to run down what they had seen and what they were doing.

"We received all sorts of information about suspects and people who might know something, but we never had enough evidence to present to a grand jury."

Authorities developed "several" firm suspects, all of whom were local people, he says.

Some of the suspects were given polygraph tests during which they were caught lying, but their lies could not be tied in with the murder, Dill says.

Off and on during the next six years, lawmen continued to develop suspects. No charges were ever filed, and the case was taken off the FBI's active list in 1981 when a suspect last came under scrutiny.

Now, nearly eight years after the murder, Dill can still pinpoint the spot where the pretty teenager was killed. Walk west along the shore past El Matador, he says, and when you look to your right and see a telephone pole with no wires attached to it - "it seems to have no purpose for being there," he says - you're standing on the approximate spot of the murder.

That spot is still familiar to Quinn, the young man who found Pyeatt and tried to save her. Contacted at his home in Smyrna, he says he has not heard from the FBI in years. Nonetheless, he says he has been asked to refrain from talking about the case with anyone other than lawmen.

Dill says he knew soon after the investigation began that the Pyeatt case would be tough to crack.

"Most homicides are family-related or there's some kind of connection between the killer and the victim," he explains. Buy Lynn Pyeatt probably was killed by someone she had never met.

When that's the case, he says, you'd better find the killer soon or the search will get more and more difficult as time slips by.

[Editor's note: see also a 1975 story about this murder.]

Love of trickery, showmanship unites diverse members of Memphis magician's club

Lesley Young, The Commercial Appeal, May 16, 2013
   Tim Grant claims to have only one bad habit: magic tricks.
   "I have enough instructional DVDs, books and tricks to last a lifetime," said the local medical sales representative.
   Luckily for Grant, 34, he has a group with which to share his obsession: the Society of Memphis Magicians.
   The 70-plus-year-old club is linked to a larger network of similar organizations, or rings, called the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Memphis is Ring 16.
   "That means we were one of the first ones," said member and professional magician Jeffrey Day. "There are over 400 around the world."
   The local club, which meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Memphis Botanic Garden, counts "several dozen" members from all walks of life.
   "We have young people, middle-age, black, white, Asian, women, doctors, dentists, judges ..., all with the common bond of magic," said local lawyer and businessman Mike Speros ['67], 64. "The people in the club are so varied, we might never run across each other otherwise."
   Speros, like many of his clubmates, started young but fell out of the magic of magic when he entered his teen years, with the occasional dallying while raising children.
   Eventually, his grown children would rekindle his love of the craft by a simple gesture.
   "One year about 14 or 15 years ago, my children could not figure out what to get me for Christmas," Speros said. "They went to the Fun Shop and found a book on card magic with a few other tricks. I opened it up and said, "What's this?' They said, "Remember when we were little and you would do magic tricks for us? That was fun, and you need a hobby.' I decided to get good at it."
   Speros joined the club, found a mentor in late local lawyer and magician Jim Surprise, and worked on his repertoire.
   Grant found magic after seeing a show at age 9.
   When his parents allowed him one stop of his choice on their visit to Washington, he chose Al's Magic Shop.
   "They gave me a AAA guide book and said I could pick one thing out of the book," Grant said. "I looked at every page and saw Al's Magic Shop and said, "I want to go there.'"
   He grew out of his hobby during his teen years, but had his memory triggered while visiting nieces and nephews in Georgia and attending a magic show with them.
   "That was the spark that reignited me to say, "I want to check it out again and learn more about it,'" Grant said.
   Four years later and magic is his "favorite thing to do now," with a weekly gig from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Friday at the Trolley Stop Market
   "You have to practice every day," Grant said. "There's a famous saying, "Magic should look natural.'"
   Grant's secret to perfection is taking video of himself.
   "You have to rehearse not just the moves, but what you say," he said. "You rehearse the scripts and the choreography. I video myself multiple times until it looks good."
   Grant's two favorite tricks include the traditional cups-and-balls, with the balls vanishing and reappearing, and one in which rabbits multiply and appear in the audience participant's hands.
    "They have a crowd-pleasing effect," he said. "I like to get a good reaction of laughs and surprises."
   For Day, who has worked as a professional magician around the country for years, the reaction is what keeps a magician in the game.
   "You have to make the spectator believe it, and you do that by believing it yourself, said Day, 52. "When it happens, you get goose pimples."
   "The best reaction I ever got was when a woman turned her card over and it was her card, the hair on her arms raised up," Speros said. "Neither one of us said anything, but we looked at each other and knew. That's better than a room full of people applauding."
   The group members' specialties are as varied as their backgrounds, with coin experts, card experts, parlor magicians and mentalists.
   The variety of crafts in one club benefits everyone, no matter his or her specialty.
   "Everybody has different skills sets, and we all learn from each other," Day said.
   Club members often invite more well-known performers to give presentations and lectures during the meetings, and they give one another feedback about their routines.
   "It's the toughest audience you can find, because everyone in the room already knows what you're doing, but it's really helpful and it's always fun," Day said.
   Ring 16 welcomes new members and guests to meetings. The annual membership fee is $15, and it costs $20 to attend lectures presented by out-of-town performers.
   "Magic fundamentally brings people together," Day said.
   "I look at it as a performance art form, as a way of expressing myself," Grant said, "and I get to do something nice for other people and hopefully give them an experience they'll remember the rest of their lives."
   It certainly had that effect on Day.
   "I remember when I started back in school. I was very shy and not popular," Day said. "Once I learned a coin trick, suddenly I was the only kid in school who could do this one thing nobody else could do. Suddenly, I had self-esteem. That has helped me my entire life."
   For more information about the Society of Memphis Magicians, visit ring16.org.

A video of Mike Speros performing a magic trick can be viewed on youtube.com.

MCS Decides Not To Transfer Teacher after Students Protest

Daniel Hight, WREG, October 26, 2012

(Memphis) Students at East High School say one of their teachers has made a lasting impact on their lives and they were not going to let administrators transfer her to another school without a fight.

Nearly 100 students gathered in the hallway, refusing to go to class, standing up for Ms. Hightower [Faculty], a teacher they love.

"We're tired of seeing teachers that we care so deeply about and that care about us, going away," said Javian Tunstall.

The latest was their health and science teacher, who was being transferred to another high school after working 27 years at East High.

"Thats the problem," said Devin Payne, a senior. "We've waited too long. We've been passive for too long and if we didn't come out today, who knows who is next."

Payne said students decided to protest when the principal failed to give answers to their questions.

"We've tried talking to him but he told us there is nothing he can do, so we are trying to reach out to his bosses and get them to try to stop this," said Payne.

Memphis City Schools did listen and decided not to transfer Ms. Hightower, for now.

MCS told us the teacher will get to finish the rest of the school year and then will likely be transferred.

They say this will create better programs for both high schools.

[Editor's note: the story and video may still be available at WREG's web site.

Nashville coach says former Mississippi State booster gave money to recruit

Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports, Sep 12, 2012

A now-disassociated Mississippi State booster allegedly made cash payments to a recruit and arranged for complimentary lodging and meals for the recruit's seven-on-seven coach, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

In an interview with Y! Sports, Nashville-based seven-on-seven coach Byron De'Vinner – recipient of the lodging and meals – explained in detail how former Mississippi State booster Robert Denton Herring broke multiple NCAA rules in 2011 and '12 in an effort to land Memphis East High School defensive back Will Redmond.

De'Vinner said he also told his story to NCAA enforcement representatives, who have been investigating the allegations jointly with Mississippi State's compliance department over the course of several months. In July the school sent Herring, who lives in Roswell, Ga., a letter informing him that he had been disassociated from the athletic program for "impermissible contact" with a recruit. In August, Bulldogs assistant coach Angelo Mirando resigned for what the school termed "unforeseen personal issues," but sources told Y! Sports that his resignation was because of the NCAA inquiry. De'Vinner said Mirando introduced Redmond to Herring, but that the coach and booster both wanted De'Vinner "to take the fall" for their relationship.

Vanessa Brown, Redmond's mother, declined comment to Yahoo! Sports Wednesday morning. Attempts to reach Herring and Mirando were unsuccessful. Herring has not cooperated with investigators from both the NCAA and Mississippi State.

Redmond was a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com and reportedly had offers from Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, among others. He signed with Mississippi State last February and is currently a freshman on the team. He has not yet played in a college game. Redmond has been interviewed by the NCAA, according to De'Vinner, and there have been multiple media reports that the NCAA interviewed his coach at Memphis East, Marcus Wimberly.

De'Vinner said another Memphis product, defensive back Sheldon Dawson of Ridgeway High School, also was interviewed recently by the NCAA about his recruitment by Mississippi State. Multiple media outlets have reported that as well. Dawson is a freshman at Georgia and has seen limited action this season. He did not return calls and messages Tuesday.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said the NCAA contacted nearly a dozen players who were recruited by Mississippi State.

De'Vinner said he believes Mirando was the only Mississippi State staff member who knew "Denton" Herring was committing recruiting violations.

"I don't think there were no other coaches in the know, but Denton was dealing with a lot of players over there," De'Vinner said. "Will was the one caught up, but he was dealing with a lot of players."

De'Vinner provided Yahoo! Sports with hotel bills and other documentation to back up his claims of violations. Under NCAA rules, benefits to a third party associated with a prospect are impermissible from any representative of a university. That includes boosters, and Herring – a season-ticket holder prior to being disassociated – fits the definition of a booster.

Because of the ongoing NCAA investigation into Memphis-area prospects – including Auburn signee Jovon Robinson, who was declared ineligible earlier this summer by the NCAA after it discovered the player's high school transcript had been changed – De'Vinner has become the focus of fan interest across the region. He said he came forward to Yahoo! Sports to make public what information he's provided to the NCAA in the hopes of clearing his name. He said he's been accused on fan message boards and in other outlets of being a "bag man" who was selling access to recruits who had played on his seven-on-seven team.

Best of the best: Memphis teachers honored for achievements

By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal, September 11, 2012

The billboard with the close-up of Meah King ['97 and Faculty] at Central and East Parkway is a symbol of the East High teacher's rewarding year.

First she received the $25,000 Milken Award for excellence. The billboard went up this summer. Then Tuesday, she and 133 other "irreplaceable" city school teachers received the Prestige Award, the homegrown honor Memphis City Schools dreamed up to highlight its finest teachers.

"I'm excited and elated," she said. "I feel like I'm basically a representative for all the educators who do what I do every day.

"We wear all the different hats it takes for those students to be successful. I am a representative for the teachers whose names aren't called. It's a joint effort."

One by one, the district honored 134 Prestige winners in a ceremony Tuesday at the Memphis Botanic Garden. They were chosen by their peers as the best example of what a teacher should be. More than 4,000 teachers voted.

"These are our irreplaceables," Supt. Kriner Cash said. "If you lose one of these teachers, it takes eleven replacements to get back to par."

In the new school achievement parlance, these are also the teachers capable of getting two years' growth in student learning every year. They also scored at the top of the teacher evaluation profiles last year, earning the highest scores for how they make lessons leap to life.

Each received a $100 prize plus the applause of their peers.

The city schools created the recognition as part of its work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reward excellent teachers.

The public side of the work started going up on the teacher billboards around town more than a year ago.

"Unless you are in the school every day, teachers are a monolithic group. You don't know who's who," Cash said. "I wanted them to come down and be human and real to everybody.

"These are the rock stars in our profession. Everyone knew we had good teachers. We have never really recognized them in such a citywide way."

For King, an English teacher, the billboard means strangers now recognize her.

"From where I come from, it was indeed an honor," said King, a 1997 graduate of East. "My family treats me like a celebrity. It's awesome. It brings out the kid in me a little.

"I've heard from old friends from elementary school all the way to former parents and students who told me my work wasn't in vain. It's a big encouragement. And my students say my eyes follow them."

The evening had a sad note. One of the honorees, Hawkins Mill Elementary teacher Kellee Davis, 29, died of bone cancer in May after the votes were in.

At home somewhere in Memphis was Cameron Stevens, 9, battling the same cancer and sorry he was too sick to attend the event. Davis had reached out to his family via Facebook when she heard he was sick.

"She came to visit him in the hospital and told him exactly what the disease was," said his mother Ashley Stevens, a high school friend of Davis'.

"She showed him her scar. She told him she lost her hair and that he would too. She told him to stay in physical therapy," Stevens said.

"Then she said, 'One thing I want you to know is to never say you are sick. Never let cancer take over you,' she told him.

"I can count on one hand the number of times he's said he was sick since he was diagnosed last January. When he says he's not doing well, I know it's serious."

Spinning us around, especially at 45 RPM

by The East High Alumni Page
August 17, 2012
   East High opened and began graduating students when our society was beginning big changes in many ways. One was the influence and wide distribution of music of all types, but, of course, a big change was rock 'n' roll. Memphis was the center of that change for many reasons, it was the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. It was a major distribution point for the new 45 RPM record format. The key player in that record distribution was the father of several East alumni.
   America's Distribution Center was a catch phrase not long ago describing Memphis and it is true enough these days. With FedEx flying packages all over the world, the third largest rail center in the United States, fourth largest inland port, and the third largest trucking corridor, Memphis is the distribution center. As Kevin Kane of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau says, even as far back as the 1950s Memphis was a major distribution center, and that was especially true for recordings of music. It included music of many a genré, but since this was the location of the beginning of rock 'n' roll, music that spun traditional societal values around at least as fast as the 45 RPM record, rock was a big part of what was sent to the rest of the nation from Memphis.
   Robert "Buster" Williams owned Plastic Products Company which formed the disks and press the recordings into the records, especially 45 RPM records. He also owned Williams Distributors that controlled thousands of juke boxes, and Music Sales, which distributed the records. Utilizing passenger airline flights, Plastic Products got new records out to DJs and record stores over night. Sun, Chess, Stax, MGM, and Atlantic Records and a number of smaller labels used and benefited from Plastic Products, which quickly became the third largest independent record pressing firm in the nation.
   This morning, August 17, a historical marker was unveiled at the historical site of Plastic Products, 1746 Chelsea Avenue, in Memphis. Pictured participants in the unveiling included his children Richard Williams (associated with the Class of '63) in the sports coat on the far left, Sue Zan Williams (associated with the Class of '70) wearing a red blouse, and Lynn Williams ('68) in the blue and white blouse in the center of the photo.
   Also in attendance was East's Jake Schorr (associated with the Class of '61), who played on the factory floor in his childhood. Several noteable Memphis muscians along with other dignataries attended. Despite the drizzly day, a good crowd came to see the quanset huts where the records were pressed and witness the unveiling of yet another reminder that Memphis is the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and home of the blues.

August 2, 2012
Kemmons Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn, his children cut the ribbon at the ceremony. On August 1, they recreated that scene 60 years to the day at another Memphis area Holiday Inn to commemorate the anniversary of one of the most famous motel chains. Attempting to dress similarly as they did 60-years ago, in both pictures are Spence Wilson ('60), Bob Wilson ('62), Kem Wilson Jr. ('64), Betty Wilson ('66), and Carole Wilson('67). The Commercial Appeal, August 2

API Photographers has provided the right image for 65 years
API evolves with times, offering wide range of photographic services
By Jonathan Devin, The Commercial Appeal
July 9, 2012.

Bill Carrier ['68] is the owner and director of photography of API Photographers. Carrier has worked on major films and television shows including "The Firm," "Cybil" and "Hustle and Flow."

Bill Carrier's office walls are covered with hundreds of photographs, but he's not in a single one of them.

From behind the camera, Carrier and his family grew a thriving business in photography and film frame by frame for the better part of a century.

Now API Photographers is part of a new movement to keep the corporate filming industry local.

"There's been everything in here from two camels, to four cars, to the 'Hustle & Flow' set," said Carrier, owner and director of photography for API, referring to the 4,000-square-foot sound stage inside his building near the airport.

The sound stage was added on in 1984. The cinder block walls are filled with sand for soundproofing, and a 120 x 16 foot hard cyc wall and a catwalk wrap around the room. Thirty-two feet of that are painted green so that imagery can be added in on top of it.

For several weeks the stage was the home of Djay, the fiction hero of Craig Brewer's Oscar-winning feature "Hustle & Flow." Djay's homemade recording studio was built and filmed on Carrier's sound stage.

"Our facility was perfect for that $3 million production because they could come in and shoot all they needed (for those scenes) on the stage and everything else was shot on location," said Carrier.

Carrier's father, Bill Carrier Jr., now deceased, started the company in 1947. A returning World War II veteran, he opened his shop originally at Main and Monroe, where film processing was a big part of the business.

Later the company relocated to a site on Overton Square, and later still on South Cooper. In 1970, the company moved to its current location off East Brooks at Interstate 55, behind the Smith & Nephew campus.

Carrier's wife, Tess, does the marketing and casting for the company, and their daughter, Morgan Bailey, does graphic design. They have one other employee.

The main lobby, which still has a touch of 1970s décor, also served as a lawyer's office in "Hustle & Flow" and an upstairs office was used to film a radio station scene.

In addition to renting out the sound stage and another large photography studio, API rents film equipment, produces corporate films, and does still photography. Carrier said he prefers being behind the camera to the day-to-day paperwork of running a business and handles most of the still photography himself.

The Wonders Series hired Carrier to shoot stills of all of its exhibitions over the years, which in some cases involved weeks of international travel. Shooting aerials, Carrier said, is his favorite.

"We find more and more clients that want us to shoot the video and then they'll want stills at the same time," said Carrier.

Lately, shooting for corporate clients has been the lion's share of the business, and about 60 percent of that comes from out-of-town clients like Kroger, which hired API to do a short informational film about new technology.

The challenge, though, has been attracting local clients. Corporations in Memphis, said Carrier, will sometimes bring in out-of-town film crews rather than hiring locals who do the same work.

In that case it's usually because the client is already connected with an agency that uses its own crews, but sometimes, it's simply due to lack of awareness.

Carrier is on the board of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission, which is beginning a campaign to encourage local hiring of film crews. Called "Hire Local, Shoot Local," a DVD produced for the campaign introduces corporations to film resources in Memphis.

"I know of at least one nationally-based Memphis corporation which uses an out-of-state advertising agency for its national commercials," said Linn Sitler, film commissioner. "Their decision-makers are already tied into other nonlocal production companies.

"It's an awareness issue which needs to be addressed with some Memphis corporations and even some Memphis advertising agencies."

And it's having an immediate effect. Carrier said that a number of talented makeup artists, set builders, and lighting designers have left Memphis in recent years for states where the work is more plentiful.

"There's still a lot of business in the state of Tennessee, so if you get in to the right person you might be able to bring some of that home," said Carrier.

Bartlett Area Chamber names new director of economic development
The Commercial Appeal, July 9, 2012 Phil Johnson ['68], a veteran economic development profession, is the new director of economic development for the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce.

In 1990, Johnson was appointed the first director of the Tennessee International Trade Center. He developed the statewide program to help Tennessee companies export products and services worldwide. He joined the economic development office the Greater Memphis Chamber in 1998, and was later appointed its vice president of economic development.

"Phil comes to the chamber with ambition and drive to grow the prosperity of Bartlett and the surrounding area," Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald said.

"Phil has a strong network in this community and has been in the economic development business for years," said John Threadgill, president of the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce. "He will be able to hit the ground running and will start delivering tangible results in job creation and capital investment immediately."

With bicycle and pedestrian bridge, Main Street riding Harahan's coat tails

By Wayne Risher, The Commercial Appeal
June 26, 2012

The tantalizing prospect of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge linking two states and cities did the heavy lifting for an elusive face-lift of Main Street's dog-eared infrastructure.

A planned $29.8 million project connecting Downtown to West Memphis's Broadway will contribute $10.7 million and possibly more toward fixing the Main Street Trolley mall and making pedestrian-friendly connections to it, officials said Monday.

Downtown boosters credited private sector involvement, spearheaded by bicycling trail advocate Charles McVean ['61], with helping this project succeed where a previous grant application had failed.

"Downtown Memphis is getting a lot of money. I don't think a lot of people know that," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, told a crowd that gathered to celebrate the city's winning of a $14.9 million federal TIGER IV (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant.

The Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project will focus first on building the bicycle/pedestrian boardwalk alongside the Harahan Bridge.

The bridge project is estimated to cost about $10.7 million and is scheduled to be completed by early 2014.

Main Street Memphis' share of the grant would include about $5.3 million for the Main Street Mall and an equal amount for an overhaul of Main Street as far north as Henry Avenue and as far south as Carolina Avenue. Carolina would be improved from Main west to Channel 3 Drive to make the connection to the Harahan Bridge.

The Main Street projects and connection of the bridge to Broadway are targeted for completion by early 2015.

"The reason we won out is because we had a private-public partnership to work together," said Downtown Memphis Commission president and CEO Paul Morris.

Morris loves the idea of seeing the Memphis skyline from the bicycle/pedestrian trail, but said, "What I'm especially excited about is the improvements and maintenance on the Main Street Mall."

Downtown Memphis boosters have been looking for ways to comprehensively upgrade streets, sidewalks and related infrastructure for more than a decade.

The commission applied for a $16 million grant two years ago but the application wasn't funded.

Commission senior vice president of planning and development Andy Kitsinger and urban planner Lorie Chapman worked on the grant for the city, and the private sector, led by McVean, hired HDR Engineering to write the project application.

McVean used the podium to advocate for complementary projects: a major riverfront park three to five miles down river from Memphis on the Arkansas side, and a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Loosahatchie River north of Downtown.

Memphis gets grant to build pathway across Harahan Bridge

By Tom Charlier, The Commercial Appeal
June 19, 2012

The federal government will provide a key piece of the funding needed to build a bicycle-pedestrian pathway across the Harahan Bridge over the Mississippi River, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen announced today.

The city of Memphis was awarded a $14.94 million Transportation Improvement Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant that will go toward a $30 million public-private project called Main Street to Main Street. It includes improvements to the Main Street corridor in Memphis and trail connections linking Harahan Bridge with downtown West Memphis.

Proponents of the Harahan Bridge bike-pedestrian pathway, led by businessman Charles McVean ['61], say the route will provide majestic views of the river, spurring tourism and economic development, as well as adding an iconic feature to the area's burgeoning network of trails stretching east to Shelby Farms Park and beyond. The grant is "one of the biggest things that has ever happened to Memphis," McVean said in a statement.

Mayor A C Wharton called the project "an absolutely critical asset in the continuing revitalization of the core of our city connecting the south part of Downtown to the north and Shelby Farms to West Memphis."

The pathway, expected to cost about $11 million, will be built on the north side of the 96-year-old railroad bridge along a cantilevered structure that formerly carried lanes for motor vehicles. A recent report recommeded a 12-foot-wide path made of lightweight aluminum planking.

Other parts of the project include improvements and repairs to the Main Street Trolley, the Central Station rail and bus terminal, and connections linking Harahan with Broadway Boulevard in West Memphis.

The project has received support from local and state officials on both sides of the river. Local governments and private sources are expected to provide the remaining $15 million or so needed for the Main Steet to Main Street project, officials say.

Battle of Memphis destroyed Confederate river navy but spared city

By Michael Lollar, The Commercial Appeal
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
"The brief battle early in the war actually helped the city survive, says Shelby County historian Ed Williams ['61]. 'The capture probably saved Memphis from a lot of destruction. The last few cities the Yankees captured they pretty much burned to the ground -- Atlanta; Columbia, South Carolina; and Richmond. Memphis became a center for troop disbursements and a shipping center for supplies.'"

East Alumnus on Winning BBQ Team

WHBQ-TV, May 14, 2012
Bill Carrier ('68) was a member of one of the BBQ teams at Memphis in May in the early days of the festival.Bill Carrier ('68) was interviewed in a May 14 TV news story about the origin and development of the Memphis in may world Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. WHBQ-TV.

NSU triplets graduating today have great chemistry

Denise Watson
The Virginian-Pilot, May 5, 2012

No, they don't read each others' minds.

No, if one gets hurt, the others don't feel it.

But triplets Bre' Andria, Cre' Andria, and Dre' Andria Thompson are identical in more than looks. They will be among nearly 900 graduating today from Norfolk State University, and all three have earned chemistry degrees, magna cum laude.

The triplets, top-notch students most of their lives, came to NSU from Memphis, Tenn., as scholars in the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences program. The Thompson women - whose first names appropriately rhyme with "three" - are the first triplets to graduate from the program in its more than 25-year history.

The 22-year-olds have become accustomed to making memorable marks most of their lives. They said they pushed one another because they all wanted to see the others succeed.

"We've always had a constructive competitiveness between us," Cre' said. Or maybe it was Bre'.

"It keeps us motivated," said Cre' or, um, Dre'.

The sisters have always been inseparable. In their early school years, teachers had the girls wear name tags around their necks to identify them or put them in assigned seats to keep the names straight.

The triplets said their mom added another layer of intrigue by making them dress identically until they were 13.

"It stopped us from squabbling about clothes," Cre' said.

The girls studied together, prayed together, ran track together, played on the middle and high school basketball teams together - the triplets believe that one was wrongfully whistled for a foul during a game.

Two of them unintentionally confused competitors when they ran on the same relay team.

The triplets graduated in the top 10 of their East High School class: Bre' ranked third, Dre' fourth and Cre' seventh.

They received scholarship offers, together, from other universities but liked NSU's science program and the family feel.

"Being far from home, you have the brothers and sisters of DNIMAS," said Bre', referring to the math and science program. "It's become family."

Despite many similarities, they are different.

Bre' - the oldest by a minute to Cre', who is one minute older than Dre' - is the mother of the bunch, more serious. She's also the shortest at 4-foot-10.

"I like to have fun, but I will handle my business first," she said.

Cre', at an even 5 feet, is the one everyone calls "feisty," the more outspoken one.

Dre', at 4-foot-11, is the most laid-back of the three.

"Once you get to know us, we have very different personalities," they said. (But they didn't say it in unison.)

As they graduate, they are looking toward different futures.

Bre' and Cre' are chemistry pre-med majors, and Bre' is applying to medical school. Cre' is applying to dental school and plans to one day become an orthodontist or deal with cosmetic dentistry. Dre' plans to study toxicology and could see a future in forensics or developing cosmetics.

Of course, they are applying for programs at several of the same schools, such as the University of Louisville, and could see living more individual lives. But not too much.

Said Dre' - or was it Bre'? - "I don't think we'll ever separate, at least too far. I get sad just thinking about it."

Denise Watson Batts,757-446-2546,denise.batts@pilotonline.com

From Memphis to Norfolk
The Thompson triplets, top-notch students most of their lives, came to Norfolk State from Memphis, Tenn., as scholars in the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences program

. Bre', right, is applying to medical school; Cre', center, is applying to dental school, and Dre', left, plans to study toxicology. They are applying for programs at several of the same schools, such as the University of Louisville, but could see living more individual lives.

today's graduations
Norfolk State University 9:30 a.m., Price Stadium

Old Dominion University 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Constant Center

Regent University 9:30 a.m., Library Plaza

Mid-South Memories

The Commercial Appeal, April 9, 2012
Junior League members visit hospital
The Professional Group of the Junior League entertained paraplegics at Kennedy Veterans Hospital on April 8, 1952. In the audience was Victor Kemp, son of Mrs. T.L.Kemp of Cleveland, Miss., and on stage was Miss Beverly Morgan of 18 S. Rembert, a member of the cast of "The Pirate's Den," presented by Delta Alpha Delta Sorority. Between them is Mrs. Inez Rosamond, chairman of the Professional Group. PHOTO BY THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL FILES Junior League members visit hospital The Professional Group of the Junior League entertained paraplegics at Kennedy Veterans Hospital on April 8, 1952. In the audience was Victor Kemp, son of Mrs. T.L.Kemp of Cleveland, Miss., and on stage was Miss Beverly Morgan of 18 S. Rembert, a member of the cast of "The Pirate's Den," presented by Delta Alpha Delta Sorority. Between them is Mrs. Inez Rosamond [Faculty 1948-1955], chairman of the Professional Group.

Miss Inez Rosamond (Faculty 1948-1955) was pictured in the newspaper in 1952 as chairman of The Professional Group of the Junior League when they entertained at Kennedy Veterans Hospital. Miss Rosamond, who later became Mrs. Boone while at East, was among the celebrated original faculty members at East High and taught Spanish there until 1955. The photo was published again April 9, 2012, in the Mid-South Memories column. The Commercial Appeal.

Plough Foundation awards Memphis grant to help adults finish college degrees

by Linda A. Moore, The Commercial Appeal
Mar 30, 2012
   The Plough Foundation, working with Leadership Memphis and the city of Memphis, announced Thursday a $1.743 million grant to help raise the college attainment levels of about 200,000 Greater Memphis adults who didn't finish their post-secondary education.
   The grant to the newly created Graduate Memphis program will fund the College Resource Center, which will open July 1 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library and will provide customized counseling and assistance.
   "This is just another symbol that not only is our city growing in terms of factories and parks -- that we're growing intellectually," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who thanked the Plough Foundation for its "important gift."
   Interested adults will be able to access the center at the library, at its still-unbuilt website or through a toll-free number.
   They will be assigned a counselor who will help guide them through the process of re-entering school, selecting classes or locating financial assistance, if necessary, said Fred Turverey, director of the Memphis Talent Dividend and Graduate Memphis.
   That counselor will stay with that student until graduation, he said.
   One of only a handful of such programs in the country, Graduate Memphis is modeled after Graduate Philadelphia, a program that has a 94 percent success rate for its participants who have either graduated or are still in school, Turverey said.
   To achieve its goal, Graduate Memphis will also work with institutions of higher education to create partnerships with corporations to encourage employees to complete their degrees, said Diane Rudner ['68], chairwoman of the Plough Foundation board.
   Additional funding from local and national sources will also need to be brought onboard, she said.
   "It's not a small project. Our goals are ambitious," Rudner said. "But the success of each individual will have an immediate and measurable impact on the future of this community."
   People drop out of college for various reasons -- finances, children or jobs, Turverey said. And even if they want to return to school, life often gets in the way.
    "We're not going to say it's easy. And it's not just show up and get your degree. You've got to commit to the work," Turverey said. "One of the things we can do is help them get the right major in the right school, at the right time of day."
   A more educated workforce is an economic benefit for the city. According to the Talent Dividend, a 1 percent gain in college-educated residents over five years, about 8,000 people, will produce $1 billion annually in economic impact.
   A better-educated community also raises the level of conversation, Wharton said.
   "The more educated workforce we have, the greater tolerance and respect for diversity we have," he said. "Things that are going on now, people are able to discuss them in much more conversant terms as opposed to resorting to less peaceful means of airing their differences. So the benefits are just innumerable that we will get from this."

One city, two worlds: Stories from both sides of the debate in Memphis over Muslims in America
Is Islam a religion of peace or a totalitarian ideology? Do Muslims in America want to assimilate or dominate? Depends who you ask.

by David Waters, The Commercial Appeal
Mar 18, 2012
    Rashad Sharif likes to catch his fellow Memphians and Muslims off guard by repeating his favorite Southern Arabic greeting: "Assalamu alaikum, y'all."
   The Arabic part means "Peace be with you," which Sharif used to say to his fellow Christians every Sunday when he was an Episcopal altar boy. The Southern part is becoming more and more familiar to his fellow Muslims in Memphis, most of whom are immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
   The phrase usually elicits a laugh from the audience, which for Sharif is a sign that Memphis and Islam are getting better acquainted.
   Sharif, who grew up in Memphis, converted to Islam in the mid-1970s. Muslims then were a curiosity to most Americans. Since 9/11, they have become a concern.
   "Millions of Americans watched this horrifying sudden death that seemed to come from nowhere," said Sharif, a Memphis City Schools teacher and imam of Shelby County's oldest mosque, Masjid Al-Mu'minum in South Memphis. "It was visual and visceral and it was connected to Muslims who acted in secret and with deceit. You can't blame people for being concerned."
   Those concerns seem to have grown, especially among conservative Christians, since the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, a liberal Christian with Muslim family roots.
   These are stories from both sides of the debate.

    MASON EZZELL ['62]: 'You can't have too much security.'
   Mason Ezzell II joined the all-volunteer Tennessee State Guard several years ago. He was 61 years old.
   "I am such a patriot, but the regular Guard doesn't want old guys like me," said Ezzell, now 68, a State Guard recruiter and former Air Force pilot who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during the Vietnam War.
   "I'm just concerned about the security of our community. As we say in the Boy Scouts, 'Be prepared.' "
   For the past year, Ezzell, an Eagle Scout who delivered Meals on Wheels with Jane, his wife of 46 years, has been working to prepare people for what he believes is a major threat to our security: radical Islam.
   "I don't live, eat and breathe this stuff, but I am concerned about Islam," said Ezzell, who leads the Memphis chapter of ACT! for America, a grassroots, anti-Islam organization that claims more than 150,000 members in 650 chapters across the country.
   "If it's such a peaceful religion, why is there so much violence associated with it?"
   Ezzell grew up in Memphis. He went to St. John Episcopal Church and East High School. His father, a Navy commander who ran unsuccessfully for the city school board in the late 1950s, died the year before Mason graduated.
   After serving five years in the Air Force, Ezzell returned to Memphis and started a business in his garage, laminating restaurant menus. Today, Lamination Service Inc. is multimillion-dollar business based in Bartlett, run by Mason III, the youngest of Ezzell's three children.
   "My dad is a pretty passionate guy," said Mason III. "Whether it's family, business or politics, he gets intensely involved in the things he cares about."
   Ezzell is intensely involved in ACT! for America and its local efforts to raise awareness about radical Islam.
   It was Muslims who attacked his country and killed thousands of innocent people on a sunny September morning in 2001.
   It is Muslims overseas who subjugate women, inhibit free speech, and take to the streets to condemn satiric cartoons but not suicide bombers.
   "Why should we tolerate them when they don't seem to tolerate us?" Ezzell said. "How can we extend civil liberties to people who ultimately want to restrict or destroy civil liberties?"
   Ezzell's company recently installed its badge management security software with the U.S. Congress and the Capitol Police. Ezzell also is a member of Infragard, a public-private cybersecurity partnership with the FBI.
   "You can't have too much security," Ezzell said. "Not in this world."

The full article may be read at http://www.commercialappeal.com/lifestyle/one-city-two-worlds-stories-in-memphis-muslims

East High squeaks by Blackman to reach prep AAA semifinals

by John Varlas, The Commercial Appeal
Mar 16, 2012
   East 57, Blackman 56
   MURFREESBORO — Thursday's BlueCross boys AAA quarterfinal game between East and Murfreesboro Blackman started at 10 a.m. But the Mustangs hit the snooze button and didn't get their wake-up call until halftime.
   The Mustangs turned things around after a lackluster first half and then looked on as Blackman's Darius Thompson missed a potential game-winning shot in the final seconds. The result was a thrilling 57-56 victory that puts East (21-9) in the semifinals.
   Today at 3:15 p.m. at the Murphy Center, the Mustangs — who are bidding to win their first state championship since 1996 — will face Johnson City Science Hill.
   "I think we started out slow because it was a morning game," said Mustangs standout Nick King. "We're not used to being up (and playing) that early. But we realized at halftime that it was either win or go home."
   Said Mustangs coach Sam Bachelor, "We tried to get in a couple of morning practices to get their bodies used to playing in the morning. At halftime, we just had to put it in perspective. If we lost we were going home and it was going to be a long trip home."
   Instead, the Mustangs will be sticking around at least another day, thanks in large part to King. The 6-8 junior made 10-of-14 shots from the floor to finish with 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and three steals.
   King was East's only real offense in the first half, which ended with them trailing 31-23. In the first two quarters, the Mustangs managed to shoot 32.3 percent from the floor (10-of-31).
   The got back into the game with defense. Bachelor gave much of the credit to reserve point guard Jalen Selmon, who combined with Alex Anderson to form a small but speedy backcourt that harassed the Blaze (26-4) into several third-quarter turnovers.
   "That's what we call Jalen, the game-changer," said Bachelor. "We went to the full-court press and Jalen is just super quick."
   Selmon, who finished with four points and four steals, helped fuel an 11-0 run in the third quarter that helped East take its first lead of the game at 41-39 on King's lay-up.
   "We had 18 turnovers which I think in that kind of game is not too bad," said Blaze coach Barry Wortman. "During that stretch, it was a combination of King on the o-glass and them being able to turn us over a few times."
   East never trailed after that point. But the Mustangs never could get any breathing room either as Blackman — fueled on by a huge student section that filled up four sections of the Murphy Center — stayed within striking range.
   Matthew Butler hit a pair of free throws to put East ahead 57-54 with 48 seconds to go but Quindell Cousin (team-high 17 points) scored inside for the Blaze and drew the foul. He missed a free throw that could have tied the game and Butler missed the front end of a one-and-one on the other end, setting the stage for the final possession.
   Blackman got the ball to Thompson, a talented guard who is drawing recruiting interest from schools like Middle Tennessee and Belmont., but his deep 3-pointer from the corner missed and there was a wild scramble on the floor for the rebound before East gained possession as the buzzer sounded.
   "We've been in so many buzzer-beater games this year," said East freshman K.J. Lawson, who scored nine points. "If he had made it, it would have felt like death. It's better to lose by 10 points than to lose on a buzzer-beater."

Job fair targets candidates with military background

by Wayne Risher The Commercial Appeal
Mar 9, 2012
   Army Reservist Josh Alley [Faculty] joined the ranks of the unemployed when his unit returned stateside from Afghanistan in December.
   At a job fair targeting Guardsmen, reservists and veterans Thursday in Millington, Alley's hot-off-the-press résumé gave a civilian spin on his role with the 655th Transportation Company.
   A company commander in the military, Alley translated that into experience as a transportation manager, responsible for directing a 169-person organization that helped supply U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.
   Alley, 30, was among a couple hundred veterans taking part in a program to boost job-readiness and connect job-seekers with 35-40 Greater Memphis employers. The three-day program was organized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
   Veterans of U.S. military service since Sept. 11, 2001, are disproportionately represented in jobless numbers that have stayed high since the recession threw millions out of work.
   Tennessee National Guard officials organized the job assistance programs after finding that as many as 25 percent of younger veterans were jobless after returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Tennessee ESGR executive director Marvin Wells.
   Alley, a University of Memphis graduate, taught English on contract at East High School for a year before deployment. He said the training "really showed me how to take my military experience and translate it into civilian terms. I basically spent all night last night changing my résumé."
   He was networking and picking up job leads. "They have some transportation and logistics stuff here, and that's exactly what I'm looking for."
   Employers at the fair included FedEx, Cummins Mid-South, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Electrolux and Great American Steamboat Company.
   Dudley Langston, president of Mr. Pride Car Wash, hoped to fill two or three managerial positions and replenish his pool of hourly workers.
   "We think there's a lot of transfer from the military to what we do," Langston said. "We've really been trying to key in on the military for the last two or three years."
   Vicki Czyrnik, apprenticeship coordinator with Mid-South Independent Electrical Contractors Inc., was pitching work-study programs with electrical and voice, data and video contractors.
   "Our contractors like hiring a guy from the military," said Czyrnik. "They're disciplined. They're used to hitting a time clock and being on time. They accept instruction well."
   Sgt. Brandon Bush, 25, a National Guardsman with the 1175th Transportation Company, said he has a job with a security firm, but "I'm hoping to use this event to find a better job, possibly a more stable job, something I can retire from."
   Event organizers also promoted an Internet-based resource with a similar mission: It's Hero 2 Hired, at www.h2h.jobs, where a veteran can plug in résumé information and find available jobs.

Derailment wrecks East Memphis roads

WMC-TV, March 6, 2012
   For many drivers like Joe Jefferson (associated with the Class of '68), railroad crossings along Poplar Avenue in East Memphis are still causing headaches.    "It just shakes the heck out of the car when you go over them."    Norfolk Southern has spent weeks making repairs after a train derailment mangled signs, scattered debris, and severely damaged the tracks.    While a spokesperson says repairs are complete - officials are still investigating to find out what caused the accident.    Tuesday, the intersection of Southern Avenue and Patterson was closed and traffic was re-routed so routine maintenance could be done on the rails.    Crews told us they had to replace cross ties under the tracks, and that the work is not associated with the derailment.    However, down the street at Poplar and Mendenhall some drivers are still not taking any chances.    Many of them are afraid they'll damage their cars going over the tracks.    "The tracks are sticking up higher than the asphalt and you have a very rough ride over the tracks," said Jefferson.    A situation that left drivers like Jefferson wondering when there will be some relief as they continue to pay the price with traffic delays and rugged crossings.    "If that's the finished job, they need to come back and do it a little better because it's no where close to being as smooth as it was before the train derailment."

 Watch the video 

Mid-South memories: March 2, 2012
The Commercial Appeal, March 2, 2012
Tommy Tackett (center) was elected junior class president for the 1951-52 school year at East High School. Other officers elected are sergeant-at-arms Robert Burleigh, secretary Sarah Hornsby, vice president Harriet Mathewes and treasurer Dana Curtis.new student leaders elected
March 2 25 years ago: 1987 LOS ANGELES -- Cybill Shepherd, star of ABC's Moonlighting, married Dr. Bruce Oppenheim yesterday in a traditional Oriental ceremony at her San Fernando Valley home, her publicist said. Ms. Shepherd, 37, who is expecting twins in October, wore an orange, white and gold antique Japanese kimono with white silk pajamas underneath, Sheryl Kagan said. Dr. Oppenheim, 38, a chiropractor, wore a black silk kimono with black silk pajamas underneath. Ms. Shepherd is a native Memphian and a graduate of East High School.

MCS virtual tech class offering 2 key languages

By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
January 23, 2012
   Chinese and Japanese will be required in the virtual science and engineering program Memphis City Schools is launching next month.
   "These are important languages in the field, and it's critical you have some understanding of them," Deputy Supt. Irving Hamer told students and parents at a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) orientation last week.
   People sat up in their seats. Others nodded their satisfaction, including Betsy Friedman, a Memphis mother so excited about the chances for her son, her arm darted in the air several times with questions.
   Starting Feb. 1, about 70 MCS ninth-graders will start the four-year program by taking principles of engineering in a virtual classroom they will access through district-assigned logins.
   If they earn a B+ or better, they will be admitted to the virtual STEM school, assigned a Samsung Series 7 Slate -- priced at $1,047 on Amazon.com -- and be headed to a $700,000 physics lab under construction at East High.
   "Some will take the rest of the semester, some will finish over the weekend. There is no time period," Hamer said.
   "We want everyone to take their time, do the work and do it as well as they can so they can continue in the program."
   The lab, expected to open in March, will be directed by six teachers, four of them new hires with lengthy bios in applied math, electrical and chemical engineering.
   "The reason I applied is I smelled that MCS was being really innovative and really concerned about keeping track," said Simon Singh, an electrical engineer with a background in molecular biology.
   Singh is moving here from Atlanta. "At end of he day, I want to be able to say I did something important," he said.
   After two courses, students will be allowed to choose one of four engineering tracks to pursue, including civil engineering and biomedical-chemical engineering.
   There is no cost to parents. The program is part of state effort to pump up STEM education through $14 million in Race to the Top funds.
   Two high schools, one in Nashville and the other in Knoxville, have been awarded $1.85 million to get started.
   The city schools project is expected to dovetail with a STEM proposal submitted by the University of Memphis for another $1.85 million investment on the campus here.
   If the university project is funded in early March, Memphis will have in excess of a $3.2 million investment in STEM, including $1.5 million the unified school board budgeted in December for the MCS startup.
   "STEM education is very important in the country," said Kelli Gauthier, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.
   "We have reached the point where we don't have enough STEM graduates and people willing to teach high-quality STEM classes to keep up with demand."
   Memphis high school students will have the option of pursuing four-year STEM studies, including internships and job shadowing with local companies.
   The grades they earn through the virtual classroom will appear on their report cards and transcripts, like any course.
   The difference is, the work likely will have to be sandwiched in during free time at school or in the evenings at home.
   "It won't be exactly fun, but it's good," said David Shelton, a Ridgeway High student.
   "I think the virtual school is a great idea. You can't go to two schools at the same time."
   The city schools got approval for the investment from the state, including permission to spend $458,000 in Race to the Top funds on STEM curriculum provided by the National STEM Academy.
   "This was a huge, heavy lift," Hamer said. "The hard part was getting people to accept that we have a student body and a parent body that wanted to do this."
   The online offerings were supposed to start in January. MCS delayed it to iron out details, which does not faze parent Friedman.
   "I'm not concerned at all. You want it to be ready."

Lesson in fitness: Younger pupils join the action for Healthy Kids and Teens

By Melody Gordon, The Commercial Appeal
January 20, 2012
   When trainers with the Healthy Kids and Teens program took over the East High School gymnasium Thursday morning, controlled chaos ensued.
   On one side of the gym, students from Fox Meadows Elementary School made faces and squirmed as they passed around a lifelike replica of five pounds of fat. On the other side, Memphis Academy of Health Science students danced their way through a group exercise.
   "It kind of surprised me with how fun it was," said Kierra Norfleet, an 18-year-old 12th-grader from East High School.
   About 200 students representing 10 city and county schools participated in the Healthy Kids and Teens program kickoff event. The program combines exercise with education and equips a wide swath of Shelby County youths with easy-to-understand information about proper nutrition.
   Clintonia Simmons, the president and CEO of Healthy Kids and Teens, wants to instill children with healthy habits earlier in life.
   "We try to make it as simple as possible. There's just so much confusing information out there," said Simmons. "We don't necessarily have them counting calories, but we want them to be aware of how that all works in their bodies and why they continue to gain weight when they want to lose."
   This is the first time elementary schools have been included in the program. Simmons believes a lack of education is a root cause of childhood obesity.
   Disease prevention is also a large part of the Healthy Kids and Teens program and was explained with a colorful car analogy.
   "You can treat your body one of two ways," said East High School principal Eric Harris. "You can treat your body as if it's a Corvette, a Bentley or a Mercedes. Take really good care of it, put good stuff in it, make sure it runs forever, keep it clean. Or you could treat it like it's a Pinto."
   Brian Dobbins, the executive director of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan's western region, engaged the students by making the topic of lifelong health more personal. When Dobbins asked how many students had diabetic family members or family members with heart diseases, almost half raised their hands.
   "Just because you have family members that have it, doesn't mean that you have to have it, too," said Dobbins.
   Gloria Askew, a representative with the mayor's office, encouraged students to become "ambassadors" for health and to use city resources like community centers and public parks to help achieve their health goals.
   Over two semesters last year, students in the program lost more than 450 pounds combined.
   The average weight loss per student was 3 pounds, "which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it is," said Simmons.
   "Even though we measure it out -- we've got to have some way to measure what we're doing -- I don't focus on that with the kids. I don't want them to think, 'I failed because I didn't lose weight.' It's about changing your lifestyle."
   East High School cheerleader and 12th-grader Jamie Bell wants to stick with the 12-week program, calling it "fun and interesting."
   "I learned about new things, like calories, that I didn't know before," said Bell.
   Participating schools for this 12-week session include Airways Middle, Caldwell Elementary, Craigmont Middle, East High, Fox Meadows Elementary, Memphis Academy of Health Science, Millington Middle, Southwind Elementary, Southwind High and Ridgeway Middle.
   For more information on Healthy Kids and Teens, visit HealthyKidsandTeens.com. ================

Memphis Botanic Garden looks into permanent stage for year-round activities

By Thomas Bailey Jr., The Commercial Appeal
January 7, 2012
   Memphis Botanic Garden has been studying the feasibility of building a permanent, outdoor performing arts area.
   The 16-acre plan would include a permanent stage for the popular Live at the Garden summer concert series, a building to replace the concerts' Encore VIP tent, and improvements to the adjacent Audubon Lake waterfront that include a boardwalk and new pavilion, executive director Jim Duncan [Faculty 1966-70] said.
   Fittingly, the project would incorporate plants as part of the experience for concert-goers, he said.
   "The concept is to create a large-scale garden room," said Barry Yoakum, principal at archimania. The architectural firm has been hired to develop conceptual plans to present to the board.
   "The experience of the Live at the Garden for concert-goers will be heightened through a more organic architecture, while setting the stage for a unique, year-round garden experience of both performance and nonperformance-based activities," Yoakum said.
   Duncan declined to reveal details until after the board sees the proposals.
   Memphis Botanic Garden is owned by the city of Memphis, but has been operated by a foundation since 1969. Through the membership of about 3,500 families, revenue-producing events like the concert series, and facility rentals, the Botanic Garden generates 88 percent of its budget, Duncan said. The rest comes from the city.
   The 96-acre site at 750 Cherry Road in East Memphis hosted 189 weddings last year, a farmer's market, plant sales and other events.
   If the nonprofit organization goes ahead with the performing arts project, it will mount a fundraising campaign to pay for it.
   In years past, Live at the Garden's rented, temporary stage has faced due north. The permanent stage would move about 40 yards west and face northeast for better sight lines, Duncan said.
   The new building would serve as the permanent space where Encore VIP concert-goers dine. But the structure also would provide another facility on the grounds that the public could rent for special events, Duncan said.
   The project would not require rearrangement of the tables assigned to concert-goers, he said.

Overton Park Conservancy receives $1.5 million pledge
Plough Foundation funds to aid efforts

By Tom Charlier The Commercial Appeal
December 16, 2011
   Barely a week after receiving approval to manage one of the city's premiere recreational facilities, the Overton Park Conservancy announced Thursday it received a pledge of $1.5 million to help pay for operations and improvements at the park in Midtown Memphis.
   The gift from Memphis-based Plough Foundation represents the largest yet for the conservancy, the private, non-profit group that hopes to raise $6 million for Overton during the next five years.
   In a statement, Plough chairman Diane Rudner ['68] said the board and staff agreed to the grant to "help ensure that Overton Park continues to be one of the most valued assets in our community."
   The pledge came nine days after the City Council unanimously approved a management agreement turning over much of the 342-acre park to the conservancy. The group evolved from a committee that was formed earlier this year to deal with what members described as Overton's decline in recent years.
   While the park remains Memphis property and the city will continue to contribute funding, the new arrangement allows the conservancy to raise money from private sources to pay for improvements the city's Division of Park Services might not be able to afford.
   The conservancy has outlined a number of planned improvement projects, including the removal of invasive plants from the old-growth forest, the rebuilding of a playground and the construction of a dog park.
   But acting executive director George Cates said Thursday there is no specific project targeted for the Plough money.
   "It'll go into operations and the capital program," he said.

Message of Hope
Chamber luncheon highlights city's 'medical miracles'

By Andy Meek The Memphis Daily News
December 15, 2011
   Bruce Hopkins [associated with the Class of '68], First Tennessee Bank's president of banking for West Tennessee, couldn't attend last year's Greater Memphis Chamber annual chairman's luncheon.
   And at this year's celebratory bash held at The Peabody hotel, attended by hundreds of area business and civic leaders, the banking executive shared from the main stage the reason he couldn't make it in 2010.
   It was a deeply personal story about a life-threatening medical crisis he faced. An eye checkup had revealed a dangerous and extremely rare kind of tumor, and though friends encouraged Hopkins to seek treatment out of town at world-class centers, the First Tennessee executive thought he had what he needed here.
   The retelling of his story was purposeful. It fit the luncheon's theme this year of believing in the city's miracles – specifically, its medical miracles.
   Hopkins noted that his company's slogan is "Powering Your Dreams."
   "And 12 months ago, that became much more than a slogan for me," he said. "My dream was hoping for a medical miracle."
   He got one. Within two weeks of surgery – as the audience learned thanks to a video that featured interviews with Hopkins' doctors – he was back at the office.
   "You're in the best hands (here) you could be in anywhere in the world," Hopkins said.
   The chamber's annual event is meant to celebrate its accomplishments over the past year. And 2011 brought plenty to tout, with a string of economic development wins including announcements of new investment in Memphis by companies like Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. and City Brewing Co.
   This year's luncheon, though, brought a more personal and emotional touch. It was about health care in the city, and how that's entwined with the health of the city.
   Kenneth Robinson, public health policy adviser in Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's office, said that one in every seven jobs in Memphis is in the biosciences.
   Steve Bares, president and executive director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, said more than 50,000 people work in the bioscience industry in Memphis.
   A handful of medical organizations, like University of Tennessee Health Science Center, are celebrating major milestones and anniversaries. UTHSC turned 100 years old in 2011.
   That theme was woven throughout the luncheon, down to the food on the tables.
   Appropriately, The Peabody's executive culinary team prepared healthy meals for appetizers, the main course and dessert.
   Staffers from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital wrote and choreographed a music video shown at the event. The video showed the staff singing and performing its own version of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind."
   But rather than the song's catchy hook of, "Now you're in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new…" the staff sang "Now you're at Le Bonheur/we'll fix you and make you brand new/our hearts will inspire you."
   Amid the commemoration of other medical advances, jobs, breakthroughs and personal stories like Hopkins', the chamber introduced its new chairman of the board – Larry Cox, president and CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.
   Cox assumes the chairmanship Jan. 1.
   Cox told the crowd the chamber is gearing up for a busy 2012. He said the chamber's economic development team is working 21 projects at the moment that have the potential to bring 7,000 new jobs to the city.
   That's why John Moore, the chamber's president and CEO, said "I always love this annual event. It gets me charged up again for next year to go out with the team."
   A video showing the year's highlights was put together with a creative touch. It showed the performance a few weeks ago of local band FreeSol on "The Late Show with David Letterman."
   Interspersed throughout the performance were video clips of local highlights from the year, culminating with Letterman's thanks to the band and his apparent interest in coming to Memphis: "Don't be surprised if you see us down there taking care of business."
   Chamber staff thought ahead to make sure and have boxes of tissue on each table. Because the event wrapped up with a performance by country band Alabama's lead singer Randy Owen and five children from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
   Owen, a longtime St. Jude supporter, led the patients in a performance of "Angels Among Us." Each time the chorus came around, he handed the mike to the children, all of whom were gathered in a semicircle on stage and singing loudly, five pint-sized testaments to miracles that happen every day at St. Jude and across Memphis. =================

Editorial: Good teaching is her ministry
More than a paycheck: As East High English teacher Meah King has shown, the best teachers see their jobs as more than a paycheck.

December 5, 2011, The Commercial Appeal

   What makes a great teacher?
   Meah King put her finger on it when she said that for her teaching is a "ministry."
   During a ceremony Thursday at East High School, where she teaches 10th-grade English, King was surprised to learn she was the reason for the celebration.
   With state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman on hand, it was announced that she had won a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. The honor comes with a $25,000 check for King.
   She joins a long list of Greater Memphis educators whose dedication to the teaching profession and their students has landed them the award over the last decade.
   In the world of education reform, a lot of teachers feel like they are under siege. Tougher student academic proficiency benchmarks, new teacher evaluation processes that hold teachers more accountable for meeting those benchmarks and tougher requirements to gain tenure are in play.
   Memphis City Schools, aided by a $90 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, has embarked on a Teacher Effectiveness Initiative to get better teachers in the classrooms.
   The teachers' angst is understandable. But the truth is that good teachers drive student academic achievement. The drive must be there even when too many students, once they leave the classroom, are dealing with uninvolved parents, medical issues and the challenges in life that poverty places before them daily.
   King is right. Teaching isn't just a way to draw a paycheck. It isn't a profession where its practitioners can remain static or reluctant to embrace new ideas.
   King, a 1997 graduate of East, knows that. It explains why her "ministry" garnered her a host of other major teaching honors over her 10-year career.
   She was in the spotlight Thursday, but there are scores of other great teachers out there who are making a positive impact on students as well.
   Unfortunately, there also are some who aren't getting the job done. For their sake, and that of their students, local and state education officials must continue to develop programs to help those teachers become more effective in the classroom.

East High School teacher wins Milken national educator award, $25,000

December 1, 2011, The Commercial Appeal
   The band played, the cheerleaders danced and East High School English teacher Meah King ['97 and Faculty] fell into the arms of a colleague after learning she'd won a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.
   It's an honor that comes with a check for $25,000. And it's for her, not the school.
   King, a teacher for 10 years, was surprised on Thursday during a pep rally that was attended by her parents, local school officials and Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
   "I'm very excited and grateful and thankful to God for all these blessings," King said.
   She doesn't know yet what she'll do with the windfall.
   "It's just what the doctor ordered," King said. "I'll pay my tithes and offering first and then I'll think about the rest."
   "I think Miss King really exemplifies what we're doing across the state to find educators who reach their kids and help them learn and achieve," Huffman said. "It's such an honor for me to be a part of this. I'm so proud of Miss King, I'm so proud of this high school and I'm proud of Memphis."
   Teachers cannot be nominated for a Milken award, which has been likened to an Academy Award, said Dr. Jane Foley, Milken senior vice president.
   Each participating state's department of education puts together a panel to recommend candidates based on criteria that include student results and the teacher's impact on students, colleagues and the community.
   "Research and our own personal experience tell us that the single most important education element determining how much you will learn in school is the quality of the teacher in your classroom," Foley told the East students.
   King, 32, teaches 10th-grade English. She is a 1997 graduate of East and has earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in instruction and curriculum from the University of Memphis.
   For her, teaching is a "ministry."
   She started as a teenager teaching preschool after school and during the summer.
   In addition to her daily responsibilities, she is a staff member with Peer Power, an after-school peer tutoring and mentoring service that helps about 1,000 students a day.
   The Milken award comes to King following other accolades. In 2008, she was named outstanding educator of the year by the Memphis Alliance of Black School Educators.
   In 2009 she received an outstanding alumni award from U of M.
   And last month she took top honors for high school English teachers in the first My Favorite Educator Golden Apple Awards at MCS. Students nominate their teachers for that award.
   "She always tries to motivate everybody. She cares about the students," said Charles Reese, 15.
   "She gives us life experiences, she relates to us. She loves young people. She's very committed," said Marquita Shaw, 16.
   "She's a parent at times and she doesn't even have kids," said Jalon Netters-Lofton, 15.
   The 10th-graders are now studying poetry with King and have poems to read and a list of questions to answer.
   So on Thursday, along with the tears, the hugs and the words of appreciation, King remained a teacher in charge.
   "Even though we're not in class," she told the assembly, "to those in the 10th grade, the work is still due."

Milken Foundation honors Memphis high school teacher
View the video

December 1, 2011, WMC-TV
By Jerica Phillips MEMPHIS, TN -
   (WMC-TV) - An English teacher at East High School in Memphis received a $25,000 check Thursday from the Milken Family Foundation's National Educator Awards.
   Meah King received the award during a surprise assembly at the school.
   "I was told to just get the kids excited and take them through a few chants, and I was just excited about that, not knowing it was all for me," she said.
   The Milken Family Foundation Award was first presented in 1987 and is designed to provide public recognition and a financial reward to teachers, principals and other educators who have a proven record of excellence in education.
   "We look at the whole country and determine who we believe represent the top 1 percent of the entire profession, and that's why we're here at East High School for Meah King," the Foundation's Dr. Jane Foley said.
   "I never knew anyone was paying attention because I always thought that this was a ministry and not a profession," King said.
   A current student, Jalon Netters, described King as special.
   "She has a connection," Netters said. "She's committed to what she's doing, and at the same time she's a friend to us and connects with us in a way that no other teacher can."
   "The personal relationships she forges, allows both adults and students to not only discover their hidden talents, but grow into and accept their responsibilities," King's principal Eric Harris added.
   Also in attendance were King's parents, Herbert and Joyce, whom she credits for fostering her love for education.
   "If the award had not come, you would still see her putting forth 150 percent," they said.
   King has been teaching for ten years, and often serves as a mentor to new teachers and underprivileged students at East High school.
   King is allowed to spend the $25,000 in any way she chooses, but many of her students believe she'll find someway to put it back in her classroom.

News stories about Miah King receiving the Milken Family Foundation's National Educator Award were also aired on WREG-TV and WHBQ-TV, but those stories are no longer accessable.

Anfernee Hardaway visit to Lester Middle School fuels pride in Binghamton

By Sara Patterson, The Commercial Appeal
November 27, 2011
   In what felt like a 20-year time warp Saturday, former NBA star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway took on former foes from East High School, just as he had during his days at Treadwell.
   "This is my community that I grew up in," he said. "Any time I can be a part of it, I'm going to be."
   Despite the light and friendly atmosphere, old rivalries resurfaced during the informal, loosely refereed game that featured a live deejay.
   "I expected it," Hardaway said. "These guys all played against or with each other (in high school)."
   Playing with Hardaway for team "Lester" was Corey Bolton ['94], a 1994 East High alumnus who now lives in Little Rock.
   Bolton said basketball got him to college. And college helped him become a small business owner.
   Event organizer Tarrik Mabon ['03] said the game's purpose, besides fundraising, was to showcase alumni success.
   "We got out, and we came back to give back," he said.
   Mabon and his brother Chanduleon Mabon [class year undetermined], both graduated from East and went on to college at Morehouse in Atlanta.
   Mabon organized the first charity game last year to raise money for 12-year-old twins who lost their mother, his friend Kena "Shea" Blakney ['94], earlier that year.
   The game's success prompted him to broaden his outreach for the second, and about 1,500 people packed into the gymnasium Saturday. Kim Dixon ['97], a 2007 East High graduate who also attended Lester Middle, said she almost cried when she walked in and saw renovations to the facility.
   "There weren't even bleachers when I went to school here," she said. "It makes me so happy to come back and see improvement. Very proud."

Overton Square businesses cheer Loeb's emphasis on arts and entertainment

By Thomas Bailey Jr., The Commercial Appeal
September 7, 2011
   Grocery shoppers don't pick up some milk and ground beef, then decide to stroll, catch a play, or sit down at a restaurant.
   Which is why Playhouse on the Square is so happy redevelopment of a large chunk of Overton Square now will be based on arts and entertainment instead of a grocery.
   "An upscale grocery in the square? It quite frankly is not going to enhance an entertainment district," said Jackie Nichols, executive producer of Playhouse on the Square and its neighboring, sister theater, Circuit Playhouse.
   A spot check of businesses in and around Overton Square shows others in the district are either thrilled about the change in redevelopment plans or at least happy long-vacant buildings will have new life of any sort breathed into them.
   Most people going to a grocery are on a schedule and wanting to get in and get out, said Taylor Berger, who with his partners in March opened a YoLo frozen yogurt shop across Cooper from the planned development.
   "We thrive where people are relaxing and eating, not where they are on a schedule," Berger said.
   The Overton Square YoLo is "far and away our best performing store," said Berger, whose company has 10 shops.
   "Even imagining it could be better (in an arts and entertainment district) is great."
   "... From what I've seen, the reason why it's so popular is just the pent-up demand for entertainment," Berger said. "YoLo for a lot of people has become that, a gathering place.
   "... I think entertainment and food is exactly what Midtown and Memphis want."
   Loeb Properties in May persuaded the City Council to fund most of a $6 million parking structure/floodwater detention facility in Overton Square.
   In return, Loeb would revitalize the five acres on the southwest corner of Madison and Cooper with new retail anchored by a grocery store.
   But last month Robert Loeb confirmed the grocery store is no longer in the plans, replaced by an arts and entertainment theme and boutique retail.
   He plans to unveil details and artist renderings at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 at Playhouse on the Square.
   The Square is almost a theater district already, with three live theaters -- Playhouse, Circuit and TheatreWorks -- and a movie theater, Malco's Studio on the Square.
   From what he knows of Loeb's new plans, Nichols said more live, performing arts could be bound for Overton Square.
   "I don't know what they are. I know there's been a number of different organizations that have been approached in the city," Nichols said.
   The synergy of an entertainment district could help all its businesses, indicated Jimmy Tashie ['66], executive vice president of Malco, which built Studio on the Square 10 years ago.
   "You don't want to be an island unto yourself," Tashie said. "When you walk out the front door, you want to see some activity."
   Tashie doesn't have a strong opinion about a grocery versus arts and entertainment district, in part because the movie theater is "product driven." If someone wants to see a "Harry Potter" movie, they'll come see it whether there's a grocery or arts gallery across the street.
   But Malco built in the Square a decade ago because "by and large, it's an area that we felt strongly it needed some entertainment."
   "We're patiently waiting for something good to happen" with the Square, he said. "Whether it's a grocery or just shops, as long as it's done in a neighborhood-friendly manner."
   Malco is pleased with the amount of business it does in the Square.
   "You always wish you could do more business, but we're not going anywhere," Tashie said. "We'll be there for a long, long time, and hopefully we'll see a renaissance in that area."
   The restaurant/bar Boscos Squared sits directly across Madison from the empty southside buildings. John Kinzel, one of Boscos owners, said, "Anything that is going to bring more people into the area is a good thing for all the businesses."
   While it didn't matter to Kinzel whether Loeb put a grocery or arts and entertainment across the street, he said an arts and entertainment theme would be a good fit with Boscos.
   One of just two businesses that have remained open in the cluster of buildings to be redeveloped is Golden India restaurant.
   The empty neighboring spaces have created a strain that Golden India has been able to endure.
   "It's hard," owner Satina Singh said. "I don't like that empty," he added while pointing east to adjacent, vacant space.
   He also doesn't care much what form the redevelopment takes, just as long as it draws people.
   "Whatever business is good," he said. "Empty not good."

Longtime Rhodes president Bill Troutt keeps inspiring
Cultivates relationships with students, community

By Richard Morgan, The Commercial Appeal
September 4, 2011
Excerpt from a newspaper article about the Rhodes College president Bill Troutt.
"He likes students," said Spence Wilson ['60], the hotelier who has served as a Rhodes trustee for 40 years, including an eponymous, endowed humanities chair that debuted this year. The two are friends, with the occasional duck-hunting trip to Arkansas. "He likes to be around smartness and brightness and capability and responsibility," he added."

Schnucks to leave Memphis; sells most grocery stores, gas stations to Kroger
Employees can interview for jobs with new owner

By James Dowd, The Commercial Appeal
September 2, 2011
   After nearly a decade in Memphis, Schnucks has left the building.
   Or buildings.
   Ending weeks of speculation, company officials confirmed today that the St. Louis-based chain's area footprint will be resold under the Kroger brand.
   Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
   "This was a difficult decision, but as a company of 15,000 teammates, we have an obligation to look to the future. Unfortunately, that means making tough decisions in order to keep our company strong and to continue serving customers and providing careers down the road," said Scott Schnuck, chairman and CEO.
   "While it saddens me to announce our departure from the Mid-South, I can honestly say that I believe our presence here has had a positive affect on the market. Over the years, Schnucks invested heavily in our stores and in our teammates and stirred local competition to step up their games in terms of food expertise and service. Customers across the region will benefit from that work even after we've moved on."
   Officials with the Memphis-based Kroger Delta Division announced that eight area Schnucks stores will be converted to Kroger sites during the next few weeks.
   As part of the deal Kroger also purchased the Collierville Schnucks at 275 New Byhalia, but it is near a recently renovated Kroger and so company officials have opted to close the store. Plans are to lease it to another retailer.
   Three other Schnucks stores that are in leased properties will also close.
   "For over 60 years, Kroger has proudly served the Memphis community," said Mark Prestidge, Kroger Delta Division president. "Kroger has demonstrated its commitment to the Memphis area by investing over $70 million on remodels, expansions and fuel centers over the last five years. We continue to focus on upgrading our store base in an effort to provide our customers the best shopping experience possible. With this acquisition, we are pleased to be able to provide more convenient locations for our customers to shop at in the Memphis area."
   Kroger counts 37 stores in the Memphis area and this deal will boost that number to 43. Two of the stores will replace smaller Kroger stores.
   "We plan to convert these stores and re-open within two weeks after they close. Our primary goal is to minimize the inconvenience to our customers as we transition the stores to Kroger," Prestidge said. "While the acquired stores will be temporarily closed during the conversion process, the pharmacies and in-store banks will be accessible and remain open to customers during regular business hours."
   Pharmacy customers at the Schnucks stores that are set for permanent closure will be able to fill prescriptions at the nearest Kroger.
   The overlapping of Kroger stores that the purchase seems to create in several areas had Art Seessel ['56] confused.
   He was CEO of the Seessel's grocery stores until they were sold in 1997, and remains the landlord for the Schnucks buildings on Perkins in East Memphis and on Union in Midtown.
   Kroger just spent millions of dollars renovating its Mendenhall store in East Memphis, which is close to the two Schnucks stores it just bought on Perkins and Truse Parkway.
   "I don't understand the deal," Seessel said. "There's so much duplication."
   He figures Kroger must be planning more moves to consolidate.
   The purchase also seems to create geographic overlap for existing Kroger stores in Bartlett and Germantown, said Danny Buring, managing principal of The Shopping Center Group.
   "I think there will be an opportunity for another major player to step in," Buring said.
   But Kroger has a history of being aggressive in the Memphis market, he added.
   "The grocery market has been pulled from both ends," Buring said. "From the low end with expansion of Aldi and Save-A-Lot and on the higher end with Fresh Market and Whole Foods. But Kroger has always maintained its dominance here. While they don't have the market share they had 15 years ago, I can't imagine there's a whole lot of other markets where they have this kind of dominance."
   Last year, Kroger announced plans for a $20 million construction project near its Poplar and Highland location, resulting in a new 87,000-square-foot grocery situated just west of its current site at 3444 Plaza Ave. But the project has yet to begin because tenants remain at the site where Kroger plans to raze existing structures and build from the ground up.
   The project is expected to take up to a year to complete and calls for a new grocery that will be about 30,000 square feet larger than the Kroger currently at the site.
   Thirty associates will be added, increasing its employee count to 200. The new property will feature a bistro and onsite chef, sushi station, fresh soup-and-salad bar, doughnut shop and expanded deli, meat and seafood departments.
   And in addition to increasing its organic and bulk items, the store will offer more personal care products and maintain its drive-through pharmacy.
   That project is still on the table, said Joe Bell, local manager of marketing and public affairs for Kroger's Delta Division, and should get under way in the coming weeks.
   Plans for the Schnucks remodels will begin on Sept. 13 with four stores, which will be closed and stocked with Kroger signage and products. Those stores will re-open by Sept. 24 and the following week the remaining Schnucks stores will be closed and repurposed.
   Full-scale renovations will be performed on each of the stores during the next three years.
   Schnucks has 1,193 employees in the Memphis market and those workers will be allowed to interview for similar positions at the rebranded Kroger stores, Bell said. A Kroger job fair for current Schnucks employees will be held next week.
   Schnucks has 10 stores and six Schnucks Express fuel and convenience centers in Shelby County, and two grocery stores and two fuel/convenience stations in DeSoto County.
   The company counts 106 stores in seven states: Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. The Mid-South region is the family-owned company's second-largest market.
   In contrast, Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 109 stores and 68 fuel centers in five states under the Kroger banner in West Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, southern Missouri, and southwest Kentucky. And there are more than 3,000 Memphis-area employees in Kroger's Delta Division, excluding those in its distribution center.
   In total, the company counts 2,449 grocery retail stores in 31 states under nearly two dozen banners.
   In addition, Kroger operates 1,966 pharmacies; 1,035 supermarket fuel centers; 785 convenience stores under five banners in 18 states; 359 jewelry stores in 36 states under such names as Barclay Jewelers, Fred Meyer Jewelers, and Littman Jewelers; and 40 food processing or manufacturing facilities.
   A little over a year ago, Schnucks leaders cited an oversaturated market and an underperforming economy as reasons behind shuttering the store at 1150 N. Germantown Pkwy. Schnucks had bought the 68,000-square-foot Cordova site — which originally opened in 1999 — when it acquired Seessel's in 2002.
   The grocery closed on Aug. 28, 2010, but the nearby Schnucks Express gas station and convenience store at 1210 N. Germantown Pkwy. remained open.
   Rumors of a Schnucks exit strategy intensified last month when the company abruptly halted its "Pump Up the Savings" customer card and fuel rewards program.
   The company became involved in the fuel business when it entered the Mid-South market in 2002, eventually opening eight fuel centers in the Memphis area in what became its largest fuel rewards market.
   The Schnucks exit is the latest chapter in the story of what was originally a locally owned establishment known as Seessel's.
   Founded by Henry Seessel in 1858, the Seessel's stores remained family-owned until 1987 when Seessel's great-great-grandsons, Art and Jerry Seessel, sold the then-10-store chain to American Banaco Inc., a French holding company.
   The following year the Seessel family bought the stores back, but within a few years they were up for sale again.
   In 1996, Fleming Companies, an Oklahoma City-based grocery wholesaler and Seessel's minority shareholder, claimed the right of first refusal on any sale and challenged the attempt by Birmingham-based Bruno's Supermarkets Inc. to buy the stores.
   Originally, Fleming planned to buy the stores and resell to Schnucks.
   But a federal judge ruled in favor of Bruno's, which had acquired the stores and in 1998 the Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's bought the Seessel's stores for $88 million. Four years later, Schnucks acquired the company.
   At the time of the deal, Albertson's was the No. 2 store in the area with about 15 percent of the Memphis market share, well behind Kroger with 39 percent, but slightly ahead of Wal-Mart, which had more than 11 percent.
   Wal-Mart launched its Supercenter concept in 1988, entering the grocery store industry by offering items at significantly discounted prices. Today there are more than 2,900 of the stores across the country. And its Wal-Mart Market concept, which began in 1998 with groceries, pharmaceuticals, and general merchandise, today counts 183 stores nationwide.
   "When we came into the Mid-South market in 2002 we felt it was a unique opportunity and we hoped to get a strong foothold there and maintain a strong presence in Memphis," said Lori Willis, director of communications for Schnuck Markets Inc. "Unfortunately, the Mid-South competitive landscape changed dramatically and there has been fierce competition from non-traditional grocery stores. We ultimately were forced to make the difficult decision to leave this market, which has treated us so warmly."
   In addition to the Schnucks stores, the Tom Thumb subsidiary of Kroger is purchasing seven convenience stores in the Memphis area that are owned by Schnuck Markets. The sites will operate under the banner name Kwik Shop.
   "We are pleased to enter this important market with our Kwik Shop convenience store banner," said Van Tarver, vice president of convenience stores for Kroger. "We will strive to operate stores staffed with great people who want to make your shopping experience as efficient and enjoyable as possible."
   Tom Thumb Food Stores is a convenience store division of The Kroger Co. and operates 116 stores in Florida and Alabama.

Tennessee Brewery has intoxicating beauty, sobering challenges for developers

By Sara Patterson, The Commercial Appeal
August 28, 2011
   After a decade of digging, he stumbled on it in a dusty attic.
   The long-lost recipe to a forgotten beer: the Goldcrest 51.
   "It was a step-by-step description -- what to do, how to do it, when to do it," said Kenn Flemmons, author and collector of all things old brew. His book "The Finest Beer You Ever Tasted" chronicles the rise and fall of the century-old brand, once one of the most popular lagers in the Mid-South.
   "Goldcrest has more hops than what you find in regular beer today, more malt," he said. "It's heavier, with a fuller body, but still very clear and a light drinker. ... It's a nice blend, and a middle point between craft brews people like that are very hoppy, thick, chewy, and the commercial pilsners that you find on the shelf."
   Having never sampled the original, the 55-year-old Arkansan relied on the recipe, his research and taste buds older than his own to re-create it. When he felt he had made a close-enough facsimile, he brought it to Memphis for the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest last year, and the tap quickly ran dry.
   Yet the towering brewery at 495 Tennessee St. that birthed the Goldcrest brand in 1906 may never see the same resurrection.
   Beer runs through the veins of Jake Schorr III [associated with the Class of '61]. The local bar owner's great-grandfather founded the Tennessee Brewery in 1885 with Caspar Koehler and Peter Saussenthaler. Schorr's father, Jacob Jr., was brewmaster until the company's demise in 1954.
   On a tour of the brewery one recent morning, Schorr's eyes drank in the surroundings. He had last visited the building about 20 years ago.
   He looked past the decomposing dead cat near the old boiler room, the heavy lines of graffiti throughout the 67,000-square-foot interior and the dozens of trashed bottles.
   He filled the empty space instead with childhood memories -- the smell of hops wafting through the air, the sound of sifted grains, the sight of bubbling wort in the 250-barrel brew kettle.
   "I was a curious kid," he said. "I'm a curious old man."
   Schorr, 69, was always fascinated with the mechanics of the brewery and he helps explain some of the architectural oddities of the place -- the mismatched floors, 18-foot-high ceilings and open courtyard that halves the complex.
   Before the age of electricity, grains and hops were lifted to the highest area of the building using a system of steam-powered pulleys. Gravity then took care of the downward distribution.
   Horse-drawn wagons would pull into the 5,300-square-foot courtyard to deliver supplies and transport beer to local saloons -- before trucks expanded distribution across the region.
   The brewery produced more than a million barrels of beer in its nearly 70-year production span.
   In 1948, at the height of its success, the brewery distributed more than 200,000 barrels. (A current Memphis brewing company, Ghost River, makes about 2,500 barrels a year to service around 100 bars in the area.)
   Though it weathered Prohibition and World War II, the Tennessee Brewery struggled with the advent of national television advertising that squashed regional brands in favor of beers such as Budweiser. When the brewery sold the last of its lagers and ales, the workmen simply walked away from their stations, leaving behind equipment and filing cabinets brimming with business records. Jacob Schorr Jr. locked the doors.
   The scrap-metal company A. Karchmer & Son moved in to sell off the valuables, but the reams of information remained untouched until Kenn Flemmons' obsession took a literary turn in the 1990s.
   "There are two candidates right now, but I can't elaborate," said James Rasberry, the Realtor representing the property.
   Rasberry said he's kissed many a frog in the search for a development prince. In the last 10 years, two major plans have fallen through -- one by a local arts group in 2003 to convert the building into affordable workspace for artists and another in 2006 for a $50 million condominium project.
   The cost of restoring the building, alone, has been estimated at nearly $12 million.
   "So many people are seduced by the beauty of the building, they overlook the difficulty a project of that magnitude" represents, Rasberry said. "Part of my job is tempering the zeal of would-be suitors."
   "They say you aren't supposed to buy property for emotional reasons, but that's exactly what I did," said Norman. "I fell in love."
   Norman's optimism about future uses for the building has faded, but he still holds out hope a creative developer will buy in to bring the building back to the public.
   The building has other fans, too, including the Downtown Memphis Commission, which has it near the top of its priority list for redevelopment. The brewery is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
   "Such a storied history, such an iconic property -- it attracts interest by itself," said Andy Kitsinger, DMC vice president of planning and development. "It's the last building in that area to be redeveloped because it's the toughest, but it has so much mystery and nostalgia attached, it creates an emotional connection with people."
   Kitsinger suggested a return to brewmaking as a good use for the building, coupled with conversion of the open, four-story atrium into a museum and tourist attraction where visitors could sample beer.
   Nicky Newburger, whose family owned the scrap-metal business inside the brewery until its 1981 relocation, was one of the biggest advocates for the art space project several years ago and stays current on happenings there. She helped facilitate some of the private parties, theatrical performances and film projects that have taken place inside the building in the last couple of decades. She said out-of-towners are still drawn to the site despite its dilapidation.
   "I recently did a photo shoot there with a couple from Chicago," said Newburger. "They found the brewery online and got married in the building -- just the two of them and a minister by the minute."
   If only a developer would be so quick to seal the deal, she mused.

Briefly Mentioned

The following East alumni were mentioned or quoted briefly in the media. Because the reference was so limited, the full stories are not included here, however for a time the articles are available at the links provided.
  • East High Coach Marcus Wimberly ('92 and Faculty) participated in the NFL summit last month, selected because of his being a former NFL player. The Commercial Appeal, Aug. 12, 2011.
  • Erica Davis ('97) is quoted in a newspaper article about the looming combination of Memphis City and Shelby County school systems and its effect on the classroom. ""And regardless of whether my badge says MCS or SCS, it doesn't matter. We are still going to learn biology in this room today." The Commercial Appeal, Aug. 7, 2011.
  • East High Coach Marcus Wimberly ('92 and Faculty) is briefly quoted in a newspaper article about East football players Will Redmond committing to Mississippi State and Latarius Brady committing to Arkansas State. The Commercial Appeal, Aug. 1, 2011.
  • The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners has established an award to recognize outstanding service to the Earth science information community. The award was named after and first given to Martha Maiden ('68) in 2009. Maiden is the NASA Program Executive for Earth Data Systems. [Editor's note: delayed report just coming to our attention]
  • John Reed ('69) is briefly quoted in a newspaper article about the closing of Tennessee Merchandise Market, a Hickory Hill area flea market that opened to great fanfare earlier this year. The Commercial Appeal, July 19, 2011.
  • Attorney Doug Douglass ('68) is quoted in a newspaper article regarding the bankruptcy case of his client, Nelson, Inc. in Memphis. The Commercial Appeal, July 13, 2011.
  • Cybill Shepherd ('68) is mentioned in a newspaper article as having named two the Memphis zoo's hippopotamuses 22 years ago. The Commercial Appeal, July 8, 2011.
  • Bruce Hopkins (associated with the Class of '68) quoted in newspaper article about banks becoming more customer focused in their business model. The Commercial Appeal, July 7, 2011.
  • Andrew Bobowski (Faculty), who taught at East High as a Teach for America teacher previously, will head a new college-prep middle school that is part of the Kipp Memphis charter schools. The Commercial Appeal, July 6, 2011.
  • Eugene "Doug" Douglass ('68) is briefly quoted in a newspaper article as an attorney for developer Rusty Hyneman in Hyneman's bankruptcy case. The Commercial Appeal, July 3, 2011.
  • There is a newspaper article about the Comcast Firecracker 5K race, which, "has been held in honor of" the late Libby Wilson ('69). The Commercial Appeal, June 27, 2011.
  • A newspaper article features the high ranking of East High's basketball player Nick King, with a quotes from East coach Cheyenne Gibson (Faculty). The Commercial Appeal, June 24, 2011.
  • Jimmy Jalenak ('57), chief administrative officer of the Memphis Zoo, is quoted in a May 29, 2011, newspapaer article about improving Overton Park in Memphis. The Commercial Appeal.
  • Bill Carrier ('68) is briefly quoted about the Memphis in May barbecue contest being held away from the Mississippi River due to flooding in a May 13, 2011, article in The Commercial Appeal. He can also be seen in a 2009 video talking about his team's cooking method on youtube.com.
  • Bill West ('65), founder of West Clinic has been given the Carnival Memphis President's Award, according to a mention in The Commercial Appeal, May 12, 2011.
  • Chas McVean ('61) was honored April 30 as a 2011 inductee into the Memphis City Schools Hall of Fame.
  • Wilson Air Center again receives citations for excellence in corporate aviation. Bob Wilson ('62) is the air center founder and president. The Commercial Appeal, May 5, 2011.
  • Bruce Hopkins (associated with the Class of '68) has been named First Tennessee Bank's president of banking for West Tennessee. Hopkins attended East Junior High in the 7th and 8th grades. He has been with First Tennessee since 1985 and will continue to oversee the bank's private client, trust and wealth management services in Memphis. The Commercial Appeal, April, 29, 2011.
  • East High Coach Marcus Wimberly ('92 and Faculty) discusses running back Brian Kimbrow upcoming senior season and the college recruitment process in an Apr. 17, 2011, article in The Commercial Appeal.

Memphis City Schools to dissolve, East to become Shelby County School

editor, The East High Alumni Page
August 8, 2011

   Federal District Court for the Western District ot Tennessee Monday, Aug. 8 released its declaratory judgement in the case regarding the surrender of the Memphis City Schools charter. Effective with the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year Memphis City Schools will no longer exist, the schools previously in the Memphis system will be governed by the Shelby County Schools. East High will then be a county school.

Kent State athlete indicted for assault

By Dave O'Brien, The Record-Courier, Ravenna, Ohio
July 31, 2011
   A Portage County grand jury recently indicted a member of the Kent State University men's basketball team on a charge he allegedly broke into an ex-girlfriend's Franklin Township apartment earlier this month and assaulted her in an argument over money.
   Jarekious D. Bradley ['10], 20, of Memphis, Tenn., was indicted July 21 on one count of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony, for the July 13 incident at an apartment on Ashton Lane in the Campus Pointe apartment complex on S.R. 59.
   Bradley, who according to his attorney is living on campus this summer, remains free on bond pending a trial in October in Common Pleas Judge John Enlow's courtroom.
   Bradley has been ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.
   According to the Portage County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a 911 call the morning of the incident saying Bradley had entered the victim's apartment without permission.
   Bradley allegedly demanded money he believed the victim owed him and attempted to take it from her purse, the sheriff's office said.
   When she tried to stop Bradley, he allegedly shoved her to the ground. Others who were in the apartment at the time then gave Bradley money and he left, according to the report.
   Bradley has been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team pending the outcome of his case, according to KSU Athletics.
   A shooting guard from Memphis East High School, Bradley entered KSU in August 2010.

An additional story about this incident is bleow.

'Edu-tainer' Ekpe performs lessons for children

By Henry Bailey, The Commercial Appeal
Posted July 29, 2011
   "If you haven't had your exercise, get it while you can," a colorfully clad Ekpe [Peter Lee ('75)] "the Edu-tainer" exhorted parents, grandparents and children from infant to 11 at the Hernando Public Library.
   "That's it. That's it. How low can you go? Keep flapping those wings!"
   Against a map backdrop of "One World, Many Stories," Ekpe (pronounced ECK-pay) spun, strummed, blew and drummed tales and music with an African flavor and universal messages: health, love of learning, reading and respect for self and others.
   His name tag lists a last name of Abioto, but just call him Ekpe. In African lore, "Ekpe" is a mysterious spirit believed to live in the forest and to preside at ceremonies. This Ekpe lives in Memphis and for 30 years has specialized in motivational music and cultural diversity programs for children.
   With his soft voice and traditional instruments including the djimbe drum, kalimba hand piano, agogo bell and shakere bead-draped gourd, Ekpe is rounding out the First Regional Library series of summer reading time special events.
   After this week's morning performance, it was on to Sardis; on Saturday at 4 p.m., he'll be at the Como library in Panola County.
   "We have reading every Wednesday, but starting next month I'll lose my school-age kids," said Denise McOwen, youth specialist at the Hernando library.
   Ekpe's story had started with kids bringing a lunch of carrots, broccoli -- "little trees" -- and other veggies only to be bamboozled by a clever bird. By now, things had morphed into a counting lesson and a "funky chicken" tribute to Rufus Thomas.
   Hailey Gullick, 8, of Southaven, was flapping with the best of them. And flipping over the lessons along with her preschooler cousin, Madison Arnold, 4.
   "What did we learn from that bird?" asked Ekpe. "Don't talk to strangers. You've got to be safe in this world today."
   Ekpe sang "I Am a Genius," the title tune from his motivational CD: "I am a genius/I will learn everything my teacher teaches me. ... You are a genius/You can learn everything that your teacher teaches you."
   To this, Hailey, a fourth-grader at Southaven Intermediate, revealed: "I've got two brothers and I'm smarter than them. I'm a straight-A student."
   She's been "waiting and waiting and waiting" to go back to school. "I can't wait to go back because I have a real cute blue backpack that will last at least two years or more."
   Says Ekpe later: "I use music as a metaphor for life to teach positive messages -- about school, about life. Children are attracted through the music, and I have a little fun in the meantime. That doesn't hurt at all."
   But it can be bit of a challenge for a mom, pop or grandma -- or librarian.
   "I had a little one who climbed in my arms when we started the 'funky chicken,'" McOwen said. "So I did the 'funky legs' under the table."


   A Memphis native, Ekpe "the Edu-tainer" also achieved in school. In an earlier life, as button-downed Peter Lee, he was selected as "Mr. East High School" by his Class of 1975.
   "Can you believe that?" he says.
   At Shelby State Community College, now Southwest Tennessee Community College, he absorbed music, theater and drama, and later studied African music with master drummer Souleymane Diop of Senegal.
   As a member of the Arista recording group Galaxy, he toured Canada, Germany and Japan. In 1992, as Ekpe, he played at the burial ceremony for "Roots" author Alex Haley in Henning, Tenn. He most recently recorded with saxophonist Kirk Whalum on the soundtrack for a documentary about HIV/AIDS in Africa and on his latest CD.
   For more information on Ekpe and his music, e-mail or go online at ekpemusic.com.

McVean wants cyclist/pedestrian path over the Mississippi

By James Dowd, The Commercial Appeal
July 22, 2011
   If we build it, they will come, Charles McVean ['61] promises local leaders when pitching a field of beams proposal to construct a bicycle-pedestrian route over the Mississippi River.
   Promoting a plan to rebrand Memphis as the cycling capital of the world, McVean envisions thousands of tourists pedaling alongside throngs of walkers on a rebuilt boardwalk on the Harahan railroad bridge.
   Such was his message on Thursday, when McVean, chairman and CEO of Memphis-headquartered McVean Trading & Investments and a driving force behind the bridge project, was keynote speaker at a forum sponsored by the Society of Entrepreneurs.
   "If we could get our business leaders and government officials together on this and spend a few million dollars, this city could become the preeminent destination for cyclists from around the world," McVean said.
   "The Harahan Bridge boardwalk could be the centerpiece of a biking trail that begins in New Orleans and goes up to St. Louis. This project could change the entire image of Memphis."
   Built in 1916, the Harahan Bridge had a roadway that carried cars and trucks until 1949, when the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge opened. Union Pacific owns the railroad portion of the bridge, but Memphis and Crittenden County purchased the vehicle lanes in 1917. The supports, which need to be reinforced, are still in place, but the roadbed isn't.
   McVean said the upfront cost of the project would be a few million dollars that could be significantly underwritten by grants, but he'd like to see business leaders embrace the project and provide additional funding. The economic impact, he argued, would be lasting.
   "If our city and the Mid-South could get together on this project, the financial benefits of increased tourism would be substantial and sustainable," McVean said.
   In addition, he advocates connecting the bridge boardwalk to the Bluffwalk in Downtown Memphis, the Shelby Farms Greenline and a trail along Mississippi River levees from Louisiana to Missouri.
   "This is the kind of forward thinking that appeals to young creatives and offers a solid plan for recreational pursuits that would attract and retain talent here," said Brad Silver, CEO of Memphis biomarker startup Computable Genomix. "I enjoy being outdoors a lot and so do many of my friends and a bridge trail would be a brilliant amenity."
   SOE executive director Pearson Crutcher agreed.
   "The bridge could increase our existing tourism base and attract thousands of people here every year," Crutcher said. "It's an entrepreneurial idea that has the potential to transform Downtown and benefit our entire community."

KSU athlete charged with felony for break-in

By Dave O'Brien and Thomas Gallick, The Record-Courier, Ravenna, Ohio
July 15, 2011
   A Kent State University basketball player has been charged with breaking into an ex-girlfriend's Franklin Township apartment on Wednesday morning, assaulting her and damaging her property.
   Jarekious D. Bradley ['10], 20, of Memphis, Tenn. — a redshirt freshman guard on the Golden Flashes men's team — is charged with one count each of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony, and criminal damaging, a second-degree misdemeanor, for the incident that took place in an apartment in the 1800 block of Ashton Lane in the Campus Pointe apartment complex on S.R. 59 in Franklin Township.
   According to the Portage County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a 911 call Wednesday morning saying Bradley had entered the alleged victim's apartment without permission. Once inside the apartment, Bradley allegedly demanded money he believed the victim owed him and attempted to take it from her purse, the sheriff's office said.
   When the alleged victim tried to stop Bradley, he allegedly shoved her to the ground, injuring her, and damaged her debit card by bending it in half, according to the sheriff's office. Others who were in the apartment at the time then gave Bradley money and he left the apartment.
   Deputies later made contact with Bradley, who was arrested and questioned. He has been cooperating with sheriff's detectives investigating the incident, according to the sheriff's office.
   Arraigned Thursday in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna via video from the Portage County jail, Bradley was ordered held on 10 percent of $25,000 bond, plus a $175,000 signature bond, by Acting Judge Marvin Shapiro, sitting in for Judge Mark Fankhauser.
   Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Tim Piero had asked Shapiro to set bond at 10 percent of $200,000 bond because the charges give Bradley "significant incentive ... to flee the jurisdiction."
   Defense attorney Errol Can, representing Bradley, countered by saying that Bradley has no criminal history, lives on campus in Kent and will be under the supervision of the KSU athletic department pending trial.
   "I don't think he's any threat to flee the jurisdiction," Can said.
   Requesting that Shapiro at least place Bradley on electronically-monitored house arrest pending trial, Piero told the judge that the case "arises out of passion," and "those kinds of situations can go awry."
   Additionally, KSU athletics officials "are not law enforcement. They are not accustomed to tracking and monitoring" people accused of crimes, he argued.
   "He would be under strict supervision of the athletic department," Can replied. "They actually do a very good job with that."
   Shapiro denied Piero's request, though he did order Bradley to have no contact with the alleged victim or her residence.
   A preliminary hearing on the felony charge is set for 9:15 a.m. July 22 in Fankhauser's courtroom.
   In a statement, Alan Ashby, KSU assistant athletic director, said the department was informed of Bradley's arrest Wednesday.
   "The off-the-court conduct of our student-athletes is something we take very seriously, and therefore we are suspending Bradley indefinitely from all team-related activities pending the outcome of the ongoing legal proceedings." Ashby said. "We will reevaluate his status at the conclusion of those proceedings."
   Bradley, a shooting guard from Memphis East High School, was admitted to KSU in August 2010 on a scholarship. Bradley was a non-qualifier, meaning he paid his own tuition and expenses for the 2010-11 school year, while earning eligibility.
   He was supposed to begin playing for KSU this upcoming school year.

Bartlett site chosen for 1st SCS charter school

By Sherri Drake Silence, The Commercial Appeal
May 26, 2011
   A nonprofit organization authorized by the state to open Shelby County Schools' first charter school plans for it to be in Bartlett.
   Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], executive director of Smart Schools Inc., said his organization signed a 10-year lease Wednesday for a 9,300-square-foot building on Stage Road at Elmore Park Road. The building used to be occupied by FedEx Kinko's and AT&T.
   The group agreed to pay about $121,000 annually in rent for the first five years and about $139,000 per year for the remaining five years.
   "The renovations that we need to do are very minor," Henderson said. "... (We) should be in the space as early as late July."
   Smart Schools plans to open the New Consortium of Law and Business to about 35 seventh-graders in the county district this fall and add another grade next year.
   The official application process doesn't start until June 1, but the organization has already received more applications than spots available, Henderson said.
   "Parents are very interested," he said. "It's been parents of all walks, from every type of community inside of Shelby County."
   Shelby County Schools twice rejected the application from Smart Schools. Following an appeal filed by Smart Schools, the state Board of Education voted in January to require the district to approve the request.
   Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that are "chartered" by nonprofit organizations and operate outside of the control of local school boards.
   With approval from Memphis City Schools, Henderson opened a similar law and business charter school Downtown last year. He also started the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering in MCS.
   Henderson said the group plans to submit a proposed contract to the suburban district this week.
   County school board chairman David Pickler said the contract would be negotiated by Supt. John Aitken and SCS attorney Valerie Speakman.
   "At this point, the board has already reluctantly approved the agreement with them," Pickler said. " ... Our objective now is to ensure that this school meets the standards of Shelby County."

Top prep prospect Brian Kimbrow of East High School ready to pick college
Kimbrow expected to make choice Friday

By John Varlas, The Commercial Appeal
June 29, 2011
   Decision day is just around the corner for the top-rated high school football prospect in the Shelby-Metro area.
   East High coach Marcus Wimberley ['92 and Faculty] confirmed to The Commercial Appeal that star running back Brian Kimbrow will likely announce his college choice on Friday.
   Kimbrow is scheduled to make his choice known at the D1 Training Facility in Franklin, Tenn.
   "He's on his way up there now," Wimberley said late Tuesday afternoon.
   Kimbrow, who is ranked tops in Memphis according to rivals.com, is the No. 2 all-purpose running back prospect in the Class of 2012.
   He has offers from at least 24 schools, but Kimbrow said he would select from a list of finalists that includes Tennessee, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati and Notre Dame.
   "I'm just looking for somewhere that's comfortable for me," Kimbrow said. "Someplace that's a good fit."
   The 5-9, 165-pound Kimbrow ran for 1,557 yards (7.7 per carry) and scored 15 touchdowns for a Mustangs team that went 4-7 and lost to Ridgeway in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs in 2010.
   Blazing speed is Kimbrow's calling card; he has been clocked at 4.28 in the 40-yard dash on several occasions.
   Kimbrow's teammate, Will Redmond, is drawing a ton of recruiting interest too, but Wimberley said a decision doesn't appear to be imminent.
   "The earliest he might make a decision is late summer," Wimberley said. "He hasn't taken any trips yet ... Will is taking things a little slower."
   The 6-0, 179-pound dual-threat quarterback, who will be in his first season at East after transferring from Manassas, is also being recruited as a defensive back. He's rated 30th nationally among athletes according to rivals.com and is the fourth-rated prospect in the Shelby-Metro area.
   Among the schools that have offered are North Carolina, Clemson, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Memphis. Wimberley added that Redmond picked up an offer from Miami on Monday.

[The East High Alumni Page editor's note: Kimbrow committed to attend Vanderbilt University and Redmond chose Mississippi State University.]

Staying busy, getting involved help seniors maintain health, happiness

By Kathy K. Martin / Special to The Commercial Appeal
May 19, 2011
   ... Jerrold Graber ['57], 72, feels the same way. "I wouldn't even want to consider retirement," said the former securities broker and longtime volunteer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. "I think it's important to be around younger people...:
   Graber graduated from East High School in 1957 and went on to Princeton University, where he received his bachelor's degree in history. He returned to Memphis and worked for a family business before joining the securities industry in 1967. His career as a Memphis financial consultant spanned more than 40 years before he retired from that in 2007.
   His interest in serving the community began in 1963, when he became a member of the Phoenix Club, a volunteer group for people age 35 and younger who support the Boys & Girls Clubs. His involvement grew from there, and he went on to serve as board member and president of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
   He serves as a member of the organization's advisory board, chairman of the planned giving committee, a member of the investment committee and a trustee of the Boys Club Foundation.
   "Being involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs surrounds me with other volunteers of high ability and energy and the rewards of seeing 96 percent of last year's senior club members graduate is great payback," said Graber, who was recently presented with the national organization's National Medallion award given to no more than seven people each year. "We're filling a great need with a great service."
   His strong interest in civic groups also led him to volunteer over the years for Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Home and Rehabilitation Center and the Mental Health Association, and he was president of each group...

For a time the full artilce is available free from The Commercial Appeal

Taco Bell Tuesday Club: Old friends swap reminiscences, tall tales at weekly gathering

By Richard J. Alley, The Commercial Appeal
April 14, 2011
   If you have stopped for lunch at the Taco Bell at Estate and Poplar in East Memphis recently, odds are you've encountered a group of raucous, overgrown boys eating and reminiscing.
   What you have wandered into is the Taco Bell Tuesday Club. The club started eight months ago and now includes about 60 members, including quite a few characters.
   The club started eight months ago and now includes about 60 members, including quite a few characters.
   "We were always sitting in here on Tuesdays, and it started out as a joke, 'Hey, why don't we start a club?'" said 60-year-old Stanley Rogers ['69].
   That was eight months ago, and the five founding members -- Ernie Vescovo, a broker with First Horizon; Ronny Birmann, a retired traveling salesman; Ernie Barrasso, a retired casino executive and disco owner; Bud Cowgill, owner of Cabinet Services, and Rogers, who works in IT -- have grown into a roster numbering more than 60.
   The average age is about 65 (the oldest member, at 85, is Albert Caccamisi), and the parameters of the club are loosely defined, though members do have identification badges on lanyards and matching baseball caps with the bold letters "TBC" (Taco Bell Club) and a likeness of a taco embossed across the front.
   It's difficult to discern a leader of this party. Indeed, walking among them, the ringmaster of this circus seems to change from conversation to conversation, from colorful anecdote to anecdote.
   There is no telling what the common thread is here, but there are friendships that span half a century. How each is connected, though, is a puzzle in itself, which they are all too happy to put together; whether through high schools, lineage, neighborhoods, work or, more than likely, Elvis Presley.
   Many of them grew up with "The King" of rock and roll and knew him personally.
   "If Elvis was alive, he'd be sitting right over there," Harold Boone, 70, said pointing to an adjacent booth.
   Duke Brando, by far the youngest member at 34, says it's this knowledge that's a draw for him.
   "I'm just thankful to be able to know these guys because I'm the biggest Elvis fan there is, and these guys knew him as a person," Brando said.
   While every member may have a claim to Elvis, Gene Mason, onetime club owner and manager for the Bar-Kays and other Stax artists, also admitted, "We just come down here to see who can tell the biggest lie."
   In their golden years, their interests have turned to reminiscing. They are served tall tales and history with chalupas and nachos, washing them down with iced tea and memories. Their stories take them from Memphis to Hollywood and up to New York, and an auteur would do well to sit down with them over tacos to glean a story line or study a plot twist. There is certainly no shortage of characters.
   In the mix are investment brokers, club owners, police officers, a produce peddler, firefighters, security professional, casino executive and at least one bodyguard, almost all with "retired" behind their names.
   "There are no strangers in here," said Mason.
   Though the discussion tends to revolve around who they've known and who may be sick or hospitalized at the moment, it inevitably returns to the old days.
   "Back then, some Catholic schools had a dance every night; it was a place for us to go every night," said Fred Fredrick, 71, son-in-law of Stax co-founder Estelle Axton who regaled with the story of his first date with his wife, a double date with Elvis and Priscilla.
   Neighborhoods and schools are paramount in the group, a way to connect the dots. In that Taco Bell, the high schools represented include Catholic, South Side, Humes, Holy Names and Christian Brothers.
   On a recent Tuesday, they passed around an 8-by-10 photo of the group with member Larry Godwin ("His grandmother came over from Italy with my mother," Mason said) in uniform shortly after announcing his retirement as police director for Memphis.
   Other notable members include former mayor and sheriff Bill Morris and legendary street brawler George Tiller, Shelby County Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore, restaurateur Silky Sullivan and former Chicago Bear Bob Lyles.
   "We're trying not to let it fade away," Sullivan said.
   Rogers added, "It's a great town, and it's guys like this that keep the history alive."

Memphis basketball report: East star savors run to NCAA championship

By Marlon W. Morgan, The Commercial Appeal
April 8, 2011
   One of the reasons Adrienne Pratcher ['09] chose to attend Texas A&M is because she felt like the women's basketball program could do some amazing things under coach Gary Blair.
   But when the final horn sounded and the Aggies had defeated Notre Dame on Tuesday night, 76-70, to claim their first NCAA national championship, the sophomore point guard from East High was left stunned.
   "I was shocked and excited at the same time," Pratcher said, "because I never thought I would be in that situation, on a team that won a national championship."
   Pratcher was a backup point guard to Associated Press honorable mention All-American Sydney Colson. She played in 34 games, averaging 2.4 points and 1.0 rebounds for the 33-5 Aggies.
   She enjoyed the NCAA Tournament ride that saw Texas A&M knock off Big 12 rival Baylor, a No. 1 seed that beat the Aggies three times this season, in the Elite Eight, then follow that with a thrilling win over Stanford, another No. 1 seed, in the Final Four semifinal game.
   Pratcher's playing time diminished as Texas A&M advanced in the tournament. She played a total of five minutes at the Final Four, where her only disappointment was committing four turnovers.
   "I don't think it was so much me being nervous," she said. "I think it was me mentally probably not being ready to play. It was just me going out there and being nonchalant with the ball. The turnovers were very crucial. They were basically things that should never happen."
   Still, all was forgotten when the Aggies cut down the nets at Conseco Fieldhouse, then returned Wednesday to College Station, Texas, where thousands of fans filled Reed Arena to greet the champions.
   "It was a great experience," Pratcher said. "It made me realize how the people at this university feel about sports, how they feel about us as people, it was awesome. We had a great crowd. Afterwards, we got to sign autographs and mingle with the kids, so it was cool."
   Pratcher, who was the class valedictorian at East in 2009, looks forward to returning to Memphis later this spring to share her experience with family and friends. She's also already looking forward to next season, when she's expected to replace Colson at point guard.
   "I think this offseason I need to work on being a team leader, getting players together and working out," she said. "I need to work on my mid-range jumper and getting everything down pat so I can be ready for next season."

There is also on-line for an undertemined period of time a televsion news report about the same story: WREG.

233 graduate in Class of 2011

Writen by: editor
The East High Alumni Page
May 22, 2011

   Two hundred thirty-three students met the requirements for graduation from East High School and participated in graduation exercises Sunday, May 22, 2011, according to school principal Eric Harris ('91 and current Faculty).
   The sixty-first commencement of East High School took place in the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Memphis.
    Chas McVean ('61), the graduation speaker, told the seniors just before they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, that for those going ton to college, the next six months may be the most important time of their lives. For those not planning to enter a 4 or 2 year college, McVean suggested that what ever field of work they enter to do their very best every day. Saying that this is a great country, McVean told them if they do that, someone will notice. As an example of what can be accomplished, he cited a new company he has established to manufacturer and sell electric bicycles. McVean said he paid a search firm $50,000 to find the person in the United States of America who knew the most about building bicycles. After about a 6 month search, the firm came back with a name and McVean said let's get him to Memphis and hire him. First, though, the search firm wanted McVean to know one thing about the individual, he never attended one day of college. McVean said his response was, "get him to Memphis and let's hire him."
    McVean also noted there have been changes at East High since he graduated in 1961 but he said the colors that matter are red and gray, not the color of one's skin. East High was once an all white high school in the segregated Memphis City School system. Today, nearly all the students are African American.
    Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash released the diplomas to the students and congratulated each as they walked back to their seats.
    Sometimes, not all the graduation candidates that participate in commencement actually graduate at that time, as all the elements that go into the final grades may not have been received. Nevertheless, seniors were offered $2.3-million dollars in scholarships this year, according to school counselor LaTanya Pratcher.
    Principal Eric Harris concluded the remarks at the graduation by addressing "the Class of 2011 one last time:"
   No matter what has been said about you, no matter what has been done to you, positive or negative, beginning tomorrow, none of that will matter. Whether you have overcome serious adversity, or worked hard to be at the top of your class, none of that will matter tomorrow. Because tomorrow begins your life, and you have the choice to follow a worn path or begin a new one.
   To borrow from the book of Lamentations:
   "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
   I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
   Yet this is the moment I call to mind and therefore I will have hope"
   As I close my charge to you, 2011, remember that whatever it is you chose to do beginning tomorrow, always remember East High School is now your alma mater, and you are the sixty-first class to have that honor.
   As a fellow alum I truly wish you all the best there is.

    Before the final procession, the Class of 2011 rose and along with the Chorus, accompanied by the East band, sang the first verse of the East High School Alma Mater.


Tennessee governor talks with educators at East High meeting

The Commercial Appeal
April 7, 2011
   Memphis teachers tell Governor Haslam their fears about new evaluation process
   Gov. Bill Haslam got thoughtful advice from school insiders over eggs and toast Thursday about engaging parents and freeing teachers from numbing loads of paperwork...
   Haslam made several appearances Thursday, including at Margolin Hebrew Academy and a groundbreaking in Millington for the three-mile Veterans Parkway, a $19 million project to link Paul Barret Parkway with U.S. 51 on the north.
   He started the day at East with Kevin Huffman -- his newly installed commissioner of education -- telling about 40 city and county educators he wanted to know what they tell their best friends about work.
   "That's what we are here to talk about, the things you think we should know..."


Consignment shop in Cooper-Young fills high-end niche

By Lesley Young, The Commercial Appeal
March 30, 2011
   Elayne Perry's ['94] first fling with fashion happened around the time she started applying makeup in high school.
   "I liked to match my lipsticks. I remember this one outfit. I wore orange lipstick, carried an orange purse, wore an orange short set and orange Esprit sandals. I thought I was the cutest thing," she said.
   "I looked like a little pumpkin."
   Though her unique style earned her a nomination for "best dressed" at East High School, these days the 35-year-old native Memphian has traded her fondness for conformity in for name brands such as Vera Wang and Trina Turk.
   Keeping up with the latest spreads in Vogue magazine has had its consequences for the clotheshorse.
   "I am a total shopaholic. I buy so many different things," she said. "My mom gets onto me. She'll say, 'You have a $600 bag. Are you serious, Elayne?'"
   Perry decided to combine her weakness for a good wardrobe with her dream to have her own business and open a high-end consignment shop in the Cooper-Young area.
   "I think fashion says a lot about you," she said. "It can boost your self-esteem, and you don't have to spend $700 on an outfit to look good."
   This Saturday, Perry will presents her collection of high-end habiliments at the grand opening of Charm Boutique, 2296 Young.
   "It's going to be a ball. I'll have desserts and champagne, and I'll be giving out gift cards to the first 20 folks who come in," Perry said.
   So far Perry has acquired more than 300 items, including garments, accessories and shoes, boasting such illustrious labels as Gucci and BCBG, some of them from her own closet.
   "A lot of garments still have the tag on them," she said. "I also try to find out what the celebrities are wearing and look for that. I know a lot of people are wearing Tory Burch. I don't have any of hers, so I definitely want it."
   She has a list of 10 consigners, drawing both locally and from out of town, and maintains strict guidelines for what she will accept.
   "Consigners come in by appointment only. The clothes have to be in good to excellent condition, pressed and clean, and in season and up to date," she said. "I don't want it to become or be perceived as a thrift store."
   Consigners will receive 40 percent of sales, and if an item doesn't sell within 90 days, they have the option to either pick it up or donate it to charity.
   Opening her own business hasn't been a smooth ride for Perry, who will run the business from her home in Houston, Texas.
   She was poised to open her doors last October, but a mechanical fire put a hole in her ceiling and destroyed all of her equipment.
   "It was so heartbreaking," she said. "My feelings were so hurt."
   Over the winter, while a construction crew gutted and restored the space, Perry continued to meet with consigners at local eateries and her mother's house, determined not to fold.
   "It's amazing they were willing to trust me and drop off these really nice items just meeting me at a deli or at the Clark Tower," she said.
   "This is something I am passionate about. I love dressing up. It's natural to me. It's something that's just in me."

Careful management lets Hope House expand help to city's most vulnerable kids

By Jonathan Devin, The Commercial Appeal
March 26, 2011
   Hope House is emerging from a nationwide slump in charitable giving with the realization that raising funds after the recession means getting the lead out.
   For Memphis' only early childhood education center for preschoolers with HIV, exterior renovations, tree care and lead abatement are all i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed when preparing to compete for grants.
   "We've talked about buying just one modern building, but part of the charm for our children is that we have houses," said Dr. Betty Dupont, executive director, referring to the three turn-of-the-century houses on South Idlewild in Midtown where Hope House is located. "In poverty, mostly what children have is institutional settings."
   At Hope House, about two dozen children affected by HIV/AIDS prepare for kindergarten with lessons and directed play designed to alleviate the stress of home life and poverty.
   For example, Hope House has a play therapy room where two social workers play with children such as a boy who watched his mother being murdered. In therapy, the boy buried a hand-sized coffin in a sandbox.
   Dupont knew that change was in the air in 2008 when the recession hit and purposefully did not fill staff positions that became vacant through natural attrition. In the fall, though, she hopes to add one, possibly two new teacher positions, and to do so, she had to do some house cleaning.
   The Plough Foundation and Assisi Foundation agreed to provide funding for major renovations but were concerned about the organization performing at capacity, so the Plough Foundation challenged Hope House with a matching grant of $250,000 and two years to raise the match.
   "I wanted to grow our endowment to $1 million so we could use the income to cover two additional classrooms," Dupont said.
   Plough and Assisi money paid for siding and new roofs on all three houses and pruning of several century-old oak trees on the property that had become a safety concern.
   Hope House's accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children required lead abatement of all interior walls, which will begin this summer after the program's graduation.
   "They have to take out all of the walls right after graduation," said Kevin Dean, Hope House's director of development. "First, all of us will be moving everything out of the middle house and into PODS. All of the kids' programs will move to the house at 27 S. Idlewild, and then again to 23 S. Idlewild."
   The work will take most of the summer and will cost about $50,000 for each house. Proceeds from special events like a 5K run in March and a golf tournament in April, as well as gifts from other groups such as Carnival Memphis, will help them reach their match.
   If that sounds like a lot of work to keep the agency in good shape for future fundraising, it may well pay off in the end.
   Diane Rudner ['68], board chairman of the Plough Foundation, said scrutiny of grant applications is at an all-time high and relationships are more important than ever.
   For example, Rudner said that it is much harder to award grants for endowments these days because the income from interest is not as certain as it used to be. Also, foundations are looking closely at whether it makes more sense to buy a new building than to repair an old one.
   Hope House was an exception in both of those cases.
   "Hope House is very different because we've known the organization a long time," said Rudner, noting that the Plough Foundation was an original contributor to Hope House when it was founded by the Junior League 15 years ago.
   Agencies, she said, need to prove financial health and not ask for money to repay existing debt, and they need to demonstrate that they have cut as many expenses, including staff, as possible.
   Most important, Rudner said, agencies must not duplicate other programs.
   If the numbers line up for Hope House the way Dupont expects them to, the agency should be able to raise its capacity to 40 children within the next couple of years.

A Bridge to Cross
Harahan at center of ambitious pedestrian, cycling plan

By Bill Dries, The Daily News
March 28, 2011
   Martyrs Park sits atop the Chickasaw Bluff and overlooks the Mississippi River, its lone modern sculpture a memorial to victims of the 19th century Yellow Fever epidemics that devastated Memphis from the 1850s through the 1870s.
   Nearby on the bluff is the First Unitarian Church of the River, whose modern open space facing the river is the perfect companion to the sculpture. A rail line passes the church en route to the 94-year-old Harahan Bridge, whose stark metal work and an ornate wrought iron rail clearly come from an earlier era.
   The church's open space and adjacent park offer a view of the river and a trio of bridges, including the Harahan, but this spot has never reached the same popularity for strolling and viewing as Tom Lee Park or Greenbelt Park on Mud Island.
   That is already changing. With the first weekend of spring-like weather just ahead of the season's arrival by the calendar, the area, bordered by tall grass where the bluff begins its rapid drop to a rising river, bristled with bicyclists and walkers and river watchers.
   The oldest of the three bridges, the Frisco Bridge, was once the only bridge across the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. The three bridges still handle cars, trucks and rail traffic. And under an ambitious plan, one of the old "wagon ways" on the Harahan may again be opened to pedestrians and bicyclists as a boardwalk that links a system of trails on both sides of the river.
   Memphis commodities broker Charles McVean ['61] is lending important connections to the effort and is as relentless in his pursuit as the trains that cross the bridge daily. McVean's goal is to have people walking and bicycling across the Harahan in 18 months at a cost he estimates at "several million dollars."
   "This is big," he said. "We're going to go across that bridge."
   Terry Eastin, executive director of the Mississippi River Trail Inc., has watched the recent trail fever in Memphis from Fayetteville, Ark., with growing interest. Eastin's group has set a goal of 3,000 miles of bike-friendly roads and pathways connecting 10 states – and the Bluff City has been a cornerstone of that ideal.
   "It's fun to watch Memphis come alive," she said. "It's such a change from when I started this job in 2005. It's as though the entire culture of the city has undergone this wonderful transformation."
   She has met with McVean about the Harahan project, something she endorses for many of the same reasons McVean does.
   "We place a pretty darn high priority on that bridge," she said. "Right now with no bridge crossing at all in Memphis, it's hard for us to be able to direct riders to go that way. You just can't cross the river unless you have a car or rent a taxi or have some other vehicle to take you across. This bridge will change all of that."
   McVean also said the bridge crossing is bigger than just the view of the Mississippi River. He hopes the bridge can be the start of a link to a 120-mile riverside levee bike path being planned between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.
   "The trade balance of any political entity is very important to its economic vitality," he said as he talked of the international biking community coming to Memphis to ride a regional trail system along the Mississippi River. "This project could drive a powerful swing in our region's net balance of trade and tourism."
   The venture also becomes more complex on the Arkansas side of the boardwalk.
   Crittenden County elected leaders, including Arkansas state representative and former West Memphis mayor Keith Ingram, were among those in the group that went to Omaha, Neb., in February to meet with executives from Union Pacific Corp. – the railroad that owns and operates Harahan – about access to the bridge.
   They are already working toward a levee park that could include trails along river levees in Arkansas. It's also a goal of some trail advocates in North Mississippi.
   Those advocates have talked of the ease of maintaining the levee tops with asphalt trails and pathways for bicyclists. But the levees weren't built as roads; they were built as flood control projects and the boards that administer them have, in some cases, been concerned about what public access might mean. For now the levees are a politically sensitive topic that few want to comment about on the record.
   Despite the political roadblocks that remain, McVean has brought the same energy and high level connections to the Harahan effort that he has brought to other ventures, including a bid to race hackney ponies with electronically controlled jockeys and his efforts to promote his alma mater East High School.
   McVean founded the Greater East High Foundation in 2004. Its goal was to pay upperclassmen at the school $10 an hour to tutor underclassmen. McVean put some of his own money into the venture and helped get others to contribute.
   When McVean put a political fundraiser in Omaha on his busy 2008 calendar, he took a University of Memphis student with him and the two got face time with then-President George W. Bush to talk about the program. Bush himself got the group in touch with John Bailey, a domestic counsel at the U.S. Department of Education.
   That Omaha event was a fundraiser for the successful U.S. Senate campaign of Mike Johanns, the former governor of Nebraska, who is a personal friend of McVean's.
   Johanns was instrumental in getting the Memphis delegation in front of Union Pacific CEO James Young earlier this year to make its Harahan Bridge proposal.
   The project is near and dear to McVean for other reasons as well. He is developing and marketing an aerobic cruiser hybrid bicycle and is just as avid about bicycling as an international tourism draw. His new venture, Cruiser's High Point Hub, is a lifestyle center for bicycle enthusiasts about to open near the Shelby Farms Greenline.
   "The enemies of bicycling are automobiles, hills, winds and altitude," he said. "But if we control the automobiles, our flat temperate zone, low wind, is an ideal place for bicycling."
   The bridge, which has two rail lines and originally had wagon ways on both of its sides, was built after the Frisco Bridge but before the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge (also known as the Interstate 55 or "old" bridge), the two spans that parallel the Harahan.
   The bridge was designed by Ralph Modjeski, co founder of the Modjeski and Masters bridge engineering firm of Mechanicsburg, Penn., now being used by Union Pacific in its study of how a bridge boardwalk might be designed.
   Union Pacific officials could not be reached by press time for comment on the bridge project, but the Memphis delegates returned from Omaha in February saying Young told them the railroad would work to make it happen.
   For now, the project involves the Memphis group and the railroad assessing whether the steel framework that once held the wooden wagon way can support a boardwalk with pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
   "It's counterintuitive, but a crowd of people out there to watch fireworks could put more weight on it than cars and trucks," McVean said of a very preliminary study he's had in consulting with engineers.
   "There's no doubt that our group will end up retaining a structural engineering company to interface with the railroad's engineering consultants and move forward to put a plan together," McVean said.
   The city's engineer is also consulting with Union Pacific executives on the bridge, which McVean described as "overbuilt."
   "Back in those days if you wanted to be the greatest bridge builder you didn't want bridge failure," he said. "There was only one way to be sure and that was to overbuild."
   Access directly to the bridge is still difficult and limited because of railroad security needs. The rail line that runs directly by the Church of the River has a chain link fence on both sides.
   It once didn't, and the area was the scene of several protests in the 1980s and 1990s by groups calling attention to trains they said were hauling nuclear weapons and waste through the city. Access would change with plans to restore the wagon way on the north side of the Harahan. By choosing that side, the Memphis group avoids any rail crossings that might add safety concerns. The north side of the bridge also offers an unblocked view of the Mississippi River and the city skyline.
   But McVean's aspirations don't end there – he wants to connect the city's burgeoning network of bike and walking paths.
   That's why McVean also is pursuing a link from the Harahan to the Shelby Farms Greenline, the wildly popular and busy rail-to-trail project whose western terminus is at Tillman and Walnut Grove Road. Lately, McVean has thought of Holmes Road, further east, as a connecting point for the trail to Downtown and the river.
   "I'm all in favor of Tillman," McVean said. "But there remains the fact of that dangerous intersection at Tillman and Sam Cooper. Holmes has got an underpass under Sam Cooper."
   McVean originally wondered aloud about a bicycle path along the tree-lined median of North Parkway. But since then, the city of Memphis has begun exploring bicycle lanes in both directions on the parkway itself.
   "However we do it," McVean said, "I think that we've got to have the vision to recognize that we've got to have a first-class route to get from Shelby Farms to the bridge."

The final mile: Memphian laces up running shoes for last time

By Mike Mueller, Memphis Magazine
March 14, 2011
   As 75-year-old Mike Cody ['54] ran on the track at Rhodes College on Sunday afternoon, his college coach Freeman Marr, 86, watched his former star's final race from the stands.
   On doctor's orders, Cody was running what would be the final mile of a remarkable, nearly lifelong running career.
   "Hey, Coach! What a lead!" Cody shouted to Marr as he distanced himself from four longtime friends accompanying him.
   Cody finished in 8:52, ending a career that began on the Rhodes (then Southwestern at Memphis) campus. He logged more than 80,000 miles.
   "Shut the book at 80,345," a beaming Cody said as he took his shoes off.
   Cody didn't log his miles for the first 20 years of his career and credited himself only an average of 1,000 miles per year during that time.
   A Memphis native, local lawyer and former state Attorney General, U.S. Attorney, Memphis City Council member and mayoral candidate, Cody ran competitively since his junior year at East High School in 1953.
   East High didn't have a track, so Cody would practice at Southwestern, which he would later attend on scholarship.
   Marr, track coach at Southwestern during Cody's final three years at the school, recalled some of his star's accomplishments as he watched him circle the track for the final time.
   He said at one meet, Cody ran the mile, the quarter-mile, the half-mile, the 2-mile and the anchor leg in the mile relay and won them all.
   "He did an unbelievable, unthinkable thing," said Marr.
   For Cody, running has been a "positive addiction" since he outran his father in a race to a pier in Pensacola, Fla., as a kid.
   While he argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, running is what cleared his head, he said.
   Cody's decision to hang up his shoes came after "a most peculiar injury," he said.
   The mileage on Cody's feet has worn away his heel pads, leaving no cushion between skin and bone. Cody said after about 40 minutes of running, his feet are "on fire."
   A doctor and friend of Cody's told him if he doesn't stop running, he won't be able to walk without pain.
   "That's the issue with 80,000 miles, they don't give you any retreads," he said. "I hope to live a number of more years and I hope not to be all crippled up."
   For Cody's wife, Suzi, watching her husband run for the final time was difficult.
   "It was emotional for me. I can't believe it was his last," she said. "Ever since I've known him he's been running. It's a reality that hasn't quite sunk in yet."
   Cody plans to replace running with other forms of exercise. But he knows he'll miss running, he said, especially "in beautiful places on beautiful days."
   "There will be days when I look out the window and it'll be hard not to put on the shoes to get back in that old feeling."

Battering Ram
The Tragedy of Busing Revisited

John Branston, Memphis Magazine
March, 2011
   [Memphis Magazine] Editor's note: Fifty years ago this coming October, the Memphis City Schools system was desegregated by 13 first-graders chosen, with considerable difficulty, by leaders of the NAACP. At first the process was slow; ten years later, the federal courts speeded things up by approving forced busing to achieve integration.
   By 1974, more than 30,000 students had left the Memphis public schools, and Memphis had the largest private-school system in the country. Busing was a life-changing and city-transforming experience. The people who remember the early 1970s — black and white, parent and student, teacher and administrator — still say that.
   Today, in the spring of 2011, we are at another key moment in our educational history. Barring intervention by the courts or state legislature, Memphis voters will likely decide on March 8th whether to surrender the Memphis City Schools charter and transfer control to Shelby County Schools, effectively merging the two systems.
   This story is built around an earlier one, originally published in the December 1995 issue of this magazine. John Branston, the author, updated and included that article in his 2004 book, Rowdy Memphis: The South Unscripted. Our thought is that publishing a revised version at this time will provide historical perspective as Memphians try to make up their minds how to vote, and, if the referendum passes, a new system is invented.
   Many of the principal figures Branston interviewed in 1995 are no longer alive, including federal judge Robert McRae, who presided over Memphis desegregation cases for 20 years, and MCS attorney Louis Lucas, who argued the case for busing as a desegregation tool; McRae died in 2004, Lucas in 2005. But other key players are still active in public life, and while many are retired, most are following recent events with keen interest. Their observations are included here, along with those of others who well remember the tumultuous years of 1973 and 1974 that tore Memphis apart.
   So as this city and this county begin the process of reinvention that might possibly create a unified school system of 150,000 students — roughly the same size MCS was in 1970 — we look back, but we also look forward. Another era of change has begun.

   On a Memphis summer morning in 1971, seventeen years after the highest court in the land outlawed segregation, the mayor of Memphis, Henry Loeb, pulled up to the intersection of Poplar and Third, glanced out his window, and saw the familiar face of U.S. District Judge Robert S. McRae.
   Loeb, who was on the passenger side next to his plainclothes policeman driver, rolled down the window, looked at McRae, and hollered, "Hey, you son-of-a-bitch, quit integratin' those schools," then grinned his famous grin and sped away.
   The mayor pretty much expressed the sentiments of the majority of his white constituents at that time. But Judge McRae wasn't about to quit "integratin'" those schools. In fact, he had only just begun.
   The next year, McRae ordered desegregation Plan A to bus 13,789 students. A year later, he followed it up with Plan Z, which called for the busing of nearly 40,000 students. Those students and their schools would knock down the legal walls of segregation. Or the legal walls, at least.
   The issue of busing would dominate the political and social life of this city during the 1970s, and well into the next decade. Busing was not unique to Memphis, of course. In city after city in both the North and South, federal courts called upon local school boards to use their public school systems as battering rams for integration.
   With an evident eye to the future, the courts' chosen method involved children. Other approaches that might have focused upon adults — for example, the use of property-tax rebates to encourage integrated neighborhoods — were put aside. As a result, the American dream of the melting pot and equal opportunity was set against the American dream of choosing a home and raising a family in a nice neighborhood with good schools.
   It was no contest. Tens of thousands of white Memphians, some racist, many not, fled the city for points north, south, and east. Looking back, it is difficult to imagine anything that the most powerful pro-suburban real estate developers and politicians in town could have concocted that would have done more to accelerate urban sprawl and the growth of Shelby County, and contributed more to the decline of the city of Memphis and its public schools.
   Plan Z failed for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the main one is that, in a democracy, people cannot be denied the right to vote with their feet. And Memphis and Shelby County, with its peculiar geography, two-headed government, separate school systems, and powerful churches, gave them options ranging from private schools to county schools to Mississippi schools just minutes away.
   One of the most prophetic statements in the massive court record of Northcross v. Memphis Board of Education, the original Memphis schools desegregation case, was made by Federal Appeals Court Judge Paul C. Weick. In 1972, the appeals court upheld Memphis' first court-ordered busing plan, called Plan A, on a 2-1 vote. Weick dissented.
   "The average American couple who are raising their children scrape and save money to buy a home in a nice residential neighborhood near a public school," he wrote. "One can imagine their frustration when they find their plans have been destroyed by the judgment of federal courts. . . . The burden of eliminating all the ills of society should not be placed on public school systems and innocent school children."
   Busing didn't create the suburbs, of course, but it certainly accelerated a process that was already well under way. In the two previous decades (1950-1970), the white population of Memphis had decreased by 2 percent while the black population had increased 2 percent, according to census reports. That decline of the white population would have been even greater had it not been for the annexation of parts of East Memphis, Frayser, Parkway Village, and Oakhaven during that time. And busing came at a time when developers were building suburban office complexes, and when governments were building the roads to get people to the far reaches of Shelby County. Busing gave thousands of white Memphians one more reason to use them.
   What was lost in the process, more than anything else, was something best described as "connectedness," for want of a better word. Connectedness is the difference between a geographic area and a neighborhood, between school attendance and school spirit, and between a group of people and a caring community. Memphis still hurts for connectedness, and busing is partly to blame.
   In its follow-up to the 1954 Brown V. Topeka Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court said schools must be integrated with "all deliberate speed." In Memphis and the states of the Deep South, "all deliberate speed" meant very slow. In 1960, there still were no black students in mixed schools in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana.
   In 1958, 8-year-old Gerald E. Young tried to enroll at all-white Vollentine Elementary in Memphis but was turned away by the attendance officer, the superintendent, and finally the school board.
   In 1960, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit, Northcross v. Memphis Board of Education. Dr. T. W. Northcross was a Memphis dentist whose daughter Deborah was 8 years old. He was on the executive committee of the NAACP and an independent businessman who could handle reprisals better than others. At the time, there were 53,142 white children and 42,061 black children in the system, all attending segregated schools.
   "You have to remember where we were coming from," says former Memphis NAACP Executive Secretary Maxine Smith. "In the years after Brown, absolutely nothing was done here to integrate our schools. They started building all-black schools like Carver and Lester near white neighborhoods just to keep [blacks] out of schools like Southside and East. It was shameful."
   Maxine Smith helped persuade parents to let their children be used as pioneers when desegregation began in 1961. "I bet we went to 200 homes trying to get volunteers," says Smith. "It was difficult to persuade the mothers that this was good for their kids."
   Compounding the problem, classes had already started when integration began that October, and students were enrolled in neighborhood schools with their friends. And in the cruelest stroke of all, the desegregation plan called for integrating one grade at a time, starting with the first grade.
   The 13 students whose parents eventually agreed to participate were assigned to four schools, with no more than four black students at any one school. Dwania Kyles said classmates asked to see her tail "because black people were supposed to have tails." Michael Willis, who later changed his name to Menelik Fombi, was called "rich nigger" because he came to school in his parents' Cadillac. Deep down inside, he admitted years later, he wished he had not gone through it. For E.C. Marcel Freeman, the desegregation experience was not as traumatic.
   Now E.C. Fentress, she was one of four black students assigned to Rozelle Elementary School.
   "That opportunity to learn what other students were learning was magnificent," she says. "I can only guess that my experiences were different because I was quiet. I kind of stayed to myself."
   Deborah Northcross, namesake of the Memphis lawsuit, graduated from an integrated Central High School in 1969 and went to college at Mount Holyoke. She is grateful to Central for giving her a good education, newer textbooks than the ones used by her friends at all-black schools, and a heavier homework load. But she feels whites then and now often get the wrong message.
   "Desegregation gave whites the impression we wanted to be with them," she says. "That was not the point. It was a matter of school choice and educational equity."
   The 12 years that Fombi, Kyles, Northcross, and Freeman spent in the Memphis public schools from 1961 to 1973 spanned the major milestones of both desegregation and re-segregation. The grade-a-year plan held for five years as the pace of integration increased all across the country. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1965. In 1966 the Memphis city schools faculty was integrated, and all 12 grades were integrated, often with only token numbers. By 1969, for example, East High School still had 1,866 white students and only 19 blacks. Nearby Lester Junior High and High School were all black.
   Desegregation began in earnest in 1971, with the Supreme Court's decision approving busing as a means of desegregation. Student enrollment reached an all-time high of 148,015 in 1970-71, making the Memphis City Schools system the tenth largest in the country. By 1973, all deliberate speed had become full speed ahead, thanks to Desegregation Plans A and Z and Judge McRae.
   In retirement, two decades later, McRae isolated himself in a carrel at the University of Memphis library and prepared a nine-part oral history for the Mississippi Valley Collection. He was surrounded by newspaper clippings, court documents, boxes full of old hate mail, and a score of yellow legal pads in which he wrote notes in longhand. His famous red judicial robe was replaced by casual clothes and an ever-present Greek fisherman's cap.
   Did it work, a visitor asked?
   "Yes it worked," he said. "People are going to debate that because they disagree on what the purpose was, but yes, it worked. The plan was to get rid of the biracial school system. It did. It wasn't part of the plan to run the whites off. They just left."
   That they did. After Plan A ordered the busing of 13,789 students in 1973, approximately 8,000 white students left the system. A federal appeals court ruled that busing was "but a first step." Plan Z called for busing 39,904 students, although only 28,000 actually participated. Another 20,000 white students left the system. Within a year, Memphis had the largest private (and segregated) school system in the country.
   Said McRae in 1995: "I tried to stop with Plan A but the appeals court wouldn't allow that. I was disappointed in the reaction to Plan Z. But I had to keep a stiff upper lip because this [reaction] was an act of defiance. Still I was disappointed that we hadn't come up with something that worked.
   "No, I wouldn't do it any other way. I am convinced there was nobody who could have settled this the way the parties were opposed. Somewhere along the line I became convinced that it was morally right to desegregate the schools."
   It is often overlooked that for a variety of reasons Plan Z was not popular with many blacks either. The NAACP wanted 60,000 not 40,000 students bused and sued to overrule Plan Z, which it called "a grotesque distortion of the law." A total of 26 inner-city schools were never integrated because, take your pick, there were not enough white students to go around or because the architects of desegregation believed white students would refuse to attend them. Black parents complained to civil rights lawyers that marijuana and LSD were far more common at white schools like East than at black schools. Others were worried to the point of tears at putting their children on buses.
   "Judge McRae was as easy on the school system as he could possibly have been," says O.Z. Stephens, a former city schools official who helped devise the desegregation plan. "Plan A might have held the white population but we would not have had integration. It was something that had to be tried. We would not have had any rest in this city until it was tried. Plus, the Constitution said we had to." So O.Z. Stephens wrote Plan Z.
   The title was McRae's idea. After Plan A, he didn't want to deal with a succession of Plans B, C, and D etc. So he dubbed the first acceptable plan Plan Z in hopes that it would be the terminal plan. For the most part, it was.
   "Inasmuch as my middle initial was Z, I got tagged with it," says Stephens. "My identification with Plan Z killed me professionally in the school system."
   Still, he called McRae a profile in courage who could easily have ruled in favor of the school board, let the appellate court overrule him, and let them take the heat. Stephens' unsung hero of school desegregation is John P. Freeman, superintendent of Memphis schools in the busing years.
   "He was a big, tough, salty South Memphis railroader and product of the school system. He had been a navigator on a B-17 bomber in World War II and could be unbelievably profane but he had a big heart. He was the one who went head to head with Mayor Wyeth Chandler over all the impediments. When the bus drivers threatened to walk out, he railed at them, 'you blankety-blanks will blankety-blank pick up those little kids.' And they did."
   There was at least one partial success story which has survived. Optional schools are magnet schools or schools within schools for college-bound students or students with a special interest in theater or some other area. These are open to students from outside their attendance zone and include some of the few racially balanced schools in the city. Started in 1975, optional schools like Grahamwood Elementary and White Station High School had a distillation effect that concentrated a high percentage of high achievers while gutting other schools of their best and brightest, both black and white.
   By the mid-Nineties, the effect was obvious on teachers like Karen Champion at Central High School, a 1967 graduate of Hamilton High School.
   "Our games were packed when I was at Hamilton," she says. "Now unless the team is great it's difficult to get fans. When kids don't live in the neighborhood and can't walk to games, there is not as much loyalty to the school."
   Memphis attorney Louis Lucas was one of the legal masterminds of school desegregation, working with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Lucas believed systematic segregation did not go away after Jim Crow laws were struck down. It continued because of neighborhood patterns influenced by bankers and realtors and school attendance zones drawn for years by a whites-only board of education.
   Several years after the great busing experiment, Lucas moved to Germantown. His daughters attended Shelby County schools that were overwhelmingly white. "My kids went to county schools because that is where we lived when we had children. We didn't move out there for the schools."
   For whatever reasons, thousands of families moved to the suburbs after busing. In 2011, white flight and black flight from the inner city is very much an ongoing process. Memphis City Schools enrollment of 103,593 includes 92,157 blacks, 1,438 Asians, 7,067 Hispanics, and 7,655 whites. The number of whites would be even lower had the system not absorbed former county schools in annexation areas. Put another way, the chances are better than 90 percent that a black or Hispanic student attends a high school that is 99 percent or 100 percent minority and more than 90 percent economically disadvantaged. Only two city high schools, White Station and Cordova, come close to matching the city demographics as a whole.
   The Shelby County school system has 47,342 students including 25,244 whites, 18,226 blacks, 2,340 Asians, and 2,233 Hispanics. As Memphis demolished its housing projects, subsidized housing was dispersed, with a heavy concentration in Hickory Hill, and other annexation areas. When pending Memphis annexations are completed, 12 schools operated now by Shelby County Schools are scheduled to become Memphis schools.
   Nine of those 12 schools are majority-black. In all, these 12 schools have 7,656 black students, or more than 40 percent of the black students in the county system. One of them, Southwind High School, has 1,764 students but only 18 of them are white, a ratio quite similar in reverse to East High School in 1969.
   The Southwind anomaly was noted by U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald in her 2007 review of the county schools' compliance with federal desegregation orders. She ordered the county system to redistrict to achieve better racial balance, but a federal appeals court overruled her in 2009.
   In a line of reasoning that was ironically opposite the federal court's affirmation of busing in 1972, this appeals court said the school district has no duty to remedy imbalance caused by demographic factors, annexation, and "voluntary housing choices made by the public."
   The idea of surrendering the Memphis City Schools charter and merging the school systems is not new. Maxine Smith recalls an effort in 1976 that failed by a narrow vote on the school board when she was a member. Smith is a supporter of the referendum. At a rally earlier this year, she predicted that it would pass. "They know we are right and they know we are going to win."
   Julian Bolton, a Memphis attorney and former member of the Shelby County Commission, was involved in another merger effort in 1990.
   The commission was redistricting to increase black representation. Suburban interests countered with a threat to secede and create a new county, Nashoba County. The underlying reason was fear of school system consolidation.
   Bolton vividly recalls a meeting at Bartlett High School in a gymnasium packed with more than 3,000 people. He was the only county official to speak, and he did not mince words. "I said that county commissioners swore an oath to Shelby County and could be removed from office for violating their oath," Bolton said. "They were booing me, and a sheriff's deputy rushed me out of the auditorium."
   Two years later, newly elected Memphis mayor Willie Herenton picked up the cause, suggesting in an interview with The New York Times that Memphis could surrender its charter and thereby consolidate with Shelby County. A task force concluded that would be difficult, at best, and nothing came of it.
   "I did not want Memphis to become another Detroit," Herenton says now. "I saw that white flight left cities black and poor."
   During his four and one-half terms as mayor, Herenton supported several attempts to revamp the school systems by committee, but although the intentions were always admirable, the results were negligible. The failure of those efforts convinced many of the current charter surrender activists that negotiations with county school board members and suburban mayors were futile.
   O.Z. Stephens retired from Memphis City Schools in 1984 after 30 years. He lives in Bartlett. In a recent interview, he said he would vote against the merger if he lived in Memphis. He believes a 150,000-student system is too big. And he predicts another round of white flight if the merger passes.
   "Then they will start tinkering," he said. "I can just hear some of the thoughts. 'We've been talking about closing 50 schools. We've got all these portable classrooms in Bartlett and Germantown. We don't need to build any more schools out there. Let's bring them here.' I guarantee some talk like that is going to emerge. The minute it does, bye-bye."
   Virginia Burnette was the mother of four school-age daughters when busing began. She and her husband, a Methodist minister, decided it was their Christian duty to make the best of what was, she says "the most tumultuous time of my life."
   Her youngest daughter went to Dunbar Elementary in south Memphis with about 40 other white children. Virginia went to class with her for a few weeks and was PTA president. It was a hard year, but she remembers humorous moments too. Someone asked if her daughter was "bright," meaning light-skinned. "I said, yes, she is very smart."
   One day Virginia read the class a poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, namesake of the school. Doing her best to speak in dialect and explain that "black" was not a literal color but more akin to chocolate, she asked, "What do you call me?"
   A little boy piped up, "We call you a honky."
   Ridgeway was the Burnettes' brand-new neighborhood school, but their oldest daughter was bused to Melrose. As she boarded the bus for the first day, she assured her mother everything would be fine. There was a bomb scare that afternoon.
   "That was the biggest single witness we ever participated in because we gave our children to Memphis City Schools," said Burnette. "It was your Christian discipleship that was at stake. We thought we were doing the right thing and I think we were. Our children did not suffer." All of Burnette's daughters went to college and had professional careers. Now living in Cordova, Burnette said she would vote for the referendum.
   At 79 years old, Joe Clayton is the white-haired eminence of the Shelby County Schools Board of Education. When he retires next year, his career will have spanned three generations and three school systems — Memphis, Shelby County, and Briarcrest Christian Schools, where he was principal of the high school from 1974 to 1996. Like Virginia Burnette, he says 1974 was a test of his Christian faith.
   "In the spring of 1974 I was principal at Overton High School when we graduated 600 students, the largest senior class in the history of Memphis City Schools. Briarcrest had opened an elementary school in 1973 and wanted to start a high school. When I was contacted by the board, I did a lot of praying because I had been in public education for so long, but God had other plans for my life. My life plan was to spend the next 22 years of my life bringing Briarcrest into existence.
   "It blows my mind even today. We opened with 963 students, and 103 of those were seniors, which meant they had left another school. By the second year we were accredited. That school was a miracle school. It just took off and never looked back."
   The school's first location was on Sweetbriar in East Memphis. It has moved further east as its enrollment has grown. The movie The Blind Side is based on the life of Briarcrest student Michael Oher and the Tuohy family.
   Clayton sees similarities between then and now. "When I went to Overton in 1974 busing had just started. It was a fear thing. You were busing kids out of Overton to Hamilton. Parents were not going to let that happen. I don't see the fear factor in this now. I think people are concerned about taking a large system of 100,000 students and 105 failing schools and merging with a school system of 48,000 students and five failing schools. The big concern is who is going to be in charge and why are we doing this. Why are we taking a good school system and merging it with one that on paper looks like it is having troubles?"
   Clayton ended the interview with the Bible passage "all things are possible with God" from the Book of Matthew. "To put this thing together by man is going to be impossible, but if this is God's plan we can make it work."

Young artists put best work forward under gaze of judges and peer pressure

By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
March 3, 2011
   A funny thing happens in the course of learning to critique peers' work in the Advanced Placement Studio Art class at East High.
   With the path wide open to blurt out insults, no one does.
   "I was nervous," said Jaylyn Johnson, 17, a senior. "But we've gone through so many critiques that I know they won't tell me something that would hurt."
   Dominique Wein is more practical: "You have to have a reason for what you are saying; it's not just 'you took my milk at lunch.'"
   The intensity is heating up now as AP Studio Art classes in high schools across the city drill down to the final portfolios due for judging in Cincinnati in early May.
   Each student must present 24 canvasses, a blend of work showing the breadth of their skill -- pen and ink to pastel -- plus canvasses in their concentration subject.
   The work will be judged or "read" by 136 AP Art teachers from around the country.
   "It's one of the most amazing things I have ever seen," said Wendy Free, director of fine arts curriculum and content development at the College Board in New York, which oversees Advanced Placement courses.
   "You'll see over 40,000 portfolios from AP classes around the world laid out before your eyes. It's like the future of artwork laid out before you."
   If the just-completed Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards are representative, Memphis students are on their way.
   Of the 200 student pieces of art selected from 1,600 regionally to hang in the Memphis Brooks Museum, Memphis city students earned 31 gold keys, qualifying them to compete at the national Scholastic event in New York this month.
   Of the 19 high school winners, 11 are enrolled in AP Studio Art courses across the city, including Terrello Lane, 18, salutatorian at East.
   His AP class, taught by Dorothy Northern [Faculty], also includes valedictorian Wein; No. 3 Erika Olveral and No. 4 Johnson.
   "We enroll because this class has a reputation for excellence," Johnson said.
   In a time when AP test grades are slipping nationally, Northern continues to have East's highest AP scores, including a perfect 5 last year.
   While she takes credit for some of it, she's quick to say art has a way of combining brain hemispheres.
   "If you get the two sides of the brain to cooperate, you can do a better job."
   Her teacher colleagues at East say her students look at problems differently and as a result are better critical thinkers. "They also say that my kids are very good at critique in other subjects," Northern said.
   They get a lot of practice. Northern schedules critiques once a month, insisting that it's easier to hear the criticism in a group than it is to be home alone when a poor portfolio grade comes in the summer.
   "I think that would be horrible when nobody had indicated there might be something wrong," she said.
   So the discussions are frank, including assessments of where students think they are stumped, where they have triumphed and what they admire in their colleagues' work.
   "My biggest challenge is my background," admits Marquis Stewart, 16, standing before his self-portraits and peers.
   "Do you feel you have a solid idea or are you struggling to make something?" Northern asks. "Maybe put it aside for awhile," she advises.
   Wein is next, standing beside four urban landscapes. "I don't like this one," she says, pointing to streetscape. "I want to make the colors more intense, but I haven't done it yet."
   "You handled pointillism really well," Northern says. "I would like to see you go really big. I have some big canvasses in the closet," her way of pushing students to stretch.
   Kathy Dumlao, associate curator of education at the Brooks, sees the strides.
   "The other night, we had an opening for a contemporary artist while the Scholastic exhibit was still on view. The security officers enjoyed watching the visitors get so excited about the student work."

Theories hit dead end on how world-famous Beale Street got its name

By Michael Lollar, The Commercial Appeal
February 28, 2011
   The Pantaze Drug Store was an anchor on one corner of Beale Street. With its soda counter, it gave a family atmosphere to a place also known for saloons, gambling dens, pawn shops, theaters and houses of prostitution.
   With a name made famous by W.C. Handy's "Beale Street Blues" in 1916, the spot attracted Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald to town and was a regular gig for the likes of Riley "Blues Boy" King and Bobby "Blue" Bland.
   Their names would become household names, and Beale Street would become the best-known street in Memphis and one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state. But its beginnings are as murky as the business and politics of early Memphis.
   While other early streets were named for presidents, politicians and heroes, no one is sure how Beale got its name.
   It's a name that first showed up on a city map in 1841 as "Beal," without the eventual "e" at the end, says Wayne Dowdy, manager of the history department at the Memphis Public Library. The man credited with naming the street was wealthy developer and entrepreneur Robert Topp, but the person he named it for has eluded historians ever since.
   "It's wild. It's kind of crazy," says Beale Street developer John Elkington, who spent six months researching the street for his 2008 book, "Beale Street: Resurrecting The Home Of The Blues." "There was a rumor that it was named by Andrew Jackson for a lieutenant, a sharpshooter, in the Battle of New Orleans."
   That 1815 battle was the final battle of the War of 1812 and would have meant a long memory -- 26 years -- for anyone choosing him as a namesake for a Memphis street that didn't show up on a map until 1841.
   Charles Crawford, a history professor at the University of Memphis, says the name remained on maps and on the tongues of Memphians until the street was among the most famous in the nation, along with Bourbon and Basin streets in New Orleans, State Street in Chicago and Broadway in New York.
   "By the time people got around to asking obvious questions about the name, the records were gone," he said.
   Crawford has directed dozens of student theses involving Memphis history.
   "I've always said, 'If you hear anything about the origins of the name Beale Street let me know.' No one ever has," he said.
   While various theories have come and gone, Shelby County historian and former county commissioner Ed Williams ['52] has his own. McCall was on the 1841 map as the street immediately north of Beale. (It is now Peabody Place.) It was named for a staff member of Edmund Pendleton Gaines, commander of the southwest United States (including Memphis) before the Civil War, says Williams.
   "McCall was a major on Gaines' staff, and I think Beale was probably also named for a staff member (of Gaines)," he said, although there is no specific person whose name has surfaced to prove the theory.
   Williams dismisses other popular theories. One held that Beale was named for a Gen. Edward Beale, who became famous in 1848 or early 1849 for bringing back samples to the East from the first gold nuggets discovered at Sutter's Mill, Calif., that helped set off the California gold rush. A San Francisco street was named for him, but, by then, "Beal Street" already was on the map in Memphis.
   Williams used the same historical reasoning to dismiss a popular myth about another well-known Memphis street. The theory held that Union Avenue was named to signify the "union" of incorporated South Memphis with Memphis in 1850, but Union Avenue was on city maps as early as 1827. It also is on the 1841 map, and Williams says the name Union simply "was a popular word in the American vocabulary at the time." It followed the naming of other streets for U.S. presidents.
   "There had only been five presidents and they ran out of names, so they named the next street Union," he said.
   Former Streetscapes reporter Ann Meeks, who wrote the column in The Commercial Appeal for 14 years, researched all of the theories about the Beale name in a frustrating effort to solve the mystery.
   "I would love to know the answer, and I just knew I'd be able to determine it," she said.
   Instead, Beale became the single exception to her sleuthing.
   "I can't think of another one" that led to a complete dead end, she said.
   Williams suggests the spelling of the name, either Beal or Beale, may not be significant, saying, "Historians frequently find variations of spellings because a mapmaker makes a mistake."
   Bill Day, heir to the historic Hunt-Phelan Home at 555 Beale, contributes another theory. His relatives, the Phelan family, were related to the Beale family of the documentary film "Grey Gardens." Charles Beale, born in Chattanooga, later became an Alabama Supreme Court justice. In 1917, he married Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' aunt, Edith Ewing Bouvier. After a divorce, she was given the couple's 28-room summer home, Grey Gardens, in East Hampton, N.Y.
   Day's uncle, Stephen Phelan, told him the Beale family connection led to the naming of the street, although the early maps, mistakenly or not, were spelled differently.
   Another longtime Beale tenant, Elliott Schwab, owner of the legendary general merchandise store A. Schwab that was listed for sale last week, says he has always heard that Beale "was named for a general. I don't think he was even tied to Memphis."
   Either way, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane says Beale, though shrouded in a certain mystery, is "world famous."
   "It is what Bourbon Street is to New Orleans, and it is synonymous with the city's entertainment and culture," he said, adding that state tourism figures indicate the street draws up to 4.2 million people a year. He says that translates to about 2 million visitors (not counting locals) a year. "It generates about $50 to $60 million a year in revenue."
   It is the mystery of the street that attracts historian John Harkins, president of the West Tennessee Historical Society: "As a species, we're too focused on knowing the answers to everything. We have a precision that takes some of the grace out of life."

CBHS Hall of Fame inducts 10

By John Morris, Special to My Life, The Commercial Appeal
February 27, 2011
   The Christian Brothers High School Hall of Fame inducted 10 new members in ceremonies on the CBHS campus Jan. 30.
   Candidates are chosen by the Hall of Fame membership on the basis of personal accomplishments, civic and public contributions and support of or involvement with activities of interest to the school. CBHS graduates must have graduated a minimum of 20 years prior to selection.
   The CBHS Hall of Fame was established in 1968. Since then, 485 men, living and deceased, have been inducted into the group (386 of whom are CBHS grads) by their peers.
   Joseph "J.G." Griesbeck, Jr. (Faculty 1964-1972) (CBHS '35), was at the time of his death on Oct. 12, 2010, the last living teacher from the Adams campus. A member of five generations of Griesbecks who graduated from CBHS, J.G. Griesbeck served for nearly 30 years as an educator with the Memphis City School system, including principal at Guthrie School, Fairview Junior High, and East High School. His father, Joseph Sr., brother Charles, stepson Roy Henderson and 13 nephews are graduates of CBHS. He is the fourth member of the Griesbeck family to be inducted into the CBHS Hall of Fame.

A. Schwab for sale, signaling possible end for Memphis store on Beale Street

By Wayne Risher, The Commercial Appeal
February 25, 2011
   Besides the Internet, where else can you buy fake samurai swords, suits of armor, cowboy hats, cast-iron cookware, voodoo dolls, love potions and mojo bags?
   But unless there's some magic to make time stand still, the legendary A. Schwab dry goods store on Beale Street may fade into history.
   Descendants of Abraham Schwab, a haberdasher who founded the store in 1876, have listed it for sale with commercial real estate broker Slovis & Associates.
   "It's sort of the next generation is not interested," said Sam Braslow ['73], a schoolteacher who owns the Le Sel Corp. with his brother Marvin Braslow and cousins Elliott Schwab and Mike Weis. "There's a reason businesses like ours don't exist anymore."
   Store manager Elliott Schwab, 49, has mixed feelings about selling out after 32 years walking the ancient wood-planked aisles.
   "I don't want to go along with it; I'm kind of going along with it," said Schwab, wearing flannel shirt, jeans and an A. Schwab ballcap.
   "With the economy, and the headaches of having to do everything, it has just kind of gotten to me. I'm tired of it," Schwab said.
   He added, "If I were in a position to keep it open, I think I would. I enjoy coming down here."
   Family members signed papers to put it on the market three weeks ago.
   Commercial Realtor Adam Slovis said an asking price hasn't been set and will likely be determined by give-and-take of offers and development plans from potential buyers.
   The buildings, connected on the interior, cover nearly 20,000 square feet, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property, which has them appraised at $426,000.
   Slovis said it's hard to set a value, because of the historic nature of the brand, lack of comparable sales and the location in the state's top tourist destination.
   "This truly has the old adage of location, location, location. It is smack dab in the middle of Beale Street between Silky O'Sullivan's and B.B. King's Blues Club."
   Because it was a going business when the City of Memphis bought up Beale Street to create an entertainment district in the 1970s and 1980s, "It is the only property on Beale Street the city doesn't own," Slovis said.
   "It's just time" for the owners to sell, Slovis added. "They would love to see a part of the history remain in whatever happens."
   "I think my mother realized at some point it's going to have to end," said Sam Braslow, 56, a teacher at Houston High School. His mother, the late Eleanor Schwab Braslow, was a granddaughter of Abraham Schwab. She died in 2005.
   Customers browsed in the store Friday, pausing over unusual items and snapping photos of each other trying on feathered hats.
   Dustin and Megan Doherty of Tahlequah, Okla., with 2-year-old son Jonah in tow, were enticed by a storefront armor display.
   "It looks interesting," said Dustin. "We just came from Tater Red's, so this is pretty mild," he added.
   Jonathan Dreifus, visiting from Portland, Maine, grew up in Memphis and was on Beale Street showing his children around Schwab's. The Dreifuses and Schwabs are connected somewhere on their family trees. "I hope it stays like it is."
   Joseph Braslow, Sam's son and a fifth-generation family storekeeper, said Memphis-themed postcards, Elvis Presley items, old-fashioned candies displayed general store style, and "the mojo-voodoo stuff" are among best sellers. Younger customers favor the armor: breastplates, helmets, knives, swords, axes.
   "This store is kind of random, but it works."
   Elliott said, "We've always been almost a bizarre mix of merchandise, so that's what we keep doing. We'll buy something and if it sells, we'll buy more of it. If it doesn't, we won't get it again."
   Best-sellers vary from day to day and sometimes surprise even a veteran like Elliott Schwab.
   "These old ladies came in, and they went crazy for these knit caps. They bought all we had, four to six dozen. We had had them for a few years. They had this old-style look to them."
   Over in the incense, curios, oils and lode-stones department, one could find jinx removing candles, $6, mojo bags for purposes ranging from "attraction" to "gamblers" to "strong love," $10, and a John the Conqueror Voodoo Doll, $5.
   Buyer beware, though. "The articles in this department are sold without any claims or pretense of any natural or super-natural powers, affects or revelations. Signed, A. Schwab."

Society of Entrepreneurs: Robert Wilson builds on his family's legacy of innovation

By James Dowd, The Commercial Appeal
February 18, 2011
   This is the last in a four-part series on the 2011 Society of Entrepreneurs inductees, who will be honored during a black-tie gala April 9.
   Growing up as the son of the man who transformed the hospitality industry, young Robert A. "Bob" Wilson ['62] learned plenty about customer service early on.
   And to this day he credits his dad, Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson, with instilling in him a sense of civic pride and the drive to be the best in every pursuit.
   As founder and president of Memphis-based Wilson Air Center, Wilson is nationally renowned and his company is consistently ranked as the top fixed-base operator in the country.
   He also serves as vice president of his family's Kemmons Wilson Companies, where he focuses on hotel construction, warehousing and time-share operations.
   In recognition of his innovations in the hospitality and aviation industries, Wilson is being honored by the Society of Entrepreneurs. He will be formally inducted into the organization April 9.
   "Pop said we had a family business, and so I never really thought about doing anything else. It was always my desire to grow this venture and see it thrive in different areas," Wilson said. "I love this city, I love this area, and it's been great for my family. I never wanted to work anywhere else."
   After graduating from East High School, Wilson headed to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University. While there, he studied business and finance, and after graduation returned to Memphis to work for his father.
   Working primarily in construction, he took jobs as a roofer, electrician and framer on hotel projects in such far-flung sites as Monaco, Nigeria and Panama.
   Along the way, he joined the Tennessee Air National Guard and entered the pilot training program. A lifelong aviation lover, Wilson had earned his pilot's license at 16 and described the Guard program as "a paid vacation."
   It was that passion for flying that later led him to establish Wilson Air Center at the Memphis International Airport in 1996.
   "It's sort of like a big service station for airplanes, but with amenities for the customer to make the experience as positive as possible," Wilson said. "Our policy is to never say 'no' to a customer and to treat them right so that they'll keep coming back."
   The center has been rated as the top FBO in Aviation International News and received the Operational Excellence Award by AIG Aviation Insurance in 2002.
   Since its early days in Memphis, the company has grown to include more than 200 employees and expanded to markets in Houston and Charlotte, N.C.
   "I've known Bob for a long time and admired his ventures into all types of aviation," said Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president Larry Cox. "He revolutionized the FBO business with his attention to detail and focus on customer service. I'm a pilot myself and I've been in many airports, but his operation exceeds any I've ever seen."
   Wilson has been honored by numerous aviation organizations and was inducted into the Memphis Aviation Legends Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2006, he was inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame.
   "Memphis is rich in aviation history, and Bob Wilson has carved out a special place for himself through his leadership and innovation in establishing Wilson Air Center here," said Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority chairman Arnold Perl. "The model he founded here has been replicated across the country, which points to Memphis as a center of aviation innovation."

For markets and his city, commodities trader Charles McVean looks ahead

By James Dowd, The Commercial Appeal
February 17, 2011
   With keen insight and unwavering determination, Charles McVean ['61] remains focused on the future, whether he's trading commodities or envisioning a healthier landscape for the city.
   As chairman and CEO of Memphis-headquartered McVean Trading & Investments, he oversees a company that manages accounts for more than 6,000 clients worldwide. And as the innovator behind the Aerobic Cruiser Hybrid Cycle, McVean promotes state-of-the-art lithium battery-powered bicycles and touts the recently opened Shelby Farms Greenline as an attraction that could help Memphis leapfrog other cities as a tourist destination.
   "There's a growing desire to promote more environmentally friendly products, and the potential is here for unparalleled recreation and exercise along the Greenline," McVean said. "I believe we're in a position to define our destiny and create something special."
   For his varied contributions, McVean is being honored by the Society of Entrepreneurs. He will be formally inducted into the organization April 9.
   A native Memphian, McVean graduated from East High School and later studied philosophy and economics at Vanderbilt University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1965.
   After graduation, he accepted a job as a trader in the grain industry and subsequently worked with Cook Industries in Memphis and later in New York with the Louis Dreyfus Corp.
   McVean moved back to Memphis in 1974, taking a job with brokerage firm Refco, where he focused on cattle trading and eventually became a principal. As a futures trader, he relied on advice that still guides him today.
   "My grandfather was an old cattle trader, and he used to say that at the end of the day, if you're going to be in a business like this, you have to know where legitimate business ends and where gambling begins," McVean said. "I've based my career on knowing the difference between the two and making the right decisions for my clients."
   In 1986, McVean branched out and established McVean Trading & Investments, which today counts 80 employees and concentrates on livestock, grains and oilseeds, and global macroeconomics.
   "Memphis has a terrific commodities history and Charles is a leader in that area," said David Waddell, president and CEO of Waddell & Associates. "He's got a tremendous business mind and has inspired countless others, encouraging them to create an even more robust community of entrepreneurship in Memphis."
   One way McVean does that is through education.
   In 2004 he founded the Peer Power Foundation, which helps guide disadvantaged students toward academic success. The program is active in nearly a dozen schools, employing more than 150 high school and college students to tutor and mentor more than 1,000 younger students every day.
   In part because of that initiative, in 2007 McVean was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Memphis City Council for his efforts to improve public education.
   "Through his work with clients, his presence in the community and his advocacy for students, Charles exemplifies a positive role model in our community," said Pearson Crutcher, executive director of the SOE. "He's a wonderful example for all of us."

Increase in Advance Placement failure rate 'troubling'
Tennessee's Advanced Placement exam failure rate inches up to 48 percent

By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
February 14, 2011
   While the number of public school students taking Advanced Placement courses nearly doubled last decade, the number who fail in AP classes also is up, a sign school leaders are relying too heavily on AP to increase course rigor.
   In its annual report this week, the College Board praised its AP program "as one of the great American education success stories of the last 56 years." The board cited the growing percentage of minority high school students who successfully complete the courses designed to reflect college-level work, and the correlation between AP and college success.
   But in Tennessee and around the nation, an increasing number of students are not doing well enough in the classes to get college credit for their work.
   Last year, of all the seniors who took at least one AP course in high school, 41 percent -- about two in five -- did not pass the exam, up slightly from 40 percent in 2009 nationwide.
   In Tennessee, failure rates inched up to 48 percent last year compared to 47.2 in 2009. Since 2001, the number getting a score of 3 or better on the 5-point grading scale dropped 7 percentage points.
   A 3 is considered a college grade of B or C. A score of 1 corresponds to a grade of D or F.
   In Memphis, 40 percent of public school seniors passed with a 3 or more in 2009. In 2010, the percentage dropped to 33.
   In Shelby County Schools, 61 percent of the 2,466 students who tested in 2010 scored a 3 or higher. That's only a slight drop from 2009, when 62 percent of the 2,240 who tested scored a 3 or higher.
   AP is a program of the College Board, designed to improve student access and readiness for college. The board also administers standardized entrance exams such as the PSAT and SAT.
   As the nation hurries to improve the math and science skills of its workforce, the haste is reflected in AP chemistry, environmental science, calculus, computer science and biology scores. More than a third of AP test-takers in those subjects earned a score of only 1 last year.
   While only one fifth scored that low on the physics exam, nearly 20 percent got a 2, which means half of the physics enrollees did not do well enough to get college credit for their AP work or post a significant return on taxpayers' investment in teachers and lab equipment.
   The College Board made specific reference to the scores this week, calling them a "troubling and emerging trend.
   "Thirty percent of U.S. high schools are rushing AP students into AP biology and chemistry without having them take prerequisites first," said Trevor Packer, AP vice president.
   AP courses are designed to follow traditional subject courses, preferably work at the honors level.
   "The heart of the matter, success in AP is much more dependent on the years leading up to AP than what can happen in one year," Packer said.
   When school leaders focus on "an array of educational improvements, AP becomes an outcome rather an a result."
   Between 2008 and 2010, MCS added 60 AP sections, beefing up offerings in schools like Hamilton and East where there had been few choices. Across the city, the city school district added German language, human geography, art history and environmental science for a total of 27 AP classes.
   Since 2008, the number of students enrolling and taking the final AP exam in Memphis increased 19 percent.
   "Increased access makes a difference," said John Barker, the district's chief of research and evaluation.
   "Research shows that even if you are not successful in the exam, participation in AP prepares you for success in college."
   But growing fast has unintended consequences, including a thin pool of qualified teachers. If one of those teachers leaves unexpectedly, administrators may have no choice but to cut courses, even at under-served schools.
   Westwood High, for instance, dropped AP English language and composition, and English literature and composition this year when the teacher who taught both transferred, erasing with one move the school's entire gain in access.
   The city schools have also had to train dozens of teachers for the increased course rigor. Not only is it expensive (an in-town, College Board-certified class for 25 teachers costs Memphis City Schools $11,500; the cost jumps to $1,500 to $2,000 per teacher if they have to go out of town to do the work), but new teachers usually don't get high test scores from their students immediately.
   "It takes an AP teacher about three years for their students to score 3 or above," says Linda Sklar, head of the AP program at MCS.
   Memphis also requires each student to take the exam, not the case everywhere.
   "In some districts, if they have children they don't think are going to do well, they may discourage them from taking the test.
   "We're saying, if you want students to make commitment, then we want true commitment, that you are going to work to the highest level," Sklar said.

State education board orders Shelby County Schools to OK charter school application

By Sherri Drake Silence, The Commercial Appeal
January 28, 2011
   Shelby County Schools, which has long fended off charter schools, has been ordered by the state to approve a charter school application twice rejected by the district.
    The state Board of Education voted unanimously Friday to require that SCS approve a request from Smart Schools Inc. to open a New Consortium of Law and Business charter school in the suburban school system.
   The charter school would be the first in SCS.
   "I feel like the dog that's caught the mail truck," Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], executive director of Smart Schools, said Friday. "... All we are waiting on is for the Shelby County Schools board to move forward with this decision, so that we can get rolling."
   The action is unrelated to the controversial effort to surrender the charter for Memphis City Schools, which would result in the merger of the two systems.
   Smart Schools plans to open its school to about 35 seventh-graders this fall and add another grade and 60 more students next year. A location for the school hasn't been determined.
   The school would be open to county students who failed the reading or math portion of the state's achievement tests or to those who attended charter schools before joining the county system.
   Smart Schools Inc. filed an appeal with the state after being denied by SCS. District officials gave the group's initial application a score of 54.5 points out of 100. They gave a revised request a score of 71.
   SCS board chairman David Pickler said Friday that he's "deeply disappointed" with the state board's decision, but said the vote is final and the district can't appeal. The board will vote to approve the application at its February business meeting.
   "The application had issues, but that is now a moot point," Pickler said. "Now, we need to move forward to ensure that this school is as successful as any other school in Shelby County."
   At a business meeting in 2009, Pickler said district leaders would be more open to charter schools if they thought they'd better serve students. Former SCS superintendent Bobby Webb, who played a major role in putting up legislative roadblocks for charter schools in the county, called them a "fad" at that time.
   Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that are "chartered" by nonprofit organizations and operate outside of the control of local school boards.
   After an appeal hearing this week, Gary Nixon, executive director of the Tennessee Board of Education, recommended that the state board remand the decision by SCS. Nixon said SCS had acted "contrary to the best interests of the pupils, the school district and the community."
   Since 2003, the state board has heard 26 charter school cases and remanded only a handful.
   With approval from Memphis City Schools, Henderson opened a similar law and business charter school Downtown last year. He also started the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering in MCS.

State may force school approval
Charter may open in Shelby County

By Sherri Drake, Sherri Drake Silence, The Commercial Appeal
January 28, 2011
   Shelby County Schools may be required by the state board of education to approve a charter school application that the district has emphatically rejected.
   The suburban district, which has no charter schools, twice denied an application from Smart Schools Inc. to open a New Consortium of Law and Business for middle schoolers in county schools.
   Gary Nixon, executive director of the Tennessee State Board of Education, recommended Thursday that the full board vote today to remand the decision by SCS and instruct the district to approve the charter school.
   The decision by SCS to deny the application was "contrary to the best interests of the pupils, the school district and the community," Nixon said in the recommendation.
   The state board's attorney said today's vote will be final. SCS can't appeal the decision.
   Smart Schools' executive director Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], who made his case before Nixon at an appeal hearing Monday, said his organization feels "vindicated" by the recommendation.
   "This is huge," Henderson said of Nixon's recommendation Thursday. "We're very happy about the decision."
   With approval from Memphis City Schools, Henderson opened a similar charter school Downtown last year. He also started the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering in MCS.
   SCS officials gave Smart Schools' initial application a score of 54.5 points out of 100. They gave a revised application a score of 71.
   Nixon said SCS officials used an outdated version of the review guide for charter school applications and didn't explain why denying the application was the right move.
   "Instead, SCS seemed focused on complimenting its current schools for the programs they already offer."
   Since 2003, the state board has heard 26 charter school cases and remanded only a handful.

State hears appeal of Shelby County Schools 2-time application refusal

By Sherri Drake Silence, The Commercial Appeal
January 25, 2011
   A local educator whose application to open the first charter school in Shelby County Schools has been twice denied by the district made his case to state education officials in an appeal hearing Monday.
   Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], executive director of Smart Schools Inc., argued that leaders of the suburban district didn't use the correct scoring system when evaluating his organization's application to open a New Consortium of Law and Business charter school. And, he said, they didn't reveal what score is required for approval or what process they use to make their decision.
   "Due to this, our organization has truly been shooting in the dark as it relates to the district's charter school application process," Henderson said at the appeal hearing before Gary Nixon, executive director of the Tennessee state Board of Education.
   Shelby school officials rejected Smart Schools' application in November, giving it a score of 54.5 points out of 100. The organization submitted a revised application to SCS and was rejected again with a score of 71.
   In August, with approval from Memphis City Schools, Smart Schools opened a similar law and business charter school Downtown that serves about 35 seventh-graders.
   Henderson, who also started the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering charter school in MCS, said the proposed school would provide innovative instruction and help struggling students.
   "Shelby County Schools does use numerous interventions," Henderson said. "And we consider ourselves to be just one more intervention they can use."
   Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that are "chartered" by nonprofit organizations and operate outside of the control of local school boards. Shelby school leaders were long opposed to the nontraditional public schools, but now say they're open to them.
   County school officials said they did use the right scoring system and that the application had many flaws, including an unclear instructional strategy. They said the proposed courses are already offered by the district and the application didn't include a location for the school.
   Margaret Gilmore, who oversees instructional programs for SCS, highlighted several intervention programs the district uses to assist a growing population of economically disadvantaged students. And, she said, county schools continue to perform at a high-academic level even as standards increase.
   "Shelby County Schools stands steadfastly behind the decision to deny this application and preserve the rich tradition of educating all 47,000-plus (SCS) students and acting in the best interest of all stakeholders," she said.
   Nixon will make a recommendation to the state board of education, which will likely vote on the appeal Friday, said Rich Haglund, the state board's attorney. If the state board reverses the decision by SCS, the district will be required to approve Henderson's application.
   Haglund said, since 2003, the state board has heard 26 charter school cases and reversed only a handful.

Span plan: Group works to open Harahan Bridge boardwalk

By Tom Charlier, The Commercial Appeal
January 24, 2011
   Melton Holt looks forward to the day he'll be able to drive down to the Mississippi River, get out of his car and stroll or ride a bicycle on a boardwalk over the river while enjoying stunning vistas of Downtown Memphis.
   "The view is a beautiful view, and I think it would really be an attraction," said Holt, who serves as county judge, or executive, for Crittenden County.
   If a Memphis group is correct, the day for which Holt and others are waiting may not be far off. It appears increasingly likely, they say, that a bike and pedestrian boardwalk can be built on portions of the 95-year-old Harahan Bridge, a still-active rail span.
   The Greater Memphis Greenline, a nonprofit group that champions trails for recreation and transportation, has enlisted support for the project from local governments on both sides of the river, along with a host of other groups.
   Working with local officials, they've identified several grant programs that could cover much of the project's cost.
   What's more, they say they've found documentation that the Harahan's cantilevered "carriage-ways," on which the boardwalk would be built, are owned by the city of Memphis and Crittenden County -- not Union Pacific Railroad, which owns and operates the rail portion of the nearly 5,000-foot-long span.
   Within the next two weeks, a local delegation is expected to travel to Omaha, Neb., to meet with Union Pacific president and chairman James R. Young in an effort to secure the railroad's cooperation.
   "We've got a lot of the right players on board," said Syd Lerner, executive director of the greenline group. "... We feel like it is the right time for this."
   The Harahan boardwalk is the highest-profile project of several new bike-pedestrian trails sought by the group in the aftermath of the opening last fall of the Shelby Farms Greenline.
   The nearly seven-mile-long trail from Shelby Farms to Binghamton has attracted heavier-than-expected crowds, with up to 400 bicyclists and pedestrians per hour counted passing some locations on weekends.
   In addition to the recreation and transportation benefits associated with other trails, the Harahan project could be a significant tourist attraction, Lerner said.
   "People all over the world know us for Elvis, barbecue, the Blues and the Mississippi River," he said.
   The northernmost of three bridges crossing the river south of Downtown, the Harahan span was built with roadways extending outward from either side of the main span to carry carriages, wagons and motor vehicles.
   In 1917, a year after the bridge was completed, a railroad company that owned the span before Union Pacific sold the roadways to Memphis and Crittenden County, according to property records found by the greenline group.
   The roadways accommodated highway lanes until the nearby Memphis & Arkansas Bridge opened in 1949. The road surfaces were later dismantled and removed, but the structural steel framing of the road beds remains.
   Greenline members say the boardwalk would be built only on the north side of the bridge, which faces Downtown.
   It could be connected to the Downtown Bluffwalk, which ends within a few hundred yards north of the Harahan span, as well as roads on the Arkansas side.
   The surface that would be used -- whether it's wood or some other material -- hasn't been determined. Neither has the cost, although Lerner estimated it would be in the "low to median seven digits."
   Kyle Wagenschutz, the bikeway/pedestrian coordinator for the city of Memphis, said there are "at least a half-dozen" grant programs supporting multi-use trails such as the one sought on the bridge. He expresses optimism that the boardwalk can be built.
   "I wasn't 100 percent sold on the project until I went out there and inspected it," he said.
   Although Union Pacific doesn't own the former roadways, the railroad's cooperation would be helpful for the project, Wagenschutz said.
   Holt, the Crittenden County judge, is among the local officials who have written to the railroad on behalf of the effort.
   Union Pacific officials haven't stated their position yet.
   "We are reviewing the request and analyzing how the bridge structure and the current rail operations could impact public safety," said railroad spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza.
   Lerner said state transportation agencies would have to be involved in the project, as would the federal Department of Homeland Security, which monitors threats to potential terrorist targets, such as major bridges.
   The likely timetable for getting the boardwalk built is "measured in years, not decades," Lerner said.
   Charles McVean ['61], a Memphis businessman and the principal in a company that makes plug-in electric moped bikes, said the Harahan boardwalk could be a link on a larger trail along the Mississippi and help define the Memphis area as a prime destination for bicyclists.
   McVean, who is working with the greenline group, foresees no major hurdles.
   "I think somebody has got to come up with a surprise for this not to happen in the foreseeable future," he said.

Rape Charge Dropped Against Former East High Students

By Omari Fleming, WREG
January 18, 2011
  • Rape Charges Dropped Against Three Former East High Teens
  • Teens Say Accuser Was Willing Participant
  • They Say They've Learned Valuable Lesson From The Experience
   (Memphis, 01/17/2011) Brian Bland and Demarious Moore were all smiles reciting their new mantra.
   "Minor setback for a major comeback," they said in unison.
   The two teens are talking about the fact that court records show on Friday the Shelby County District Attorneys office dropped aggravated rape charges against them and another teenager involved in the alleged rape.
   In March of last year, the former Eat High School students' lives were forever changed.
   They spent a week behind bars after being charged with raping a fellow female schoolmate, off campus.
   The 17-year-old girl admitted she willingly left school with the three boys and consensually had sex with Demarious.
   She told police when she urged him to stop, he "slapped her in the face..."
   That's when she says the two other teens "came into the room and forced her to have oral sex."
   Demarious says he had an ongoing relationship with the girl and never hit her.
   "She was like who's going first. She told him why don't you got first since he's new. Because she's never performed on him," explained Demarious.
   Demarious and Brian were kicked out of East High and lost their jobs after the allegations.
   A month later they were allowed to enroll in an alternative school.
   Both earned their diplomas.
   Despite missing a month of school because of the rape charge, both teens say they've learned a valuable lesson.
   "Sit back and think about everything before you do and everything will come out better."

For an unknown period of time, you may also watch a video of this report from WREG TV.

Chemistry between trainer, client important for achieving goals

By Gee Sharp, Memphis Commercial Appeal
January 3, 2011
   A client's trust in a personal trainer can help the trainer construct a workout that is precisely suited to the client's goals.
   Llana Smith Rada, 58, owner of Broadway Travel in West Memphis, has been working out with personal fitness trainer Dion Welling for 16 years. She says the success of her fitness program is due in large part to her relationship with Welling.
   "Dion can read me like a book," Rada said. "If I'm having a bad day, he will figure that out and adjust our workout to fit what's going on.
   "I truly feel the relationship you have with your trainer is of utmost importance. You have to trust each other and respect each other."
   Welling, 43, who trains out of the Racquet Club of Memphis, has been in the business as long as Rada has been his client. He says the relationship he has with his clients plays a large role in their exercise experience.
    "I have to be able to quickly pick up on (the clients') mood or mindset as soon as I greet them. Sometimes they might have had a bad or stressful day. I need to adjust their program to fit their mindset at the time," he said.
    "Personalities are important. I have had clients who felt as if our personalities didn't click, and so they have moved on to another trainer, or I have helped them find a trainer that might work well for their personality. As a trainer, I can't take that personally; after all, it isn't about the trainer, it's about the client and helping him obtain his fitness goals."
   Welling said over the years he has learned the art of building trust with his clients. He said trainers should never treat their clients merely as a source of income. "To quote (motivational speaker) Zig Ziglar: 'If you help other people get what they want, then you will get what you want.'"
   Trainer Adria "AD" Davis, 30, who has been at Germantown Athletic Club for 10 years, views her job as a journey with her clients.
   "When a client has a goal to reach, I am responsible for getting them there, and we are working together as a team," Davis said.
   "Over time, I begin to know my clients' bodies and what their bodies have been through, as well as what the client himself has been through. There is a lot of emotion that goes into a workout. Knowing my clients as well as I do allows me to cater to them specifically."
   Dee Dee Dunehew, 42, of Piperton has been training with Davis since 2006.
   "For me, chemistry with my trainer is what makes it work," Dunehew said. "I initially set out to train with AD for two weeks, but once I got started, I was hooked. ... Within the first year of working with AD, I lost 25 pounds, and my whole outlook on life improved, physically and mentally. AD's attitude is contagious. She pushes without being pushy."
   Many find inspiration in the relationship they have with their trainer.
   Russell Lindsey Jones, 24, a Memphis native now living in Knoxville, spent her high school years training with Marcus Santi, who had been hired as a sprint coach by Hutchison School.
   "We had fun working hard, but we knew when Marcus meant business," Jones said. "Marcus always started us with a message and had a talk with us after the workout.
   "He would write us inspirational messages that were personal to each of us and our individual journeys. I still have some of those today, and they help me continue my drive for a healthy, happy life."
   Santi, who has been training since 1996 and uses a private gym, private homes and the great outdoors, said his clients range from professional athletes to weekend warriors and soccer moms.
   "Some like super-aggressive workouts and like the challenge of knowing one is coming," he said. "Others will get intimidated by a super-big challenge if they know it is coming. Either way, I want to help them overcome obstacles in their lives, whether I have to sneak in the challenge or make it known from the onset."
   Santi believes clients rise to a challenge if they trust their trainer. "I believe in an acronym I saw once: 'T.E.A.M: Together Everyone Achieves More.'"
   Mary Frances Vookles Pitts ['59], 70, a residential real estate agent, said she was immediately comfortable with her trainer, Gaye Keller, and the environment at Healthy Habits in East Memphis, where Keller trains clients.
   "It was friendly and cheerful, and I hardly noticed when I began working my muscles in never-before-known ways," she said. "Gaye has an easy manner, and the hard work is always punctuated by laughter (and a few screams). That is important to me."
   Pitts had surgery that left her with a titanium rod in her spine, four fused vertebrae and two fake discs. "Gaye was with me every step of the way," she said. "She prepared me for the surgery by strengthening my core muscles, and after the surgery, she took over where the physical therapist left off. When people ask me about my fabulous recovery and obvious improved fitness, I credit Gaye."
   Keller, 56, with 16 years of personal-training experience, said that some of her clients have become close friends over the years. "I enjoy getting to know my clients and finding out about their lives," she said. "That part is important because it helps me design a fitness program that is best for them and their goals."
   Said another Keller client, Pat Bernatsky, 59, of Germantown, "Because I trust Gaye, I also trust her judgment. I've left her (workouts) sore, but never injured. I don't even have to think about the workout; I just try to relax and follow the program."

Charter school group denied by Shelby County appeals to state

By Sherri Drake Silence, Memphis Commercial Appeal
December 30, 2010
   Proponents of the third charter-school application denied by Shelby County Schools have filed an appeal with the state Education Department.
   Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], executive director of Smart Schools Inc., said his organization wants to open a New Consortium of Law and Business charter school in Shelby County to focus on preparing students for careers in those fields of study.
   In August, Smart Schools opened a similar charter school with the same name Downtown, with approval from Memphis City Schools. It serves about 35 seventh-graders.
   Shelby school officials rejected Smart Schools' application in November, giving it a score of 54.5 points out of 100. The organization filed an appeal with the suburban district and was rejected again earlier this month.
   This is the third charter school to be proposed and the third to be denied in the county system.
   On Dec. 23, Smart Schools mailed an appeal to the state. The group expects to have an appeals hearing with state officials in January.
   "We understand (Shelby County Schools') initial concerns about charter schools," Henderson said. "Charter schools are about supporting a district. Our intention is to not be adversarial in any way."
   Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that are "chartered" by nonprofit organizations and operate outside of the control of local school boards. Shelby school leaders have long been opposed to the nontraditional public schools.
   When denying the initial proposal from Smart Schools in November, Shelby school officials said the application didn't have a clear instructional strategy, that proposed courses already are offered in the county system and that the discipline plan doesn't comply with state law.
   "This application fell well short of excellence," school chairman David Pickler said at that time.
   Earlier this month, Supt. John Aitken advised the board to deny an updated and improved application by Smart Schools, saying his staff is concerned with the financial stability of the group and that SCS already offers the proposed courses.
   "We do intend to propose courses that are quite different than what the county is offering," Henderson said. "(In SCS), you don't have those classes immersed or collaborating with each other. What we offer that is different is a focused curriculum."
   Henderson said he hopes to open the school in fall 2011 and to educate only seventh-graders the first year. His organization would open the school to students in grades 6 and 8 the following year and add a grade of high school each year after that.
   Students in the Shelby County and Memphis city law and business consortium would collaborate with one another. And they'd be mentored by professionals in business and law.
   Henderson said he and his board are looking for a location in the county that has a need for such a school.
   Members of the Smart Schools board are originally from the Shelby County area. Three of the board members, including Henderson, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
   Henderson founded and served as principal of the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, a charter school in the Memphis system.

Photo of former East principal and brief quote in newspaper

by By Richard Morgan, Memphis Commercial Appeal
December 10, 2010 [Excerpts from the article]
   The nation's high school counselor of the year is Randy McPherson, a 15-year veteran of Trezevant Career and Technology Center, where students from five high schools in northwest Memphis spend half of every school day learning skills such as cooking, cosmetology, health care and forensics.
   The award, which comes with a trip to Washington in February for a black-tie gala and meetings with Congress, is doled out by the American School Counselor Association, which has 28,000 members nationally.
   McPherson was nominated by Betty Russell, a now-retired teaching colleague.
   Memphis City Schools was notified of the award a few weeks ago, but kept it secret for a surprise party for McPherson on Wednesday.
   It's fitting that McPherson, 55, is getting rewarded for helping students with the woes of young employment. He went through a lot of that himself.
   As a youngster in farmland near Henderson, Tenn., when he was too small to lift bales of hay, his job was to straighten out loaded bales.
   "I was the gofer's gofer," he recalled.
   Desperate, he headed into a new job field called computing. He and some friends drove to Memphis and signed up for community college classes. They jammed into a duplex and he paid bills by being a stockboy at TG&Y (Toys, Goods & Yarn).
   He pursued multiple degrees in education at what was then Memphis State University, all the way up to a Ph.D...
   "Memphis' school system is data-driven. And he always has the right data," said McPherson's principal, Milton Burchfield II [East Faculty 1997-2001].

State flower a favorite for Collierville gardener

Memphis Commercial Appeal
November 11, 2010
   When asked what is his favorite flower, Van Smith ['65] of Collierville is quick to answer.
   "The iris, the state's flower," Smith said.
   Smith, who has been gardening for more than 40 years, is a member of the West Tennessee Iris Society where he is the club's treasurer.
   Every year, the club holds its annual iris contest where Smith shows off his award-winning flowers.
   Aside from gardening, Smith also is a avid golfer and spends several days a week on the golf course.
   "I play golf an average of three times a week," he said. "It raises your blood pressure."
   Are you with a gardening club? If so, which one? Smith is a member of the West Tennessee Iris Society. There is a Club Garden on West Street at the railroad tracks in Germantown.
   Smith is the club's treasurer. He also is the landscaping chairman for the Village of Bailey Station.
   How long have you been interested in gardening? Forty-five years.
   Average amount of time involved with gardening: On the average, Smith says he spends about eight hours a week gardening.
   How'd you get your green thumb? "From my parents, who even with a small city lot, always had at least a few tomato plants."
   Current or most recent gardening project: "I just completed a Arkansas field stone extension to a water drain off area just in case it ever rains."
   Favorite gardening project: "When I bought my present house there was a eroding area on the side from the rush of water coming off neighbors yard. I built an Arkansas field stone creek like drainage area about 30 feet by 5 feet long to carry runoff water down the creek to the woods. Sometimes when we have heavy rains I go out with an umbrella and watch the water rush down just like a small river."
   What are your favorite gardening experiences? My favorite gardening experience would be related to...growing and showing irises.
   What type of gardening project would you like to try in the future? "I have run out of space for new projects. All I can do is improve on what I already have."
   What advice would you give to someone interested in gardening? "If planting a tree, shrub or flower and watching it develop into something appealing to the eye doesn't turn you on, you're in the wrong business. I spend at least an hour a week in a meditation area in the woods beside my house looking around and absorbing natures wonders. It also lowers your blood pressure."

Alumnus notes history of the Fairgrounds at unveiling of historical marker

The East High Alumni Page
November 1, 2010
   The Fairgounds, Libertyland, and the Zippin Pippin roller coaster were remembered at a ceremony today unveiling a historical marker near the former site of those attractions.
   Ed Williams ('52), Shelby County Historian, joined other dignitaries including the Memphis Mayor and members of Remember Libertyland, formerly Save Libertyland, gathered to at least preserve the memory of the decades of festival-like attractions which once stood at what was then the Fairgrounds.
   Mayor A C Wharton said great cities are not made by what's going forward, but remembering what is in the past. He said he preferred to see Libertyland not as something lost but as something that was part of the transformation into something new at the site.
   Williams briefly told those attending about the history of the Fairgrounds and the Mid-South Fair, which he said were part of a nearly 200 year history of amusement parks in Memphis.
   Libertyland, the 1976 transformation of the amusement park at the Fairgrounds, closed in 2005. The Pippin, which in later years was known as the Zippin Pippin, was dismantled and parts are now being reconstructed at a Green Bay, Wisconsin, amusement park. The Mid-South Fair's lease was not renewed and it moved to Mississippi after the 2008 festival.
You may read more about the Fairgrounds and Libertyland at the Landmark and Legend web site.


Inspired Instruction
School signals new direction for practical education

by Susan Agee, Special to The Daily News
The Daily News
October 25, 2010
   The New Consortium of Law and Business could be a sign of a new wave of education in Memphis.
   The recently opened charter school takes its students through a curriculum grounded in the realities of the world of business and law. While its location – 110 N. Court St. in the mixed-used CA2 building in Downtown's Court Square – is unusual, the school's mission is deliberate in that it places students right in the midst of the world they are learning about.
   Each day starts with a classroom forum of current events and relevant topics. Classes follow, either in pairs or small groups. Business leaders and lawyers from the area visit regularly to give students a "real world" perspective on their studies.
   "One of our major units is about the judicial process," said principal Elana Ragsdale. "We plan to have legal professionals come in to discuss their role in the legal system so that the students are exposed to the variety of options in the field as well as obtain a realistic understanding and identification of the judiciary process."
   Students at the New Consortium of Law and Business charter school hang out in a locker and cafeteria area inside the school.
   "The students were ecstatic about what they saw: from the U.S. Supreme Court to the U.S. Capitol to the Smithsonian," said Ragsdale. "It was a trip that I am certain they will remember for the rest of their lives; they truly were inspired."
   The school's founder, Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], has done this before. He was a cofounder of the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering in 2003 and began a wave of charter school startups. His interest in education was accidental; while waiting to enter a masters program at the University of Tennessee, Henderson was invited back to East High, his alma mater, to teach in the engineering program that he had been a part of.
   Henderson had since earned a degree in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and hadn't planned on teaching. East's principal Milton Burchfield [Faculty 1997-2001] asked him to fill in while Burchfield searched for a full-time replacement.
   "He never found a new engineering teacher," said Henderson, laughing. "But he didn't have to, because once I got into education, I was hooked."
   While teaching at East, Henderson found the motivation that propelled him toward the goal of starting a charter school.
   He coached five students through the process of preparing for and taking an advanced placement physics test. They all passed, the first African-American young men to do so in Tennessee. Their success led to other students feeling they could do it too, and Henderson had 20 who were willing to try. Then his program was cut.
   "If you're in a traditional school system and they are pulling back the great exploration for learning, there's got to be a better way," said Henderson.
   He went so far as to write a curriculum for the school he wanted to start, even though he didn't know how he was going to start it. Then he met a reporter who heard about Henderson's desire to start a school and connected him with the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. The organization wanted to sponsor such a school, so they teamed with Henderson in founding MASE.
   The Tennessee charter school admission requirements state that applicants be those in a "high priority" school, those who have received failing TCAP scores or those who qualify for free or reduced price lunches. When asked how he could take these students and turn them into students who excel, Henderson said that they didn't teach the students a new way of studying.
   "We taught them a new way of being," he said. "For many of these students there was an acceptance of mediocrity; an acceptance of their 'station in life.' We changed the entire mindset, not just of how to study, but of wanting to study."
   The plan is working at New Consortium.
   "All of our goals and objectives are falling into place," said Ragsdale. "The students are still very much intrigued by their opportunities here. We expect much more success in the near future."

Former executive overcame bad grades, dyslexia because he had something to prove

By James Dowd
Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 17, 2010
   Trumpeting a message of triumph over adversity and promoting family over finance, author Tommy Spaulding was in Memphis recently as part of a 75-city book tour to discuss his New York Times bestseller, "It's Not Just Who You Know."
   Spaulding was keynote presenter at the second in a speakers series launched by Kem Wilson Jr. ['64] to inspire local business leaders to strengthen their personal and professional lives. Tommy Spaulding, best-selling author, entrepreneur and business coach, enjoys a few laughs with Willie Baldwin (left) and Roy 'Soup' Campbell during a recent speaker series.
   More than 200 attended the invitation-only event, which was held at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis.
   Spaulding, who is dyslexic, rose to prominence as a top sales exec for IBM and later as president of Up With People. But after years of drawing an impressive salary and traveling the world over, he left his high-powered executive lifestyle and founded a nonprofit leadership organization dedicated to helping young people reach their potential.
   On his stopover in Memphis, Spaulding challenged listeners to strive for success instead of succumbing to insecurity.
   "I used to think dyslexia was a scar, but now I see it as a gift because it caused me to overcompensate in other areas to make people see that they were wrong about me," Spaulding said. "I wasn't a good student, so I went out of my way to excel in other ways. I didn't give up and I tried harder because I wanted to prove to the world that I wasn't stupid."
   For Spaulding, not giving up meant taking classes every year during summer school to boost his grade-point average, committing to marathon study sessions during college, and maintaining a sense of optimism after applying to and being rejected by more than three dozen law schools.
   "He's a great example of the power of determination and drive," said Wilson, executive vice president of Kemmons Wilson Companies. "Everybody has a story and Tommy's is a particularly inspiring one. By telling it, he's changing the world."
   Persistence and a can-do attitude helped Spaulding win a Rotary scholarship, he said, that paid for graduate school and enabled him to earn an M.B.A. despite a less than stellar academic career.
   "I convinced the scholarship committee that I could overcome bad grades and achieve something and I kept my word," Spaulding said. "I had to prove that I deserved the scholarship and that they made the right choice."
   Eventually Spaulding made good on his promise and achieved considerable success as as corporate executive. But a growing desire to create a more lasting impact in his community led him to walk away from his career and use his own money to establish a nonprofit organization to help others develop leadership skills.
   "If I'm able to make a difference, I hope it's by inspiring people to have the courage to love one another and build relationships and strive for the best," Spaulding said. "The opportunities are out there, it's just up to us to be tenacious about pursuing them."
   Spaulding's message is one that people of all ages can learn from, said University of Memphis president Shirley Raines.
   "He worked hard in the face of academic challenges and achieved substantial success, but there's more to it than that," Raines said. "He also knew that his family loved and supported him and that provided a solid foundation for what came later. All of us should be positive influences like that on the lives of others."

Life on Adams: George Griesbeck
George Griesbeck: Alum, Teacher, Friend
Purple & Gold, the official alumni magazine of Christian Brothers High School.
Fall, 2010
   As a student, George Griesbeck [Faculty 1964-1972] made good grades. He came to CBC from Immaculate Conception Grade School, operated by the Sisters of Mercy. He recalls fondly Sister Martina, "who could run a school with a long handled bell and keep things in order." The upper stories of the building had just become Catholic High School, a co-ed high school that would later become an all-boy school and move to McLean Street. The girls would remain at Immaculate Conception under that name; today it is the last of the parish high schools in the state.

[Read the entire article]

[The East High Alumni Page Editor's note: Mr. J.G. Griesbeck, principal of East High School 1964-1972, died shortly after the article was published in the Purple & Gold. An obituary is available.
Mr. Griesbeck came to East as principal after East's first principal was killed in a traffic crash in the summer of 1964. It is often said that a person does not wish to follow a legend in a job, but that's the situation in which Mr. Griesbeck found himself. J.P. Snider was highly respected, his name spoken in revered tones in many homes of students of his at East. Mr. Griesbeck continued the high academic and citizenship standards at East.]



In brief: Top U.S. historian at MUS tonight

Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 11, 2010
   Columbia University professor Kenneth T. Jackson [associated with the Class of '57], one of the nation's pre-eminent historians and an alumnus of Memphis City Schools and the University of Memphis, will speak at 7 p.m. today at the meeting of the West Tennessee Historical Society at Memphis University School's Wunderlich Auditorium.
   At Columbia, Jackson is the director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for the Study of American History and the Jacques Barzun Professor of History and Social Sciences. Jackson's seminal book, "Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States," is considered one of the most important works of history in the latter decades of the 20th century.
   Reprinted 29 times in paperback and five times in hardcover, "Crabgrass Frontier" was the first full-scale history of the development of American suburbia and has been described as an often critical examination of "how 'the good life' in America came to be equated with the a home of one's own surrounded by a grassy yard and located far from the urban workplace."
   Among Jackson's other major works are: "Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York," "The Dictionary of American Biography," "Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives," "Silent Cities: the Evolution of the American Cemetery," "The Ku Klux Klan in the City," "American Vistas," "Empire City: New York Through the Centuries," and the "Encyclopedia of New York City" (seventh edition due in 2010).

Documentary parallels issues at East High

By Amy Barnette
Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 11, 2010
   When more than 100 Memphians gathered Sunday at East High School to watch the Indie Memphis Freedom Series' presentation of "Heart of Stone," a documentary that examines how a principal and alumni of a troubled New Jersey high school sought to improve life for its students, the parallels to local concerns were clearly observed.
   Eric Harris ['91 and Faculty], principal (and alumnus) of East, said the film pointed out some of the issues he faces in making sure teenagers, whose minds and viewpoints are still being shaped, have positive role models in their lives.
   "(It) really reminded me a lot of East High School -- not totally, not even mostly, but the demographic shift that occurred, the student body as a whole, some of the perceptions that they had," he said.
   But East's challenges are not as daunting as those portrayed in the documentary.
   Though Weequahic High School in Newark, N.J., was one of the nation's top schools through the 1950s, racial conflict and economic downturn took their toll. When the school's primarily Jewish alumni from its heyday decided to give back to their school, they worked alongside principal Ron Stone to encourage students, setting up scholarship funds and backing trips to Europe.
   In Memphis, that partnership between alumni and administration can be found in the Greater East High Foundation and its offshoot, the dynamic, youth-led Peer Power program.
   Hosted by Bridges and the Memphis Jewish Federation, the community-minded event Sunday afternoon featured small-group discussions after the film. Student tutors from Peer Power guided the conversation to discover what participants thought could be learned from Newark's example and how it might be applied to Memphis schools.
   Anna Ham, who teaches math at Craigmont High School through the Teach for America program, said she thought that Craigmont and East both dealt with the consequences of suburbanization, just as Weequahic did.
   "I've heard stories about how Craigmont was once one of the best schools in the country, and everyone wanted to send their kids there, as well as East, but I feel like with sprawl and white flight, schools have gotten into disarray," she said.
   Writer Michelle Malsbury said that community involvement was what helped the New Jersey students, and that same principle could be applied locally.
   "They saw all their mentors, all their alum in essence become their role models, and it helped them see that if they just worked hard, they could also achieve the same things," she said.
   The Freedom Series ties film to the community. Each event is hosted by a different group and ends with an open discussion.
   Director Robin Salant said the series has been extremely successful. Each community featured has asked to be involved again next year, and other groups are clamoring to be included as well.
   "We've made sure (the screenings) have been kept free so we can have economic diversity," she said. "We want this to inspire everyone."
   Next up for the Freedom Series is "The Life & Times of Rosie the Riveter," showing at the National Civil Rights Museum at 6 p.m. Thursday. The film and discussion will focus on fair wages for women in the workplace, Salant said.

Online maps show Memphis' makeup by ethnicity
Race still dividing line for city

By Richard Morgan
Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 10, 2010
   The South is pretty big on euphemisms, bless its heart.
   So maybe it was fitting that it took a computer programmer in San Francisco to shake things up. Because when Memphians talk about "tensions" or "divisions" or even "issues," we are often really talking about race and, by extension, racism.
   In September, Eric Fischer, 37, posted a series of images to his Flickr account. Inspired by a racial mapping of Chicago last year on a website, RadicalCartography.net, Fischer took 2000 Census data and color-coded dozens of U.S. cities by race of residents. Blacks were blue, whites were red, Latinos were orange and Asians were green. The images went viral online.
   "I was shocked," Fischer said. "I thought things were better than this. Whatever city, whatever part of the country, there is still such division."
   Chiefly a black-and-white split, the maps evoke that stark, bitter presidential election in 2000 when "Red America" and "Blue America" became household terms.
   The map of Memphis shows a ring of whites -- in Germantown, Bartlett, Collierville, Millington, Horn Lake -- surrounding a black city core. There are isles of whites both literal (Mud Island) and metaphoric (Central Gardens, Cooper-Young, the Poplar corridor). The two most-integrated neighborhoods are Raleigh-Frayser and Hickory Hill.
   There is almost no orange on the map.
   A small but noticeable green blob, at the so-called "Little Vietnam" area around Cleveland and Jefferson, is an Asian oasis.
   For Asians and Latinos, government surveys routinely point to underreporting of population due to obstacles including language barriers and immigration concerns.
   "It's not surprising," said Mayor A C Wharton, who is black and campaigned on a post-racial slogan of "One Memphis." "But I'm not concerned with racial divisions. My job is to look at quality of life, regardless of these splits."
   That approach could sound like the "separate but equal" doctrine of Jim Crow, but Wharton, who lives in the center of the city, at Carnes and East Parkway South in an area he calls "West Orange Mound," quickly clarified:
   "Separate is inherently unequal. To the degree that we have division because of poverty or outright racism, it saddens me. We have to work on that.
   "But if these are divisions of choice, we have to accept that. You can't mandate polka dots."
   "We tried that and it made things worse," said Ed Williams ['52], Shelby County historian. "Before 1960, Memphis City Schools were superior to Shelby County schools," he said, "but then (desegregation) busing ruined that."
   U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., is the only white member of the U.S. House of Representatives to represent a majority-minority district. Cohen grew up in 1950s Memphis, left in 1961 and returned in 1967 to an apartment building on Walnut Grove with, he recalled, only one black family.
   Looking at the race-data map, he called Uptown "promising" and Mud Island "integrated," adding that there are now "respectable specks of blue" on Walnut Grove.
   "There's progress and lack of progress," he said, saying concerts and schools and restaurants in Memphis are still sometimes effectively all-white or all-black, and repeating the common quip that noon on Sunday is the most segregated moment of the week. "There are a lot of bad memories. And it'll take time to erase them from our collective consciousness. They don't facilitate progress, but they should breed understanding."
   Former Memphis NAACP executive secretary Maxine Smith, who was turned away from the old Memphis State University because of her race in 1957, this year received an honorary doctorate of letters from what is now the University of Memphis.
   "Desegregation doesn't make us love each other, but it brings us closer so that we can understand each other," she said. "You can't understand someone you never see. Our goal is not for everyone to have a black neighbor and a white neighbor, but just equal opportunity, equal access."
   She laughed. "Used to be, our barriers were legal. We took care of those. Now there are these more pernicious economic barriers. We'll get them with enough time and hard work."
   Bill Patton, author of "A Guide to Historic Downtown Memphis," moved here from Washington in 2006 and runs Backbeat Tours, which focus on Memphis music.
   "It's the locals, the folks from East Memphis who never come Downtown, who get blown away by our tours," he said.
   "I personally don't like thinking of white history or black history. The story of Memphis is a shared history," Patton said.
   "There's so much for everyone here: food, music. It's not like the Otis Redding folks hate Johnny Cash or Elvis. Or vice versa. Memphians all secretly love Memphis. But Memphians are in many ways their own worst enemies."
   Racial tension is nothing new to Memphis, home of the National Civil Rights Museum. The discussion has timeless sentiments, such as the one quoted by Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1959 speech he gave in Hawaii, two years before President Barack Obama was born there: "Lord, we ain't what we want to be. We ain't what we ought to be. We ain't what we gonna be. But thank God we ain't what we was."

A Tale of Sorts
After 32 years, library volunteer still reading, sorting, and selling.

by Halley Johnson
The Memphis Flyer
October 7, 2010
   When Sherman Dixon ['60] was in college, there was a moment when he thought he might like to be a writer.
    "I mentioned it to a teacher of mine who had read some of my themes, and she said, 'You know, Sherman, some people are born to be writers and some are born to be readers.'" Remembering this, Dixon laughs. "Point well taken."
    Indeed. Dixon has been an avid Friends of the Library volunteer for 32 years, sorting — and reading — the library's donated books.
   A graduate of East High and the University of Memphis, Dixon is a retired postmaster who began his career as a buyer for Sears. But it wasn't until his late 30s when he stumbled across his first Friends book sale that he found a passion for volunteering.
   "I used to haunt bookstores," he says. "I just like looking at old, used books."
   There's a lot of looking involved. In the Benjamin Hooks Central Library basement where donated books are housed, there are more than 60,000 volumes at any given time. The rest are in the library's bookstore, Second Editions, or waiting to be priced and posted on Amazon.com.
   Dixon is part of a team of dedicated volunteers who each manage a different part of the process, though all do quite a bit of sorting. The volunteers — among them, retired teachers, a retired doctor, a zoo employee, and another retired postmaster — have widespread interests. Dixon's English degree means that he oversees the sorting of the literature books, as well as presiding over the art and religion sections.
   "We're such a small group, but we have every section covered," Dixon says.
   When Dixon started volunteering, the library occupied the corner of Peabody and McLean, and the Friends averaged $12,000 from two annual booksales. Now, in the massive Poplar Avenue building, they've expanded to three annual sales and year-round book sales through Second Editions and Amazon — bringing in at least $185,000 this year.
   Many books sell for less than a dollar in the sales or in the bookstore, though rare books bring much better returns on the Amazon site. The most valuable books, Dixon says, are the ones that go straight into the library.
   "We call those 'cost avoidance' donations," he says, noting that saving the library money on buying books is as good as bringing in extra revenue. The Friends do their fair share of donating as well, letting nonprofits peruse the leftover books from the annual sales, taking whatever they can use.
   "I've probably touched a million books in the last 30 years," Dixon says, "but I still get excited when I find something valuable."
   Visit the Friends of the Library's Amazon site at www.amazon.com/shops/memfolbooks1

Cruisin': Electric bicycle combines aerobic exercise, transportation

By Wayne Risher
Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 6, 2010
   The leader of the pack is a 67-year-old millionaire who wears a warm-up suit and a smile as broad as a kid with a new toy.
   Charles McVean ['61] gestures toward a fleet of funny-looking electric bicycles parked nearby and tells his entourage "OK everybody. Let's cruise."
   And away goes The Mild Bunch, nine laid-back riders gliding silently down High Point Terrace to East Memphis' new railbed-turned-trail, the Shelby Farms Greenline.
   At the head of the column rides McVean, financial whiz and principal in Aerobic Cruiser Hybrid Cycle LLC, a maker of plug-in electric moped bicycles.
   The founder and president of McVean Trading and Investments LLC launched development of the Aerobic Cruiser four years ago in hopes of blending fun, exercise and profit.
   To hear him tell it, the long, low-slung bicycle with a battery-powered motor between the driver's legs is a cure to what ails Memphis and America.
   He believes it can help fight climate change, the obesity epidemic, the foreign trade deficit and a diminished manufacturing base.
   McVean's company is assembling the Aerobic Cruiser in Memphis, albeit from mostly foreign-made parts.
   "One of our objectives is to be a microcosm of the rebirth of manufacturing in the United States of America," he said.
   It's developing a bicycle lifestyle center a few blocks north of the Greenline, in the neighborhood shopping strip where McVean rode his bike as a kid.
   Cruiser's Lifestyle Center, 485 High Point Terrace at Philwood, will contain a bicycle service center, Cruiser showroom, convenience store, restaurant and public restrooms. First will come restrooms, opening in November, to provide pit stops for Greenline users.
   Thinking big is old hat for McVean. In the 1980s he dropped millions on a proposal for indoor racing featuring hackney ponies ridden by robot jockeys. Six years ago he started the Peer Power Foundation at his alma mater, East High School. It cultivates high achievers to boost performance of their lagging peers.
   McVean said he's invested "several million dollars" so far to create his own spin on the electric bicycle, a low-impact conveyance that sells tens of millions of units a year worldwide, primarily in Asia and Europe. His design combines pedal power with electric power so riders can go faster or further, climb hills or take a breather without stopping.
   "It has not caught on yet in the USA because nobody has built the right machine," McVean said. "I think this is it."
   "It's fun. It's exercise. But most of all, it's serious transportation," he added.
   McVean has 12 to 15 people carrying out his vision, which sees Aerobic Cruisers dovetailing with efforts to make Memphis a bicycle haven.
   McVean said the ultimate would be a bicycle lane atop the Mississippi River levee from Walls, Miss., to Vicksburg, with a high-speed ferry filling the gap between Walls and Downtown.
   Employed by his venture are bicycle mechanics, competitive cyclists and business, retail and restaurant types.
   McVean punctuated their cruise from High Point to the Shelby Farms visitor center with comments on marketing, economics and recent articles about the electric vehicle market.
   "The Cruiser is a very unique project that's exciting to be a part of," said Jeremy Reese, who started working for McVean four years ago.
   The Aerobic Cruiser is pricey: $5,000 for a deluxe model with well-padded semi-recumbent seat and shock-absorbing frame. The top-of-the-line can go 75 to 100 miles on a charge.
   McVean's company has built 20 prototypes, outfitted with high-efficiency lithium iron phosphate batteries.
   A lower-line model, the Commuter, will sell for less than $2,000. A three-wheeler also will be offered.
   Kyle Wagenschutz, bike and pedestrian coordinator for city and county governments, said the Cruiser suits people who want both exercise and transportation out of a bike, but maybe need help covering longer distances.
   McVean's plan for the High Point Terrace center is an example of economic activity spurred by the new Greenline, Wagenschutz said.
   The trail's opening has been eagerly anticipated by the bicycling public, said Daniel Duckworth, general manager of Midtown Bikes on South Main.
   "September was my best month all year," Duckworth said. "In my conversations with customers, it's obvious, whether they're buying new or dragging in something old to refurbish, generally most people have a high interest in utilizing that great asset we now possess."
   As for the Aerobic Cruiser, Duckworth said, "The only segment that product will reach is well-to-do boomers."
   Duckworth said purists, which covers most bike shop owners , "tend to have a general disdain for the electric bicycle. I embrace it."
   He sells a plug-in electric unit for about $1,500 and can put an electric motor on a conventional bike for about $1,000. "Once people hear that price, they shy away."
   McVean said he regrets initial prices are so high, due to the cost of batteries and components, but he expects costs to drop as production ramps up. "I hate telling the postman I don't have anything for him," he said.
   He plans to target upscale retirement communities such as Johns Island, Fla., and Bay Harbor, Mich. It was on an annual visit to Bay Harbor that he got the idea for the cruiser, after seeing a man drive a plug-in electric car to and from a fitness center workout.
   McVean views Memphis as a test market. "We're going to come in here and see if the concept has traction. If it does, we're going national fast."

The Commercial Appeal also has a video interview with Chas McVean which was still available at last check. See the video: Aerobic Cruiser.

Letter: Fire crew shows government works

Letter to the Editor
Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 5, 2010
   Just as I, a 94-year-old retiree from the faculty of East High School, was about to reluctantly buy into the current disillusionment with the operation of our city and its services, I have had an experience which has restored my confidence in our city government. My frenzied call to 911 last week promptly brought a fire engine and crew from Station 13 to my home. Three young firemen, led by fireman Mike McGee, not only quickly located and removed the cause of alarm, but did so with remarkable efficiency, while at the same time calming me with their reassuring words. Their concern for my welfare and peace of mind was touching and greatly appreciated.
   Congratulations to our Fire Director Alvin Benson on the hiring and training of such an exemplary crew of city employees.
   Frances F. Marks [Faculty 1963-1973]

Charter school operators want fairer funding, board independent of Memphis City Schools

By Jane Roberts
Memphis Commercial Appeal
October 3, 2010
   Steve Bares minces no words when it comes to what it's like to run a charter school under Memphis City Schools.
   He says MCS officials withhold money, obfuscate on issues and so effectively control who gets approved -- and who doesn't -- that charter operators are effectively silenced.
   "When charter school principals got together and realized our kids were getting deep-fat-fried funnel cakes and sugar for breakfast," Bares said, "no one said anything.
   "To be blunt, we are in a very awkward position. If you argue, you get threatened."
   As chairman of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, he's pushing for creation of an independent board to oversee the state's charter schools, including how they are approved and funded.
   Of the 40 states with charter laws, 21 have some kind of statewide authorizing body. In most cases, it is the state board of education.
   Bares' biggest beef is that MCS does not fairly fund charter schools.
   The city of Memphis has 22 charter schools, including seven that are new this fall. Together, they educate more than 5,000 children, or about 5 percent of the city schools' student population.
   The charter schools got none of the $90 million grant awarded to Memphis City Schools last November by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
   They saw little, if any, of the $57 million -- about $670 per Title I student -- that MCS received in federal Race to the Top dollars this summer.
   The district has not decided whether it will share the roughly $200 per student it received this fall in a $23 million stimulus project to save teacher jobs.
   "Here's Congress saying this is additional support for public schools nationwide. But if you are going to a charter school, you don't count," said Matt Throckmorton, executive director of the state charter association.
   MCS has heard the argument many times. It says it allocates funds and services based on the same formula used for its schools.
   Tennessee law says local school districts must pass 100 percent of the state and local per-pupil funding on to the charters.
   The law is murkier on the allocation of federal money.
   Last year, the district received $10,394 for every child in Memphis City Schools.
   It passed $7,630, or 73.4 percent, to the charters, excluding money for capital projects, as defined in state code.
   Metro Nashville Public Schools received $10,495 per student and passed $8,090, or 77 percent, to the charters.
   The difference fuels the argument that MCS withholds too much money on one hand and charges the charters for services the federal government pays the school district to provide, including lunches, bus transportation and special education services.
   Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, the largest charter in Memphis, stopped buying school lunches from MCS this fall, saying it could provide better-quality food on its own and shave $100,000 a year off expenses.
   Bares, who is chairman of the board of directors at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, says MCS pockets the profit and keeps "a separate P & L" (profit and loss statement) charters are not allowed to see.
   Not every charter operator is as vocal, but when pressed, most say they wish MCS distributed funds, particularly federal dollars, more evenly and that they had a voice in how funding decisions are made.
   For instance, charter leaders whose schools received computers and professional development training this summer through funding from MCS said they didn't realize it was a trade-off for thousands in stimulus dollars.
   "We essentially have two professional development programs going on, funded by two different sources," said Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003], head of New Consortium of Law and Business charter school.
   "But we've found ways to make it work," he said, adding that MCS is "transparent and open" about funding.
   "It definitely means we understand why they are spending the way they are, but does it mean we are always happy? No."
   Rev. Anthony Anderson, who runs Memphis Business Academy in a converted Kmart in Frayser, says funding is a loaded issue.
   "I was disappointed that there weren't as much stimulus funds passed down for facilities, especially," he said.
   Memphis Business Academy, with one of the lowest per-pupil costs in the city, bought the vacant store in foreclosure for $986,000 last year.
   It borrowed $1.9 million and invested $400,000 of its own money to cover renovations.
   If it were a traditional MCS school with 250 students, it would receive roughly $691,000 a year for capital expenses.
   Instead, charter schools get $600,000 in start-up funds over the first three years to cover facility costs.
   "Most will go to curriculum, textbooks and desks," said Throckmorton.
   "Some of that money -- $20,000 to $30,000 -- may be used to cover remodeling. There are so many other expenses in opening up a school."
   Anderson says it's not enough to cover school buses, lunches and capital costs, "but it's legal. It's a state and legislative issue."
   Bares says the community, and specifically Supt. Kriner Cash, should do more than cling to the law when the issue is a matter of integrity.
   "These are all public school kids. Where is the leadership? This is an opportunity to say are we going to be an organization that is in for reform or not? Are we leading by integrity or not?"
   State Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, chairman of the House Education Committee, says the funding argument comes up "in spurts" when charters are struggling with cash-flow problems.
   "I think there is need for clarification on the funding language," he said, adding that even legislators tend to see charters as separate from public schools.
   "What has to come across is these are not private institutions."
   Greg Richmond, chief executive of the National Alliance of Charter School Authorizers, says it's easy for charters and school districts to come to blows when they compete for the same students and dollars.
   When the school districts are also in charge of overseeing the charters they approve, the water can get even bloodier.
   "School districts exist to directly run schools; most are not structured to oversee autonomous schools they don't run," Richmond said.
   "Many superintendents would rather focus on running their own schools; that's why statewide authorities can make some sense."
   The issue cooled this summer when charter operators say Cash struck a conciliatory tone by delaying a plan to withhold 3 percent of the charters' funding as an administrative fee, saying he wanted to hear from them first and was open to compromise.
   "I want to forge a different conversation here in Memphis with the charters," Cash said last week. "I want us to be more we, not us versus they .... and I am going to take leadership in that regard. We will continue to find good common ground so that all children in Memphis can have good schools."
   The goodwill evaporated when the district told Throckmorton that unless the service fee is agreed on, MCS could no longer afford to pay charters in 10 equal installments, and instead would pass the money on as it is received.
   The district says it has discussed the possibility with the charters since the City Council withheld funding from MCS in 2008.
   "The reason for the conversations was due to cash-flow implications to the district," said Pam Anstey, MCS chief financial officer.
   "MCS could be forced to have these conversations again."
   If the change happened now, charter schools say they would receive less than half of what they are expecting between now and late winter.
   "It would bleed our charter schools dry," Throckmorton said.
   He's wants an independent board for other reasons, including that it would make charters possible in cities where they are now politically unpalatable, including Knoxville.
   "Three out of four charter applications are rejected in Tennessee now. And in some places, it's four out of four," he said.
   A statewide authorizer gives the power to start charters to a group beyond the local school board.
   "We think school districts should have the power to authorize, but then there should be another authorizer in the state," said Richmond, so charter operators have another option if their application is rejected by the school board.
   Over six years, a handful of states have created statewide independent authorizers, including Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Idaho.
   "It's definitely a discussion that is happening in more state legislatures now," Richmond said.
   Cary Booker, co-founder of Omni Schools, says he "would be inclined to take a very close look and consider it.
   "I'd want to lay the plans next to each other and compare them."
   But Anderson would rather be aligned with MCS, saying he's not sure a new organization would commit to serving the neediest students, as Tennessee law now dictates.
   He's also not sure another group could pay retirement benefits to teachers and staff and provide the service he gets from MCS.
   "I'm fortunate that I can get $4 million to run our school, and for the most part, break it down the way I want. That's the most benefit to our kids."

TV Program: Ophra
September 30, 2010
Cybill Shepherd ('68) appeared on the Sept. 30 Oprah Winfrey show along with several other beautiful models and movie stars discussing how they dealt with their beauty as young women and how they've handled aging.

Memphis Memories
By Staff, The Commercial Appeal
September 18, 2010
   [The following was republished on September 18, 2010, in the Memphis/Mid-South Memories item in The Commercial Appeal, originally published September, 1951.]

Yellow fever left mark on Memphis; historians disagree on impact
Yellow fever left mark on Memphis; historians disagree on impact

By Michael Lollar
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Posted September 11, 2010
   It began in the filthiest part of the filthiest city in America and turned into a plague of Biblical proportions.
   "You can't take the kind of hit Memphis took and believe that it didn't matter," says historian Dr. John Harkins, referring to the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.
   Harkins, who taught at the University of Memphis and Memphis University School, encounters a chorus of dissenting historians when he argues the city might have become "the premier city of the South" if not for the 1878 epidemic.
   It killed then faded away with the first frost of 1878. People had no idea what caused it, but it took more lives than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake and the Johnstown flood combined, says author Molly Caldwell Crosby, who wrote "The American Plague" with Memphis as the focus of the country's search for the cause of plagues like those that came to Memphis seven times between 1828 and 1878. It would be 22 years after the 1878 epidemic before the cause was traced to a virus transmitted by mosquitoes.
   This weekend, dubbed Martyrs Weekend, recognizes victims of that deadliest outbreak in 1878 and the people who came to their aid, often dying in the process. Twelve Catholic nuns, 9 priests, 4 Episcopalian nuns and 10 Protestant ministers died. Survivors had to face the city's bankruptcy, the loss of its charter and an image that Harkins says steered immigrants away from Memphis for years.
   Many of the immigrants who had helped the city to grow are in what Elmwood Cemetery's assistant director Jody Schmidt calls a "trench grave," holding 1,500 caskets placed side by side and end to end. Another 1,000 marked graves are scattered through the cemetery. They made up less than half the city's victims. The population had been roughly 50,000 before about 30,000 fled at the start of the epidemic on Aug. 5, 1878. Of the 19,000 who stayed in Memphis, 17,000 came down with yellow fever, and 5,150 died.
   Memphis had been a magnet for German and Irish settlers looking for jobs along the heavily traveled river. "I think there's a chance Memphis might have rivaled Atlanta if it had continued to attract a cosmopolitan mix of people. Memphis became more provincial," says Harkins.
   What visitors found at the start of 1878 was a city growing in spite of itself. There was no city sewer system. Water was collected in cisterns, and maimed animals were left rotting in Downtown streets made of ill-advised cypress paving blocks that rotted and caved in, creating chasms that broke the legs of horses and mules.
   It was as if the Medieval Era had been dropped onto the Mississippi River bluffs. People were proud of their sweet-smelling magnolias and roses, but the city was also a pestilence-ridden rathole. It stunk so bad people knew they were nearing the city when they came within five miles of it. "Cologne, that European city of a thousand disgusting smells, backs down before Memphis," wrote a visitor from North Carolina in 1867.
   Memphis was designated the nation's most unhealthy city with the U.S. surgeon general referring to sanitary conditions here as "shameful and a disgrace."
   Shelby County historian Ed Williams ['52]agrees with Harkins up to a point about those who fled. "The German element of the population prior to the epidemic was substantial and included a lot of merchants and business people who were middle- and upper-middle-class." Many of them fled to St. Louis and Cincinnati, he says.
   But Williams also agrees with University of Memphis Bureau of Business and Economic Research director John Gnuschke that the effect of any wholesale migration in 1878 would "largely have dissipated" over a few decades.
   If the epidemic forever scarred Memphis, Gnuschke says, historians would have to explain why the Chicago fire or the San Francisco earthquake didn't forever hamper the growth of those cities.
   Memphis began to recover quickly after 1878. Its artesian water supply was discovered and turned into one of the purest water supplies in the nation in the 1880s. Its charter was restored. Its sanitation and sewer systems became models for other cities. Between 1900 and 1950, Memphis almost quadrupled from 102,350 to 396,000 residents.
   Historian Dr. Robert Sigafoos, retired from the University of Memphis, says many of those who left the city returned soon after 1878.
   But a major difference in Memphis and other cities in the South, he says, is that "Memphis has always had an underclass of rather sizable proportions." Its burgeoning population in the early 1900s was primarily from surrounding rural areas. Many had been sharecroppers. While Memphis focused on cotton, St. Louis focused on manufacturing and Atlanta got a head start on Memphis as a rail hub.
   It's largely a speculative issue from a historical standpoint, Harkins agrees. But for those who argue the city's 1878 descent was an aberration and that Memphis returned to an unaltered course, he says, "I tend to disagree."

Area executives are urged to follow a 'family first' business plan

By James Dowd
Memphis Commercial Appeal
September 10, 2010

   Joking that he was in the presence of "every outlaw in Memphis," Kem Wilson Jr. ['64] on Thursday joined about 150 relatives, friends and business executives to celebrate what he considers the most important thing in the world.
   Wilson, executive vice president of Kemmons Wilson Companies, hosted a luncheon at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis featuring Louis Upkins Jr., author of "Treat Me Like A Customer: Using Lessons from Work to Succeed in Life.
   The invitation-only event was designed to inspire area leaders to focus as much attention on their home lives as on their corporate careers, Wilson said.
   "Everyone at this event knows what it takes to be successful in the business world, but sometimes we need to be reminded to take that acumen and use it to enrich our families," Wilson said. "Family is the most important legacy."
   Through personal anecdotes and observations, Upkins advised business executives how to use professional expertise to succeed in personal relationships.
   Of primary importance, he said, is respecting loved ones as much as clients.
   "All of us understand what it means to value, respect and even lose a customer, whether you're working at Mapco or running the White House," Upkins said. "The tragedy occurs when you spend so much time on your business that your family life fails. You can build a political career, fail and start over, or build a business, fail and start over, but you can't always start over if you fail with your family."
   Upkins practices what he preaches, devoting most of his time these days to spreading the family-first message.
   After publishing his book earlier this year, Upkins stepped back from his global branding agency -- which has included such clients as Bono, Whitney Houston and Oprah Winfrey -- to addressing business audiences and faith communities.
   Among his suggestions for building stronger familial relationships: Turn off mobile devices when spending time with loved ones, take note of what they are saying and respond.
   In other words, treat family members like A-list clients.
   "When you're with your family, really be with them. Remember that it's OK to let your phone go to voice mail sometimes," he said.
   "As a community, the fabric of family is the most important, and to wear it loosely is a dishonor."
   Duncan Williams, president of local investment banking firm Duncan-Williams, plans to take the advice to heart and hopes others do, too.
   "I've got three young children and I'm trying to aggressively grow my company, and I appreciate hearing such a successful executive encourage us to make family a priority," Williams said. "It helps us redefine what constitutes success."

Family of Kemmons Wilson marks 50 years of philanthropy in city he loved

By James Dowd
Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 31, 2010
   A half-century ago, Memphian Kemmons Wilson's Holiday Inn enterprise was flourishing with an average of one new property opening every week.
   Leveraging the company's national success to benefit his local community, the entrepreneur -- along with his wife, Dorothy, and his mother, Ruby -- created a philanthropic arm of the business solely dedicated to charitable giving.
   In the decades since, the Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation has awarded about $20 million to more than 450 organizations in the Greater Memphis community.
   Today, on the foundation's golden anniversary, family members are excited about continuing that tradition for the next 50 years and beyond.
   "Everything we do continues the legacy of giving established by our parents," said Spence Wilson ['60], president of Kemmons Wilson Companies and a member of the foundation's board of trustees. "That tradition connects us as a family and in broader sense it connects us to this community that we all love."
   The foundation awards grants to a variety of institutions, said Lauren Young, the organizations's executive director. The five grant categories are: Advancement of Education; Community Outreach; Enrichment of Youth; Faith-Based Ministries; and Health and Research.
   Recipients have included the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, the Memphis Zoo, the Salvation Army, Streets Ministries and Youth Villages.
   "Kemmons and Dorothy were active and faithful members of this congregation and the family has been extravagantly generous to worthy causes in Memphis," said Dr. Maxie Dunnam, interim senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church. "They're involved in so many areas."
   In addition to its financial contributions, the family-run foundation sponsors regular meetings for staffers to assess pressing needs of the community and offers employees paid time off to volunteer at nonprofit organizations.
   Jim Boyd, president of Bridges, praised the foundation's focus.
   "They're constantly looking for ways to build up this community and they've been generous supporters of Bridges," Boyd said. "The family's heart is evident throughout the foundation, not just in their financial contributions, but also in their commitment to creating a better environment for all Memphians."
   And that's an integral part of the foundation's mission, said Bob Wilson ['62], executive vice president Kemmons Wilson Companies and a member of the board of trustees.
   "Dollars are important, but money isn't everything. We also strive to be actively engaged in and positively affect our community," he said. "Our parents encouraged us to give of ourselves and we continue that tradition today."
   Kem Wilson Jr. ['64], executive vice president of Kemmons Wilson Companies and a member of the board of trustees, agreed.
   "I learned a long time ago that you can't just write a check and expect things to improve. It works better if you get involved and work for positive change," he said. "Because of our parents we've been very fortunate and our family is committed to helping others succeed, too."
   Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation
   Established: Aug. 31, 1960, as the Kemmons, Ruby and Dorothy Wilson Foundation; renamed the Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation in 2003
   Board of trustees: Betty [Wilson '66] Moore, Carole [Wilson '67] West, Bob Wilson ['62], Kem Wilson Jr.['64], Spence Wilson ['60]
   Impact: Donations and grants of about $20 million to more than 450 organizations
   Online: kwilson.com/wilsonfoundation.php

Business leaders discuss local role in future of the Memphis Redbirds

By Marlon W. Morgan
Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 31, 2010
   Spence Wilson Sr. ['60], president of Memphis-based Kemmons Wilson Inc., said he would ideally love to see the Memphis Redbirds sold to a group of local investors.
   That's why about 10 local businessmen, including Wilson, have been gathering facts about what it might take to purchase the team from the Memphis Redbirds Foundation, which owns the Redbirds and AutoZone Park.
   But Wilson is quick to point out that Kemmons Wilson Inc. is not leading any such pursuit of the team.
   "We happened to have a meeting in our office and we're just kind of learning and trying to figure out what's really taking place and what the opportunities might be," Wilson said. "Obviously, we, like all Memphians, would love to see some stability take place with the team and the stadium. If there's something we can do to help in that regard that makes sense, we'll probably hold our hand up and be willing to participate. We're not going to lead any effort. We'll be a small player."
   Wilson said there is also an outside party that has talked with the group of Memphians, whom he declined to identify. They are currently in a fact-finding mode.
   John Pontius, treasurer of the Redbirds Foundation, said he was aware of such talks, but confirmed that the foundation has not been approached with any bids.
   "I had a conversation with Spence about (the meeting)," Pontius said. "I asked him if I could answer any questions for him and he didn't (respond). That's really all I know. To my knowledge, none of the groups are advanced enough to make a bid."
   The Redbirds have had about a half-dozen groups express interest in buying the team over the last two years, Pontius said, including the St. Louis Cardinals, who began talks in 2008 but withdrew when the economy entered a recession.
   No one has come close to making a bid on the team. But when that time comes, Pontius believes one or more local groups will likely be part of the deal.
   "I would think most anybody who would buy a minor league baseball team would want some local representation," Pontius said. "Minor league baseball is a very local activity. It's very much part of the local fabric. Most everybody wants somebody that lives here as part of their group.
   "There's no question I'd love to have local ownership. The Redbirds have approached professional sports unlike any other. It's very much a civic endeavor. Having a local partner who understands the value of that is very important."
   Since defaulting on a $1.625 million bond payment in March 2009, the foundation has entered into an agreement with its bondholders this year that will allow it to make bond payments of just over $1million this year.
   That has allowed the club to not only remain current with this year's bills but also to pay off some of its previous debt in hopes of making the club more attractive to suitors.
   Earlier this summer, Pontius predicted the club will owe about $2 million, mostly to its top 10 vendors, down from $2.5 million a year ago.

Two Memphis City Schools principals indicted, accused of not reporting assault

By Jane Roberts
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Posted August 20, 2010
   The East High principal who was suspended with pay last spring after nearly 600 laptops went missing is now assistant principal at Cypress Middle School.
   Fred Curry [Faculty 2005-2010] was suspended after an internal audit showed the laptops were missing, hundreds of dollars could not be accounted for in a school candy sale and a teacher expense account was overdrawn by $1,225.
   District spokeswoman Staci Franklin said she could not comment on personnel issues. In an e-mail about the missing money, she said, "I'm familiar with the computer situation but not any missing money."
   The audit was released to the public June 22 through Franklin's office.
   In Curry's comments in the audit, he said one student was charged for stealing 200 computers April 22.
   Franklin did not know if any additional students had been charged. She said it was her understanding "that those students who were responsible are going through their due process in the legal system."
   She referred to the statement Supt. Kriner Cash made when the audit was released.
   Cash listed a series of changes he was making at East, including removing Curry and making security and safety assessments.
   "It is important that parents and community members know that the well-being, academic achievement and safety of our students are always priority one, and I will continue to hold all staff to the highest standard in educating our students."
   When he announced new principals in June, Cash said Curry "was not on my radar. I don't know where he is; he's not on my screen."
   Curry had been principal at East since 2005, the school's fourth principal in five years.
   Tuesday, several parents and school volunteers supported his work. "A huge ovation at graduation occurred when one of the students quoted Mr. Curry's motto, 'Failure is not an option,' " parent Jill Piper wrote in an e-mail. "Because our son had such a positive experience at East High, we were distressed that MCS chose to put (Curry) on administrative leave," she said.
   "If a bunch of knuckleheads decide to ditch out one of East High's 28 doors with a cartload of laptops, that is not Fred Curry's fault."
   Eric Harris, former assistant principal at White Station High, was moved to the East High principal's job.
   On Friday, Harris was indicted by a Shelby County grand jury for failing to report a student assault last fall at White Station.
   "Mr. Harris is an alumni of East and he certainly has shown that he was the right selection," said Bill Sehnert, director of Peer Power, the tutoring program businessman Charles McVean started six years ago at East.
   "Being a principal is like being a pitcher. I may strike out the first batter, but I need to get 26 more outs. And I need my team to support me with some hits and runs," Sehnert said.

Two Memphis City Schools principals indicted, accused of not reporting assault

By Jane Roberts
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Posted August 20, 2010
   Two city schools principals were indicted Friday by a Shelby County grand jury for failing to report a student assault last fall at White Station High School.
   David Mansfield, White Station principal, and Eric Harris [Faculty], now principal at East High, failed to report an incident that allegedly left a 17-year-old student bleeding on the floor after being beaten by several students, according to an affidavit.
   Harris was an assistant principal at White Station when the incident occurred last September.
   "I would like to make it clear that both principals have my full support, and they will remain in their respective positions as they go through their due process," Memphis City Schools Supt. Kriner Cash said in a statement.
   "These administrators deserve the opportunity to have this matter heard in court, and I ask that the community reserve judgment until that process has been completed."
   The mood at White Station Friday was somber as word traveled among pockets of angry students and parents who believe the two are being made an example due to White Station's high visibility.
   "Mr. Mansfield and Mr. Harris are men of extraordinary character and deeply committed to the education of their students," said parent Susan Edleman.
   The crime is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, Mansfield and Harris face a maximum fine of $2,500.
   Last fall, the girl's mother told police her daughter had been beaten and kicked by a male and four female students inside the school shortly after the day was over.
   The mother said the girl's knees were scraped and bruised from being dragged and that she had contusions on her chest and back from being kicked.
   One of the students was charged and found not guilty in Juvenile Court.
   "There are two reasons for this," said Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons. "There was contradictory testimony as to who was the primary aggressor in the fight." Some evidence suggested the victim was the aggressor, he said.
   "Two, because of the failure to report, there was no crime scene evidence. This incident occurred on a Friday. The Police Department was not able to conduct their investigation until the next Monday. By that time any blood or other evidence had been cleaned up."
   Gibbons said the not-guilty verdict in Juvenile Court had no bearing on the case involving the principals.
   "Which of the students was primarily responsible for the altercation and whether or not they should have been charged has absolutely nothing to do with the responsibility for the school officials for properly reporting this."
   The girl's parents reported the incident to police Friday night.
   School footage of White Station's homecoming game that night shows her in uniform, performing with the band's flag carriers during halftime.
   In the spring of 2009 -- after a school administrator had been charged with erasing sexual content from a student's cell phone and several alleged school-related rapes were not reported -- Gibbons said he would not tolerate school officials investigating incidents on their own and/or destroying evidence.
   At Cash's request, a letter Gibbons wrote on April 23, 2009, was sent to faculty and staff to clarify the law on reporting issues.
   The principals waived their Juvenile Court hearing, pleaded not guilty and asked to have their cases transferred to Criminal Court.
   With no prior criminal record, both are eligible for diversion, a special form of probation in which their records would be cleared, likely in a year, if they meet certain conditions, Gibbons said.

North Panola student search investigated
Parent says procedure was improperly done

By Ron Maxey
Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 21, 2010
   North Panola School District officials are investigating a search of students at North Panola High School to ensure proper procedure was followed.
   Oscar Love [Faculty, 2001-2002], conservator for the district, said there's no question some students at the school were searched on Wednesday.
   "The question is how it was conducted," said Love, who is overseeing the district while it is under state control because of low test scores.
   Love is a former principal at Raleigh Egypt High School, East High School and Trezevant Vocational Technical Center in the Memphis school system.
   A parent of one of the students involved said her son, a junior, and other students -- she wasn't sure how many -- were searched after a police K-9 unit dog picked up a scent on a backpack as part of a routine search.
   "The boys were taken into the boys' restroom and the girls were taken into the girls' restroom, and the principal had them take their shoes off and put their hands on their heads," said Linda Hall of Sardis. "Then they were told to drop their pants and they were patted down."
   Love would not characterize the search as a strip search or comment on whether proper district policies were followed until the district completes an investigation into exactly how the search was conducted. He also would not comment on whether a particular incident prompted the search or what agencies were involved.
   "We want to make sure it's a safe environment for learning, so yes, there was a search," Love said. "We won't know more until an investigation determines details of what happened."
   Hall said she filed a report with the Sardis Police Department. Chief Marcel Jojola confirmed that his department took a statement from Hall, but said that because Sardis police do not provide security at the school, which is in Sardis, he did not know any more about the situation than what Hall said in her statement.
   "She was agitated and upset," Jojola said of Hall. "Due to the fact that we have received information, we took a report and an investigator will check to see if anything is wrong."
   A spokesman for the Panola County Sheriff's Department said the department's in-house attorney is conducting an investigation and had no further comment.
   Hall said she has four children in the school and will keep them at home until the situation involving her 17-year-old son is resolved to her satisfaction.
   "It was the first time something like this has occurred," she said. "I think it was handled wrong all the way around."

Teach for America ratchets up numbers in Memphis City Schools

By Michael Sheffield, Memphis Business Journal
August 22, 2010
   More Teach for America Inc. teachers will be working in Memphis City Schools this fall than have ever worked in the city, progress that has a special meaning for Barbara Hyde, president of the Hyde Family Foundations. Hyde played an integral role in bringing the organization to Memphis in 2006.
   Teach for America, which recruits top college graduates for two-year commitments to teach in inner city schools, has placed slightly more than 300 teachers in Memphis with a retention rate of more than 40 percent since it added the city to its ranks in 2006.
   This fall, the organization will bring 100 teachers to MCS, with plans to triple its total number of teachers by 2013, according to Irving Hamer, MCS deputy superintendent. Hamer says MCS wants to tap into the "terrific and robust network" Teach for America provides, especially in the areas of math, science and second languages. Plus, he says the teachers tend to be placed in high schools, which are more difficult hires.
   "They have math teachers that would have a higher degree of math knowledge because they've majored in math in college," Hamer says. "That's particularly useful in high school where they have to focus on that."
   Public education has long been an albatross for economic development officials trying to sell companies on moving to Memphis. Teach for America and other new initiatives, including large grants that have been awarded in recent months, have many Memphians optimistic that MCS could turn the corner in becoming a better educational system.
   Athena Turner, Teach for America's executive director in Memphis, says the organization brought in 49 new teachers in 2009 and the increase in numbers for 2010 puts Memphis in the middle of Teach for America cities in terms of size. Larger areas like Dallas began with 100 teachers, while Nashville started with 60 teachers.
   "What the district realized was it would take an effort from everyone to really effect change in the district and they could maximize us in their work to achieve that goal, if they really wanted to," Turner says.
   Hyde says when the foundation first approached Teach for America about coming to Memphis, it had to sell MCS as a viable option. Since MCS has received $90 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will be used to study teacher retention and effectiveness and $70 million from the federal Race to the Top program in the last year, perception has changed dramatically.
   "When we first spoke to (Teach for America founder) Wendy Kopp, she said they only came to cities where they felt the conditions for success existed and at the time they weren't convinced those conditions existed in Memphis," Hyde says. "Since then, Tennessee has emerged as a state on the forefront of education reform. Having them come to Memphis was a sign we were ready to move in a more progressive direction."
   For Ashley Foxx, a Memphis native and Teach for America corps member who will teach at Memphis College Prep, teaching in Memphis would be the beginning of a career she hopes extends either into starting a local charter school or working in educational policy.
   She heard about and became interested in Teach for America while in graduate school at Columbia University. Two of her classmates started schools in Connecticut and New York. She decided doing the same in her hometown would be the best move.
   "I wanted to come back to make the city better," Foxx says. "The best way to do that is to invest in the children who are here and will be the next leaders."
   Hyde says the transition of Teach for America teachers from the classroom to administrative positions helps spread a wealth of skills at a variety of different levels instead of taking resources from one place to another. As more teachers come into the fold, there's no reason why they can't do both.
   However, the organization isn't the only source of effective teachers. MCS, she says, does a good job of hiring teachers through traditional means, but organizations like Teach for America and New Leaders for New Schools or The New Teacher Project should be seen as ways to reinforce what the district is doing.
   "It's all about supporting the best, most talented people that are already teaching and bringing more talent into the district at every level," she says.
   Having taught in Kenya for a year after she graduated from college, Hyde has used that experience as a starting point for her advocacy of public school education, but says all Memphians have a "moral obligation" to find ways to provide opportunities for young people in the city. She cites several different ways of involvement, from mentoring or tutoring students or sponsoring a Teach for America teacher to simply getting involved and being informed on school board races.
   "Memphis is at a watershed moment that it has never had to create fundamental, transformational change," she says. "We have a chance to not just play around the edges, but to change education for generations. Every one of us needs to find a way to help make it happen."

Ex-Vol gets crash course in NFL defensive line play

Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 4, 2010
   FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Dan Williams ['05] passed the conditioning test, gasping his way through the drills at the 7,000-foot elevation of the Arizona Cardinals' training camp on Tuesday.
   Now, the first-round draft pick will try to beat out 36-year-old Bryan Robinson for the nose tackle position. Robinson, Arizona's starter for the past two seasons, has vowed to help the youngster all he can.
   No one helped him when he broke in, Robinson said, and he promised that would not be the case if the roles were reversed.
   "I just remembered that if I ever got in that position, I would never not try to help a rookie succeed," Robinson said. "In the case of Dan, he's going to be here regardless of whether I help him or not. ... The more he knows, if he knows what I know, it gives us a better chance to win. I'm a team player."
   Williams, the 26th draft pick overall out of Tennessee and a former star at East High, said Robinson's help since minicamp "is a huge advantage for myself."
   "The guy has been in uniform for a long time and has done his job well for a long time," Williams said at a news conference. "I really think it's big toward my development. He's been very willing, showing me the playbook, showing me different techniques. For everything he's been showing me, I've been very thankful. But he also tells me 'I'm not giving you nothing.'"
   Williams said he stayed in shape by working out at local fitness club, doing the workouts that Arizona strength and conditioning coach John Lott had provided.
   "I was just waiting for that call telling me to come back out here to Arizona," he said. "I just watched what I ate and didn't eat anything after 6 o'clock. My biggest thing was eating late at night. So I just stayed away from the table. If I felt hungry, I just went to sleep."
   Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the stocky Williams weighed in at 325 pounds, a few pounds under what he had been in the summer workouts.
   Williams played in a 4-3 defensive system in college. He will be between Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell in a 3-4 set with the Cardinals. The nose tackle gets little glory but fills a significant role in freeing linebackers to make the big plays.
   "I know this," Whisenhunt said. "Those linebackers love it when they have a big nose tackle in front of them because it makes their job easier to not only see the play but it usually causes the offense to use up two blockers, which allows them more freedom to make plays."
   Players to fill that role are "few and far between," Whisenhunt said.

From 'little brother' to lifelong friend: Duo to co-host Sportsball 2010

By Michael Lollar, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 30, 2010
   His mentor is technically a "Big Brother," but William Terrell once invited him to his elementary school Father's Day program.
   It was one of the "proudest moments" of attorney Richard Glassman's ['64] life. Fourteen years since they met through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis, Terrell, 23, and Glassman, 63, have become the longest-lasting match in a program that has taken them through two graduations -- with one more to go.
   Glassman once had to fire Terrell as a runner at his law firm. The attorney calls that moment one of the few "bumps and hard spots" of watching a little brother grow from a 10-year-old boy to a 23-year-old law student.
   William, who shortened his name to "Will" while an undergraduate at the University of Memphis, is set to enter law school Aug. 15. The U of M has been part of the pair's bond from the beginning. Both are diehard fans of Tigers basketball.
   On Saturday, they'll serve as co-hosts of SportsBall 2010, the biggest annual fundraiser for the organization that brought them together.
   "This is the first time a 'big' and a 'little' have served as co-chairmen of the SportsBall," said Adrienne Bailey, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis.
   Matches between bigs and littles "age out" when the little reaches 17. On average, a match lasts two years. For Glassman and Terrell, it didn't end.
   "I've never considered it a father-son relationship. Will and I are friends. We go to a lot of ballgames together, eat a lot of popcorn," said Glassman.
   He doesn't have to go far to watch his "little" grow up. Will moved into the Glassman family's Germantown home a little more than a year ago, after the youngest of the Glassman's four daughters left for college.
   Inevitably, the family is asked about parallels to the Hollywood story of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, Memphians who invited hard-luck student Michael Oher into their home and eventually adopted the NFL-bound football star.
   Terrell was not an athlete, nor was he a hard-luck case. He was an honor student at White Station High School, earning a full scholarship to U of M.
   "I've always been in Will's life. He's always had a solid home," said Will's mother, Vera Terrell, a journalism graduate who worked as a communications manager for the FBI, then for FedEx. She now is working on an MBA degree online.
   After a divorce, she signed Will up for Big Brothers Big Sisters when he was 10 because he was growing up in a family with a sister, two step-sisters, a grandmother and two aunts.
   "He was around women all the time," she said.
   At about the same time, Glassman complained one night about "crime and youth. My wife said, 'Why don't you do something instead of complaining?'"
   Will remained with his own family, only moving in with the Glassman family about a year ago after his roommate got married.
   For the Glassmans, it was great timing.
   "My wife, who had done almost a full-time job raising our girls was suddenly relieved of her position. She needed somebody to mother," says Glassman.
   Susan Lawless-Glassman, had grown up in a family of eight children and welcomed the prospect of another young person in the house.
   "Having kids around is great," she said, especially one who "loves to eat anything."
   Glassman and Terrell are among about 65 percent of Big Brothers Big Sisters who are racial cross-matches. There are 127 black males on the waiting list now, along with 37 black females, an Asian male and two multiracial males.
   The cross-racial match was never a problem, says Will, who became especially close to the Glassman's youngest daughter, Zoe, three years younger than Will.
   "I always introduced him as my big brother," says Zoe. "People just looked a little bit confused," she says.
   Will invited friends to the Glassman home to play video games, watch TV and hang out.
   "It was a little weird at first. Friends would say, 'How did you know this guy?' But they never felt uncomfortable here," he says.
   "I think the most looks we got was the day I took him to get a haircut off of Vollintine," says Glassman. "I don't think they had seen a white person in there for a long time."
   Will was fired by Glassman for jeopardizing a legal case by failing to deliver time-sensitive documents on time. It was a lasting lesson in responsibility, they say.
   In a speech prepared for the SportsBall, Will tries to sum up his experience: "Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis Inc. is grounded in the willingness of families and volunteers ... to travel outside of the traditional family structures to try and give children the best possible opportunities to succeed in life. The Big and Little have to be willing to be open-minded and perhaps travel outside of their comfort zone in order to make the relationship successful."

Downtown charter school to focus on law, business

By Wayne Risher, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 20, 2010
   Charter school founder Tommie Henderson ['91 and Faculty 1998-2003] and developers of Court Square Center met over lunch last summer at a Downtown awards program that honored them as visionaries.
   Henderson started the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, a highly successful charter school where test scores and graduation skyrocketed.
   The developers saved a chunk of Downtown skyline by renovating Lincoln-American Tower and the Lowenstein Building and raising the new CA2 building from the ashes of a devastating fire.
   A year after their meeting at a Center City Commission luncheon, Henderson and the developers have a new vision.
   It's a potentially innovative charter school led by Henderson, the New Consortium of Law and Business, in commercial space developed by partners Yorke Lawson, John Basek and Willie Chandler.
   The school is on track to open Aug. 7 on the ground floor of the CA2 building, 110 N. Court, with 30-35 seventh-grade students. As it grows by one grade per year, it will occupy Lincoln-American Tower's third floor as well.
   The school will immerse students in legal and business communities.
   "I immediately knew Downtown was the place to do it," Henderson said.
   Lawson called the school a "perfect dovetail" with federal tax credits that helped finance Court Square Center.
   It represents "what the mission of the New Market Tax Credit program is all about, which is community development," he said. The credits are aimed at stimulating economic development in depressed census tracts.
   Henderson said all of the students registered qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.
   "It's a great example of a good project," said city director of Housing and Community Development Robert Lipscomb, who kept the redevelopment on track at City Hall.
   "Tommie Henderson has a track record, and at that location, it's going to be a perfect fit and an opportunity for the students to be right where the action happens," said Center City Commission president and CEO Paul Morris.
   The school is seeking a $5,000 office incentive grant from the Center City Development Corp. on Wednesday.
   Henderson nurtured MASE from a startup in 2003 to an 89-senior class with a 100 percent graduation rate in 2009. He left to pursue an MBA from the University of Memphis and, starting this fall, a doctorate in educational leadership from Harvard.
   Henderson's nonprofit Smart Schools Inc. and Court Square Partners LLC are finalizing a lease of 4,700 feet on CA2's ground floor. It will have an amphitheater-style courtroom for mock trials and discussions, a cafe and lounge where students can mix and mingle and a board room where students will run businesses.
   Students will get laptops with wireless Internet access for classroom and home use. Curriculum and textbooks will be online.
   Henderson envisions the school growing to about 200 students. The high school experience will include internships, shadowing of professionals in business and legal communities and real student-run businesses.
   For starters, seventh-graders will run mock restaurants online, read novels and enact courtroom scenes and hear from a procession of speakers: breakfasts with business executives and lunches with lawyers.
   "Unlike a lot of models, where you call yourself something but you never actually do that thing, we're going to be doing it from Day One," Henderson said.

Preservation effort leads to history honor
Students inspired by teacher at East High

By Emily Greenberg, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 15, 2010
   For Mark Scott [Faculty], history is not about decades or centuries.
   "For me, it's not a time period. It's a place," said Scott, a history teacher at East High School.
   Recently, Scott was named Tennessee's 2010 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year for helping his students preserve one such "place": a one-room segregated schoolhouse which stood until the 1960s on Presidents Island.
   The schoolhouse, which was primarily used to educate the children of sharecroppers, was built in 1921 and relocated to Presidents Island from its original location. More recently, the schoolhouse was displayed at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, where it faced possible demolition.
   As part of the preservation project, students wrote letters to community leaders, conducted research at the Memphis library and compiled oral histories. They held meetings with public and private organizations. Some students built a scale model of the schoolhouse. Others started a blog and wrote a skit.
   Eventually, the students hope to relocate the schoolhouse to East High School and turn it into a museum. With help from East High School alumni, they also hope to build an amphitheater for lectures. Together, the museum and amphitheater will educate the community about the evolution of equality in education, said Scott, who hopes the schoolhouse will serve as a "point of reference" for the city's progress.
   "I think our community would be well-served (seeing) the juxtaposition of the one-room schoolhouse in front of East High School," said Scott.
   As for his students, he hopes they will make connections between history and their own personal identities -- as he did when he first began his history studies.
   Originally, Scott became interested in history while researching his family tree. He says teaching was a natural fit and he began his career in 1987.
   Scott has taught at Memphis City Schools since 1990 and at East High School for the past 13 years. Currently, he is the chairman of East High School's social studies department and teaches honors and Advanced Placement U.S. History. In addition to American history, Scott also teaches Facing History and Ourselves classes and was honored with Facing History's 2010 Margot Stern Strom Teaching Award.
   As the state Preserve America History Teacher, Scott will receive a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 award. The East High School library will also receive an archive of classroom resources presented in Scott's name.
   This fall, Scott will represent Tennessee in the National History Teacher of the Year competition. Although the competition offers a $10,000 prize, Scott won't have much time to think about it. In August, he and his students will resume work on the preservation project.

Peer Power Foundation puts high achievers to work tutoring their classmates

By Wayne Risher, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 13, 2010
   Sixty students from five inner-city schools are the newest foot soldiers in businessman Charles McVean's ['61] fight against school failure.
   They've enlisted with the Peer Power Foundation, which trains and pays high-achieving students to serve as tutors for their classmates.
   After intensive academic and leadership training, which began Monday at the University of Memphis, they'll join 100 other high school and college students earning $10 to $12 an hour as tutors in the Peer Power program.
   McVean, an East High graduate who made a fortune trading commodities and futures, started the program at his alma mater six years ago.
   He was not on hand for an opening session at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, but program veterans quoted McVean liberally.
   "The world is competitive," said Cortney Richardson ['07], 20, a U of M senior majoring in organizational leadership, who started tutoring as a sophomore at East. "Mr. McVean wanted to bring that competition into academics.
   "We knew our school needed help. We asked what we could do. They made it clear how much power the upper end of the inner-city youth had to help the others. That upper end has made a change not only at East High but at other schools in the city."
   Peer Power Foundation director Bill Sehnert said the program gives incentive for bright students to achieve mastery of subject areas and share it with others.
   "It makes more sense for them to work as tutors than to go to work at a burger place," Sehnert said.
   A fringe benefit is typically higher scores on college entrance tests, which translates into larger scholarship awards. Tutors have increased ACT scores 15-20 percent, Sehnert said.
   After beginning at East, it has spread to Whitehaven, Northside, Westwood and, new for the 2010-11 school year, Manassas High. It has been picked up in the Mississippi communities of Shelby and Como.
   Officials from Pontotoc-based Three Rivers Planning and Development District attended Monday's event to evaluate Peer Power's applicability to grooming a skilled work force.
   "The idea of using your peers to help tutor our students and to pay the tutors for that service is just a very exciting concept to me and one that I believe will bring additional success to our students in North Mississippi," said Three Rivers official Bill Renick.
   Sehnert said the program reaches about a dozen schools including middle schools, and has another half-dozen waiting for expansion, when funds can be found.
   Manassas junior Will Redmond, 16, is glad a teacher recommended him for Peer Power.
   "It's a good way for me to help others and get better as a student myself," he said. "We need more tutors at Manassas."
   Whitehaven High principal Vincent Hunter said Peer Power has clearly made a difference. Scores on standardized math and writing tests have increased significantly.
   "The data speaks for itself," said Hunter. "It was utilizing the resources we had in our building: the children who were already excelling."

Steve Stern at Burke's Books

By Peggy Burch on July 9, 2010, "The Shelf Life" blog, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 9, 2010
   Critics have lavished exuberant praise on the work of Memphis-reared fiction writer Steve Stern ['65]. Still, his book sales have always been modest.
   An editor at The New York Times described the Stern phenomenon in 2005, under the headline "He's a Literary Darling Looking for Dear Readers." Stern's spectacular novel "The Angel of Forgetfulness" had just been released when Peter Edidin wrote: "He has received critical praise in the places that matter, won his share of prizes and is devoted to his work. ... But he remains largely unknown to readers at a time when even the most gifted writer, if he does not sell well, may have difficulty finding a publisher for his next book."
   The highly regarded but under- appreciated literary hero returns to his hometown this week for an appearance at Burke's Book Store from 5:30 to 7 p.m. July 13. He'll read from and sign his latest book, "The Frozen Rabbi" (Algonquin, $24.95).
   The San Francisco Chronicle began its review of "Frozen Rabbi" this way: "It has become something of a literary tradition, when reviewing a new book by Steve Stern, to mention that he is not as popular as he ought to be. Back in 1987 Gordon Lish, the renowned editor and literary kingmaker, was already calling Stern 'far and away the greatest of our unrecognized writers.' "
   Unfortunately, Stern said by phone from his home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he teaches creative writing at Skidmore College, "unrecognized writer" still sort of describes his situation, though he has received O. Henry Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Jewish Book Award along the way. He compares himself to the Kevin Costner character in the movie "Bull Durham," a great player pitcher unaccountably stuck for eternity in the minor leagues.
   "I get really, really tired of the reviews that start 'much neglected, possibly this book will bring him the attention...'
   "It's never gonna happen. My expectations have always been very minimal; I'm just pleased to be acknowledged."
   His cheerful pessimism bleeds into all areas of his life. He recently had a hip replacement, about which he said: "I've gone from a walker to crutches to a cane to Walter Brennan in three weeks." He shares homes in upstate New York and Brooklyn with his "spousal equivalent," the comic artist Sabrina Jones. The relationship has what he calls "a hitch," one that some might consider a blessing. Jones's family is French, and she inherited a house in the countryside there. "I have such a low beauty threshold," Stern says of his trouble adapting to visiting France.
   Though he moved to Saratoga Springs in 1987, his stories still have Memphis settings. Stern himself grew up near East High, but he found his writerly bearings in The Pinch -- the neighborhood on North Main Street that formed an East European Jewish ghetto in the late 19th century -- which he discovered while he was working at the Center for Southern Folklore in the early 1980s. "I did an endless series of interviews with old survivors of the North Main Street neighborhoods, and it began to reassemble itself in my mind." He agonized in advance about his homecoming this week: "I don't handle these things well. I see people I haven't seen in years. It's overwhelming. I like to think most of them have forgotten me."

Elizabeth Anne Brown marks 50 years of teaching young performers

By Jonathan Devin, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 9, 2010
   The name of Elizabeth Anne Brown's [class association undetermined] Performing Arts of Germantown is readily recognized by a half-century's worth of young dancers and vocalists, even if it confuses delivery drivers.
   For one, the programs for Brown's 50th anniversary celebration show in June were sent four blocks down Exeter Road to the similarly named Germantown Performing Arts Centre (GPAC).
   "We get along great (with GPAC), but some of my parents have mailed their tuition checks to them and then GPAC will call and say 'we've got a check for you,'" said Brown, who is sole owner of the studio.
   Another time, Brown arrived to find that a plumber, whom she hadn't called, had just repaired a toilet that wasn't broken.
   "Then one day I came to work and there were 50 eight-foot tall ficus trees everywhere," Brown said. "My doors were open, and men were bringing them in. They said, 'We're delivering the trees you ordered.'" Brown hated to tell them that they would have to load all the trees back in their truck.
   Despite the confusion with GPAC, Brown's name comes with a long legacy of keeping things in step.
   Brown started teaching dance, mostly tap and jazz, 50 years ago at the age of 18, when she was a senior at East High School.
   "Back then you went to a small town to open your dance studio before you moved to the big city," Brown said.
   She and a friend, Karen Dover, who still teaches with her today, drove Brown's 1958 Impala convertible to a rented skating rink in Senatobia every Saturday at 6 a.m. They taught about 30 students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. before returning to Memphis.
   A year later, she moved her operation to New Albany, Miss., catching the Greyhound bus from Lamar Avenue for a two-hour ride each way. In 1963, she opened her first Memphis studio in a house in Raleigh in which the one-car garage served as her main ballroom.
   Now her 2,400 square-foot studio in Germantown has two ballrooms and a voice studio, enough space for about 200 students, mostly between the ages of 3 and 16. She has been there since 1981.
   Students pay $70 per month for one-hour classes each week, or $65 per private lesson. Extra workshops in acting and other forms of dance, such as hip-hop, are offered on weekends.
   If it sounds unusual to offer both dance and voice to the same students, Brown said that was a throwback to her dreams of auditioning on Broadway, where performers must be able to sing and dance.
   Brown went to New York City at age 17 to audition for the Broadway production of "Sweet Charity," but was cut during the ballet portion of the audition.
   "That got me on the road to realizing how important ballet is," Brown said. "Now at my studio, whether you're doing tap, ballet or jazz, you're wearing a black leotard, pink tights, and hair slicked back in a bun -- and it's been that way since 1960."
   In 1980, she joined forces with vocal instructor David Francis, after numerous meetings at various local talent competitions.
   "The winners at the competitions were either David's vocalists or my dancers, so we just got to talking," Brown said.
   Francis moved to Los Angeles 10 years later, but voice is still taught at Performing Arts, by Cindy Barrett.
   "The thing that drew me to Elizabeth was her attention to detail and technique and the quality of her performers, year in, year out," said Debbie Branan, a volunteer organizer of the Mid-South Fair's Youth Talent Contest, whose daughter, Whitney, started taking lessons from Brown at age 2. "Her studio seemed to fit the niche for my child."
   Branan said she too met Brown after several years of watching Brown's students win awards in the Youth Talent Contest.
   Brown herself took the stage at the June 16 anniversary celebration, performing alongside her daughter, Misty.
   She has no plans to retire.
   "What would I do?" said Brown. "Sit at home and plant flowers? Not me."

If anyone can identify the correct East High graduating class with which Ms. Brown was associated and the name by which she was known at East, please send that information to editor@EastHigh.org

Food Bank leader Sanford retiring after 2 decades feeding area's needs

By Barbara Bradley, Memphis Commercial Appeal
June 29, 2010
   Susan Sanford, president and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank, will retire at the end of this year after almost 20 years at the helm. She will be succeeded by Estella Mayhue-Greer, senior vice president and chief operating officer, who has been with the Food Bank for 14 years. Susan Sanford will retire at the end of the year after nearly 20 years as leader of the Mid-South Food Bank she has helped expand.
   Sanford will serve as a Food Bank consultant for two years after she retires, and then perhaps consult for other nonprofits and businesses and serve on civic committees. "I'm not a good sitter-downer," she said.
   To many, Sanford, 65, is the Food Bank, said board member Carol Prentiss. Chairman Gwendolyn Tucker called her "a great leader both at the Food Bank and in the community."
   "When I was first there, it was a folksy catch-as-catch-can organization," said board member Clifford Lynch, president of the logistics consulting firm C.F. Lynch & Associates. "But she has given it professionalism and structure that has really helped us do well. One thing she insisted on was letting the donor base know what's happened to its money."
   Since Sanford joined the Food Bank in September 1991, it has doubled its food distribution to 10 million pounds. The agency now serves 31 counties in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas and feeds an estimated 186,500 different people annually.
   Few realize, Sanford said, how strictly the Food Bank monitors use by its partner agencies of scarce resources. Sanford recruited professionals for the staff, and board members who could supply missing expertise, including media executives who did much to raise the agency's profile.
   She brought in new corporate sponsors and motivated others.
   Dick Tillman, then-president of Kroger Delta Marketing Area, was accustomed to people asking him for things. Sanford went to him and asked what he expected of her. "Kroger really stepped up in a big way," she said.
   Programs added during her tenure were Kids Cafe, where boys and girls get hot meals and a nutrition lesson twice a week in a restaurant-like setting, and Food for Kids BackPack Program that sends kids home for the weekend with food they can fix themselves.
   Last year the Food Bank began picking up perishable foods nearing expiration dates in a refrigerated truck and started the Mobile Pantry that delivers food to rural pantries too small to stock large amounts and distributes it directly to qualified recipients.
   Sanford is a founding member of the Safety Net Collaborative, a group of eight essential services organizations in Memphis. She is a past president of the Memphis Rotary Club, a former chairwoman of the board of directors of United Way of Greater Memphis, and a recipient of the 2009 Legends Award from the Women's Foundation.
   She feels confident about the nonprofit's future: "We are finishing a strategic plan that makes me feel so comfortable." About Mayhue-Greer, she said: "I told the board I've mentored this brilliant woman for 15 years, and you can't do better."
   Looking back over her career, Sanford noted she is often touched by notes people send with their contributions. "I feel the generosity in the Mid-South poignantly, and I feel fortunate."

[This photograph has been cropped and otherwise adjusted from the originally published photo.]

Memphis Commercial Appeal
June 10, 2010
The Tennessee Jewelers Association sponsored the 2010 Jewelers Open Golf Tournament, which raised $500 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. There were 12 Memphis area jewelers that participated in the golf tournament at the Cherokee Golf Course. Those in attendance were Bill Russell (front row, left), Frank O'Connor, and Jim Gordon; Bob Richards (back row, left), James Gattas, Anthony Richards, Sonny Pike, Elmer Holder, Randolph Reeves, Peter Poole, Van Smith ['65] and Cope Williams ['65]. The Tennessee Jewelers Association is a state-wide organization dedicated to the maintenance of professional standards, professional ethics and education in the jewelry profession.

East High students plan restoration of one-room schoolhouse

By Jane Roberts, Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 30, 2010
   About 6,500 community volunteers showed up at city schools Thursday, pen in hand, ready to grade student artwork, engineering projects, computer programming and sophisticated themes. East High School seniors Devin Mcbe, 18, (left) and Shakila Boyd, 17, explain the layout for the future site of the restored one-room schoolhouse once at Presidents Island that will be moved to the East High campus.
   At East High School, they nearly dropped their score pads over work to move and restore the one-room segregated schoolhouse that in 1964 -- a decade after Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education integrated public education -- was still serving African-American students on Presidents Island.
   "I was so impressed. I was just blown away," said Donna McCraw, juror in the fourth districtwide student exhibit.
   "I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don't think the students have the life history to realize what an impact their work is going to have.
   "Years down the road, they are going to be able to say they did that," she said.
   The exhibit's image was retooled this spring with the pro bono help of Clear Channel and Red Deluxe, which created the name ThinkShow! and produced and placed billboards to tell the story.
   District officials say the campaign attracted 500 new judges.
   "We had a lot more professional people sign up this time. I think Stinson Liles with Red Deluxe has really helped us a lot," said Judy Jackson, director of project-based learning.
   If plans go well, the city of Memphis this summer will move the one-room schoolhouse to East, and build a foundation under it to shore up the dreams students are sketching out, blogging about and acting out in skits.
   "We hope to one day have an amphitheater outside the museum for lectures and programs," said Daphanie Johnson, 17.
   "This project means a lot to me. I'm grateful for what I have. I think a lot of students might look at this and say they don't care because this old building doesn't mean anything to them.
   "But it helps me see how far we've come."
   At schools across the city, teachers and jurors said the work was more sophisticated than when the show started in 2008.
   "In real life, you're not often given a simple task like adding up a column of numbers," said Sam Shaw, principal at Berclair Elementary.
   "If you're buying a car, you have to consider economics, aesthetics and practicality and make a judgment about style. That is the real world."
    For East history teacher Mark Scott [Faculty], the school house lodged in his brain back in 2008 when Memphis Heritage used a picture of the school in its calendar.
   The idea crystalized when Scott found June West, head of Memphis Heritage.
   "This is a once in history thing as far as I am concerned," she said.
   The school, long displayed at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, lost its home when the fair moved.
   "Not only are we looking at preserving one of the only artifacts left, but we're also educating the youth of the city of the importance of historic preservation."
   The building "is on wheels, ready to move," she said.
   Most of what the students know about it -- the last one-room schoolhouse in the county -- comes from a 1964 news clipping they found in the Memphis Room at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
   "These pictures will help us restore it," said Jaylyn Johnson, 17, tapping the clipping showing African-American children in the school with no electricity or plumbing.
   "This has helped me realize how bad it was. Even though the government said it was illegal, black people were still left without equal facilities."

Read a summary of the student proposal written by the students themselves.

Princiapl Fred Curry suspended, then removed from East High

[The following is compilation of news stories regarding the suspension, then removal, of Mr. Fred Curry as principal of East High School. These are in reverse chronological order, most recent first.]

A copy of the City Schools internal audit of East High School for the majority of the 2009-2010 school year is available.

June 23, 2010 - A newspaper article Wednesday, June 23 reports on the audit of former East High Principal Fred Curry's (Faculty 2005-2010) administration. "East High School principal replaced for lack of control; student funds, laptops missing" can be read in The Commercial Appeal.

[Editor's note: Monday night Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash told The East High Alumni Page the report was "available," but declined to otherwise comment on it. Tuesday, an e-mail was sent to the e-mail address linked on the City Schools web site as being the director of Communications requesting a copy or access to the report. The link and the listed address were not the same. The City Schools e-mail system reported that the linked e-mail address was not in their system.]

May 15, 2010, The East High Alumni Page - Mr. Harry Durham is serving as interim principal at East during the paid suspension of Mr. Fred Curry while the school system conducts an audit/investigation into issues at East High. Mr. Durham, a city school principal, also served as interim principal at East 2002-2003 after another principal was removed from the position.

April 28, 2010 - Television news report: Audit of principal Fred Curry's administration at East High completed: WHBQ-TV

April 19, 2010 - Television news report: suspended principal Fred Curry says he's proud of East High: WREG-TV

April 19, 2010 - Television news report: superintendent is reported to be "very worried about the culture and safety" of students at East High: WREG-TV

April 16, 2010 - East High Principal Fred Curry was suspended with pay Thursday, April 15, by the Memphis City Schools superintendent pending an internal investigation by the school system. East has recently been in the news when about 10 girls got into a fight in a hallway requiring the use of pepper spray by security personnel to bring things under control and after a girl and several boys left campus during the school day, with 3 boys eventually being charged with rape.
Principal Curry had brought considerable stability to the position of East High principal, serving in that position since 2005. Prior to that, East had been plagued with turnover at the top spot for several years, with two principals being removed for financial irregularities, one asking to be reassigned after faculty and parents resistance to his management style, and a retired principal serving most of a school year before a permanent principal was assigned.
Source: The Commercial Appeal, The East High Alumni Page

'91 Grad is new East High principal at East High

The East High Alumni Page
June 21, 2010
Eric Harris ('91 and Faculty), a 1991 graduate of East High School, has been appointed principal of his alma mater. Mr. Harris comes to East after serving as 11th grade principal at Memphis City Schools best academic performing high school, White Station. Harris and White Station principal David Mansfield face misdemeanor charges November 3 in Shelby County Juvenile Court for allegedly failing to report to police an on-campus attack upon a student at White Station last September which resulted in injury. State law requires such reporting. Mr. Harris replaces 5-year East principal Fred Curry (Faculty 2005-2010).

Jason Smith: East's Brian Kimbrow turns up heat
Junior RB runs 4.28 at combine

By Jason Smith, The Commercial Appeal
June 4, 2010
   As he's traveled from one scouting combine to another this spring, East High rising junior running back Brian Kimbrow has made a habit of calling his Mustangs head coach, Marcus Wimberly ['92 and Faculty], and reporting his performances in the 40-yard dash.
   "He calls me every time from every camp if I'm not there," Wimberly said.
   So it wasn't unusual that Wimberly received a call Saturday from the 5-9, 165-pound Kimbrow, who had just been clocked at a ridiculous 4.28 seconds in the 40 at the Byron De'Vinner Elite Prospect Combine at Crump Stadium.
   "We knew he was 4.3-fast," Wimberly said. "I didn't realize he was 4.28-fast."
   Kimbrow, who averaged an area-best 9.9 yards per carry on 85 rushing attempts as a sophomore, has also been clocked at 4.31, 4.35 and 4.37 this spring.
   "Quite a few (programs) have been inquiring about him," Wimberly said. "They want to see him at their camps so they can further evaluate him. But it's clear to them that he has plenty of speed."
   In April, following a standout performance in the BadgerSports Elite 7-on-7 passing camp in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Kimbrow was one of five underclassmen named to Scout.com's Tuscaloosa Fab Five. Rivals.com also selected Kimbrow as one of the camp's top performers.
   On Saturday, Kimbrow's 4.28 40 at the De'Vinner Combine was apparently enough to convince the remaining prospects not to run.
   "No, sir. Nobody else ran after I did," Kimbrow said. "I saw it coming, though, because I've been clocking low 4.3s, like 4.31s and 4.30s, all spring. Coach Wimberly has worked me hard to better myself."

Obama is lightning rod for hatred

Letters to the Editor, The Commercial Appeal
June 3, 2010
    It's hard to believe that you printed the June 1 letter "Engineer has a cheap idea." I have lived in Memphis all my life. Not since I was the fat Jewish girl at East High (the country club high school) have I seen such blatant hatred as I have seen since Barack Obama became our president.
   This country was founded on religious and political freedom. All of us do not have to be the same color and the same religion to have rights. If these same people would try to befriend even one person who was different, this city might have fewer problems. It has to start somewhere.
    I hope the letter writer never needs a policeman, firefighter, doctor or nurse. They might not be someone she would want to touch her.
   Helen Tower

[A Helen Levy, now Helen Tower, is a member of the Class of '62.]

Awards honor 5 Memphians with diverse backgrounds
Each has worked to help community
By Linda A. Moore, The Commercial Appeal
Posted May 27, 2010
   The tie that binds five Memphians being honored by Diversity Memphis is their commitment to the community.
   At 7 p.m. today, those Memphians will be recognized during the fifth annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner at the Esplanade Banquet and Conference Center, 901 Cordova Station.
   Founded in 2005, Diversity Memphis is a human relations organization that brings together and promotes tolerance and respect for people from all walks of life.
   "These individuals reflect the diversity of our community and challenge all of us to do more," said Herb Wells, board chairman.
   The recipients are:
   W.J. Michael Cody ['54] is an attorney and a former Tennessee state attorney general. He is a partner with Burch, Porter & Johnson, where he has spent most of his career. He is listed with Mid-South Super Lawyers as one of Tennessee's Top 100 attorneys.
   His community involvement includes work with Rhodes College, the Memphis YMCA and the National Civil Rights Museum...

Memphis Memories
By Staff, The Commercial Appeal
May 27, 2010
   [The following was republished on May 27, 2010, in the Memphis/Mid-South Memories item in The Commercial Appeal, originally published May 27 1953.
"East High School representatives gather for photo: Elected as officers of the East High School student body in May 1953 are Donna Hurt (front row, left) , commissioner of activities; Suellyn Scott, junior high girls vice president; Nina Braswell, commissioner-at-large; and Mary W. Glass, senior high girls vice president. Other officers include Mike Cady (back row, left), senior high boys vice president; Gerrald Graber, junior high boys vice president; David Johnson, commissioner of traffic; Robert Bessire, president; and Reed Knight, commissioner of sanitation."

Memphis Memories
By Staff, The Commercial Appeal
May 23, 2010
   [The following was republished on May 23, 2010, in the Memphis/Mid-South Memories item in The Commercial Appeal, originally published May 23, 1987.
"East High Alum get their fill of Krystal burgers Mary Moorman and other Krystal employees serve burgers and fries to about 250 East High School alumni at a parking lot picnic on May 23, 1987. The group downed 650 Krystals and 250 orders of fries at a gathering of the class of 1967 at their favorite hangout on Poplar, across from the school."

Needed: A cap for grad spending
Senior costs too high, judge warns board

By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
May 20, 2010

   Spring is not a pleasant time for Probate Court Judge Robert Benham, whose job includes approving expenses of minors in guardianships.
   One of his most vexing problems is "senior expenses," a laundry list that includes luncheons, class trips, "lock-ins," caps, gowns, rings and hundreds of dollars in clothing, souvenirs and food.
   "I've been seeing it for years, but it's getting to be more and more money," Benham told the Memphis Board of Education on Monday, handing over papers outlining $3,489 in graduation expenses for one student at Hamilton High, which he said is typical of what he sees in Probate Court.
   "This is a lot of money that could be used to go to college," Benham said, asking the board to make a policy decision on what is "reasonable" and asking whether anyone is monitoring people "attempting to sell goods to these seniors."
   Memphis City Schools says to expect no change in policy after wrapping up its own research on senior costs.
   "I don't know why (Benham) is requesting a policy change," said Deputy Supt. Irving Hamer.
   "That is not the right request," he said, adding that he has no intention of recommending a change to the board.
   Senior dues range from $65 at White Station High to $350 at Wooddale High and cover events, consumables, souvenirs and parties, depending on what the senior class officers decide.
   At some schools, prom is optional. That's the case at White Station, which suits Elizabeth Bailey fine.
   "If you don't want to go to prom, you don't have to pay for it," she said.
   She sees no way for the board to hold the line on discretionary spending.
   "What are you going to do, say you can't have a limousine or your prom dress has to be cheap?" she asked "It's not going to work."
   Phillip Piper ['10], a senior at East High, felt no pressure to spend more than the $400 he said his family shelled out for cap and gown, graduation costs and Advanced Placement test fees.
   "I didn't feel the need to go on a senior trip," he said.
   Ditto on the prom, "and I don't see myself needing a ring after high school."
   At Hamilton, $175 in senior dues does not cover prom ($50), senior lock-in ($45) or the senior luncheon ($45), ostensibly allowing families to tailor their senior's experience based on budget and personal preference, Hamer said.
   A minor whose expenses Benham is responsible for overseeing spent $400 for a senior trip to Florida, $613 for senior photos, $446 for a class ring, $1,500 for incidental travel expenses, plus fees for a luncheon, picnic, cap and gown, medallion and trip to Nashville.
   Benham says he is put in the position of having to be "the ogre."
   "What happens is that I disappoint these children," he said. "I don't allow the encroachments. I deny, even though their friends get to do these things."
   He wants the school board to create a list of sanctioned vendors catering to senior activities.
   "We all know there is a lot of easy money to be made in this town and in any community," he said. "It's not the way you need to start someone out by having a lot of peer pressure when you are 17 and 18."

Germantown man to head rail passengers association

By Bartholomew Sullivan, The Commercial Appeal May 18, 2010

   WASHINGTON -- The country needs a good railroad running regularly between Chicago and Florida through Nashville and Chattanooga, the newly elected, Memphis-based president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers said Monday.
   William B. Strong ['61] of Germantown, the Tennessee delegate to the association that he's been a member of before there was an Amtrak, was elected to a two-year term, the association announced in a statement Monday.
   "I'm going to do everything I can to get more and better passenger service for Tennessee," he said when reached Monday to ask how he'll use his new bully pulpit.
   Strong said he hopes to see not high-speed but higher-speed train service in the Midwest, where The Floridian used to travel from Chicago to Florida before it was killed by the Carter administration in 1979. Right now, to go from Chicago to Florida by train, passengers have to go through Washington.
   A graduate of East High School and Vanderbilt University with a degree in mechanical engineering, the 67-year-old Memphis native has been active as a passenger advocate since 1968. He is a vice president of Tencarva Machinery selling industrial equipment like pumps and air compressors, he said.
   He said that, being based in Memphis, he doesn't travel by rail "excessively," simply because it's not convenient. He said he averages about 3,000 miles by rail a year.
   The association is the only one of its kind advocating the interests of the rail passengers.

Class of 2010 graduates

by The East High Alumni Page, May 15, 2010

   Two hundred fifty-one students were presented as candidates for graduation at the 60th Commencement Exercises of East High School Saturday, May 15, 2010. The East High Concert Band under the direction of Ollie Liddell, Director of Bands, played the traditional Pomp and Circumstance in the Cannon Performing Arts Center in downtown Memphis as the candidates marched in, lead by school and school system officials who would share the dias with the graduates.
   Thirty students received Tennessee Hope Lottery "academic" scholarships, with another 18 receiving other, more traditional, academic scholarships to colleges and universities. Note was made at the ceremonies of one student, Dariouis D. Hankins, who has been offered a full four year scholarship at Mississippi Valley University. Give that special notice, it might be assumed that scholarship offer was the only "full ride" offer made to the graduating seniors. Hankins also had other scholarship offers a paragraph long. Two students have been offered music (choral) scholarships or grants, one of which also received academic award offers. Eight students have received athletic scholarship offers. It was announced that more than 2 million dollars in scholarships were awarded, however, that number almost surely is the cumulative value of all the offers rather than representing actual funds that will be made available to the graduates. For example, if competing colleges offer the same student scholarships, only the school to which the student goes actually gives that student the money or services.
   There was no keynote speaker at this year's ceremonies. Other than brief comments, the only speeches given were by Student Council President David Ross, Valedictorian Brandy Maclin, and Salutatorian Tevin McInnis.
   Interestingly, suspended principal Fred Curry was saluted about 4 times in the student's comments, while Board of Education Commissioner Jeff Warren also credited Curry with the success of the Class of 2010. Curry was suspended with pay a month ago by schools superintendent Kriner Cash after a fight in a school hallway which allegedly involved a "girl gang." A few parents complained that their complaints about security for their children at school were not being well received. There have also been other troubling incidents this year on campus or by pupils who left campus during the school day. According to one school staff member helping organize the graduation exercises, Curry was not in attendance at the commencement. It has been reported that the investigation/audit has been completed for nearly two weeks but the school system has refused to release any information saying that the school board needs to approve the findings before they are made public.
   Harry Durham, a retired city school principal who has served several times as an interim principal at city schools after his retirement, is again acting as interim principal at East. He filled that same role for the entire 2002-2003 school year when another East principal was removed from that position.
   As the morning ceremonies drew to a close, the East High Concert Choir, directed by faculty member Jeffery Murdock, and the band performed the school's Alma Mater. The printed program gave appropriate credit for the words of the Alma Mater to Shirley Wilkes of the East High Class of 1951. The new alumni of East High then marched out of the auditorium once again to Pomp and Circumstance.

Letters: The MCS dike needs rebuilding

Letter to the Editor, The Commercial Appeal
May 23, 2010
   In response to your May 13 editorial "This is no time for pessimism": As a lifelong Memphian, and as someone who loves Memphis for what it is, and can be, nothing in Memphis is dearer to my heart than Memphis City Schools. As a 1972 graduate of East High and as a parent who has raised three children in the MCS system, I have witnessed the 25-year decline that now leaves the district on the edge of hopelessness.
   The debate in the press over Supt. Kriner Cash's "police force," or the debate over a $250,000 federal grant to stimulate reading once a week during the summer (May 12 article) only serves to provide the "perception" that something -- anything -- is being done to reverse the decline. These types of measures are too little, too late.
   Until the discussion is open, frank and brutally honest, the district will continue to decline. I'm not sure how much further it can go before it becomes beyond rehabilitation. The core issues are: the attitude of parents of MCS children, insufficient capital to fund a year-round program, the lack of political will to fight the inevitable pushback from parents, and the lack of support from the broader Memphis community for higher taxes to support this effort.
   The depth of the decline requires "outside the box" thinking, which naturally scares parents who are resistant to change, and going to a 12-month program will meet a lot of resistance. I would suggest that the federal government, which has no problem finding billions of dollars for almost any special-interest group, could belly up to the bar and fund a long-term experiment in turning around one of the most depressed school systems in the nation. There is no way increased local taxes can fund this type of gargantuan effort.
   No matter how loud the rhetoric or how creative the slogans, our propensity for "fingers in the dike" solutions will not stem the flow. We need to rebuild the dike from the ground up.
   Shep Fargotstein

All decked out: Buntyn Presbyterian preparing for 100-year anniversary celebration

By Pat Hickman, Special to My Life, The Commercial Appeal
May 8, 2010
   What do you do when company is coming? You spruce up the place and try to put your best foot forward.
   That's what members of Buntyn Presbyterian Church, 561 S. Prescott, have been doing for weeks in preparation for the church's 100-year anniversary celebration. The celebration actually began with a birthday party that served as a gathering for past and present church members, as well as some of the neighbors in the Buntyn community. There was also a special worship service on May 2 in recognition of the milestone anniversary.
   Next, there will be two organ concerts, given by former Buntyn organists; the first on May 15 at 3 p.m. featuring Dr. Angela Saunders, from Memphis, and the second one on June 13 at 3 p.m. featuring Scot Stout, from Seattle, Washington.
   Additionally, the Rev. Dr. Louis B. Weeks ['59], former President of Union Presbyterian Seminary, will preach at 3 p.m. on May 16 at Buntyn to celebrate the beginning of the church's next 100 years.
   Dr. Weeks was active in youth activities at Buntyn, where his family worked and worshipped. He graduated from East High School, where he served as Student Council President and won football honors. He has written broadly in church history, ethics, administration, pastoral care, and ministry. His books include "All For God's Glory: Redeeming Church Scutwork" (2008), "The Presbyterian Presence: Bible Words That Shape a Faith" (1992), and his articles regularly appear on the website for "Resourcing American Christianity, Faith, and Leadership."
   The church's current pastor, Rev. Maggie Jorgensen, said, "The church's commitment to service in the Memphis community in the next 100 years drives this celebration. The Buntyn congregation feels blessed to have a large building which we share with the Fresh Wind Christian Center Church and The Dwelling Place Church -- two other churches which are listening for direction in God's world. Church Women United, Meditation Fellowship, Wings Gymnastics, Shoaf's Loaf, and the East Buntyn Neighborhood Association also work here."
   Another community aspect of the church is the Buntyn Preschool, which has been nurturing children for more than 60 years. And over the years Buntyn Church served Orange Mound Day Care, Parkway Gardens Presbyterian Church, Lester School summer program, Youth Fellowship for Downs Syndrome and Beltline Teen and Enrichment Centers.
   For more information, call 458-8271.
   Pat Hickman is an elder of Buntyn Presbyterian Church.

East High students plan restoration of one-room schoolhouse

by Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
April 30, 2010
   About 6,500 community volunteers showed up at city schools Thursday, pen in hand, ready to grade student artwork, engineering projects, computer programming and sophisticated themes.
   At East High School, they nearly dropped their score pads over work to move and restore the one-room segregated schoolhouse that in 1964 -- a decade after Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education integrated public education -- was still serving African-American students on Presidents Island.
   "I was so impressed. I was just blown away," said Donna McCraw, juror in the fourth districtwide student exhibit.
   "I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don't think the students have the life history to realize what an impact their work is going to have.
   "Years down the road, they are going to be able to say they did that," she said.
   The exhibit's image was retooled this spring with the pro bono help of Clear Channel and Red Deluxe, which created the name ThinkShow! and produced and placed billboards to tell the story.
   District officials say the campaign attracted 500 new judges.
   "We had a lot more professional people sign up this time. I think Stinson Liles with Red Deluxe has really helped us a lot," said Judy Jackson, director of project-based learning.
   If plans go well, the city of Memphis this summer will move the one-room schoolhouse to East, and build a foundation under it to shore up the dreams students are sketching out, blogging about and acting out in skits.
   "We hope to one day have an amphitheater outside the museum for lectures and programs," said Daphanie Johnson, 17.
   "This project means a lot to me. I'm grateful for what I have. I think a lot of students might look at this and say they don't care because this old building doesn't mean anything to them.
   "But it helps me see how far we've come."
   At schools across the city, teachers and jurors said the work was more sophisticated than when the show started in 2008.
   "In real life, you're not often given a simple task like adding up a column of numbers," said Sam Shaw, principal at Berclair Elementary.
   "If you're buying a car, you have to consider economics, aesthetics and practicality and make a judgment about style. That is the real world."
   For East history teacher Mark Scott, the school house lodged in his brain back in 2008 when Memphis Heritage used a picture of the school in its calendar.
   The idea crystalized when Scott found June West, head of Memphis Heritage.
   "This is a once in history thing as far as I am concerned," she said.
   The school, long displayed at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, lost its home when the fair moved.
   "Not only are we looking at preserving one of the only artifacts left, but we're also educating the youth of the city of the importance of historic preservation."
   The building "is on wheels, ready to move," she said.
   Most of what the students know about it -- the last one-room schoolhouse in the county -- comes from a 1964 news clipping they found in the Memphis Room at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
   "These pictures will help us restore it," said Jaylyn Johnson, 17, tapping the clipping showing African-American children in the school with no electricity or plumbing.
   "This has helped me realize how bad it was. Even though the government said it was illegal, black people were still left without equal facilities."
    -- Jane Roberts: 529-2512
   Know anyone from Presidents Island school? East students would like to find alumni from the one-room school, Lizzie Louise Munn, Roy James Munn or George Gary Munn. Call 416-6160.

See additional story immediately below.

A summary of the proposal to move a one-room schoolhouse to the East High campus

by By Nicholas Shanks, Jhmarkus Simpson, Tiara Austin, and Dominique Wein (East High School Students)
The Keystone, March/April 2010 (Memphis Heritage, Inc.) Article used with permission.
March/April 2010
   Walking through the Mid-South Fairgrounds you may come across a small unimpressive shack. The little red structure, built from clapboard, is probably no larger than the size of modern classroom. However, this shack may not be as unimpressive as you think. In 1896 the Supreme Court decided on the separate but equal mandate in the landmark case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. From this decision many schools for African American children were established in the South such as this one room school house located at the fairgrounds. This school was originally founded in 1921 and rebuilt on Presidents Island in 1952; it was the last operating one room school house within the Memphis City limits up until the 1960s. Unfortunately, the Presidents Island School House, a symbol of the importance of education for the beginning of the twentieth century, is in danger of being destroyed.
   We, the students of East High School, would like to save the Presidents Island School House by relocating the building to East High School's campus and preserving its structural integrity. To our student body, the school house represents the evolution of equality as we examine how Memphis City Schools have evolved over time. Saving this historical site is important because it reminds us of the past in Memphis and Shelby County. It shows us how citizens have worked together to overcome adversity. Through the preservation and restoration of this landmark, each generation can show their children how education has changed and how it continues to enrich the community. Memphians passing by our school will be able see the vast contrast between the one room school house and East High School's large and architecturally striking building. The exposure to the history of Memphis' educational development and its current benefits encourages us to take every advantage of what we have today. The Presidents Island School House is also a symbol of the sharecropping practices that were once dominant in the South, representing the importance of education to those who were economically oppressed.
   This project is also important to East because it is being studentled. Our student body realizes that no matter what color or nationality we are, we all must fight for what we believe in; we believe that this one room school house is a significant symbol of progress. To facilitate this project we have created student sub-committees and divided the task into manageable parts. We sought guidance from various stakeholders by conducting a steering committee meeting this past Friday, February 26, 2010. Our AP history teacher and mentor, Mr. Scott, along with various other stakeholders were especially excited about getting our project off the ground. If the school house is relocated to East High, we hope to turn it into a museum with an attached amphitheatre for lectures. This structure and the attached amenities would enlighten the youth of Memphis about our history and transformation.
    The little red school house in front of East High School will illustrate the comparison of an actual school from the past to a Memphis City School that we love and are proud of today. This tiny room with its humble beginnings could spark an enormous interest in a better future for education in Memphis as we seek to unite the Greater Mid-South.

The one room schoolhouse.
The following photograph is not part of The Keystone's article:
One-room schoolhouse, photographed June 20, 2010, (c) K.L. Welch, The East High Alumni Page

Urgent: East High Principal Suspended

April 16, 2010
   URGENT - East High School Principal Fred Curry was suspended with pay Thursday, April 15, 2010, by the superindent of Memphis City Schools while an internal investigation ordered by the superintendent, Kriner Cash, is conducted. The school system gave no reason for the inquiry. East has been in the news recently as a group of about 10 girls got into a fight in a school hallway requiring security personnel to use pepper spray to break up the scuffle. A few weeks earlier, a girl and a few boys left school during the academic day. Reportedly the girl and one of the boys were having consensual sex when it went bad. Three boys were subsequently charged with rape. It is not know if these events are the reason for the suspension.
Updates on news of the school are typically posted on our Daily Update and Portal page first. Please refer to that page for the latest updates.

Sweet magnolias
East High science class plants 26

By Janie Hopkins, Special to My Life, The Commercial Appeal Posted to the newspaper's website April 8, 2010

   More than thirty students from Nicholas Getschman's [Faculty] AP environmental science class at East High School joined members of the Memphis Garden Club, a member of the Garden Club of America, to plant 26 magnolia trees around their school's campus.
   As part of the Garden Club of America Centennial Tree Project, 26 magnolias were propagated by Dale Skaggs, director of horticulture at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and repotted last spring by the garden club members. The three deciduous types -- Dr. Merrill, Waterlily, and Galaxy -- were tagged and remained in their pots in the woods at the Dixon over the summer and fall.
   The Peer Power Foundation, a tutoring program started by East High graduate Charles McVean ['61] that trains upperclassmen and college students to tutor underclassmen in math, English and science, was contacted to get permission to plant these trees. Julie Smith, a landscape architect and member of the Memphis Garden Club, chose specific spots to help screen out the views of neighboring shopping centers.
   Peer Power Foundation director Bill Sehnert, Dixon horticulture staff member Amy Berthouex and members of the Memphis Garden Club led by Margaret Atkinson and the students from East High School worked hard toward improving the campus.
   The full day of digging and planting was rewarded with lunch provided by the Peer Power Foundation. The science class will continue to care for these trees by fertilizing and watering them throughout the year. A sign will be placed on site to recognize the efforts and document the event.
   Janie Hopkins handles public relations for the Memphis Garden Club.

Judge upholds newspaper columnist Maruca's right to shift to competing journal

By Daniel Connolly, The Commercial Appeal April 2, 2010

   When the columnist and advertising rep known as Maruca switched from one local Hispanic newspaper to another, the first newspaper sued, since she had signed documents saying that she wouldn't work for a competitor for a year.
   But Maruca — real name Maria Guevara — recently won a favorable ruling in Shelby County Chancery Court, her attorney said.
   Chancellor Walter Evans hasn't filed a written order yet, but he said in court that the employee can continue working for the other newspaper, according to lawyer Ralph Noyes ['68].
   "I feel very pleased, because they wanted to leave me without work for a time," said Guevara, 32.
   Guevara gave birth to a boy last week and is working from home now. But she said she's eager to write more of her columns, which touch on topics ranging from domestic violence to bosses who don't pay workers wages. Most are prompted by calls from readers.
   "If I don't do this, it's like I'm letting the people down, you know?"
   The conflict reflects the ongoing competition for audience and advertising dollars in the local Spanish-language media, despite a slow economy that's cut into the earnings of many Hispanic immigrants.
   This case involved the bilingual weekly La Prensa Latina.
   Publisher Sidney Mendelson ['68] declined to comment in detail.
   "The judge made his decision and that's what we go by," he said. "That's really it."
   According to court records, Guevara joined La Prensa Latina as an independent contractor in May 2008, producing a column called "Maruca's balcony" and also contacting customers to sell ads. She started working full-time in November of that year, and her duties included acting as master of ceremonies at some events.
   Guevara says she was such a well-known figure that the newspaper used her image on a billboard.
   She left in December and began writing a similar column for a different newspaper, called El Grafico. She's now also involved in ad sales and management.
   La Prensa Latina filed suit in February, arguing that Guevara should be banned from working for El Grafico because this violated her noncompete agreement and because she was using trade secrets to entice customers of La Prensa Latina to do business with El Grafico.
   La Prensa Latina asked for a restraining order to make Guevara stop working for El Grafico or any other print media, as well as to allow recovery for financial damages.
   But in a hearing, Guevara's lawyer, Noyes, pointed to a Tennessee Supreme Court case that says non-compete agreements are enforceable only if the employee has received a great deal of specialized training and inside knowledge.
   He successfully argued that Guevara hadn't received these things.

Letter to the editor: "Children are our future"

The Commercial Appeal, March 25, 2010

   On March 16, I rode the 50 Poplar bus to the Midtown Driver's License Service Center to transact some business. I took the 50 Poplar bus to return home. This bus stopped in front of East High School, where a horde of students filled the bus to capacity, some standing.
   Most of these young people were not wearing the school-mandated uniform; most had cell phones and were using them; several had iPods and were bopping to the music; many were talking loudly and cursing profusely. Most important, very few carried books or backpacks.
   Myriad thoughts crowded my mind: Neighborhood schools should never have been abandoned; walking home by your neighbors to your house has merit. Do not parents ask their children where their books are in the evening? Do not principals strictly enforce the city schools' dress code? Is it not school policy that no cell phones and such be allowed on school grounds?
   Behavior of some students is a direct reflection of the home and other behavior is induced by peer pressure; still, was I about to shush them and ask that the loudness, cursing and pushing, etc., stop? No. Was I chicken? Maybe.
   President Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, Benjamin Jealous (NAACP), Spike Lee (recently in the city to speak at the University of Memphis) and others are desperately trying to reach out to our youth and show them another path. However, it is going to take everybody to find the solution to our errant youth. America's future progress and success as a country greatly depend on our youth of today. Who has the answer or answers? I await.
   Sharon E. Dobbins

Teacher at East High in Memphis busted on drug charges

By Lawrence Buser The Commercial Appeal March 25, 2010

   Two formerly married Memphis City Schools teachers have been suspended without pay after they were busted on separate drug charges this week.
   Emily Tubb [Faculty, listed as Emily Magill on the East High web site], 33, who also is known as Emily Magill, was indicted earlier this month on federal drug charges.
   She is accused of possessing with intent to distribute Adderall, alprazolam and heroin.
   Adderall is an amphetamine commonly used for attention deficit disorders. Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, is used to treat disorders including anxiety and depression.
   No other details were included in the indictment and there is no allegation that she was trafficking in drugs on school grounds.
   Federal prosecutor Greg Gilluly asked for a detention hearing for Monday.
   Tubb, who is in the English department at East High School, is being held in federal custody without bond because she was found in two meth houses this week, including the Southaven home of her former husband, Mark Magill.
   He was arrested Monday evening after police were called to a disturbance at his home on Northfield Drive where there was a reported altercation with his former wife, according to Southaven Deputy Police Chief Steve Pirtle.
   He said Magill, 42, a physical education teacher at Fairley Elementary, was charged with domestic violence, simple assault and manufacturing a controlled substance, methamphetamine.
   Magill also was charged with kidnapping for allegedly taking the couple's two children to another location, which he refused to reveal to investigators, Pirtle said.
   Magill is being held on $125,000 bond in the DeSoto County Jail in Hernando.
   Reporter Yolanda Jones contributed to this story.

Memphis teacher with drug charges to remain in custody

By Lawrence Buser The Commercial Appeal March 29, 2010

   A Memphis City Schools teacher will remain in federal custody for at least a few more days while her attorney tries to find a secure drug-treatment facility for her before addressing criminal drug charges.
   Emily Tubb, 33, of Southaven, who is in the English department at East High School, was indicted last week for alleged possession with intent to distribute Adderall, alprazolam and heroin.
   Tubb, whose married name was Magill, made a brief appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Charmiane Claxton, who told attorneys to return Thursday with more information on a drug treatment facility.
   Asst. Federal Defender Mary Catherine Jermann, did not ask for a bond, but instead had suggested several possible inpatient facilities to address her client's drug addiction.
   Federal prosecutor Greg Gilluly, however, argued that a more secure facility is needed because Tubb had made statements that she might harm herself.
   "She could leave these facilities and she's a danger to herself because she has no control over her drug problem," Gilluly told the court. "She needs to get help, but at a place where she would be locked down and not have the ability to walk away."
   Tubb, who was shackled and wore yellow prison garb, is being held without bond at a federal detention facility in Mason, Tenn. She made no statements in the hearing.
   Last week her former husband, Michael Magill, a physical education teacher at Fairley Elementary, was arrested following a domestic disturbance at his home in Southaven, which was reported by Tubb.
   Magill, 42, was charged with domestic violence, simple assault and manufacturing methamphetamine.
   He is being held on $125,000 bond in the DeSoto County Jail in Hernando.
   He also was charged with kidnapping for allegedly taking the couple's two children to another location, which he refused to reveal to investigators.
   Magill and Tubb have been suspended without pay by Memphis City Schools.

'Warm, fuzzy' relaunch for Holiday Inn brand

By Wayne Risher The Commercial Appeal March 24, 2010

   The late lodging industry pioneer Kemmons Wilson would have felt right at home in a hotel room made of plastic key cards.
   Fittingly, the kitschy creation of card-stacking artist Bryan Berg has found a permanent home in a Holiday Inn in Wilson's hometown.
    InterContinental Hotels Group commissioned Berg to build a Holiday Inn room out of key cards to promote the brand's global relaunch.
   After appearances in New York, Washington, New Mexico and on , the 2-ton exhibit was trucked to Memphis and set up at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.
   The exhibit, which took four months and 200,000 cards to build, features a reception desk, a bed, a comforter, a sofa, an armoire, lamps, tables, a toilet and a shower curtain, all covered with key cards.
   It's on display through Easter on the University of Memphis campus as part of Kemmons Wilson Week. It will eventually become decor for the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management.
   "This is sort of a nice way to kick it off," said Kemmons "Kem" Wilson Jr. ('64), the founder's son, as he viewed the display with his son, McLean. Kemmons Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn in 1952 and sold the chain 20 years ago.
   The family business holdings include the University of Memphis Holiday Inn and a new Holiday Inn near Wolfchase Galleria; they are also developing a Holiday Inn Express in Jackson, Tenn. The 92-room Jackson hotel will be built near Pringles Park off Interstate 40.
   InterContinental embarked in 2007 on a $1 billion effort to revitalize the brand with new signs, furnishings, bedding and amenities.
   "This is a huge effort on their part," said Kem Wilson. "They could either have let the brand fall away or they could welcome it, and they welcomed it. They found it had a feel-good, warm and fuzzy feeling" for customers.
   Kevin Kowalski, senior vice president, global brand management, for Holiday Inn, said the company had redone 2,050 hotels and was on pace to finish all 3,300-plus by year's end.
   "We've found the relaunched hotels perform 3-7 percent better and are up 2-6 points in market share," Kowalski said. "We're moving the needle."
   McLean Wilson said Wolfchase, which opened last July, attracted an unheard-of 25 walk-up customers one night last week. "We would attribute a lot of that to having a new sign and a new hotel. People driving down the interstate take that as a sign of rejuvenation."
   Sarah-Ann Soffer, a Holiday Inn spokeswoman, said the relaunch affects 11 Memphis-area hotels and two that are projected to open by 2011.
   Kowalski said corporate support for the U of M hospitality program is a natural. Angela Brav, chief operating officer for IHG Americas, will be Kemmons Wilson Week Distinguished Speaker at 1 p.m. today.
   "Kemmons Wilson made a very strong value for traveling families," Kowalski said. "We're not doing radical, crazy things. We talked to customers, tried to figure out what made the most value for them, and incorporated them in the hotels."
   They left the crazy stuff to Berg, whose playing card creations include the Capitol, the Empire State Building and most recently, China's Venetian Macao resort hotel.
   "We thought it would be kind of a neat idea to work with him to build a hotel out of key cards," Kowalski said.
   Debra Burns, director of development for the hospitality school, talked IHG executives into donating the exhibit to the school after she and the Wilsons saw it in Washington.
   "This is the appropriate place to come to: Memphis, the birthplace of Holiday Inn," Burns said. "If not for the Wilson family, none of this would be here."

Director of Bands calls for on-campus music building

The East High Alumni Page

March 17, 2010
   Calling the existing facilities for the East High Band and Choir "inadequate," Mr. Ollie Liddell (Faculty), the Director of Bands at the school, wants a new building added to campus to house those activities. He says every city school in Memphis has adequate music facilities for their bands except for East. He and the Band Booster Club are working on plans for a new building and he has written this open letter seeking support.
March 17, 2010

I am very proud of the students and the direction the program is going. However, we need support. After several discussions with the Band Booster Club, we are trying to come up with a plan of action to get a Music Building built on campus--possibly in the space left by the demolished annex building. This building would be built according to MENC Opportunity-to-learn Standards (www.menc.org) It would have sufficient space for a Choir, Band, and Orchestra Rooms as well as sufficient storage area, small ensemble rehearsal space, and offices. Both the choir and "band" rooms are inadequate. The Orchestra rehearses in the choir room. They need their own space. The choir room is band. However, the band room is riddiculous. It is very, very small, the ceiling is too low, there is no adequate storage area, no practice rooms, and no acoustical treatments what-so-ever. With the size of the band growing each year, it will soon (maybe next year) be too small to accommodate the band at all. The low ceilings and lack of acoustical treatments make hearing the music correctly impossible. So much so, we had afterschool rehearsals in the Auditorium so I could hear what is being played. The auditorium isn't readily available. The lack of storage space makes things worse. Furthermore, EVERY high school in MCS has an adequate band room except East. I find this unacceptable. I would appreciate any help or advice to this end. Please call.

Musically Yours,

Ollie Liddell
Director of Bands
East High School
3206 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38118
901-416-6160 School
901-416-6161 Fax

Truant pupils, victim, accused, involved in off campus rape

[multiple stories]
Memphis police arrest three suspects in sexual assault of East High student
By Jody Callahan, The Commercial Appeal
commercialappeal.com, March 10, 2010
   Memphis police have arrested three suspects in the apparent sexual assault of a 17-year-old East High student Tuesday.
   The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. near the school at 3206 Poplar, police said.
   A 17-year-old girl told police that she was taken to a nearby location and sexually assaulted by at least five males.
   The incident allegedly took place at a vacant house in the 200 block of Red Oak, not far from the school. The victim was then taken back to school. She told police that four of the suspects are East High students. The fifth suspect remains unknown.
   Two of the suspects in custody are 18, while the third is 16. No charges have been filed yet.
   Memphis police spokesman Karen Rudolph said the girl willingly left school with one of the boys, one of the 18-year-olds in custody. At that point, the other four were either in the car with the suspect who called the victim, or were waiting at the vacant house. In either case, the victim wasn't expecting the other four to be there, Rudolph said.
   Rudolph added that they know the name of the fourth suspect, the other East student. They don't have an identity on the fifth suspect, though. Charges are expected to be filed Thursday morning.

Three teens charged in rape of 17-year-old East High student
By Jody Callahan, The Commercial Appeal
commercialappeal.com, March 11, 2010
   Three teenagers were charged Thursday in the rape of a 17-year-old East High student Tuesday morning.
   DeMarious Moore, 18, Brian Bland, 18, and Martavious Humphries, 16, are facing charges of aggravated rape.
   Bland and Moore are being held at 201 Poplar, while Humphries is confined to Juvenile Court.
   The incident began at about 11 a.m. Tuesday, as the victim willingly left East High with the three teens, also students at East.
   They took her to an abandoned house at 278 Red Oak, a little over a mile away. There, according to police, the victim had consensual sex with Moore.
   Then things spiraled out of control.
   During sex, Moore slapped the victim in the face, police said. She told him to stop, but he continued, investigators said.
   At that point, police said, Bland and Humphries entered the room and forced the victim into additional sex acts.
   Two others were named by the victim but didn't take part, said police, who would not reveal whether the other two were at the scene of the assault.
   "Through a thorough investigation, we found that these three suspects will be charged with aggravated rape. That's it," Memphis police spokesman Karen Rudolph said.
   Neither Bland nor Moore has any prior serious charges on their records, Juvenile Court spokesman Barry Mitchell said. Moore has a few traffic citations and a curfew violation.
   Humphries, however, was arrested in December 2008 on a felony drug charge, Mitchell said. He was placed in custody of the Youth Services Bureau, which oversees home confinement. He was released in April 2009.
   It is uncertain how four students could leave a school campus so easily during the middle of the day.
   Memphis City Schools spokesman Quintin Taylor wouldn't discuss how the students were able to leave East High School.

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Society of Entrepreneurs will honor Spence Wilson as a 'master'

By James Dowd, The Commercial Appeal
March 3, 2010
   To hear Spence Wilson tell it, the work he does is simply part of carrying on the family tradition.
   But what a tradition it is.
   As president of Kemmons Wilson Companies -- established by and named after his late father, who also founded Holiday Inns -- Wilson oversees an expansive operation that has included investments in more than 400 different ventures.
   Now, after more than four decades of business ingenuity, the native Memphian who grew up on Galloway and graduated from East High School is being recognized for his efforts by the Society of Entrepreneurs
   "He's earned it, and I understand just how much he deserves it because he and I are a lot alike, we're both SOB's -- sons of bosses," said friend Bob Buckman, retired CEO of Buckman Laboratories. "It can't always have been easy for him, but Spence has done well and he's a wonderful guy."
   Wilson will be honored as a "Master Entrepreneur" at the organization's annual gala on April 10. His selection was announced at the organization's new-member reception on Tuesday.
   "I'm honored and humbled because this isn't just about me. I owe everything to my family,"
   Wilson said. "They've been very understanding about the risks and the sacrifices I made and about the time I had to spend away from them. It wasn't easy, but made it through, and any success I have is owed to them."
   The oldest of five children, Wilson was the first in his family to attend college, and after graduating from Vanderbilt University he joined the Tennessee Air National Guard. After the service he enrolled in Harvard Business School; when he finished, he moved back to Memphis, where he has spent the bulk of his career.
   "My dad had it in the back of his mind that I'd come back here and join his company, and ultimately that's what I did," Wilson said. "I worked with him for a while at Holiday Inns, but eventually transferred to Kemmons Wilson Inc. and that's where I stayed."
   During his 40 years as an entrepreneur, Wilson has been involved in a number of projects to broaden the company's holdings, including office building construction and development, injection molding businesses and even a tortilla manufacturing company.
   Perhaps the most successful has been Orange Lake Resorts in Orlando, Fla., which today features 2,500 timeshare villas on more than 1,400 acres. The property counts some 140,000 owners and hosts more than 12,000 guests each week.
   "My dad was a serial entrepreneur and I have some of that DNA. I'm very curious about how things work and I love to see a deal go through," Wilson said. "We've built a great brand, and it's fun for me to continue to take it to higher levels."
   Despite his success, Wilson is determined to remain grounded in his hometown and serve as a mentor for future generations of entrepreneurs.
   His lengthy list of community involvement includes working with Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South, Rhodes College and Youth Villages, and it's his commitment to giving back to the community that most impresses many of his fellow business leaders.
   "He's a consummate entrepreneur and has done a great job of continuing the substantial legacy of the Wilson family," said Gwin Scott, president of EmergeMemphis. "He charted his own path in numerous endeavors, and what's equally impressive is his longstanding sense of altruism for this community."
   Larry Colbert, senior vice president at Junior Achievement, agreed.
   "He's been phenomenally supportive of our organization for years, and I can't think of anyone more deserving of this honor," Colbert said. "He really cares about the community and continues in the spirit of his father in doing everything he can to make our city stronger."

Grizzlies and the Mid-South McDonald's Co-Op salute Black History Month
from www.nba.com
February, 2010
   In honor of Black History Month, the Memphis Grizzlies and McDonald's are recognizing basketball stars that honed their skills in Memphis and shared their talents with the world during Grizzlies home games played in February 2010. Here are the players who were honored:
   Cedric Henderson ['93] – Feb. 9 vs. Hawks
   Henderson is a product of East High School where he became a McDonald's High School All-American. A standout at The University of Memphis, Henderson is the only player in Memphis history to rank in the top ten in all-time scoring, steals and blocks. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1997 draft and spent five years in the NBA. After playing in the NBA he went on to play in Greece, Ukraine and Dubai. Since coming back to Memphis, Henderson has supported his hometown by hosting the SportsBall, a benefit to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis. He currently assists the middle school girls' and varsity boys' basketball teams' coaching staffs at Harding Academy.

Memphis Memories
By Staff, The Commercial Appeal
February 23, 2010
   [The following was republished on Feb. 23, 2010 in the Memphis/Mid-South Memories item in The Commercial Appeal, originally published Feb. 23, 1958.
   The All-Memphis junior high basketball team for 1955 has players from five schools. Considered tops among the youngsters are Richard Howell (11), Bellevue; Robert Randolph (25), Treadwell; Lee Welch ['58] (12), East; J. W. Adams (22), South Side; and Bobby Wiginton (8), Humes.

People Cybill Shepherd - Supermodel
By Vance Lauderdale, www.memphisflyer.com
February 12, 2010
   Most people these days probably think of Cybill Shepherd ['68] as mainly a TV and movie actress. And who can blame them, after some really fine roles in the movie The Last Picture Show and then on television with Moonlighting (with Bruce Willis, back when he had hair) and later, Cybill.
   Others may know her for her singing, or maybe her political activism, or maybe because she kept a home in the South Bluffs for years and years.
   But many people, it seems, have quite possibly forgotten that this East High School graduate was, by any definition of the word, a Supermodel. She got her start by winning the "Miss Teen Memphis" contest in 1966, which launched an extraordinarily successful modeling career. In fact, in the late 1960s, it was hard to pick up a teen or fashion magazine without finding Cybill on the cover or featured inside.
   While rooting through the Lauderdale Library one lonely Saturday night, I turned up a collection of Glamour magazines (as shown here) from 1969, 1970, and 1971 with Cybill on the cover. Not only was she a fetching cover model, but rumor has it that director Peter Bogdanovich spotted one of these Glamours while standing in line at a Hollywood supermarket and decided, right then and there, that the then-unknown girl would be perfect as Jacy in The Last Picture Show.
   (Other stories claim that his wife actually came up with the idea. If that's so, she probably came to regret it, since Peter and Cybill started, uh, "dating" after the movie came out.)
   The rest, as they say, is history. But here are some other Cybill-adorned Glamours for you to admire.

Advanced Placement courses see increase in enrollment
By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
February 12, 2010
   For students taking Advanced Placement environmental science at East High School, no class has ever consumed so much mental and emotional energy.
   The 90-minute lecture-lab meets daily instead of on alternating days like other courses. Since every lecture generates about an hour of homework and all AP students at East must attend two hours of tutoring each week, registering for an AP course means at least 15 hours per week.
   "You have to be on your study game," said Terrello Lane, a junior also taking AP art this year. "I'm taking AP classes because colleges want to know if you're taking a challenging load."
   Lane is determined to go to college and confident that his AP scores will get him noticed and give him credit for two college-level courses.
   He is among a widening group of students enrolling in AP classes, according to the College Board's annual analysis, released this week. It shows that enrollment in the decade has doubled to 800,000 students.
   But with the "democratization" of AP classes, tens of thousands of students are also failing while simultaneously financially taxing their school districts because the AP's lab-intensive courses are also among the most expensive schools offer.
   Last spring, 60 percent of AP seniors in Memphis City Schools did not score high enough to get college credit for their work. Nearly 55 percent scored under par in 2008.
   The financial burden will bear down this year when a $1.6 million grant that has covered most of the district's AP costs since 2006 runs out.
   "Our scores are very much in line with the national 60/40 attainment rate," said Linda Sklar, head of optional schools for MCS, who cautions against using "pass/fail terminology."
   "The score simply represents whether a college will award that student credit," she said. "It does not mean failure."
   Because high schools have their own standards for grading, it's very possible, Sklar said, that a student earning a "1" would get high school credit for the class.
   AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of "3," which translates into a grade of "B-" or "C," is accepted by 80 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. A score of "5" would translate into a grade of "A."
   According to a USA Today article last week, more than two in five students -- 41.5 percent -- earned a score of "1" or "2," an increase from 36.5 percent in 1999.
   In the South, nearly half of all those tested -- 48.4 percent -- earned a "1" or "2," up 7 percentage points from a decade ago and statistically significant from the rest of the country.
   AP classes have been offered since 1955. But about a decade ago, states and high school leaders started easing restrictions on who could enroll, part of a strategy to improve the number of college-ready students.
   MCS Supt. Kriner Cash added 40 more AP sections this year, including three at East High, where all 33 students who applied for the AP environmental science class were admitted.
   Teacher Nicholas Getschman (Faculty) admits that the class is larger than optimal, "but we didn't want to discourage anyone in the first year."
   While several students are struggling, he is convinced that their chances for success in college and life are better even if they don't do well on the final exam.
   "They're getting exposure to college-level work," Getschman said. "I have a student who may not pass, but she's worked hard and has really grown. It's easy to see."

My Words: Pardon my French! But we need it

By Michele Mallory (Faculty), Special to The Commercial Appeal
February 7, 2010
   I was mistaken for a French woman once. I was on a scholarship in Normandy studying the Second World War, and some friends and I had taken a weekend jaunt down to the wine country of the Loire Valley.
   After a long day touring, I decided to run into a cave de dégustation (a wine cellar) on my own to purchase some wine to take home to my parents. After some polite conversation, the viticulteur (wine maker) asked me what region I was from. Region?
   "Non, non, je suis américaine," I said. The temperature in the cave dropped five degrees in an instant. Ah, the French and their love of Americans.
   Still, as a lifelong Francophile, I was much chagrined to hear the news that my alma mater is "phasing out" French as a foreign language offering to make room for Mandarin Chinese.
   From a purely economic perspective, I suppose I understand.
   Mandarin Chinese has about 800 million native speakers, with French falling far behind with only 90 million. I understand the need to change with the times; to teach marketable skills. After all, parents who fork over $15,000 for tuition each year need to get their money's worth. But, to quote my epicurean mother-in-law, "how will they ever learn to read a menu?"
   French is so tied to the English language that by not studying it, these next generations will miss out on one of the building blocks that make us who we are as Americans.
   Does the Battle of Hastings in 1066 ring any bells? When William the Duke of Normandy conquered England, our language changed forever. Without this infusion of the French, and thereby Latin, language into our own, we'd sound almost German right about now.
   Studying French allows us to truly understand words like "fraternity," "equality" and "liberty." Or more useful to our American plight these days, "mortgage" (mort = death, gage = pledge).
   I'm curious to see how the Mandarin will take off. For one, there is absolutely no common etymology between Chinese and English. Get out those flashcards! Also, Mandarin is a language of intonation. The French student's struggle with pronouncing nasal vowels pales against the Mandarin student's struggle to convey the difference between the spoken ma (mother), má (hemp), ma (horse) and mà (scold). Good luck with that. I'll stick with my pain au chocolat, s'il vous plaît.
   And about that Franco-American hatred; it makes a good joke, but it's far from true. Anyone who loves to say that the French hate Americans has never been to Normandy.
   Visit the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach of D-Day. Go now before our greatest generation is no more. You will see nothing but thankfulness, honor and sincere tribute paid to the Americans who died for that country.
   And the conversation with the viticulteur I mentioned earlier? It turned out, his response to my being American was halting, but out of shock, not disrespect, that an American had taken the time to learn the French language so well. He asked me to stay and have a glass of wine with him, as my friends in the car honked for me to hurry up. Rude Americans. Vive la France!
   Michele Mallory lives in East Memphis and is a wife and mother to two boys. She has a degree in communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with French as a second major. She teaches French at East High School.

Weapon and drug arrests at East High

4 arrested at East High: 2 for marijuana, 2 for gun possession
By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
January 26, 2010
   4 arrested at East High: 2 for marijuana, 2 for gun possession
   Four juveniles were arrested this afternoon at East High School after two threw a gun on school property while being pursued by police.
   The incident started when officers were questioning two other students on campus about drug use. They were arrested for possession of marijuana.
   In the process, the officers noticed two students acting suspiciously, according to district spokesman Quintin Taylor.
   "The students took off running and tossed a weapon," he said. The two were also arrested. Those two students, both 16, were charged with carrying a weapon on school property and possession of handgun by juvenile.
   The incidents happened around 2 p.m.
   Taylor said the school's metal detectors had been used today.
   "East is not one of our high-incidence schools; we do random metal detection at (those) schools," Taylor said.
   School officials were tipped about the marijuana through Trust Pays, a confidential hotline that allows students or members of the public to call in tips.
   If the tip pans out, the caller is eligible for a cash reward.

Guns at Memphis city schools ring alarm bells

MCS, police stepping up screening, patrols
By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
January 28, 2010
   Supt. Kriner Cash and Police Director Larry Godwin put out a community "all-call" Wednesday after five gun incidents were reported in or near city schools over nine days.
   "We have doubled up our effort -- redoubled our efforts -- on security screening each morning," said a grim-faced Cash.
   "We must continue to ensure -- not only in the morning but randomly during the day -- that we are checking all entrances and exits. ... Students can be very, very creative if they want to get weapons in schools."
   Godwin said he's ordered more patrols at hot points.
   "We're going to do it in a covert way; we're going to do it in an overt way, but we are going to address this problem. We will make those arrests and do the things we have to for those violent individuals who are disrupting the good students of Memphis City Schools."
   Tuesday, two students were charged at East High School with possession of a handgun. It was loaded.
   Eight hours later, a male leaving a ball game at Kirby High was shot walking away from the school by someone he had argued with earlier.
   Monday, as school was getting out at Vance Middle, a police officer ordered a 14-year-old to drop his weapon after a parent tipped off authorities. It also was loaded.
   The story was similar at Hamilton High on Jan. 19, when a 16-year-old was taken into custody.
   To date, 10 guns have been found in city schools this year -- six of them loaded. At this time last year, six guns had been confiscated; three were loaded.
   Godwin is working with Juvenile Court prosecutors to trace the source of the guns, "ultimately interrupting the source," he said.
   He's also buying gunshot-recognition cameras to place around schools.
   "Once a weapon is fired, we will have a recording; we'll have information," he said.
   Principals at several large high schools say it's impossible to run 1,000-plus students through scanning devices, including X-ray equipment, and get them to class on time.
   "There will be disciplinary action for any further breaches of the procedures we require," Cash said. He has assigned members of his "top teams" to do spot checks.
   Metal detectors were used Tuesday at East. Cash didn't know the specifics of how the gun got in school but said he doubts the principal did anything wrong.
   Weapons in city schools tend to be found at the end of the day, leading authorities to suspect they are being smuggled in through propped-open doors before school dismisses, partly because students are worried about walking home.
   "When you look at the data and go to the root cause of why students bring weapons to school, they tell us they feel safe in school," Cash said.
   The walk home is another story, particularly for known gang members walking through rival territory.
   Because about a third of students in Memphis change schools once a year, Cash says, "when they leave to go to a new community, they feel threatened. That is no excuse for bringing guns to school."
   According to MCS policy, principals are expected to conduct checks by metal detector at least nine times a year in most middle and high schools. In the 14 schools with the most crime, the checks are supposed to happen daily.
   A memo to district principals Wednesday from Cash's chief of operations, Roderick Richmond, said daily scanning logs now will be mandatory in every school.

Football remains in news in off season

By Phil Stukenborg, The Commercial Appeal
Posted January 15, 2010
   [Excerpt] ...
   East High senior defensive tackle Brandon Ivory is scheduled to make an official visit to the UofM this weekend, but it's not to make a decision about his college future. That decision has been made.
   Ivory, 6-4 and 330 pounds, will play for first-year Tigers coach Larry Porter, according to Ivory's high school coach, Marcus Wimberly ('92). Wimberly said Ivory also considered the University of Miami, Wimberly's alma mater. National Signing Day is Feb. 3.
   Wimberly called Ivory, who played defensive tackle and offensive guard for East, a natural leader. And he said Ivory was an assignment nightmare for opposing offensive linemen.
   "He was one of our captains," Wimberly said. "If we needed a stop and the (football) was going up the middle, he made the play nine times out of 10. He gave people fits, especially centers."
   Ivory started each of his four seasons at East, where Wimberly took over four years ago. Ivory played primarily on offense as a freshman and grew into a two-way performer, gradually becoming a dominant defensive tackle.
   "He really came on last year," Wimberly said. "He worked hard in the weight room and he understands the game, especially at this level. He still has a lot of work to do, but he also has a lot of potential."
   Wimberly said Ivory "sparked a lot of interest" by finishing with six tackles for loss in last month's AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game at Memphis University School.
   "That got a lot of attention, but he's been doing it all year," Wimberly said. "And he's done it against some good teams, teams like Olive Branch, MUS, Whitehaven, White Station ... he didn't do it all against cupcakes."
   Ivory is the third Memphis-area commitment, joining Horn Lake receiver Bakari Trotter and Houston High receiver Jerry Anderson. He said the hiring of Porter played a part in his decision.
   "First of all, I like coach Porter and I think he is going to change the program around," Ivory said.

Two arrested, another sought after high-speed chase in Bartlett

By By Clay Bailey, The Commercial Appeal
January 8, 2010
   A witness gave Bartlett police dispatchers a move-by-move account of three people breaking into a house on Guffin around lunchtime Friday -- providing officers with an edge on capturing the trio.
   But it took a high-speed car chase through the suburb's northwestern quadrant, foot pursuits, a pair of wrecked cars and at least one shotgun blast from police before two of the suspects, a man and a woman, were captured in Memphis.
   One of the suspects is the son of the owner of the home that was burglarized.
   The crime unfolded over the police radio after the witness, watching nearby, called police to report the break-in at 5195 Guffin shortly before noon.
   "If (the witness) wouldn't have called when they did, there's a good chance (the suspects) wouldn't have been caught," said Insp. Jeff Cox, head of the department's investigative division.
   Police said the witness told them a woman was driving a gray Mitsubishi through the neighborhood while two men went into the house.
   The men would put the goods in the car, then the woman would drive around again while the intruders returned to the residence.
   When police pulled into the neighborhood, the suspects fled in the Mitsubishi, starting a chase.
   The pursuit went along various streets in the suburb's northwest corner and carried into Raleigh. Insp. Steve Todd thought he was about to stop them at one point, but the driver tried to ram his unmarked car.
   One person jumped from the Mitsubishi on August Moon, sending part of the pursuing officers on foot after him.
   He was still at large Friday evening.
   Meanwhile, the car with the other two people continued to flee -- followed by police -- eventually ending up on Bruton Place near Old Brownsville.
   At one point, an officer fired his shotgun at the vehicle. A hole was visible above the left tail light. That part of the case is still under review, Cox said.
   The suspects were trapped in the cove on Bruton Place. When they headed out of the dead end, the car slammed into one of the pursuing Bartlett squad cars in the curve of Bruton Avenue and Bruton Place.
   The suspects' car banged into the curb and ended up in a yard.
   The suspects fled from the scene, but were caught a short time later, according to Lt. Rory Mack, Bartlett police spokesman.
   Tremaine Artry ('09), 18, identified by police as the son of the homeowner, is charged with aggravated burglary, evading and resisting arrest, reckless endangerment and four counts of aggravated assault.
   Bridget Jones, 21, faces the same charges except resisting arrest.
   Both were being held without bond.

Television news stories are also available from WMC-TV and WPTY-TV.
The television stations are not likely to provide those stories and clips permanently,so if you find they are no longer available, please notify editor@EastHigh.org.

Ole Miss' Cassius Vaughn grows into CB role
NFL looming as senior closes career

By Scott Cacciola, The Commercial Appeal
December 31, 2009
   DALLAS -- Cassius Vaughn ('06) can remember meeting with three friends that day, all Memphis-area products who, like him, were bound for Ole Miss. He convened with Greg Hardy, Cecil Frison and LaDerrick Vaughn at one of Downtown's finer dining establishments -- "Hooters," Cassius Vaughn said -- for a signing day party in February 2006. They signed their letters of intent, and the future was theirs.
   "It was an exciting moment," Vaughn said.
   In some ways, it feels like yesterday. In other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. Because as quickly as the past four years have evaporated, Vaughn also knows he has changed a great deal. He has one game left in his college career, a meeting with No. 21 Oklahoma State on Saturday in the 74th AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, but he has little time for nostalgia. He already finds himself looking ahead once more.
   "I'm out the door on my way to another chapter in my life, and it all catches up with you real fast," said Vaughn, a senior cornerback and former standout at East High. "But for a lot of the seniors, this game is like an audition. We're going to play hard."
   An audition for the NFL: It has come to this for Vaughn, who has transformed himself from a raw talent into one of the more reliable cornerbacks in the Southeastern Conference. Tied for seventh in the league with 11 passes defended, including two interceptions, Vaughn is a major reason Ole Miss (8-4, 4-4) is ranked 15th in the country in pass defense, limiting opponents to 179 yards per game.
   Playing cornerback tends to be a thankless job, but Vaughn -- recruited by most schools out of high school as a running back -- has embraced his role. He enjoys being out there on the island, matching up against top-flight receivers, man-to-man without a safety net.
   "Cassius is a big-time competitor," said senior cornerback Marshay Green. "Anytime people like playing defense, you know it's going to be fun."
   Vaughn showed up at Ole Miss with extraordinary speed. According to Green, Vaughn is capable of running the 40-yard dash in just over 4.3 seconds -- a time that would seem sure to pique the interest of NFL scouts. But as a freshman and sophomore, he was extremely raw. In high school, he could rely on his athleticism to compensate for mistakes or slight hesitations. Not in the SEC. He needed to hone his instincts, and he had to learn how to anticipate.
   "The one thing about this league is that if you don't have a pre-snap plan for what you think they might do, you're not going to make the play," cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn said. "Because these teams are too good at throwing and catching."
   He made several plays this season that he probably would not have made earlier in his career. Chris Vaughn recalled two examples in particular. Against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 19, he went up with two hands -- a subtle but important detail -- to intercept an errant pass. And early in the second half against Tennessee on Nov. 14, Vaughn anticipated a screen pass across the middle that he deflected.
   "I just got way more confident with this coaching staff," Cassius Vaughn said. "Just really understanding how to play defense, knowing what to do, being able to play fast. You come here wanting to practice and wanting to get better because you know you have lots of support."
   No one besides his coaches and perhaps his teammates would remember those moments, but the significance was not lost on those who had invested in him. It was rewarding for Chris Vaughn, because all the pieces were beginning to fit. And while it might sound clichéd, Cassius' potential remains largely untapped.
   "He's going to test well," Chris Vaughn said of the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine. "The big thing is, there's got to be a team out there that feels he brings something to the table and that he's nowhere near done with his development as far as where he can go. A team has to believe in him."
   Vaughn will turn his full attention next week to preparing for the combine, though he will miss his friends -- especially his daily games of "Madden NFL" with teammates. He has more responsibilities now, including a 1-year-old son, Cassius Vaughn II, who won the Grizzlies' baby crawl contest during halftime of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 18.
   Asked if his son is a cornerback in the making, Vaughn said: "Well, he's just trying to walk now."
   As his father knows, there is plenty of time to grow.

A new year, new hope for Memphis

Letters to the Editor, The Commercial Appeal
December 31, 2009
   It seems like 100 years ago that I had the great privilege of living in Memphis and teaching in the junior high part of East High School; actually, it was around 1962-65. We lived on Charleswood, about 10 miles from the river.
   Those were three wonderful years -- the unbeatable park and zoo, where you could wander all day and never see everything; attending high school and college sporting events; the superb medical care at Methodist Hospital; the joy of driving Downtown for many cultural events, one of the greatest of which was the Front Street Theater.
   I had no contact with Memphis until a few years ago when we attended some wonderful exhibits at Cook Convention Center, combined with visiting our money in Tunica. This newspaper was always a great read, but these later years your news has been sad for a person who dearly loves this beautiful city of the old and the new South -- the crime, the social ills, the politics, the weaknesses of the public schools.
   I hope and pray that some of the optimistic items I've read the last couple of weeks are the light at the end of the gloomy tunnel for this city -- the Gates grant, the new city politicos, a Downtown park, renovation rather than destruction of some of the priceless buildings like The Washburn, mentioned in your Dec. 30 article "Views to history."
   The Dec. 25 Viewpoint guest column by Pat Halloran of the Orpheum prompted this letter; it was full of such optimism and hope.
   Memphians, do not let this wonderful city become another run-down, has-been grande dame. Love it and protect it.
   Marty Henry (Faculty)
   Malvern, Ark.

[If anyone can adise the subjects Ms. Henry taught, the specific years she was at East Junior High, and her name then, if different, please send that information to editor@EastHigh.org.]

Post-Christmas sales lure shoppers back into stores

By By Ryan PoeThe Commercial Appeal
December 27, 2009 [Excerpts]
   Shoppers swamped Memphis-area retailers Saturday to take advantage of after-Christmas sales, spend their gift cards or return presents, capping a holiday season that showed signs of a slight improvement over last year's dismal sales figures.
   "People were just piling in today," said Lisa Ortasic-Hayes ['74], owner of one of the Shops of Saddle Creek in Germantown that sells fashionable maternity clothes.
   Ortasic-Hayes, who operates the shop with help from her daughter, said she kept Haute Mama open an extra hour because of the heavy flow of customers. "I had about 16 people in at one time, and this is a small store."

Shelby Middle School gets $600,000 grant to continue Peer Power tutoring

By Richard J. AlleyThe Commercial Appeal
December 19, 2009
   Memphis businessman Charles McVean ['61] is well-versed in the art of speculation, and his recognition of the opportunities to invest in young students is paying dividends.
   The latest investment is Shelby Middle School and its North Bolivar School district in Shelby, Miss., which has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Education Department.
   The grant was awarded to the school to continue its yearlong work with Peer Power Foundation, McVean's tutoring initiative aimed at students in grades 7-12.
   Prompting the Education Department grant was the surge in state math exam scores among seventh-graders at Shelby Middle.
   "This kind of financial support will mean that we can touch the lives of so many more students," said Rives Neblett, the Shelby businessman who funded the program through a nonprofit group.
   McVean, a 1961 graduate of East High School, has made a career in the futures and trading markets of New York and Chicago, becoming a nationally recognized authority on beef cattle along the way.
   In 1986, he founded McVean Trading & Investments, a Memphis-based global organization that manages investments for more than 5,000 clients.
   He is also a philosopher who sees a troubled future for Memphis unless someone takes action.
   "There is an over-investment in private colleges and universities relative to efforts to improve primary and secondary education for underprivileged kids," he said.
   His private, nonprofit Peer Power began in 2004 with the Greater East High Foundation in 2004, which uses high-performing high school and college students to tutor underperforming students.
   "One of our main goals is to give constant encouragement and constant praise," said Meah King ['97 and Faculty], tenth-grade English teacher and faculty sponsor for Peer Power at East.
   But the program's rewards are tangible, as well.
   "Peer Power also gives monetary incentives," King said. "We try to exhaust all possibilities."
   The program's effectiveness at East is measurable: King said they awarded several thousand dollars for attendance and report card grades after the first nine weeks of this school year. East now boasts a 70 percent passing rate, versus a 75 percent failure rate in 2002.
   "We're teaching them that life is a competitive sport," she said. "You're not just competing among each other, but you're competing worldwide. You have to be the best to be successful."
   James Griffin, principal of the Grizzlies Academy, a nontraditional school within the Memphis City Schools system that accepts students who are one to two years behind, praises the program.
   "Students see they have a model of what they want to become," Griffin said. "The methods come not just from me and my staff, but their peers as well. They can explain something in a totally different way. It's relationship building."
   Other Memphis schools involved in the program include Whitehaven High School and Lester Elementary.
   The key to the program is giving students the individual attention they need.
   Collapsing the student-teacher ratio is the only way to focus more attention on the student.
   "The only answer for East High School was to implement the dynamics of the one-room schoolhouse on a large scale by using the top end of the older kids on a professional basis to teach the younger kids, thereby collapsing the student-to- teacher ratio from 28 to 1 to 2 to 1," McVean said. "Through this process, we identified the most underutilized asset in our society today: the top end of these underprivileged kids."
   Third-year University of Memphis student Cortney Richardson, a 2007 East High graduate and Peer Power tutor, said he admires McVean's effort to give back to the community.
   "A lot of what he does goes unnoticed, but he is a wonderful philanthropist and so genuine, and that's one of the most important things," Richardson said. "He makes a lot of things seem attainable."

Planned Parenthood clinic move criticized
Lieutenant governor calls for Senate hearing

By Lindsay MelvinThe Commercial Appeal
December 18, 2009
   Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is criticizing a state agency for allowing a clinic that provides abortions to locate near Memphis Catholic High School.
   In a mass-distributed letter on Thursday, the Republican lawmaker from Blountville bashed the Health Services and Development Agency, which grants certificates of need to health care facilities.
   "It is shocking that the HSDA would do something so stupid and insensitive," said Ramsey, who is running for governor in next year's elections.
   On Wednesday, the HSDA voted to grant Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region permission to relocate less than a mile from its current Union Avenue office to 1750 Madison.
   The new location, about two-tenths of a mile from Catholic High, has been the focus of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, which has been trying to block the move.
   The 54-year-old lieutenant governor, with a history as an abortion opponent, is demanding the agency apologize and revoke its vote.
   Further, he intends to bring the 10-person volunteer board before the Senate Government Operations Committee in January to determine how it reached its decision.
   "It's just common sense, if you don't want something next door to you, you should have a say," he said.
   The certificate of need passed with four for the relocation of Planned Parenthood and two against. Remaining board members were either absent or abstained.
   Agency board member and Memphis physician Dr. Charles Handorf ['69] said the board focuses on whether a proposal contributes to orderly development of health care, whether it's economically feasible, and whether there is a need.
   "We're not a zoning body. We're not the morality police. We're not judging right from wrong. That's not the role of this body," he said.
   As customary, Handorf recused himself from the vote because the project was based in his hometown.
   This will be the first time the agency will report to the operations committee to dissect one particular project, a state official said.

Flinn considers run for Tanner vacancy

By Alex DoniachThe Commercial Appeal
December 12, 2009
   Republican Shelby County Commissioner George [Sonny] Flinn [associated with the Class of '61] -- a prospective candidate for county mayor -- is considering a run for the 8th Congressional District.
   A week after the surprise retirement announcement of longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn, Flinn said he may seek the seat that includes parts of Memphis and Shelby County. He won't announce until January.
   "I'm weighing the support and actually just what can be done," said Flinn, 66, a two-term commissioner and radiologist who runs a group of clinics as well as Flinn Broadcasting Co., a group of radio stations.
   Tanner announced last week that he won't seek re-election to the office he's held for 11 terms, creating a wide-open race that's drawn interest from a flurry of Democrats and Republicans across the state.
   The 19-county district includes Frayser and Raleigh in Memphis, Millington and northwest Shelby County, and stretches through Jackson to Clarksville.
   Although Democrats have long held the seat, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere said the district has become increasingly conservative and overwhelmingly voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election.
   "We're actually favored to take it," Sere said of the 2010 congressional race.
   But Sere said if Flinn runs, he'll have to catch up to Republican challengers Stephen Fincher, a Crockett County farmer and gospel singer, and network systems engineer Donn Janes of Brighton, who both announced their candidacies this summer.
   Convincing voters in this mostly rural district could be another challenge for Flinn, who divides his time between four homes in Shelby County and Washington, D.C., only one of which is in District 8.
   Flinn, whose commission district encompasses mostly the suburbs and East Memphis, said he doesn't have a primary residence -- "it depends on the week" -- but that constituents in the 8th Congressional District have urged him to run.
   Yet Flinn said he still hasn't ruled out a run for county mayor in 2010. In 2002, he spent $1 million of his own money in an unsuccessful campaign against A C Wharton for county mayor.
   "That's my other decision -- where I can serve the best," Flinn said. "As county mayor or as a congressman from the 8th District?"
   So far only Democrats Deidre Malone, a commissioner, and Harold Byrd, Bank of Bartlett president, have announced bids for the county mayor's seat. No other Republican has indicated a strong interest in running.

Shaw Joins Glankler Brown, Has High Goals for Future Practice

REBEKAH HEARN | The Daily News
Thursday, December 10, 2009
   Miska L. Shaw ['00] has joined Glankler Brown PLLC as an associate. Shaw practices in civil litigation, including family, personal injury, employment and business law.
   She received her bachelor's degree in applied economics management from Cornell University and her master of public administration degree from the University of Memphis. Shaw earned her law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where she was a member of the Dispute Resolution Society and received the Excellence in Oral Advocacy Award.
   During law school, Shaw also spent a semester studying international law in the Netherlands.
   She is a member of the Memphis, Tennessee, American and National bar associations, the University of Memphis Alumni Association and serves on the Memphis PREP Alumni Committee.
   Q: In law school, you were active in the Dispute Resolution Society. Is this related to arbitration/mediation? Are you interested in becoming a certified mediator?
   A: Yes, the mission of the Dispute Resolution Society is to promote law student awareness and training in the areas of mediation and arbitration. While in law school, I obtained certification as a mediator according to the requirements of the state of Missouri. I have observed several hours of very experienced mediators wrangling with contentious parties.
   I also undertook an intensive study of community-based mediation in Nepal. The Nepalis have adapted our Western model of mediation to address their cultural beliefs and the lack of suitable government courts to handle personal disputes. Most of their mediators are just ordinary people, not lawyers.
   I will eventually obtain mediator certification in Tennessee. However, I am more focused on gaining trial experience right now. I think one of the most beneficial qualities for an attorney mediator is to have tons of courtroom experience under your belt, so that the disputing parties have faith in what you tell them. At Glankler Brown, I have some of the best trial attorneys as my mentors, so I am definitely on the right track.
   Q: How did you get the opportunity to study in the Netherlands during law school? Did you focus on any particular aspects of international law at the University of Utrecht?
   A: I was chosen to participate in an exchange program arranged by my law school. I have always been interested in comparing our American legal system with that of other countries. My studies in the Netherlands focused on human rights, juvenile law and Dutch law. One area of international law that I intend to incorporate into my practice is international adoption. I am looking for supervised pro bono cases to work on so that I can develop my expertise in this area.
   Q: Why did you choose to pursue a master's degree in public administration? Has that degree helped you in the law?
   A: I chose the MPA program at the University of Memphis because I was considering a career in either the government or nonprofit sector. There may come a time when I decide to pursue a career in public service. But for now, the degree is quite helpful in my private practice. Glankler Brown serves clients that are government agencies, as well as clients seeking our guidance to ensure compliance with governmental regulations. My public administration background helps me to understand the political and legal environments in which these clients operate, so that we, as a firm, can closely tailor our legal services to match their needs.
   : As a recipient of Washington University School of Law's Excellence in Oral Advocacy Award, what do you think is one of the most important aspects of oral arguments?
   A: Making sure that what you say is factually and legally correct is one of the most important aspects of a good oral argument. This requires meticulous research and preparation and, of course, high ethical standards. You never want to lose the trust of your audience.
   Q: What brought you back here after law school?
   A: I was born and raised in Memphis. I received a great education from East High School, which is a Memphis City School. I went away to upstate New York for college and to St. Louis for law school. I was drawn back here by the down-to-earth people, the Southern culture, the cost of living, and most importantly, the fact that a majority of my family members live here.
   Q: If you were not a lawyer, what would be your second career choice?
   A: If I were independently wealthy, I would travel all over the world helping refugees and poor people obtain human rights like education, clean drinking water, the right to vote, freedom from oppression, etc. If I should win the Powerball jackpot, I will definitely pursue this dream. In the meantime, I fulfill my humanitarian duty by volunteering with local charities, including (providing) pro bono legal representation.

Out-of-towner returns to express heartfelt gratitude for men who saved his life
'What words do you use to thank somebody who saved your life?'

Hank Dudding, The Commercial Appeal
November 7, 2009
   Jim Munn, center, of California suffered a heart attack during a recent trip to Memphis. Only by the fast work of paramedics, Shawn Nichols, (left foreground), James Burford, (in blue shirt) and Doug Harrifeld, at right, with the Memphis Fire Department was Munn able to survive his heart attack and return to thank the people that saved his life. Nichols and Harrifield are holding their children, Brook Nichols and Hunter Harrifeld.
   If Jim Munn could remember Aug. 19, he'd tell you he was on his way to see a fancy golf course when he dropped dead.
   He'd tell you how his friend of 55 years, Herschel Worthy, noticed they'd just driven past the police and fire training academies near U.S. 51.
   And he'd tell you how Worthy flagged down three never-say-die firefighters who helped save his life.
   Munn, 70, of Upland, Calif., came back to Memphis on Friday to thank his heroes, Memphis Fire Department driver James Burford and paramedics Doug Harrifeld and Shawn Nichols.
   "What words do you use to thank somebody who saved your life?" Munn asked, wiping away a tear. "There's not any. It's just handshakes and hugs."
   Munn and Worthy had spare time in August when they drove up for a look at the recently renovated, upscale Mirimichi golf course near Millington.
   But on the way, Worthy saw something was wrong with his friend.
   "I touched him, and he fell over against the door," Worthy said.
   Worthy wheeled around and pulled onto O.K. Robertson Road, flagging down Burford, Harrifeld and Nichols, who were headed to lunch after training at the academy.
   They put him in an ambulance, but Munn was in full cardiac arrest.
   "In full arrest, they usually don't make it," Nichols said.
   Burford performed CPR — "I pumped that chest hard" — while the paramedics administered drugs and shocked Munn at least six times with a defibrillator.
   Then they rushed him to Methodist University Hospital, which they knew had an "ice suit," an experimental device that cools heart patients' bodies for treatment.
   Despite their efforts, they were pretty sure he wasn't going to make it, and they often never find out how their patients do because of confidentiality laws.
   But Munn, now with a small automatic defibrillator implanted in his chest, was determined that they know their long shot paid off.
   He traveled from California for a gathering the fire department hosted Friday for him and the firefighters.
   "I told him, 'When I saw you, you didn't look that tall or this good,' " Burford joked.
   Munn knows he wouldn't be alive without the firefighters' determination not to let him go.
   "Had they not done all the things they did, I would have been dead on arrival," said Munn, whose only lingering side-effect is a 10-day gap in his memory and a sore chest from Burford's vigorous CPR.
   "Every time I breathe and it hurts, I say, 'Thank you,'" he said.

WHBQ-TV also did a story on Jim Munn's return to Memphis to thank paramedics. It can be viewed from the www.myfoxmemphis.com website. [Editor's note: viewers: please let us know when this video clip is no longer available from the WHBQ-TV website so we can make other arrangements. Contact editor@EastHigh.org.]

Mid-South Memories

The Commercial Appeal files, The Commercial Appeal
October 9, 2009
   Crowning glory before film, TV fame Cybill Shepherd ['68] (center), a senior at East High School, was named Miss Teenage Memphis on Oct 9, 1966. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Shepherd of 3420 Highland Park Place. She will compete in the Miss Teenage America Pageant in Dallas on Nov. 5. Top prize in the national contest is a $10,000 college scholarship. Debbie Salter (left) of Savannah, Tenn., was second alternate and Marcia Swett of 3561 Rhodes was first alternate.

Urban Land Institute will use greenways to start connecting region's dots

By Tom Bailey Jr., The Commercial Appeal
September 23, 2009
   Improving regional dialogue on important issues is the most pressing of seven new initiatives recently established by the Urban Land Institute Memphis, the new chairman says.
   "Right now, regional topics don't get the focus they deserve," said Russell 'Rusty' Bloodworth (associated with the Class of '63), who chairs the five-year-old Mid-South chapter. Russell Bloodworth is the new chairman of Urban Land Institute Memphis, which promotes "responsible" use of land. Sustainability, connectivity and more green space, exemplified by Schilling Farms in Collierville (backdrop), are some of the institute's concerns.
   The overarching goal of the institute is to promote the "responsible" use of land and to help create sustainable, thriving communities.
   Bloodworth, executive vice president of Boyle Investment Co., set six other initiatives: promoting economic sustainability; visioning the future; promoting environmental sustainability; supporting great neighborhoods; supporting great government and infrastructure; and helping create great places.
   The chapter was founded in 2004 and counts a membership of 140, consisting of individuals, organizations and public agencies. Its territory encompasses North Mississippi, West Tennessee and eastern Arkansas.
   The institute will begin promoting regionalism in earnest with "Greenways for the Mid-South Region: Connect the Dots," a workshop in early November that will focus on the Mid-South's rivers and greenways.
   The goal is to help establish a system of connecting trails, greenways and "blueways" along such regional rivers as the Wolf, Hatchie, Coldwater, Loosahatchie, Nonconnah, St. Francis and, of course, the Mississippi.
   Creating hundreds of miles of greenways will make the area a more appealing place to live and help preserve open space and habitat for animals, officials say.
   And Bloodworth believes rivers and greenways offer the best chance for improving regional dialogue. Once communication has been established, the topics can shift to other, more complicated issues.
   Founded in 1936, the Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit research and education organization that promotes the "responsible" use of land, and it counts more than 40,000 members in 80 counties.
   Officers of Urban Land Institute
   Chairman: Rusty Bloodworth (Boyle Investment Co)
   Assistant chairman: G. Dan Poag ('59) (Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers)
   Treasurer: Earl Williams Jr. (Loeb Properties)
   Immediate past chairman: Frank Ricks (Looney Ricks Kiss Architects)
   Membership vice chairman: Michael Oakes (Shelby County government)
   Sponsorship vice chairman: Mark Halperin (Boyle Investment)
   Programs vice chairman: Robert Fogelman II (Fogelman Investment Co.)
   Communications vice chairman: Chris Brown (Coleman Etter Fontaine-Commercial)
   Young Leaders Group co-chairmen: Donald Drinkard Jr. (CB Richard Ellis) and Thomas A. Pacello Jr. (Shelby County)

Hometown heroes Soldiers earn accolades

Special to My Life, The Commercial Appeal
September 11, 2009
   Army Sgt. Deneva L. [Sledge ('96)] Payne has been named Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter for the 261st Signal Brigade.
   Selection was based on the individual's exemplary duty performance, job knowledge, leadership qualities, teamwork, significant self-improvement, personal achievements, notable accomplishments, and community service and support.
   Her knowledge and dedication were exemplary in winning the award and was decorated with the Army Commendation Medal for her distinguished acts of heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service.
   Payne is a dining facility sergeant supervisor serving with the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, assigned to Headquarters and Support Company, I Corps at Camp Victory, Iraq. The sergeant has served in the military for five years.
    Payne is a 1996 graduate of East High School. She is the daughter of Dorothy M. Graham and Edward Sledge, both of Memphis.

U of M alumni to honor accomplishments of five

By Fariss Adams Ivey, Special to My Life, The Commercial Appeal
September 9, 2009
    The University of Memphis College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Chapter will celebrate the achievements of five individuals at its annual awards dinner Oct. 1 at The Racquet Club of Memphis.
   Dr. Thomas Appleton ('67), James Morse and Keith Prewitt will be honored as Outstanding Alumni; Meah King ['97 and Faculty] will recognized as Outstanding Young Alumna;...
   Appleton, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1971, is professor of history and associate director of the Center for Kentucky History and Politics at Eastern Kentucky University...
   King, who earned a 2002 B.A. and a 2005 Master of Arts, is an English teacher at East High School.

The East High Alumni Page Editor's Commentary: This is more like it: multiple alumni receiving recognition.

Music festivals keep downtown Memphis hopping from trolley tracks to riverfront

By Linda Moore, The Commercial Appeal
September 6, 2009
   After 35 years in the North, James and Margie Bailey figured it was time to return to the South.
   And there was no better Southern homecoming for the Baileys than a visit to the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, one of two musical events Downtown on Saturday. Pedro Valenzuela (left) and Domingo Montes from Los Cantadores delight the crowd Saturday at the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival. The event continues on multiple stages from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today along Main Street.
    "We're just loving it," said James Bailey, formerly of Ann Arbor, Mich., now of Horn Lake, after listening to guitarist David Bowen's rendition of Rev. Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
   The free, family-friendly festival is sponsored by the Center for Southern Folklore and celebrates the South in its musical and cultural glory.
   Performers are asked to give "their best 45 minutes" in genres that include blues, rockabilly, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, funk, rock and mariachi, said Judy Peiser ['63], executive director of the center.
   Others dance, from African to belly, give cooking demonstrations, make pottery or sell original art.
   "The festival gets to the soul of Memphis," Peiser said. "I think it's the most diverse event in the city."
   And it makes a statement about what is right about this region, she said.
   It's an event the world should see, said Johnny Sandberg, who since 2001 has led a tour group from Sweden to Memphis solely to attend the festival.
   Sandberg, with Memphis Travel in Herrljunga, Sweden, has brought as many as 40 people in years past. But with the tough economy, there are 20 in this year's group.
   "People from other countries would be very interested," Sandberg said. "This festival represents so much good music and so many different styles of music."
   The festival, on Main from Peabody Place to Gayoso, continues today from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
   Meanwhile on Saturday, music from Spiritual Excitement at the 35th Annual Stone Soul Picnic had colorful umbrellas bobbing when they led a chant that went, "Ain't no party like a holy ghost party 'cause a holy ghost party don't stop."
   The men's group was part of a daylong lineup of gospel acts at Tom Lee Park.
   With temperatures heating up after last week's cool start, Terri Taylor, her parents, relatives and friends made themselves as comfortable as possible, planting a tent, unfolding chairs and bringing water, snacks and a barbecue grill.
   "There are about 15 or 20 of us," Taylor said.
   Most are members of her father's church, Abundant Life Deliverance in North Memphis, and they come to the picnic every year to enjoy Christian music and fellowship.
   "I think this is a phenomenal event for the people of Memphis," Taylor said.

Malco Paradiso theater tightens security; vows better crowd control

By Jody Callahan , The Commercial Appeal
September 4, 2009
   If you're under 18 and want to see an R-rated movie at the Paradiso at night, even if mom is with you, tough luck.
   In response to a disturbing crowd scene in the parking lot of the East Memphis theater Saturday night that led to nine arrests, Malco officials announced the policy change at a town-hall meeting at Clark Tower on Thursday: No one under 18 gets to see an R-rated movie after 6 p.m., even if accompanied by an adult.
   For now, the policy applies seven days a week, but only at the Paradiso. Malco vice president Jimmy Tashie said the theater would also use its security guards to prevent teens from hanging out in front of the theater.
   This was all sparked by Saturday's disturbance, which began a little after 11 p.m.
   A promotional flier from a local deejay encouraged kids to see two R-rated movies that opened that weekend, "The Final Destination" and "Halloween 2."
   Many of the youngsters were underage and were turned away but had nowhere to go after their parents dropped them off.
    That led to hundreds of them milling about in the parking lot, leading to at least one fight, grainy videos of which showed up on YouTube.
    At Thursday night's meeting, Tashie repeatedly referenced the importance of the Paradiso to the locally owned company.
   "As our flagship, this theater means more to us than anyone in this room can imagine," Tashie told the 100 or so people gathered Thursday for the meeting. "Our interest is so great that we can't afford to have the kind of incident we had Saturday night."
   That underscored Malco's concern over whether the fallout from the fight or other bad behavior could affect business at the theater.
   It's generally believed that similarly unruly behavior led in part to the demise of Downtown's Muvico 22, which gained a reputation for disruptive patrons.
   "I don't think that'll happen here," Tashie said. "Hopefully, the measures we've taken will bring some Memphians back."
   Memphis police will have their "Skycop" camera system at the theater this weekend, Director Larry Godwin said.
   "We're going to take some precautions to make citizens feel better this weekend," he said.
   The Paradiso wasn't the only Malco theater affected by bad behavior Saturday.
   At the Raleigh Springs Mall location, police arrested a 17-year-old boy who fired a shot in the parking lot after people left a movie at about midnight. No one was hurt.
   At the Majestic in the Riverdale area, 30 police cars responded to a crowd of as many as 1,000 youngsters, issuing between 30 and 35 juvenile summonses.
   And while nothing happened at the DeSoto Cinema 16 in Southaven that night, officials are concerned about the generally large crowds that gather there.
   Southaven Mayor Greg Davis said the Board of Aldermen is working on a loitering ordinance to try to reduce crowds.
   Godwin defended the security at the Paradiso last Saturday night and questioned how much of the blame should rest on parents.
   "I think we've all got to take some responsibility. We didn't drop my kids off like that," he said. "When they went to a movie, they were old enough to go. We instructed them on what they were supposed to do."

Television news coverage of response to Paradiso parking lot fight

September 3, 2009
   At least 3 television stations had news coverage of Jimmy Tashie ('66) talking about Malco's response to fight in parking lot.
Additional newspaper stories are also posted here, dated September 1, 3, an 4, 2009.
  See video of the television news stories:
WREG (video not available)

Town hall meeting tonight will discuss disruptive behavior in East Memphis

By Hank Dudding, The Commercial Appeal
September 3, 2009
   Memphis city officials and police will hold a town hall meeting tonight to address concerns about disruptive behavior at East Memphis entertainment venues.
   Officials plan to announce new measures to keep residents safe, according to a press release from City Council member Kemp Conrad.
   The release didn't disclose what the measures were.
   The town hall meeting and press conference will be held at 6 p.m. at the Tower Room atop Clark Tower at 5100 Poplar.
   Conrad, Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery, MPD Deputy Chief Toney Armstrong and Col. Jeff Clark of Tillman Station will be in attendance.
   The conference follows an incident at the Malco Paradiso on Saturday night, when hundreds of teenagers gathered in the theater's parking lot.
   Several fights broke out, and 10 people ranging in age from 12 to 18 were detained, police said.
   Nearly two dozen Memphis police cars responded, and officers blocked the exits to the parking lot while the crowd was dispersed.
   Earlier this week, Malco executive vice president Jimmy Tashie blamed part of the problem on parents dropping off teens who were too young to see the scream movies "The Final Destination" and "Halloween 2."
   Tashie said Malco is determined to protect movie-goers and the theater's reputation.
   "We're going to make sure we maintain a safe, friendly environment, and that's on everyone's mind right now," he said Tuesday.
   Three initiatives to enhance the East Memphis entertainment area will also be announced at the meeting, according to the release.
   All residents are invited to attend.

Hhgregg Inc. to fill Circuit City void in example of big-box, anchor trend

By Don Wade, The Commercial Appeal
September 2, 2009 [Excerpts]
   "This is exactly the trend with big boxes and medium-size and large anchors," said John Reed ['69] of The Shopping Center Group. "We're working with Panera Bread, and when Atlanta Bread Company had difficulty, they jumped in. They're opening a store in Germantown next week that was a former Atlanta Bread Company"
   "I'm working with a national retailer now that has told me to perch on several intersections like a vulture and wait for Brand X to go out of business," Reed said.

Poice to increase patrols around Paradiso theater in East Memphis

By Hank Dudding, The Commercial Appeal
September 1, 2009
   Shantique Brady saw the potential for trouble in the way parents offload teens outside the Malco Paradiso on weekend nights.
   "It's like we're at a parade of minivans, with kids coming out of every door," said Brady, who manages the Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor nearby.
    The gathering of youths reached critical mass Saturday night when brawls broke out among hundreds of people gathered in the theater's parking lot at 584 S. Mendenhall.
   Memphis police detained 10 people ranging in age from 12 to 18 for disorderly conduct, issuing misdemeanor citations to some and taking others to Juvenile Court.
   "I wish there was a camera so everyone could see how chaotic it was," said Brady, 29, who closed her store early that night. "It was really crazy."
   Nearly two dozen Memphis police cars responded to the scene. Officers blocked cars from entering the parking lot while vehicles inside were allowed to leave.
   The department plans to increase patrols around the theater this weekend, said spokeswoman Karen Rudolph, who encouraged citizens to call police if they see problems.
   "We're hoping it was a one-time thing, and we're not going to have to deal with it again," she said.
   Malco executive vice president Jimmy Tashie blamed the chaos on underage kids who were dropped off for the R-rated scream flicks "The Final Destination" and "Halloween 2."
   When the teens were turned away, they had no place to go but the parking lot, he said.
   "We're going to let parents know that they can't drop their kids off ... and expect them to go into an R-rated movie," he said. The Paradiso's Web site now includes an advisory warning parents that minors will not be admitted to R-rated films.
   Will Duren, 30, manager of a nearby restaurant, said he noticed the weekend crowds have grown since school started.
   "It's not a problem in the summer," he said. "Since schools let back in, it's been, 'Boom!' crazy on Friday and Saturday nights."
   News about the scene Saturday night spread by e-mail and word of mouth, kindling fears that the theater could be headed for the same fate as Muvico's closed, 22-screen Peabody Place theater, which acquired a reputation for disorder.
   "We're very sensitive to the e-mails and the phone calls," Tashie said. "This is our flagship theater, and we're not going to see it go down."
   As noon approached Tuesday, Brady gazed through the Ben & Jerry's window toward the empty Paradiso parking lot.
   "You look at it now, and it's like the calm before the storm," she said. "You can't imagine how many people were out here."

Presbyterian Day School unveils colorful early childhood addition

By Jane Roberts, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, August 28, 2009
   Presbyterian Day School throws open the doors today on the boy-friendly, $20 million Norma T. Wilson Early Childhood Center.
   The colors are bold (the staff affectionately calls the color scheme "Skittles on steroids") in the 76,000-square-foot addition funded largely by school trustee C. Kemmons Wilson Jr. ['64], an alumnus of the school, and his wife, Norma.
   Her portrait in the foyer is oil, not pastel, in keeping with the hearty boys-school atmosphere.
   "We have boy-friendly classrooms with lots of room for hands-on work and movement," said headmaster Lee Burns, who revels in a world where learning tends toward the visual and the most convincing characters in literature are heroes and adventurers.
   "Around here, we like girls just fine, but we love boys," he said while giving a tour of the expansive construction project, completed in the middle of an economic meltdown.
   "We started in better times," said honorary building chairman Bruce Campbell. "But I wish we had started a little earlier."
   The wing for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds has 12 Internet-connected classrooms -- each with its own SMART Board -- a gym, climbing wall and quick access to the playground where equipment is sized to age.
   There's unstructured play time each day -- outside if it's 32 degrees or warmer -- an intentional tribute to large-muscle movement.
   Boys learn to "settle their own disputes" on the playground, said Debbie Isom, head of the school's early childhood education. "Most children's time is so supervised, they always have adults around to run interference."
   The planning for the center began seven years ago and construction took 10 months.
   "The boys loved it," Burns said. "We had 150 to 170 workers here on a daily basis."
   The school, which has about 630 boys in prekindergarten through sixth grade, is one of several Memphis independent schools adding space for the youngest learners.
   Grace St. Luke's Episcopal School added classrooms this summer. The first opened this month for the school's fourth section of prekindergarten. Section five will open next year, said headmaster Tom Beazley.
   "It is a little unusual to be expanding now," he said. "All I can say is that our parents do not see an independent school education as a luxury."
   Along with the Wilsons, about 200 Memphis donors have pledged gifts to the new wing at Presbyterian Day School, which Wilson decided early in the process to dedicate to his wife.
   He ticked off a list of the reasons why in the dedication Aug. 18, including that she tucked notes in their five children's lunches and made dinner every night for the family.
   "The little things that he remembered about when we were raising our children were very touching," Norma Wilson said. "Men see more than we wives realize."
   She has taught swimming lessons for 45 years in the family pool, she said, and knows a few things about lifetime skills.
   "This little early childhood building is where it all starts. It wouldn't have meant as much to me if I had my name on a gym."
   Presbyterian Day School
   Established: 1949 by Second Presbyterian Church
   Enrollment: 637
   Tuition: $14,000
   Scholarships: 15 percent of student body
   Address: 4025 Poplar
   Grand opening: 8:30 a.m. today

Principal invites alumni to health clinics grand opening

The East High Alumni Page
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
   East High Principal Fred Curry invites alumni to the grand opening celebration for four city wide school based health clinics Tuesday, August 25, 11am - 1pm. The Northeast Regional Health Clinic is located inside East High School and opened this summer.
   The clinic is located in a remodeled area of the school on the lowest floor in the southwest corner of the building, an area that was used for art classes in years past. Nurse practitioners from Memphis Health Clinic staff the clinics, which have several examination rooms, a waiting area, and a conference room.
   The establishment of the clinics was made possible, in part, by a $600,000 donation from the Plough Foundation to cover the cost of construction and equipment. "We try to tackle the root problems of this city," said Diane Rudner ['68], Plough Foundation chairwoman.
   In addition to the clinic at East High, three others have been established at Northside, Sheffield, and Westwood High Schools.
Sources: The East High Alumni Page, Memphis City Schools, The Commercial Appeal
Building Engineer Jarcquiste Rogers shows the new clinic area       looking into one of the new examination rooms

Former Manufacturing CEO Takes Over Executive Networking, Mentoring Group

ERIC SMITH | The Daily News
Friday, August 14, 2009
   After 30 years at AZO, a global manufacturing company whose North American headquarters is in Memphis, Bob Moore ['73] decided it was time to try a new challenge.
   In December 2007, he sold his ownership stake in AZO, where he served as president and CEO, and spent the next few months on a "decompression" sabbatical, which included a cross-country road trip, to mull his next move.
   During his travels, Moore recollected his final six years at AZO and the affiliation he had forged with TEC (The Executive Committee), an organized peer group of corporate chief executives who met in a confidential setting to discuss various business and personal issues.
   No longer employed at his company, Moore had to leave the group, whose name had become Vistage International Inc. He figured he would just start a new business, but his Vistage mentor, Ken Edmundson, advised him to consider becoming a Vistage chair, which manages the CEO group.
   Ultimately, Moore decided it might be wiser to head down the Vistage path rather than the entrepreneurial one.
   "I was reading the tea leaves of the economy, thinking 2008 was not going to be a good year to start a new company or to buy an existing one," Moore said. "I came back to Memphis after the road trip, called Ken and said, 'OK, I'm interested.' "
   Select group
   Moore went through an extensive interview process and was chosen last fall to be the chair of Memphis' lone Vistage group. The group, formed in November, consists of 10 area corporate executives and business owners.
   Because of confidentiality, Moore was not able to disclose their names and companies, but those 10 members' companies employ 800 people in the Memphis area and have combined revenues of $171 million, according to Vistage data.
   Moore said he gets to spend his days working with "10 of the brightest, sharpest CEOs." The group meets the second Thursday of each month, and sessions involve everything from high-profile speakers to brainstorms where members help each other with problems ranging from how to handle layoffs to how to manage company growth.
   "I don't solve any issues for them," Moore said. "I just ask a bunch of questions and then help them facilitate within the group meetings."
   Moore also conducts confidential one-on-one sessions with each member of the group, all of whom have access to extensive Web articles and resources through Vistage, plus networking opportunities with the organization's 15,000 other members.
   Moore said he has one particular line he likes to uses when describing Vistage to potential members.
   "It's one day a month that you spend working on your business, not in your business," he said. "CEOs and business owners can relate to that. They can relate to the opportunity to get away. Sometimes getting away from the office and thinking strategically and thinking long-term – especially if you have a peer group with no vested interest, no agendas on their part to influence your decision one way or the other – you can't beat that."
   A taste of freedom
   When Moore began approaching people last fall about joining his group, he cited the abysmal economic climate as a reason. The way he saw it, there was no better time than a recession to team with Vistage and other executives in the same boat.
   "If you're having to do layoffs and cutbacks and find cost savings, what a great way to figure out the best way to do it," Moore said.
   The fee to join Vistage is $1,100 a month, or $13,200 for a year, but Moore said the price is well worth it for the great advice that can be obtained from like-minded executives.
   For example, it was Moore's Vistage peers who helped him decide to sell his 50 percent share of AZO, a company whose other executive half was based in Germany.
   "My group helped me go through the thought process of ending a 30-year partnership with my German partners, which was a difficult but necessary decision for me to make," Moore said. "I knew what the right thing to do was, but it sure was great to get the feedback from 16 or 17 other guys that said, 'Yeah, based on what we know, that's the right thing for you to do.'"
   Moore, 53, who grew up on Poplar Avenue and graduated from East High School and the University of Memphis, plans to do this new gig for a while. He hopes to form a second group and someday find another chair for even more Vistage groups in the area.
   Though he loved his business and the time he spent there, the freedom and flexibility of his new schedule makes him realize how happy he is to have 30 years of boardrooms and airplanes and executive reports in his rearview mirror.
   "I almost feel guilty for getting paid doing this," Moore said with a laugh. "This is the most enjoyable thing I've ever done."

Town hall tension: Meeting turns ugly over health care

By Linda Moore, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, August 8, 2009
   Hundreds of people crowded into the BRIDGES building in Downtown Memphis on Saturday for a congressional town hall meeting that quickly deviated into a raucous shouting free-for-all, requiring extra law enforcement officers to watch over the scene.
   The meeting, hosted by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, was scheduled to address constituents' concerns about Social Security and veterans' benefits, but the real topic of the day was health care reform legislation being crafted by Congress.
   Most people in the crowd of close to 500 were in loud opposition, although Cohen supporters held their own, waving signs that read "Health Care Now."
   And as one heckler yelled, another shouted back, "Shut up! I want to hear my congressman. You shut your mouth!"
   Within 15 minutes of the start of the event, a nearly nose-to-nose confrontation between individuals with opposing views became so heated they had to be separated as Shelby County sheriff's deputies and Memphis police officers called for reinforcements. No arrests were made.
   With town hall meetings greeted with similar protests across the nation, Cohen was prepared.
   "This is America, this is Memphis, Tennessee. Take two aspirin and come back in the morning," he yelled over out over the room.
   Cohen invited area physicians to share their opinions on health care reform.
   Dr. Neal Beckford was roundly booed when he said 50 million people were without health insurance.
   However, he pointed out that as a society Americans need to decide what they want.
   "And when we've decided what we want and how much it cost, we then need collectively to decide what we are willing to pay," he said.
   Cardiologist Dr. James Klemis believes that ethically the poor must be taken care of. But this bill is being rushed and is too similar to Canada's and Britain's socialized medicine, he said.
   "The problem is, government can't be the solution. It's got to be within the community," Klemis said.
   Dr. Laura Bishop shared her disdain for insurance companies but is no fan of Washington's plan.
   "Government getting involved in deciding what health care you are receiving is not the way to go," Bishop said.
   Honesty, said Dr. Autry Parker, must be part of the conversation on health care reform.
   "This issue will not be solved by people shouting, it will not be solved by people telling lies over and over again," Parker said. "Yes, I have read it and I do not agree with everything in it, but there is absolutely nothing in the bill that is going to euthanize grandma."
   One of the signs waved by a plan opponent said "Don't tell my gigi how to die," referring to allegations that the bill would allow senior citizens to be euthanized, something the nonpartisan group FactCheck.org said is false. Cohen also denied that the bill would pay for abortions -- another claim made by opponents.
   Roger Fakes ['56], 70, said he sat quitely during most of the meeting, but Cohen's insistence that citizens would be able to keep their private health care drove him to his feet.
   He argued that changes to private insurance would force citizens into the government plan.
   "There are some of us old gray-haired folks that don't want the government involved in any of our business," he said.
   The nearly all-white audience was not a snapshot of the mostly African-American 9th District that Cohen represents.
   One of those who came from outside the district was Mark Mullis, 67, of Olive Branch, who was treated for cancer two years ago. He's afraid of what the plan will do to his insurance coverage, a combination of Medicare and retiree benefits.
   "I know some people think a 25-year-old has a whole lot more to give. Maybe I've got seven or eight more years. To me all life is precious no matter what age," Mullis said.
   Also from outside the district was bill supporter John Miles, 21, of Tupelo, Miss., who debated with opponents during the meeting.
   "The purpose of this is to ask questions and receive answers. These people had all the answers," Miles said. "It's frustrating. It seemed that side in particular was doing a lot of yelling and screaming and booing. I just felt like yelling back."
   Cohen is also proposing an amendment to the bill that would create a national pilot program on infant mortality, an issue of grave concern in Memphis, where infant-mortality rates are like those of a Third World country, he said.
   Despite the boos, jeers and general disorder Saturday, Cohen said that after 33 years in public service he wasn't rattled.
   "I expected it to be a lot worse," Cohen said.

Wolfchase Holiday Inn reflects modern 'relaunch' of chain's brand

By Tom Bailey Jr., Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, July 31, 2009
   The Wilson family will ceremonially open an updated version of Holiday Inn on Saturday, exactly 57 years after their patriarch unveiled the original.
   "We are going to get as many Wilsons as we can" for Saturday's ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., Kemmons 'Kem' Wilson Jr. ['64] said of the grand opening of Holiday Inn & Suites -- Wolfchase.
   He and his four siblings cut the ribbon on Aug. 1, 1952, for their dad's first Holiday Inn on Summer.
   Now, Wilson, 62, and his son, McLean Wilson, 31, have built a 133-room hotel at 2751 New Brunswick Road near Wolfchase Galleria.
   Kemmons Wilson, who was Kem's father and McLean's grandfather, died in 2003.
   He is credited with reinventing the lodging business by building a chain of hotels with standards on which travelers could count no matter where they were.
   Holiday Inns, now one of seven hotel brands owned by InterContinental Hotel Group, is primarily a franchised business.
   Individuals or companies own one or more hotels in the system. The corporation provides the reservation service, quality standards, inspections and marketing support.
   Kem and McLean, through their Wilson Hotel Management Company, also own a Holiday Inn in Jackson, Tenn., two Holiday Inns in Huntsville, Ala., manage the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis, and will soon build a Holiday Inn Express in Jackson.
   The full-service hotel that ceremonially opens on Saturday -- it actually opened June 9 -- features updates that reflect the "relaunch" of the Holiday Inn brand in 2007.
   Following a 2005 survey of 18,000 consumers, Holiday Inns modernized its iconic sign, (green for Holiday Inn and blue for Holiday Inn Express), lit the exteriors in blue or green light, installed new soundtracks for the lobby, put in scent machines with customized aromas, gave the lobby a cleaner, less- cluttered look, hung new art behind the lobby desk, put all-white bedding in the rooms, labeled pillows as firm or soft, erected shower curtains that let in more light, and provided more towels and other amenities.
   Holiday Inns started renovating its brand almost 10 years ago, said John Merkin, senior vice president for brand management.
   "We took up this work in 2000 on what is a modern Holiday Inn hotel going to look like," he said.
   The project is one-third completed. About 300 hotels are new like the Wilsons', another 700 have been renovated, and another 2,000 are to be refurbished by the end of next year, Merkin said.
   About 1,000 old hotels have been removed from the system.
   "Over the past five or six years the Wilson family has appreciated the way we were revitalizing the brand," Merkin said. "Our system and brand are becoming younger."
   The investment is already paying off.
   The hotels that have been renovated or built to newer standards produce 6 percent more revenue per available room, Merkin said.
   Kemmons Wilson Jr. appreciates that Holiday Inns has recommitted to the brand his father founded.
   "We have had a new excitement about Holiday Inns," he said. "That's primarily driven by the InterContinental Hotel Group, who has had the wisdom and foresight to promote this iconic name of Holiday Inn.
   "They found that right under our noses we have a great brand. It's got warm and fuzzy feelings to most everyone. We just needed to put capital behind this brand and to bring it back to the prominence it had."
   McLean Wilson appreciates the legacy his grandfather created.
   "As a third-generation Wilson working in the hotel world now, it's really neat to think about the fact I'm doing work that 57 years earlier my grandfather was doing with Holiday Inn."

[Editor's note: Kem Wilson and his siblings all are East High alumni.]

Storm causes tree damage on campus

The East High Alumni Page
Thursday, July 30, 2009
   Severe storms in and around the Memphis area spawned numerous tornado warnings this evening and caused minor damage to the East High campus. The most significant immediately apparent damage at East was a tree on the northwest section of the campus which had blown over into Walnut Grove Road. It either laned on or in front of a car, which police say had to be towed from the scene. However, no injuries are being reported from the storms area wide.
   Other trees on the campus also had branch damage but it was relatively minor, with only one or two limbs of significant size having been blown down. A soccer goal was partially collapsed but it is unknown if that was due to the storm or had occurred at another time.
   No damage was noticeable to the buildings on campus, other than a portable restroom was tipped over near the Career and Technology Center.





She's Still Here, Up for Anything

By MARGY ROCHLIN, The New York Times
July 23, 2009
   THE first time Cybill Shepherd ['68] appeared on a talk show was on "The Tonight Show" back in 1968. At the time she was a radiant 18-year-old from Memphis with a confrontational gaze who owned the title Model of the Year. "I could barely say a word," she said. "All I could do was say 'Yes' and look terrified."
   Forty-one years later Ms. Shepherd now looks at the untold hours she has logged talking about herself on camera as not unlike time spent on a different kind of couch. "Before I ever did psychotherapy or analysis I did interviews and talk shows, which are a kind of therapy," she said. "I mean, you're talking about yourself, and it does bring about some possibilities of thinking about who you are and where you are in your life."
   Occasionally she would play with the format: On "Late Night With David Letterman," she once strolled onstage wearing a bath towel. Sometimes the format would play with her, as when she was promoting her 1971 feature-film debut as the self-possessed small-town enchantress in "The Last Picture Show."
   "On all these talk shows I just seemed like I was a nattering airhead, just nattering on and blond," said Ms. Shepherd, who also heard that her persona so irked the director Elaine May that it nearly cost her a key role in "The Heartbreak Kid." "Looking back I can see why she didn't want to cast me. But I'm different now. I finally have become just more of who I am."
    So who is Ms. Shepherd? At 59 she has become the actress who is up for almost anything. She has done guest spots on popular television shows like "Psych," "Criminal Minds" and "Samantha Who?" On Showtime's defunct lesbian drama, "The L Word," she had a recurring role as a university vice chancellor who started out severe, then ran hilariously amok the minute she discovered her attraction to other women. And she has just signed to a recurring role on the new ABC series "Eastwick" (based on the movie and novel "The Witches of Eastwick"), in which she will play a former witch who has become a reclusive cat lady.
   "Years ago one of my mentors, Orson Welles, told me, 'A career is made not by what you do but by what you don't do,' " she said. "But so much about these past few years has been about saying yes, and it's really paid off."
   Lead roles are part of the mix. In "Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith," which has its premiere on the Hallmark Channel next Saturday, Ms. Shepherd plays a middle-aged housewife, Alice Washington, who returns to Smith College to get her diploma, find herself and forget that her dweeby dentist husband has left her for a younger woman. "Mrs. Washington" is the kind of television movie for which you can predict most of the plot twists, including the dazzling makeover Ms. Shepherd's dowdy character will receive. But no one can say that Ms. Shepherd doesn't bring a certain been-there authority to the role.
   Like Alice, she attended college when she was young but dropped out before graduating. Like Alice, she's been married and divorced (Ms. Shepherd twice). Like Alice, Ms. Shepherd, who has three grown children, knows what it's like to walk around a spacious house once noisy with offspring and wonder how to beat back the silence.
   "I was in such denial at first. I said, 'Empty nest? No problem. I just won't go home,' " said Ms. Shepherd, whose tenure on "The L Word" required commuting between Los Angeles and Vancouver. "But when it did hit me, oh my God. It was just that howling-at-the-moon time. It's still very, very important for me to go into their rooms at a certain time at night and close the shutters and turn on a night light."
   But on this afternoon Ms. Shepherd's tall, floppy-haired son Zack, 21, was home, back for the summer. Stretched out on the living room sofa in Ms. Shepherd's hilltop house with its expansive views of the San Fernando Valley, he read the newspaper and listened in as his barefoot mother, dressed in loose black pants and a billowy turquoise print blouse, told show business stories. At unpredictable moments she would slip into a honey-dipped Southern drawl. This, according to Jane Lynch, Ms. Shepherd's good friend and her "L Word" co-star, was a sign that she was relaxed.
   "The more comfortable she is, the more her Tennessee comes out," explained Ms. Lynch, who portrayed Ms. Shepherd's lawyer girlfriend on the series and recalled that the biggest hurdle when they filmed their love scene — Ms. Shepherd's first with a woman — was Ms. Shepherd's surplus of enthusiasm.
   "She was very 'I can do this! I can do this!' She'd kiss me in the middle of a sentence," Ms. Lynch said with a laugh. "I had to say to her, 'Um, I kind of got to get the line out first.' She kind of went into overkill."
   Young Hollywood could learn a thing or two about resiliency from Ms. Shepherd. Just as people began to know her name, she was labeled a home wrecker, as her on-set affair with Peter Bogdanovich, her director on "The Last Picture Show," broke up his marriage. When he cast her at the center of two follow-up movies that flopped both critically and at the box office — an adaptation of Henry James's "Daisy Miller" and the musical "At Long Last Love" — people said her career was over. Then, a year later, she landed a role as a poised political aide in Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver."
   Another lull followed, forcing her to take movie and television scraps, like a small part on "Fantasy Island." In the mid-1980s, however, she emerged victorious as the fast-talking model turned private eye Maddie Hayes on the hit ABC series "Moonlighting." Four years later the dream soured again, when "Moonlighting" ended amid reports of unmanageable backstage infighting between her and her co-star, Bruce Willis. She rebounded in the mid-1990s as the wisecracking actress at the center of the CBS sitcom "Cybill," but now finds herself playing, for the most part, secondary roles.
   The woman who survived such tumult seems philosophical about her place in Hollywood. "One of the things that really changed for me in my life is that I've learned how to be a guest star," she said. "It's like, 'Oh, yeah. I remember being the lead on a show and the guest stars having to be the last person shot.' Do you understand what I'm saying? This has been a real learning curve, a growing-up process. But I'm happy to have a job."
   When she's not working she studies with acting and vocal coaches. "It's my continuing education, what I consider to be a kind of master class situation," said Ms. Shepherd, who grew up singing in a church choir, started taking voice lessons at 16 and has recorded 11 albums.
   In her mind age has presented her with opportunities that were once out of reach. "What I'm trying to say about being beautiful," she said, "is that there's an element of it that can cause you to be emotionally underdeveloped. People do things for you, doors will open because you're beautiful. It was like I took off on this airplane in 1968 and just flew into world fame. There were a lot of times in between where I just didn't get a chance to grow and learn."

    A version of this article appeared in print on July 26, 2009, on page AR18 of the New York edition

Editor's note: several additional articles about Cybill Shephered are included on this page.

Eyes, imaginations cast to moon in '69 on historic day
Memphians reflect on the night man made that iconic footprint

By Cindy Wolff, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, July 19, 2009
   It was 9:56 p.m., just about bedtime for 9-year-old Memphian Skip Howard.
   Kids had bedtimes in 1969, even in the summer. But they stayed up late on special days, and July 20 was one...
   Apollo 11 landed on the moon at 3:15 p.m. But it was more than six hours later before astronaut Neil Armstrong took a step onto the surface. People ate dinner on TV trays and watched, afraid to miss the historic moment...
   Here are two other memories e-mailed by our readers:...
   "I was 13 and had faithfully followed all the media coverage leading up to the moon launch, even making a scrapbook from Life magazine photos and constructing a cardboard miniature Lunar Excursion Module. (My favorite astronaut was Mike Collins, who I thought was "dreamy!") On the day of the launch, my father got out his trusty reel-to-reel recorder and taped the TV broadcast. We all teared up along with Walter Cronkite as the rocket left the launching pad. Although landing day, July 20, was supposed to be the first day of our vacation trip to Illinois, we waited until midnight to depart, so we could watch Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. Now, whenever we watch our home movies of that 1969 vacation, we are reminded of the national excitement that the moon landing generated. Interspersed with shots of my sister and me swimming, Abraham Lincoln's tomb, and roadside picnics are motel marquees with messages like, 'Congratulations Apollo 11!' and restaurant signs advertising 'moon pancakes.' I still have the scrapbook (although it's falling apart now), The Commercial Appeal with the headline, 'WE MADE IT,' and the home movies. Unfortunately, the LEM model apparently lifted off to the trash at some point during the last 40 years."
   -- Joy [Tiffin] Sutherland ['74], Collierville

Guest column: My Thoughts: Summertime opens road to follow your dreams

By William K. Richardson [class year unverified], Special to The Commercial Appeal
Sunday, July 12, 2009
   The late playwright Lorraine Hansberry once wrote that "it has taken me a good number of years to come to any measure of respect for summer," and added, "For the longest of time I simply thought summer was a mistake."
   Her first impressions of summer were shaped by the long and often steamy days of her youth in the 1940s on Chicago's South Side. So hot were the nights, in that era of no air conditioning, that her father would sometimes pack up the entire family and go to the local park, where all would sleep on the cool grass.
   As I was born in June, I guess it is only natural that I take exception with the late writer's initial take on summer; it is my favorite time of the year. I love the summer for the obvious reasons: the warm temperatures, the longer days, the leisurely pace, the scant clothing. (And lest anyone accuse me of lechery, let me clarify that a pair of shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops are my own standard attire in the summer, though I must admit pretty women in shorts are an added perk.)
   While January 1 signals the day to start anew or to turn over a new leaf, I have always believed it is the summer that presents endless opportunity and hope. Summer, to me, is a form of "rebirth." As a high school English teacher and coach, I find that summer not only offers me time to recharge for the new school year, but it also provides the time to do many things I don't have the time to pursue during the school term: catch up on my reading, take in the latest movies, get to the gym often, travel the country. The extra hours of light during the summer day give everyone the opportunity to dedicate more of their day to leisurely activities of their choice: beautifying the homestead, enjoying a long weekend with family and friends, fishing in an out-of-the-way spot, or simply lounging by a pool.
   My favorite summer was the year I turned 18, the summer of 1979. To this day, I vividly remember those hot days in a summer school classroom repeating a semester of senior English (dreadful) and those cool nights in my '65 Chevy in pursuit of a pretty, blue-eyed brunette (not the least bit dreadful).
   It sometimes feels as though I never left that era. I am (ironically) a high school English teacher, for whom brunettes are still a bit of a weakness.
   I also remember the optimism of that first summer after high school; it was palpable. All I could think of was the future, which for the 18-year-old me, extended no further than the next week. A brand-new graduate of East High School, I was ready to conquer the world, as long as I could do such beginning at noon each day. Youthful optimism, as in my case, is sometimes wasted on the young.
   Summer is, in the words of Hansberry, "life at the apex." I have tried to live each summer that way. Every June presents another chance to "re-do" the summer of 1979. I've been chasing 18 since I was 18. Just like a dog chasing its own tail, I've come close, but have yet to capture it fully. Yet it is the chase that is most enjoyable.
   In summers past, I've gone back to school to finish my master's degree. I've spent time on the beaches on both coasts. I've hiked the Rockies in Colorado. I've traversed the streets of Manhattan. I've written and edited a book I hope to get published. One summer, I boxed professionally to pay the rent. I already have plans for a trip to Europe next summer.
   During the summer months, anything is possible -- with a notable exception or two. My bald head will never again have a full growth of hair, even if June were year-round. And I will never again be 18, no matter how hard I try, which I will continue to do.
   I am fast at work again this summer at another fruitless attempt to reach back to a time long gone, and it couldn't be more enjoyable. Never has a dog had so much fun chasing its tail.
   William K. Richardson teaches ninth-grade English at Millington High School, where he also coaches the wrestling team. Contact him at Coachwkr@gmail.com.

Camp lets teens try advanced learning program

By Jane Roberts, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, July 11, 2009
   If din is to ruckus like will is to learning, the hoots, hollers and full-body tackles Friday were nearly redemptive.
   Besides, who wants to shush students thrilled beyond reason to be calculating the molecular weight of copper sulfate or defining imagery's place in literature?
   The first session of the week-long Summer Scholars Camp for Advanced Placement Students wrapped up Friday in a Knowledge Bowl of sorts at the University of Memphis, feeling and sounding more like a football game as teams channeled their wits, then ran pell-mell to the front of the room to turn in their answers.
    AP teachers from across the city kept a safe distance but couldn't help marveling at the spectacle.
   "Seventy percent of these kids will have no trouble in AP chemistry. That is much higher than I would have expected," said Eddie Chevis [Faculty], AP chemistry teacher at East High School and one of handful of city school staffers putting in extra time this summer to give students from disadvantaged high schools a pre-taste of AP.
   As camp den mother, Sandra Lewis shepherded 65 first-time AP students through a smorgasbord of camp offerings -- calculus to literature -- giving them a feel of what's available and a chance to meet kids from across the city on the same path.
   She will do it again July 20-24.
   "The first day, we wrote an essay," said Tacorria Dunlap, 15, registered for AP pre-calculus and English at Northside High and freely admitting she didn't expect to dig in so quickly.
   "We had to write on a mortally ambitious character. None of us knew what that meant."
   She quickly chose Macbeth, remembering she knew plenty about his dark side after watching her brother act the lead in Shakespeare's play.
   Student after student told similar stories, including Reginald Johnson Jr., 17, registered for four AP classes at Booker T. Washington, knowing full well it means no social life.
   "I want to better myself. Life is going to be hard anyway, so I want to take the big stuff before I get to college," he said thoughtfully.
   "If I pass these, the credits count for college."
   In 2007-08, the district offered 151 AP courses. Last year, the number jumped to 167. Figures are not available for the 2009-10 year, according to the district, but Supt. Kriner Cash has said he wants at least eight AP courses per high school, starting immediately, and has budgeted $1.7 million this year to accomplish the goal.
   The mistake some people make, according to Chevis, is thinking that AP is only for gifted children.
   The campers "are average students in Memphis City Schools who really believe in themselves and who get support at home. They are interested in succeeding."
   With one AP course under their belts, African-American students are 21 percent more likely to graduate from college than students who didn't take AP courses, according to the College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that monitors AP instruction and oversees college entrance exams.
   "Students know these are challenging courses. They have to prepare themselves differently than the way they prepare for other classes," said Lewis, coordinator of a $1.8 million federal grant to improve AP quality and quantity in city schools.
   But in Tennessee, where African-Americans make up 21.3 percent of high school student bodies, only 7.9 percent take AP courses.
   "The end product is not necessarily the test," Lewis said. "The end product is developing habits of the mind."

More than $296 million in federal funds begins flow into 9th District

By Alex Doniach (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, July 11, 2009
   When Judy Peiser ['63] set out to create a digital archive from decades of Southern art, music and film, she didn't realize how much time it would require.
   "A lot of hours are spent making it look easy," said Peiser, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Southern Folklore in Downtown Memphis.
   So when Peiser found out about U.S. stimulus money available for the arts, she applied and was recently awarded a $50,000 boost from the National Endowment for the Arts.
   With donations down in a national recession, Peiser said this much-needed stimulus money will help her retain a staff of six.
   The grant is among a growing list of awards from the $787 billion U.S. stimulus package slated to flow into Shelby County, according to information released this week by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis

Software designer says hometown's 'authenticity' has no peer

By John Schranck / Special to The Commercial Appeal
Saturday, June 27, 2009
   Although he has lived a variety of places, Memphis has always been home for Meka Egwuekwe [associated with the Class of '91].
   He grew up in South Memphis near Lamar and South Parkway, and attended Memphis City Schools through ninth grade.
   It was in ninth grade that Egwuekwe won a scholarship to the prestigious Philips Academy in Andover, Mass. From there he went to Morehouse College in Atlanta to study computer science, and interned at NASA.
   Upon his graduation from Morehouse, Egwuekwe headed to Duke University, where he earned his master's degree in computer science in 1996.
   After Duke, Egwuekwe returned to Atlanta to begin his career working for Hewlett-Packard. A few years later, during the dot-com boom, Egwuekwe left HP to join a startup company called Online Insight.
   In 2001, after the birth of his oldest daughter, Egwuekwe decided to come back to his hometown.
   "I'd always felt like a Memphian at heart, even living in Atlanta," he said. "I'd read (The Commercial Appeal) online to stay connected to the community."
   Egwuekwe now works as senior software architect for Memphis-based Lokion Interactive. A boutique software agency, Lokion "runs the gamut in terms of what we can do. We create digital experiences that help companies generate brand awareness, customer loyalty, and growth."
   As a Leadership Academy Fellow, Egwuekwe worked with his classmates on a Community Action Project to bolster the marketing and public relations of Memphis Athletic Ministries.
   "It was an A-to-Z marketing project," Egwuekwe says. "We did everything, from making things like brochures to designing digital billboards to getting new logos to overhauling the Web site."
   He adds, "It's great to be part of an established ministry that's making a difference in kids' lives."
   Ministry is no small part of Egwuekwe's life. He is chairman of the Trustee Board, the college tour director, the math tutor, the webmaster, a chorister, the Bible study teacher and, along with his wife, the youth director at Castalia Baptist Church.
   Egwuekwe is also active with the Nigerian Family and Friends of Memphis and serves as its treasurer.
   Egwuekwe has lately become a regular contributor on MemphisConnect.com, a site launched this spring by The Leadership Academy where "diverse Memphians discuss ... what inspires them to make Memphis home."
   "I love the history of the city, I love the culture, the music of the city, I love the authenticity of Memphis. That's not something you see everywhere. I've lived in seven different cities, and this is hands-down the most authentic place I've ever lived. I love the entrepreneurial spirit here.
   "Given all that, there is no legitimate foundation for an inferiority complex. When I hear people saying negative things about Memphis, I can point them to (MemphisConnect.com) and say, 'Look, this is the Memphis I know. This is the real Memphis.'"

Computer repair program puts eager students to work for schools

By Jane Roberts, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, June 20, 2009
   Memphis City Schools is offering the basics of computer repair this summer, hoping to turn some of its most sophisticated tech heads into day savers.
   The school district is paying students $7.25 an hour to complete the 240-hour class, hoping to put them to work as PC troubleshooters in a district with 30,000 computers. The plan gives new meaning to the term "crash course." DeVionne Coffee (left) and Bettie Mays identify computer parts on Friday as part of a summer institute on information technology.
   For 115 students -- mostly seniors -- the deal was too sweet to pass up. They get an air-conditioned summer job that can continue when school starts and a chance to learn a skill they're pretty sure they'll use the rest of their lives.
   "In due time, I'll learn all this," says JaQuisha Gray, 17, looking at into an open hard drive for the first time in her life and getting comfortable with the components.
   "I just found out that this is the motherboard," she said, beaming a smile befitting the co-captain of the Booker T. Washington cheerleading squad.
   The city schools have computer technicians, but with the volume of desktop and handheld models, each is responsible for maintaining 750 to 800 computers, plus software installations.
   If one goes down in a classroom that may have only a handful to start with, learning for a significant portion of students slows to a crawl.
   "You can see how this is going to help us," said Curtis Timmons, city schools chief technology officer. "We are trying to expand our tech support by using the students.
   "If I've got a tech in one school, and I get another call for help from a school nearby but the tech can't leave, one of the students could assist and at a very good price," he said.
   The funding -- $155,000 for student pay and $65,000 for teacher summer salaries -- is part of workforce development stimulus money funneled to the states. In Memphis, it is administered by the city's Workforce Investment Network.
   "This gives them the chance to be the big man on campus," said Michael Toney, former systems analyst for the IRS and lead teacher in the program at East High School.
   The program is also offered this summer at Messick and through career and technology programs at Trezevant, Sheffield and Southwest high schools.
   "When people say 'My system is down or not working,' it's usually something minor," Toney said, ticking off a list of situations he's been called to repair while someone surely sat by red-faced -- an unplugged mouse here, a misplaced taskbar there, or the ubiquitous forgotten password.
   Actually, the summer class is an intense version of the computer hardware and software course taught all year in the district's career and technology centers, and the students earn credit toward graduation.
   But to get on the payroll, they must pass tests of their "inside-the-box" skills, plus communication and work readiness skills, such as how to dress for work, Toney says.
   The wrinkles in the program were ironed out in districts like Chicago and New York, where students have been covering tech assignments for years.
   "We went to Chicago Public Schools this winter to see how it worked," Timmons said. "Students told us that it helped them be more engaged in their schoolwork," he said.
   In Memphis, service calls will be made mostly by students enrolled in work-based learning programs, a block of time reserved for paid internships at the end of the day.

East alum endures long power outage after storm

June 18, 2009
   Gayle Kemp ('67) was interviewed by WHBQ-TV about the power outage still affecting her home after thunderstorms caused moved through the city June 12, 2009. The 80 mile per hour winds downed trees across the Memphis area leaving 7,000 customers without electricty. It took nearly a week for all customers' power to be restored. East alumnus Gayle Kemp, who still lives near the school, was one of those waiting days for the utility company to get the power back on at her home. The video is available.


'Renaissance man' opened window to black Memphis
Southern Folklore Web site showcases treasure trove of minister's work

By John Beifuss, Memphis Commercial Appeal Wednesday, June 17, 2009
   The most significant filmmaker in this city's history might be a man who never worked with movie studios or stars.
   He was inspired by the Bible and the black neighborhoods of Memphis, not by fictional screenplays or the glitter of Hollywood.
   "He was a one-man CNN of the community," said Dr. Beverly Bond of the University of Memphis, speaking about the subject of "Taylor Made: The Life and Work of the Rev. L.O. Taylor," a new "online exhibit" that can be found on the recently launched Web site of the Center for Southern Folklore at southernfolklore.com.
   From the 1920s to the early 1960s, Rev. Lonzie Odie Taylor -- a self-taught "Renaissance man," according to Bond -- documented African-American neighborhood life through some 7,000 photographs, close to 100 audio disc recordings and 15 hours of film footage -- short, silent movies of baptisms, beauty colleges and barnstorming "Negro" airmen, among other subjects.
   An artist of limited means but limitless curiosity and ingenuity, Taylor (1899-1977) began many of his films with hand-lettered credits and title cards that demonstrate he was aware of the potential importance of his work. His 1940 film of a Manassas Street "baptising" opens with the legend: "Another Taylor-Made Picture -- Bringing You News & Historical Records -- Photographed & Produced by Rev. L.O. Taylor."
   Sometimes, Taylor organized screenings in church basements, and charged 15 cents admission to give people their first opportunity to see themselves on film. Of course, in the current online exhibit, Taylor's work can be seen free of charge, by those with access to a computer.
   Curated by center executive director Judy Peiser ['63] and produced by Center Web development director Elisa Blatteis, the exhibit includes three "galleries" focusing on Taylor's photographs; clips from his films; and his life and career. (He produced his work out of a home studio.)
   "It's a major treasure trove of African-American history," Peiser said of Taylor's voluminous archives, which had been stored in boxes in the attic of the pastor's North Memphis home until being donated to the center more than 30 years ago by Taylor's widow, the late Blanche Taylor.
   The collection is "unlike any that I have seen in a folklore archive, including the massive archive of the Library of Congress," said Michael Taft, head of the library's American Folklife Center archive in Washington. "Its value lies in the fact that Rev. Taylor was an insider to his community... He was both an artist and an ethnographer."
   Located at 119 S. Main, the Center for Southern Folklore -- a 37-year-old non-profit organization that showcases and celebrates the culture of the South -- is too small to display much of Taylor's work in its physical space. The Center's Web site was launched in August, as "our media station -- our portal for people to learn about our region," Peiser said.
   The Taylor exhibit, which debuted last week, will remain online for about six months.
   Taylor's work provides an intimate look at everyday life in black Memphis in the pre-Civil Rights era, without, for the most part, the technical polish or emphasis on celebrity found in some of the most famous work of other notable local African-American photographers, including Ernest Withers and the Hooks Brothers. His subjects included barbers, mechanics, ushers, soldiers on leave and little girls at the piano.
   Pastor of Olivet Baptist Church from 1931 to 1955, Taylor lives on not just in his documentary art but in the work of the many pastors he mentored through the decades. "What distinguishes him is his perspective as a minister," Peiser said. "He really cared about people."
   Thanks to corporate and government grants and donations, the Center was able to begin making digital copies of Taylor's work in 2003, to preserve it for posterity as well as to make it accessible online.
   Some of Taylor's photographs were included in a 2006 exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and in 1989 native Memphis filmmaker Lynne Sachs produced a half-hour documentary titled "Sermons and Sacred Pictures: The Life and Work of Reverend L.O. Taylor."
   "His films give people an opportunity to open a window on black Memphis," said Bond, director of African and African American Studies at the U of M, who is writing a biography of Taylor.

Taking stock: Cattle producers adapt to shrinking economy, rising costs, aging owners

By Karen Ott Meyer, Special to The Commercial Appeal
Sunday, June 7, 2009
   If the U.S. cattle industry faced challenges before the fallout of 2008, the recent economic slide has pounded producers, revealing the cracks in an agricultural model that drives beef production in this country.
   "More dollars have been lost in the cattle-feeding industry in the last 12 months than during any other year in history," Charles McVean ['61], founder and president of McVean Trading & Investments, said this spring.
   Located in Memphis, the commodity futures brokerage firm specializes in grain and livestock research and analysis, conducting field studies with producers, elevators and agronomists across the country.
   While herd reduction is at historic levels, McVean maintains even the number of remaining herds is questionable.
   "The USDA can't count the number of cows in any reasonable, scientific way," McVean said. "The government applies a static model used for crop production to a migratory animal like the cow."
   With four employees who travel the country specifically to gather field data and conduct inventories, McVean is confident he sees the real picture.
   "We conclude there aren't as many cattle out there as the USDA says there are," McVean said.
   According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture agricultural census report, the United States had 1,018,359 cattle farms in 2002. That number dropped to 963,669 by 2007. However, the USDA reported a total cattle increase from 95,497,994 to 96,347,858.
   McVean said the number of cows raised in the future will be only what the land can support; the industrial commodity model, based on fossil fuel, won't any longer, he said.
   "Production is going to drop," he said.
   Europe, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are all either liquidating herds or have inventories at an all-time low, McVean says, although Australia and New Zealand are maintaining current herd numbers.
   Other factors affecting the industry are conversion of agricultural land to residential or recreational uses, and the aging of the cattleman. The average age of the cattle producer now is over 60.
   Droughts in the U.S. have also been affecting herd numbers.
   The summer of 2008 dealt two final blows to many operations. Corn prices hit record highs -- jumping from $2 a bushel to over $7 a bushel -- at the same time fuel prices spiked.
   "The producer was trapped between a weak economy and strong corn prices," McVean said.
   "We've seen a lot of our members exit the industry," said Sammy Blossom, executive vice president of the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association. "Some due to age," he adds.
   But economic factors caused a lot of red ink in the industry.
   He estimates his 3,100 members closely reflect the state averages, with herd sizes at less than 50 head.
   From a socio-economic perspective, owning cattle for some families hasn't always been tied to profitability.
   "Low-income families have always treated cattle like a savings account," Blossom said. "It's completely liquid and provided some security for tough times."
   Blossom does see a bright spot in branded beef programs such as Certified Angus Beef or Laura's Lean Beef, which fetch producers a premium price.
   He said using technology, such as ultrasound to determine marbling, gives producers an edge.
   McVean agrees: "Those efficient producers who can make it through will make money in the long run."
   Sale barn owners Bobby and Hays Lipscomb of Lipscomb Brothers Livestock Market in Como, Miss., have persevered by cutting expenses and handling the work themselves. This year, the sale barn celebrates its 50th year in business.
   "Since 1996, the numbers have gone down," Bobby Lipscomb said. But he's optimistic, pointing out that the market is cyclical.
   "Folks are going to eat beef," he said.
   Will Harris, a fifth-generation cattleman at his family's White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Ga., converted to grass feeding his stock when he tired of what he considered industry excesses. An active board member of the American Grassfed Association, Harris finished construction on a $2.2 million processing facility at White Oaks in 2008, right before the economy collapsed.
   How is the operation faring today?
   "To be sure, our operation continues to be a high-risk venture, and we're just reaching a break-even point," Harris said. "We have to a great extent cut ourselves off from the industrial model and we're not tied to the vagrancies of the system.
   "We'll either make it or not make it."
   Six area producers raise beef under contract for White Oak Pastures, which serves a niche population of sophisticated consumers who are willing to pay higher prices for the assurance that their meat is grass fed rather than grain fed. Harris said his customer base represents less than 1 percent of the population.
   "I believe that the current system that serves 90 percent of the population has a lot of problems, chiefly that it was a system developed in the 1950s and is based on cheap fossil fuel and government-subsidized feed," Harris said. "What we don't have (now) is cheap fossil fuel or grain."
   Harris thinks the beef industry's current model is held together only by existing infrastructure.
   "At one point, the textile industry in this country remained only because we had infrastructure," he said. "When that was finally exported overseas, the industry vanished."
   Harris said a side benefit to his operation is that it creates rural jobs.
   "I own about 1,000 acres and lease another 1,000 and employ 17 people, including skilled meat cutters and master's-level individuals," he said. "I have a friend with a much larger operation who employs three people."
   Despite the existing challenges, Blossom believes one final factor could cause more damage.
   "The worst thing right now would be for the consumer to lose confidence in the product," he said.
   Causes of Herd Reduction
   Rolling droughts
   Increasing cost of feed, hay, fertilizer and fuel
   Advanced age of cattle producer
   Vast tracts of land being converted to recreational uses or real estate

There are additional stories about Mr. McVean below.

100% graduating: Charter school grants diplomas to entire senior class

By Sara Patterson, Memphis Commercial Appeal Saturday, May 30, 2009

   As each of the 89 seniors from the state's first charter school rehearsed accepting a diploma from their principal, ear-splitting cheers from their classmates filled the auditorium.
   "OK, now we've got all the screams out of your system, because you can't do that Sunday," principal Tommie Henderson ['91 and faculty '98-02] told the lively seniors at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering. "You've got to let everyone else cheer for you."
   Family members won't just be cheering for the graduates in The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, but for the charter school's first graduating class, students who have been together since starting the seventh grade in 2003.
   A framed picture of each one hangs on the "Founder's Wall" in the auditorium, and that's all that will remain of the class of 2009, because 100 percent of the students are graduating.
   "They've proven there's no excuse. Every child can learn," said State Rep. Beth Harwell, R-Nashville. "We have a responsibility to give our children the best education we can, and that's what this public charter school has done."
   Harwell has vowed to resurrect a bill she sponsored in the legislature that would ease the restrictions on charter schools and nearly double the number of children in Memphis who are eligible.
   In Tennessee, which has the strictest standards in the country, a student must be failing or come from a failing school to be eligible.
   "The success at MASE emphasizes how important it is for more children to be able to attend charters," Harwell said. "Some students need a different learning environment than the traditional school."
   Memphis City Schools' graduation rate is less than 70 percent, and the average ACT score is 17.7. Students at MASE average 21.5 on the ACT, said Henderson.
   "Clearly, charter schools in this state are succeeding," said Matt Throckmorton, executive director of the Tennessee Charter School Association.
   "In America, we're getting away from the old paradigms of education. Charters have different focuses so children who go there want to be there. It's where they thrive."
   For MASE salutatorian Michael Harding Jr., leaving his Raleigh neighborhood school helped him see what he wanted to pursue in college.
   "My mom wanted me to go here, and I trusted her," he said.
   The 17-year-old came to MASE as a seventh-grader in 2003 from Keystone Elementary. He will graduate with a 4.9 grade point average and plans to attend Christian Brothers University.
   Deutria Williams, 18, said MASE changed her behavior.
   "If I didn't go here I'd be a wild girl," she said.
   Chelsea Bailey said the same thing.
   "At Snowden (Elementary) we'd get paddled and go back to class," she said. "Here, you would get suspended, and I got tired of flunking."
   Bailey, 18, plans to major in environmental science at the University of North Alabama.
   So far, 63 of the 89 graduates, roughly 70 percent, have applied for college.
   Tyra Hall, 19, will be first of her family to go.
   "My mom, she cries a lot because she is so proud," said Hall. "I've been waiting on this day all year."
   For principal and founder Henderson, it's also time to move on. He is leaving to pursue his doctorate. He said he never thought he'd last to see this class graduate.
   "They were the toughest group of young people," he said, laughing. "It's so great to look at them now. I expect them to lead Memphis in 10 years, to come back and give back."
   When Henderson walks out with his class, former dean of admissions at Boston-based Clark University, Harold Wingood, will step in. Wingood's expertise in college admissions will help future MASE graduates transition to college, Henderson said.
   Since 2003, science teacher Michael Masters has watched the school change.
   "We all feel a real connection with this class. When they came in, we didn't have the perfect setup, and they didn't have another class to look up to," he said. "They helped make the school what it is today."
   Measuring Success
   The charter school outpaces city and state averages:
   ACT Scores
   MASE (2009): 21.5
   MCS (2008): 17.7
   State (2008): 20.7
   Graduation rate (%)
   MASE (2009): 100
   MCS (2008): 66.9
   State (2008): 82.2

There are additional stories below about Mr. Henderson, a 1991 East High graduate and a faculty member at East 1998-2002.

Frayser shooting claims East High pupil

   Brandon Harris, last enrolled as an East High School pupil, was stabbed to death in the Frayser community on Sunday, June 21, 2009. Police have charged Markeith Miller, 16, with the voluntary manslaughter and say an ongoing feud lead to the fight.
   It is unclear if Harris was attending East High during the summer term.
   Visitation will be from 10-11:55 a.m., with service to follow at 12 noon, Monday, June 29, 2009 at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Chelsea Avenue, Memphis.
   Source: The Commercial Appeal

East High Band Resumes Competition

May 18, 2009
The East High Alumni Page

   East High Band Director Ollie Liddell reports the East High Band participated in the West Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association's Concert Festival this year. He was told by former Band Director Joseph "Buddy" Morton (Faculty 1964-72) it was the first time East had participated since the early. The band received good ratings for its concert performance and superior ratings in sight-reading. One East student was selected to the All-West Tennessee Honor Band, which reportedly is also another first in at least 25 years.
   Mr. Liddell says he has "big plans for the Band at East" and that he wants to build the program to compete with the likes of Overton High School, which is an optional school for the performing arts. He admits it will take time and a lot of effort, but says "it can and will be done!"

Editor's note: Mr. Liddell's profile is scheduled to be posted with the next batch of updates near the end of the month.

Nearly 200 seniors presented for graduation

May 16, 2009
The East High Alumni Page

   It was the 59th time for an East High School commencement exercise, as important to the nearly 200 students presented for graduation today as it was for the first graduating class in 1951, though it is possible at the time of graduation not all of those participating realized the significance.
   Hundreds of family members and friends of the seniors all but filled The Cannon Center in downtown Memphis, a facility that replaced Ellis auditorium where many other East classes were graduated. The East High Band and vocal Ensemble provided the music. The center table was stacked with diploma folders.
   Despite Principal Fred Curry starting the event by telling the crowd it was a solemn occasion it is not likely too many people heard him. It was a raucous group, not only shouting the names of family members and friends among the seniors but talking among themselves throughout the ceremony. About the only speakers or singers heard clearly were those that vocalized too loudly and too close to the microphone to the extent the volume in the auditorium was painful and probably damaging to listener's hearing. As bad as not being able to hear the speakers and singers over the conversation in the audience, the overly loud volume was worse. Police or security officers stood near the front doors of the auditorium but the vocal disorder of the audience did not invoke their intervention.
   Regardless of these setbacks, the notes of Pomp and Circumstance played by the East High Band did not fail to thrill those who understood the significance of the day for those who were marching onto the stage and the East High School legacy they inherit.
   The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Rev. Keith Norman of First Baptist Church, of, as he said, "Binghampton, Tennessee." He likened the name cards each senior carried to an airline stand-by ticket which they were about to trade in for a guaranteed ticket for a flight which was about to begin. He urged the graduates not to settle for a flight that was just good, but to persevere through the storms that would surely come to make the flight, and themselves beyond good, to make their trip through life great.
   Sadly, many onlookers mocked and laughed at one of the faculty members making a presentation because of her distinctive and slightly unusual pronunciation. Furthermore, it was quite unfortunate that the closing remarks by Mr. Curry were virtually impossible to hear above the continuous boisterous behavior of the audience. However a few of his words as he recited the poem Invictus were audible, especially as members of the newly graduated class joined him in something that must be taught for inspiration at the school.
   The graduating seniors were more settled than the crowd during the graduation exercises, though some did stand briefly or wave their hands when others were at the podium. One might assume that behavior, which was not apparent last year, was encouraged by the audience's rowdiness. As one would expect, a few did a some jive steps or other demonstration as their name was called and they walked to to receive their diploma folder.
   It was announced from the podium that 198 students were being presented for graduation consideration, though the program listed 196. Regardless of the number, some may not receive a diploma based on work completed as of today. Not all test results are available at the time of graduation ceremonies so it is possible that some that walked across the stage will have to do additional work if they want to receive a high school diploma. A little more than $1.2-million in scholarship and award offers were made to members of the Class of 2009. Sixty-two seniors have been offered the financial help for college, by far most qualifying for a Tennessee Educational Lottery Scholarship Award. It appears 7 students are receiving scholarships based on excelling in academics alone, 5 are receiving music/band scholarships, 3 are getting choral scholarships, two get full 4 year college rides courtesy of R.O.T.C. programs, and three appear to be receiving athletic scholarships.
   While the atmosphere could have been far more respectful of the graduates, faculty and guest speakers, the significance of earning a high school diploma, especially an East High School diploma, is not diminished.
   Surely it is hoped that the members of the Class of 2009 will go forth with civility, worthy values, family, academic and career success, and always adhere to the one word on the East High School crest: "Honor."

   Follow up - May 26, 2009: As a point of comparison, White Station High School, which includes an optional college preparatory school program, reports scholarship offers of $25.8 million. Among Memphis City Schools, other top schools on the scholarship offers list are: Ridgeway $14 million; Whitehaven $13.7 million; Cordova $12.8 million; Central: $11 million.
   The Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Award appears to require minimum 21 ACT (Composite)/980 SAT (Math + Critical Reading ONLY) score on a national test date or a final cumulative 3.0 GPA for entering freshmen graduating from an eligible high school.
   The "excelling in academics alone" category cited above was determined by noting those students listed in the graduation program who appeared to be listed as receiving scholarship offers in addtion to or seperate from Tennessee Educational Lottery Scholarships. Other academic scholarship offers may differentiate execellence in academics from simple, though worthy, good performance in academics.

Editorial: Support your school! Please consider attending East High functions and don't hesitate to tell administrators & faculty you expect East to be the top school again soon.

Sweet sounds in an unusually beautiful setting

May 6, 2009
The East High Alumni Page
    More than 30 East High students, along with faculty director Jeffrey Murdock and accompanist Dr. Leo Davis, presented a Spring Choral Concert and Piano Recital Tuesday, May 5, 2009.
   In an unusual and beautiful setting, the concert was held in the main foyer of the school. The performers were up the steps in front of the auditorium while the audience was seated directly in the foyer between the school office on one side and the cafeteria on the other. It is said that Mr. Murdock likes the acoustics, which supply considerable reverberation. Certainly the visual aspects of the foyer of East High School must rate among the most impressive in the nation for a public high school.
   The Concert Choir, consisting of about 27 students, sang beautifully. If you like choir music, you would appreciate the accomplished singers and talented voices.
   Most of the seven giving a piano recital were first year piano students, according to faculty member Jeffery Murdock. Given that limited exposure to formal piano training, Murdock was impressed with their performances. As one would expect from students at that level, however, there were occasional unplanned pauses in piano pieces while the student set their hands right for the next cord or an occasional note hit on a key adjacent to and in addition to the one intended. Despite the difficulties of first year pianists performing in front of an audience, each appeared to successfully complete their musical selection, a significant goal under the circumstances.
   The concert started a few minutes late and was over about 25 minutes after the first note. Approximately 50 people were in the audience, a number principal Fred Curry said he believed was the largest turn out in recent years for the spring and fall concerts by the group.
   You may hear a brief, casually recorded audio clip of the Concert Choir.

Editorial: Support your school! This and similar events, often free and open to the public, are great ways for alumni to show current East students and faculty we care about East High and expect great things from it. Please consider attending East High functions and don't hesitate to tell administrators & faculty you expect East to be the top school again soon.

East's 1st Annual Silent Auction & Dinner

May 1, 2009
The East High Alumni Page
   East High School held its first annual Silent Auction and Dinner tonight with an estimated 100 attendees enjoying the elegant ambiance of the foyer of the school. Auction items included a wide screen television, art work, sports memorabilia from recent teams, Persian rugs and many other items. Guests were greeted by the student leaders at the door and serenaded by the Chamber Singers during a meet and greet session at which cider and cheese were available. Much of the bidding on the auction items occurred during this time before the dinner. A free dinner was served in the cafeteria, the wait staff were East student leaders. Dinner music was provided by student cellists. After dinner, people lingered and visited as auction winners picked up their prizes.
   We believe in full disclosure. This writer attended the auction and dinner and enjoyed meeting and visiting with other guests, faculty, staff, and alumni. It was a fun evening and it is hoped next year's event can be organized earlier and more advance notice will allow more alumni to attend.

In the neighborhood: Old rail line to become paved trail

April 24, 2009
   The old CSX railroad right-of-way, which, in the East High area, runs along and north of Walnut Grove Rd., Waynoka Ave., N. Waynoka Cir., Del Glade Dr., Aurora Cir., Rosedale Dr., Hilldale Ave., and Princeton Ave., will be converted into a paved walking and bicycle trail by the end of the year. It will extend from the Union Avenue viaduct to Shelby Farms park (the former Penal Farm). Shelby County government agreed to purchase the 7.04 mile corridor with $4.775 million given for the purchase by the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy to cover the purchase, design, and bridge improvement. The Conservancy rasied the money through private fundraising activities. An additional $1.5 million for construction of the trail will come from a federal surface transportation grant and local "matching" funds of $375,000.
(primary Source: The Commercial Appeal, March 22, 2009, March 31, 2009)
Photo: CSX right-of-way near Highland Street, looking west, taken April 24, 2009, K.L. Welch

East alum honored as Emissaries of Memphis Music

In brief...
By Staff , Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, March 26, 2009
   The Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission will hold a luncheon today from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tower Room Restaurant in Clark Tower to honor 11 women as "Emissaries of Memphis Music." Honorees include ... Judy Peiser ['63], executive director of the Center for Southern Folklore

TV report: Alumnus likes her ice cream

From: WMC-TV
A video of this story is available from wmctv.com
Turner to stop making ice cream at Covington plant
March 23, 2009 05:24 PM
   COVINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - Turner Dairy's will stop making ice cream at the company's Covington plant, officials said Monday.
   When it comes to ice cream, Turner Dairy has lots of loyal customers.
   "I am a big fan of the Turner chain, and I would buy their products," supermarket shopper Mara [Fulghum] Sprott ['66] said Monday.
   That's why news Turner will stop manufacturing ice cream its Covington plant after 60 years has some customers concerned.
   Turner President Steve Turner said ice cream once made at the plant will now be manufactured at the company's Springfield Missouri facility. The move will also mean the permanent elimination of 20 jobs.
   Turner said a decrease in the demand for ice cream, and the loss of several major customers, led the company to make the decision.
   Meanwhile, Sprott said she would stick with their favorite ice cream company.
   "That's good you will still be able to buy it," she said.
   While the Covington plant will stop making ice cream, it will continue to function as a distribution site for Turner, as well as the company's maintenance and truck facility.

Memphis Memories
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, March 20, 2009

Barney Sellers/The Commercial Appeal files

Sounding a musical note at his wedding reception at the University Club on April 12, 1969 is Charles Kemmons Wilson Jr. ['64], who was locked in a chain adorned with bells after the wedding in Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church. His bride is the former Norma Caruthers Thompson, daughter of Mrs. Norman Thompson of 4150 Kriter Lane and the late Mr. Thompson. Mr. Wilson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kemmons Wilson of 3615 South Galloway Drive.

Third man pleads guilty in 2005 robberies
Spree ranged from Oak Court Mall to G'town

By Lawrence Buser, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, March 20, 2009
   A third former East High student involved in a robbery spree two years ago was sentenced to three years' probation Thursday in Criminal Court.
   Won Colby Pierce, 20, the driver, pleaded guilty Thursday to three robbery-related charges. He was convicted last August of another robbery-related charge. He is now a college student in Kentucky.
   The incidents occurred Feb. 14, 2007, when Pierce and three other students skipped school. They told officers that they wanted to buy shoes and robbery seemed like the best avenue after seeing a man withdrawing money from an ATM at Poplar Plaza.
   They followed the man to Germantown, where they lost him. They then picked out their first victim, a man beaten in the parking lot of the Germantown Village Square at 7730 Poplar.
   Pierce and three fellow classmates were also charged with robbing a Germantown High School teacher outside the school; knocking down and stealing the handbag of a 70-year-old woman who was walking with the aid of a cane at Hickory Ridge Mall; and robbing a woman in a parking lot at Oak Court Mall.
   Earlier this week, co-defendant Preston Williams, 19, pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery in the Oak Court Mall case and was sentenced to three years probation.
   Tommy Brown, 18, pleaded guilty to counts that include aggravated robbery in the teacher case and attempted aggravated robbery in the Oak Court Mall case. He was sentenced to 7.2 years in prison, but will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence, or 1.4 years.
   Williams and Brown also are now college students.
   A fourth defendant, Deandre Clark, 19, whose case is pending, has been arrested on separate charges of aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000. Judge James Beasley Jr. revoked his bond and set his case for next week.

Two enter guilty pleas to robbery charges

By Lawrence Buser, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
   Two East High School students who cut class and went on a random crime spree two years ago pleaded guilty to robbery-related charges Monday.
   The pleas by Preston Williams and Tommy Brown and a guilty verdict last summer against classmate Won Colby Pierce leaves defendant Deandre Clark with the only pending cases.
   They were accused of beating a man in the parking lot of the Germantown Village Square at 7730 Poplar; robbing a Germantown High School teacher outside the school; knocking down and stealing the handbag of a 70-year-old woman who was walking with the aid of a cane at Hickory Ridge Mall; and robbing a woman in a parking lot at Oak Court Mall.
   On Monday, Williams, 19, pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery in the Oak Court Mall case and was sentenced to three years' probation.
   Brown, 18, pleaded guilty to counts including aggravated robbery in the teacher case and attempted aggravated robbery in the Oak Court Mall case.
   He was sentenced to 7.2 years, but will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence or about 1.4 years. He is scheduled to go into custody June 2.
   Williams and Brown are both college students now, said state prosecutor Michael McCusker.
   Pierce, 20, who was convicted last August of helping to commit aggravated robbery in the Oak Court Mall case, is expected to be sentenced this month in Criminal Court by Judge James Beasley Jr.

Sons of Holiday Inn founder given trip down memory plane
By Wayne Risher, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
   The spitting image of Kemmons Wilson's first airplane is dredging up fond memories for the late Memphis business legend's family.
   The Aeronca C-3, affectionately dubbed the Flying Bathtub, was a gift from a family friend to the Holiday Inn founder's sons Spence ['60], Bob ['62] and Kemmons Jr. ['64]
   Tracy Forrest, who has built homes in Wilson's Orange Lake development near Orlando since the 1980s, found the plane in storage in south Georgia and had it restored. He brought it to Wilson Air Center at Memphis International Airport last Christmas and surprised the Wilson sons.
   Bob Wilson ['62], president of the fixed-based operator and co-owner of Kemmons Wilson Companies, said, "We had no idea about it. They walk us in and show us the airplane, which was really just an unbelievable gift, really unique. You couldn't have asked for a more surprised three guys and a more grateful three guys."
   The Wilsons grew up hearing stories about the plane their father owned with a friend. It figured prominently in their father's courtship of wife-to-be Dorothy.
   "Often on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, Kemmons would take Dorothy on a flight to a small town in the area. Dorothy would sell tickets for $1 to anyone who wanted to take a flight in the plane," Wilson's 1996 autobiography said.
   Forrest heard about the Aeronca when he and Bob Wilson were touring an aviation museum. "Seeing the look on Bob's face telling me the story, it was a very special story."
   "That was Kemmons' first aviation experience, which laid the groundwork for a lot of his life: being a pilot in World War II, the use of aviation to further his business," Forrest added. "That thought always stayed with me."
   Kemmons Wilson died in 2003 at 90.
   Aeronautical Corporation of America made 425 C-3s in Ohio in the 1930s. It was easy to fly and maintain, said Jim Thompson of Roberts, Ill., president of the National Aeronca Association. "It was the right plane at the right time. Lots of people learned on it. That was the thing of it, it wasn't a big old heavy biplane of the day."
   Thompson said the Aeronca C-2 and C-3 are popular display items in vintage aviation museums. "People who know anything about them would love to see them again, and they're just nice to look at."
   Forrest pored over aviation records for several years in a vain attempt to track down Wilson's old plane.
   A friend in the Smithsonian Institution's archives eventually traced the full registration history.
   Forrest found the same model and had it refurbished. "We did it with the original colors, the original equipment, pretty much the way the airplane would have been when Kemmons owned the airplane," Forrest said.
   The fabric-covered body is sky blue with yellow wings and yellow trim accents. It has a single wooden propeller and the original N number of Wilson's plane.
   The Wilsons wanted to display it in the lobby of Wilson Air, but there was a problem.
   "I hate we didn't have a big enough place in the air center to hang that thing. It's about two feet too big," Wilson said.
   Dave Ivey, vice president of Wilson Air Center, said the hangar nearest to the terminal was being modified so the Aeronca could be placed in a harness and hung from a structural steel beam.
   Wilson said, "We're putting it there to keep it out of the way until we figure out where to put it. We'll find somewhere much more positive, where everybody can see it."
   The plane is for display only, because its two-cylinder, 36-horsepower engine has a weak cylinder.
   It won't be taking anyone for $1 rides.

Teacher touts Latin to aid vocabulary, critical thinking
By Jonathan Devin Special to The Commercial Appeal
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
   Like many high school students of Latin, Dawn LaFon ['73] was forced to take the subject by her mother, but the language of Cicero and Virgil quickly became her life's passion.
   "My mother said I could stop after one year, but I had to take it," said LaFon, 52, one of two Latin teachers at White Station High School. "And I fussed and fumed. Then I got in there and I really liked it. It's like a big jigsaw puzzle."
   Studying Latin is popular with students who hope to enter medical professions, since 95 percent of medical terminology comes from Latin. LaFon recommends it for developing vocabulary and critical thinking skills as well.
   She teaches five classes each day, including Latin I, III, IV and Advanced Placement (AP) Latin for grades 9 through 12.
   "At White Station we work very hard and we do deserve our reputation for excellence," said LaFon, a Memphis native who has taught at the school for 20 years.
   In her efforts to relate Latin to her students' lives, LaFon has rewritten songs with Latin pronouns ("I don't know where I come up with these things," she laughed), employed the letters of Cicero for discussions on career choices, and drawn connections between ancient and current events.
   "When 9/11 happened, we talked about how Pompey had to clear the Mediterranean of pirates," said LaFon. "I told them that terrorism isn't anything new, (that) this was the terrorism of their time, and we'll always get through it."
   During her first year at White Station, LaFon got a chance to submit questions for the AP Latin Exam.
   Then, "about five years ago, I got a call out of the blue, and they asked me to be on the exam development committee."
   Only two other high school Latin teachers in the United States are on the committee, which writes and grades the AP Latin exam. Students who pass it receive college credit.
   "It's a year-round process," LaFon said. "In the fall, we write the rough drafts of new questions and meet to finalize those drafts. In the spring, we work on the multiple-choice part of the exam. In the summer, we gather together in some location and grade the exams."
   LaFon knows of at least two former students who went on to become Latin teachers, but said even the ones who didn't found Latin useful in college and beyond.
   One college-bound student, Derion Givens, wrote in a letter to LaFon, "As I sit through any lecture on the Latin language or Roman history, I will think back to 'bo, bis, bit, the Spartans really hit; bismus, bitis, bunt, Spartani magni sunt!"
   Another former student, Darrell Kiedo, now a comedian living in Los Angeles, visited LaFon last year and showed her his recently published novel titled "The Black Actor's Guide to Not Working in Hollywood," published by Xlibris.
   In it, a high school Latin teacher inspires a boy to leave gang life. Kiedo told LaFon that the teacher in the novel was based on her.
   "I told him that if it's made into a movie, Teri Hatcher is the only choice possible to play me," said LaFon.
   As for the rumor that Latin as a language is dead? LaFon weighed in: "It's not dead. It's just evolved."

   Name: Dawn LaFon
   Profession: Latin teacher at White Station High School
   Age: 52
   Education: Graduated from East High School; B.A. in education, the University of Memphis; M.A. in Latin, the University of Washington.
   Family: Lives with Peaches the poodle, and cats Teddy and Daphne. LaFon is the first cousin of former vice president Al Gore.
    Favorite Quote: "Docendo discere," which means "One learns by teaching."

On February 18, 2008 The Commercial Appeal Memphis Memories section republished a photo from 1951 that included some East alumni (then students).
   Performers take stageThe Beethoven Club Junior operetta, "The Riddle of Isis," is presented in February 1951 at Memphis Little Theatre. Top roles are played by James Crow (seated) of Messick and Theresa Steuterman (left) of Bellevue, Bill Biggs Jr. ['52] of East High, Mary Ann Hunter of Snowden, George Hearn Jr. of Central, Jackie Alper ['53] of East High, Jane Smalley of Fairview and Margaret Rose CaPece of St. Agnes.

A trailblazer and a role model
Letters to the Editor, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, February 7, 2009
   I didn't know Eleanor Gandy was such a trailblazer as a member of the Memphis State 8 (Feb. 4 article); maybe it was because she was too busy encouraging me and her other students to blaze our own trails.
   For Ms. Gandy it was about her students, not about her. I graduated from East High School in 1974, and she was not only a teacher of mine during that time, she was a mentor and a friend. She encouraged diverse thought and acceptance of other cultures, people, their histories and ideas.
   I was fortunate to have had great teachers and mentors while at East, such as Douglas Wilkins, Hubbard Alexander and Sonny Scruggs, to name a few, and Eleanor Gandy is one of the people whose influence is still with me today.
   Frank McLallen ['74]

[See the story on Eleanor Gandy immediately below.]

Memphis State Eight: College was path to a better life
She viewed education as best way to change family cycle of poverty
By Linda Moore, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
   Editor's note: Second in a series
   It was all a joke for Eleanor Gandy [Facutly 1971-1977] when she volunteered to take the admissions test for Memphis State University.
   It was the late 1950s. Her family couldn't afford college, and Memphis State didn't admit African-Americans.
   "I was kidding, and I said I'd do it," Gandy, 68, recalled.
   But the 1958 Douglass High School honors graduate did well.
   On Sept. 18, 1959, she was one of eight African-American students to integrate MSU, a group now known as the Memphis State Eight.
   Integration didn't happen without a struggle, and it was a year from when they were accepted until they were allowed to start classes. Many spent that year at other colleges.
   Not Gandy.
   "We were really poor. I knew we really couldn't afford college," she said. "I got a little scholarship from LeMoyne (College) but it wasn't enough."
   This was her only chance.
   "What we were trying to do was get a good job, something more than cleaning somebody's house," said Gandy, one of 15 children.
   That first year, the NAACP gave scholarships to the eight. The Hyde Park-Hollywood Civic League bought Gandy's books. Her mother gave her a "shiny silver dollar" every day.
   Fortunately for Gandy, the NAACP and the civic league continued with those arrangements.
   She graduated from Memphis State in 1963 with a degree in French and minors in history and psychology. She earned a master's in education in 1966 and is now retired from Memphis City Schools. She taught French for 22 years.
   Gandy believes greater than her personal accomplishment is the impact that being first has had on the educational dynamics of her family.
   "It made my family evolve," Gandy said.
   Most finished high school and a few went North for better jobs, she said.
   But today her nieces and nephews know they can go to college, and they know they can go wherever they want.
   "The joy is in the evolution of the family. My brother went back, got a degree in accounting after he had a family and a job," Gandy said. "He wanted to do that after he saw it could be done. That's the joy with me that the family has risen above where we were."

[The East High Alumni Page Editor's note: Ms. Gandy was a faculty member at East 1971-1977, teaching French, world history, and spelling.]

Secondary helps Ole Miss halt Texas Tech at Cotton Bowl
By Marlon W. Morgan, Memphis Commercial
Friday, January 2,
   DALLAS — Graham Harrell. Michael Crabtree.
   Michael Crabtree. Graham Harrell.
   For a month now, all Ole Miss cornerbacks Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn ['06] heard about is how the Texas Tech quarterback-wide receiver duo was going to torch the Rebels secondary. To be honest, they could care less if they never hear those names again. Ole Miss quartberback Jevan Snead celebrates with fans after beating Texas Tech 47-34 Friday.
   That pre-game talk actually caused Green and Vaughn to take that torch and light a fire under them. The two took turns not only holding Crabtree to just four catches for 30 yards, but they kept the entire Red Raiders receiving corps from running roughshod through the Rebels defense.
   Thanks to Green, Vaughn, and the usually stout Ole Miss front seven, the 20th-ranked Rebels were able to come away with a convincing 47-34 victory over seventh-ranked Texas Tech Friday afternoon in front of an AT&T Cotton Bowl record crowd of 88,175.
   ''They say he's the best receiver in the game,'' said Vaughn, a junior from East High School. ''Why wouldn't you (consider covering him a challenge)? He's won the (Biletnikoff) receiver award two years in a row. Harrell is just awesome. They're great players.
   ''But the challenge was what are you going to do today? Not in the past. It wasn't about the past, it was about now. We stepped up today, the whole secondary and the whole team.''
   With the game tied at 21 in the second quarter, Vaughn intercepted a Graham pass and returned it 13 yards to set up a 27-yard Joshua Shene field goal that put Ole Miss ahead, 24-21.
   With the Rebels (9-4) clinging to that lead to start the third quarter, Green picked off Harrell on the Red Raiders opening drive, returning it 65 yards for a touchdown and a 31-21 lead. Both players also added three tackles.

Coaches offer a 'fair' deal to football recruiters
By Jason Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, November 22, 2008

   East High football coach Marcus Wimberly ['92 and Faculty) was sitting in front of a projector and DVD burner at Memphis University School, distributing highlight reels of his players in action to any college coach who came within three feet of his science-fair-like set-up.
   "We've got to get them in school," Wimberly said, sounding desperate. "That's the whole purpose of them playing high school football."
   Wimberly was one of more than three dozen high school football coaches who participated this week in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game's first "recruiting fair" at MUS.
   The event, which drew about 30 college coaches Wednesday evening, was intended to familiarize college coaches with some of the area's top uncommitted talent...

Crime uptick alarms citizens
East Memphis burglaries rise 90% over year ago
By Cindy Wolff, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, November 22, 2008
   Burglars stole an air conditioner, a computer, televisions, cuff links, even a kitchen sink on Friday, all before noon.
   Memphis police are dealing with a blast of thievery that's hitting homes citywide, the worst of which is in East Memphis, where the number of burglaries so far this month have nearly doubled from the same period last year.
   In the Tillman Station precinct, which includes High Point Terrace, Kingsbury, Berclair, Grahamwood, Normandy and other East Memphis neighborhoods, there have been 118 burglaries so far this month, a 90 percent increase over the same period in 2007, when 62 homes were broken into.
   Authorities blame a variety of factors, including unemployment, the economy and repeat offenders who spend little time in jail for their crimes.
   Memphis City Council members and police officials met Monday night at the Links at Galloway golf course with about 200 area residents to discuss burglaries.
   East Memphian Joe Evangelisti attended that meeting. On Tuesday, he went to the council meeting to ask members to relax residency hiring restrictions. They didn't.
   On Wednesday, burglars scaled an 8-foot fence, cut his phone line and ransacked his house while an alarm blared.
   "I'm angry," said Evangelisti. "I've lived here 51 years, my whole life, and I feel like the welfare of the citizenry is being compromised by city officials. There aren't enough patrol cars in my neighborhood."
   Eight precincts showed an increase in burglary this month. Ridgeway, which includes Hickory Hill, showed a 4 percent drop.
   So far this year, home burglary is up about 13 percent across the city compared with last year. Police spokeswoman Detective Monique Martin said that from Jan. 1 through Thursday, Memphians reported 10,437 burglaries compared with 9,260 for the same period a year ago.
   She said commanders identify hotspots, beef up patrols, look for patterns and meet with citizens to talk about trends. But, she said, the problem is beyond basic police work.
   "We lock up the same burglary suspects over and over, and they are let out because our laws are weak," Martin said.
    Residential burglary is a Class C felony, which carries a penalty of 3-15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. But with some exceptions for extremely violent crimes, prisoners are eligible for parole after serving one year.
   "We have people who have committed more than 100 burglaries out there," said University of Memphis criminologist Dr. Richard Janikowski.
   "Sometimes they get out for time served, which is the time from when they are arrested and go to trial. They look at it as the cost of doing business."
   Like other U.S. cities, Memphis is facing a tough economy, which might explain some of the uptick, Janikowski said.
   The unemployment rate hit a 21-year high in Tennessee at 7.1 percent in September. The rate in the Memphis metro area was 7.3 percent.
   But in addition to a strong unemployment rate, Memphis also has a high rate of unemployed men between age 19 and 30 who are not trying to look for jobs, a category called "non-labor force participation."
   Susan [Welting] Pohlman ['68] said her neighborhood near Avon and Normandy is being rocked with burglaries just about every day.
   "They're mostly kicking in doors, taking big screen TVs, laptops, Xboxes," said Pohlman, who sends out e-mails for her Avon/Normandy Neighborhood Watch.
   "We're all watching now," Pohlman said. "We're looking at people we don't recognize, at cars that slow down a lot, at people walking around we don't recognize."
   The Real Time Crime Center, which operates CyberWatch, a crime report notification for Memphians, introduced a blog for High Point Terrace residents this week.
   It connects citizens instantly with police officers and commanders who monitor the blog to hasten communication between the public and law enforcement.

Munford head football coach out
By Jason Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, November 20, 2008
   Munford High principal Darry Marshall said Thursday evening he has relieved Cougars head football coach Wayne Randall [East Faculty 1994-2006] of his coaching duties because of "philosophical differences" between the two.
   Marshall would not go into specifics but said Randall's dismissal had nothing to do with the recent resignation of former Munford assistant football coach Mike Norwood, whom Randall brought with him from East when he was hired at Munford in 2006.
   Norwood resigned Tuesday after Munford school officials discovered he had sent text messages to an 18-year-old female student at Brighton High.
   "I don't want people to think this had anything to do with (Norwood's resignation)," Marshall said. "This was a decision I'd made several weeks ago, and I had to let Wayne know (Wednesday) so he could go ahead and try to start finding himself another position somewhere."
   Marshall said Randall would continue to teach at Munford through the school year.
   "I respect Wayne very much, and basically what we have here is a difference of opinion on the direction we need to be going," Marshall said. "Wayne's a great coach and a great friend of mine. I've always respected him. It's just that we basically have a lot different philosophies."
   Randall, who could not be reached for comment, was 17-16 in three seasons at Munford, which finished 2-8 this season. He guided the Cougars to playoff appearances in 2006 and 2007.

Munford High School coach resigns over text messages to student
By Tom Bailey Jr., Memphis Commercial Appeal
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
   A Munford High assistant football coach resigned Tuesday over text messages sent to an 18-year-old female student at Brighton High.
   Mike Norwood [former East Faculty], who also taught science, had been suspended since Friday and turned in his resignation Tuesday, Tipton County Schools Supt. Tim Fite confirmed.
   "Right now we don't know a lot. Don't know if it was profane or vulgar. He just said it was probably inappropriate for a teacher to say," Fite said.
   No improper physical contact has been alleged, he said.
   The Brighton High student had a boyfriend on the Munford team. Norwood started text-messaging her to communicate with his player, Fite said.
   The school system found out about alleged, inappropriate messages after a friend of the girl's informed a Brighton teacher.
   School officials interviewed the coach and the female student.
   The school system also is trying to get access to the text messages.
   "After five days they pretty well delete those things," Fite said. "It'll probably take us a few weeks to see."
   But Norwood acknowledged to school officials the texts were "not something a teacher ought to say," Fite said.
   "We got a low tolerance on that, anything inappropriate," Fite said.
   Norwood, who Fite said is about 40 years old, was in his third year at Munford High.

Locators can help find the missing
Device tracks when person is lost or wanders
By Cindy Wolff, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, November 17, 2008 [Excerpt]
   It took only 2 minutes to find a missing Alzheimer's patient last week in Towanda, Pa., and 47 minutes last month for a person in Norfolk, Va.
   They were both wearing a bracelet that operates on radio telemetry, which helps track someone who wanders.
    Two Memphis doctors who do research with Alzheimer's patients want to bring Project Lifesaver to Memphis.
   Dr. Linda Nichols ['68], a University of Tennessee Health Science Center professor and Memphis Veterans Medical Center researcher, and her colleague, Dr. Jennifer Martindale-Adams, believe the device may have helped on May 5. That's when 86-year-old Elizabeth Ferguson, who suffered from slight dementia, drove away from her Berclair home headed to a doctor's appointment and vanished.

East fails to sustain overall progress according to standardized test results
by Ken Welch, The East High Alumni Page
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
   East High, mired in low academic performance, measured as an average across its entire student population, did not show much progress from the previous year according to the 2008 Report Card on Schools released by the Tennessee Department of Education on November 10.
   As a result of the scores on standardized testing and other criteria, East failed to meet the "No Child Left Behind" benchmark for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).
   The AYP failures for 2008 occurred in two categories. The school's pupils scored worse than last year in the "reading/language plus writing" testing by 2 percentage points with 87% of the students achieving proficient or advanced status. Statewide 93% made the grade, which also is the state's goal for this year. The school also fell far short of the state's 90% goal for the graduation rate with East graduating only 69% in 2007. The state's report card uses the previous year's graduation rate. It should be noted that the 2008 graduation rate for East was 72.73%. The state average graduation rate in 2008 was 82%.
   Another figure disappointing those hoping for significant improvement at the school was the ACT score. For those at East taking the ACT in the 2007-2008 school year, the average composite score was 15.8, a full point lower than the year before. As a college entry evaluation test, pupils are not required to take the ACT, therefore, the score may not accurately reflect the academic level of the student body. Likewise, some colleges, sometimes those with higher admission requirements, prefer the competing SAT exam, so pupils might take that instead of the ACT. SAT scores are not included in the report card issued by the state. If higher achieving students took only the SAT, then the ACT score reported could be below the academic level of the student body. On the other hand, pupils with a poor academic record might not consider college an option and not take the ACT test, skewing the reported ACT score higher than if all students took it. The ACT test, depending on whether the writing test was included, cost either $30 or $44.50 during the 2007-2008 school year. While there were fee waivers for economically disadvantaged pupils, the waiver required an application and funds had to remain available. If any of the 85% of East students classified as economically disadvantaged did not take the test for financial reasons, that also could skew the results. Regardless of the potential for the ACT score not to reflect the academic level of the entire student body, it is an important marker that allows comparison among schools nationwide, among those gaining admission to college, and allows for compairson of scores from various years (but see the ACT Concordance when comparing scores before and after 1989).
   There was at least one brighter spot on the state's evaluation of East this year. The percentage of pupils achieving a designated level of proficient or advanced in the math testing improved by 8% over the 2007 figures. The two year average of the math scores showed a 13% improvement over the previous average. Despite this advancement, East's math score for 2008 is 9 percentage points below the average of all participating high schools in Tennessee and 5 percentage points below the state's target score for this year. Private schools are not required to participate in the NCLB assessments but all public schools participate.
   While it cannot be conclusively demonstrated by the aggregate scores released by the state Department of Education in its report card on schools, it is entirely possible East's improvement in math scores is directly related to The Greater East High Foundation's tutoring program at the school which has been focusing on mathematics since it began in 2005. The Foundation offers pupils after-school tutoring 4 days a week and on Saturdays and also offers a summer program.
   Despite the failure to meet the AYP requirements, the school did move from the high priority "state/LEA reconstitution plan 1 - improving" category to the "target"school category, a single step up in the state's intervention categories. That change results from East achieving Annual Yearly Progress last year. Despite East's previous history of being in more serious intervention categories, last year's progress served to reset the evaluation so that this year's failure to meet the AYP requirements is counted as a first year failure. With a first year failure, the school is placed in the "target" category and is offered technical assistance from the state in an effort to keep it from slipping down into the high priority category. In 2006 and 2007, East had been in the high priority "reconstitution" category in which the state intervened in the running of the school, though such intervention appeared rather limited since East had already changed pincipals and had taken other steps in an attempt to address the academic issues.
   The cohort dropout rate at East, meaning those starting the 9th grade who didn't continue through the 12th grade was 26.7% in 2008. That's a 4.8% increase from 2007 and 11% above that for 2006.
   There were 293 suspensions or expulsions from East during the 2007-2008 school year. The percentage of students suspended was 31.1 and the percentage expelled was 0.2.
   The 2008 state report card on schools, for the most part, reports on the status of the school for the 2007-2008 school year.
   The number of pupils at East on October 1, 2007 was 895, of which 685 were categorized as being economically disadvantaged. African-Americans made up 98.6 of the student body, 0.2% were Asian or from the Pacific Islands, 0.3% were Hispanic, and 0.9% were white. There were 487 girls and 454 boys enrolled. During the 2007-2008 school year East hosted grades 8 through 12. Because of a change in the way the number of students is reported, some demographic data in the state's 2008 report card does not match/relate to the number of students listed as being enrolled on the count date of October 1, 2007.
   One other broad category reported by the state in its report card on schools is "academic growth." It "measures student progress within a grade and subject and for high school a prediction formula is used based on a student's previous academic performance for ACT, Gateways and End of Course assessments and Writing." Based on the test results and the formula, East High grades 9-12 scored above the predicted result of their progress in Biology I and English I. They were below the prediction in U.S. History, and there was no detectable difference between their predicted progress and their scores in other curriculum areas tested. The ACT predictions showed that the test takers were below the expectations in the composite and science/reasoning scores with no difference detected in the other categories.
   The acting principal of East High, substituting while the principal is out on leave due to heath reasons, did not return a call requesting comment.
   The state's report card on East High is available at www.EastHigh.org/report-card-2008.html.

Any alumnus with the knowledge and skills to further analyze the state's data for posting on this web site is invited to contact the editor.

East High players back coach's prediction
Wimberly: Hard work key to postseason return
By By Jason Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, November 7, 2008
   This time last year, East High football coach Marcus Wimberly ['92 and Faculty] was already looking ahead to the 2008 season.
   His Mustangs had finished 2-8 in 2007 in his second year on the job and Wimberly, a former East standout who went on to star at the University of Miami, had no intentions of watching his alma mater plod through another losing season. Mark WeberThe Commercial Appeal East's Demario Vester brings down Tromarcus Toney of Melrose in last week's victory, which clinched the Region 8-4A title for the Mustangs.
   Mark WeberThe Commercial Appeal East's Demario Vester brings down Tromarcus Toney of Melrose in last week's victory, which clinched the Region 8-4A title for the Mustangs.
   "We expected this. We put the work in, and I said, 'Don't be surprised if we go from 2-8 to 8-2.' I said that before the year started," said Wimberly, whose Mustangs managed to make his prediction a reality this season.
    East (8-2) earned its first outright region title since 2000 with its 30-25 road win at Region 8-4A foe Melrose last week. It was the Mustangs' sixth straight victory overall.
   Tonight, for the first time since 2005, East will host a first-round playoff game when fourth-seeded Hardin County (7-3), led by standout senior quarterback Will Gilchrist, invades Fairgrounds Stadium.
   "They're a hard-nosed team. They're pretty balanced," Wimberly said. "It's not just (Gilchrist). They've got two guys who have rushed for over 700 yards."
   Wimberly credits East's six-game turnaround this season to its offseason work in the weight room and the emergence of several team leaders.
   He's also had a direct hand in the turnaround himself, having applied for and receiving a grant from the NFL to improve the school's weight room.
   "This time last year, we were preparing for this year," said Wimberly, a former fifth-round NFL draft pick. "We were getting our new weight room in, and I think that's been one of the biggest differences between last year and this year, because we were physically weak.
   "As an overall team, there's a lot more discipline in place. These are pretty much my guys, the class that came in with me, and they came in under different guidelines."
   The return of senior linebacker Mark Guyton from a season-ending injury in 2007 and the improved play of junior quarterback Jaszy Parker (1,566 total yards, 22 TDs) have also been major factors in East's resurgence.
   "(Guyton) has made a big difference. He's made us tougher at the linebacker spot, which we really needed," Wimberly said.
   "(Parker) is improving each and every week. He had to learn last year. We threw him in the fire and it was kind of rough on him. But he's stepped it up this year tremendously."

The Commercial Appeal, November 5, 2008:
The East High School Class of 1956 meets for lunch at the Racquet Club on the fourth Thursday of every month. The Mustang group includes Dale Turner Lowery (seated, left) of Germantown, Marti McDonald Kruchton of Germantown, Bonnie Thomas Seitz and Raymond Young; Ray Henley (standing, left), Marcia Scarborough Dunlap of Germantown, Buddy Shindler of Germantown, Lee 'Dickie' Cardwell of Germantown, Pat Black of Germantown and Gail Valvik Bruce. Class members interested in attending should call 683-2276 for information.

Man held in '06 slaying
He's brother of suspect already charged in killing of ex-East High football star
By By Hank Dudding, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
   A second brother has been charged with first-degree murder in the 2006 death of a former East High football star.
   Damon Davis, 23, was charged last week with killing Arthur Sallis [associated with the Class of '01], 22, during a robbery Jan. 26, 2006, at Sallis' home at 5445 Flowering Peach in Hickory Hill. Davis' brother, Ronnie Davis, 25, was charged in September.
   Sallis led East to a state football championship as a junior in 1999, rushing for 1,406 yards.
   He was shot at least twice in the chest during a struggle after three men robbed him at his home. Police are still trying to develop a case against a third suspect.
   The men took money and Sallis' 2000 Chevrolet Suburban, which was stripped and burned in Byhalia, Miss., according to a police affidavit.
   Damon Davis was taken into custody Oct. 19 after a domestic incident at an apartment at 3184 Steele.
   He is accused of attacking ex-girlfriend Erica Jackson, beating her with his hands and fists before she grabbed a knife and cut him, according to an affidavit.
   Damon Davis is charged with aggravated burglary and domestic assault in that case.
   He was arraigned on the murder charge Monday.

An obituary and an additional newspaper article about the death of Mr. Sallis are available.

Retired organist built bombers, taught music
By Nevin Batiwalla, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, September 27, 2008
   From the age of 20, Rosa "Rose" Gillespie, the grande dame of local organists, dedicated her life to teaching music.
   In churches and schools, she had a way of inspiring her pupils.
    "She had an almost magical gift to bring out in people what they did not think they could do," said Amy Lindeman, 38, who called Ms. Gillespie her "surrogate grandmother."
   Ms. Gillespie died Wednesday from complications of bone cancer at a Memphis nursing home. She was 89.
   Born in the small town of Stamps, Ark., Ms. Gillespie was raised by a single mom during the Depression. Those tough years, where she bounced between 22 houses, helped mold her can-do spirit, Lindeman said.
   "She was completely self-made, and she used that to help other people make it on their own," Lindeman said.
   Ms. Gillespie received master's degrees in English and psychology from Memphis State University.
   She instructed for 35 years in Memphis schools, at Fairview Junior High and then later at East High, where she taught a pretty teen named Cybill Shepherd. Despite her best efforts, she never could convince the budding celebrity to join the school's chorus.
   "I knew if I could get Cybill to join then everyone else would want to join," Ms. Gillespie told The Commercial Appeal in 2006. "But she said she just couldn't because she was too busy with cheerleading."
   During World War II, Ms. Gillespie rode a motorcycle to get to her job as an aircraft riveter at the Fisher Aircraft factory. Working the late shift building B-52 bombers with a hardscrabble group of women, Lindeman said, Ms. Gillespie "learned a bunch of new words she had never heard before." On Sundays, she'd finish up early, head home for a quick change, and then dash off to church to play the organ.
   She also pitched for the Humko professional softball team.
   In 1949, she played her first church service at First Baptist Church. She served as minister of music at McLemore Christian and spent 35 years at Central Christian Church.
   She never married. Her only children were her pets and students.
   "Someone told me once that when he died he wanted to come back as one of her dogs, because that was the best life he could imagine," Lindeman said.
   In 2006, after 35 years as organist and choir director at Central Christian Church, the 86-year-old retired to enjoy a view from the pew.
   "There comes a time when you know it's right to step aside and this is that time. I have no regrets and I've loved it all," she said.
   Services will be at 11 a.m. today at Central Christian Church. Forest Hill Funeral Home has charge.
   The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Memphis and Shelby County Humane Society.

A standard obituary is also available as is a news story about when she retired as a church organist in 2006.

On September 11, 2008 The Commercial Appeal Memphis Memories section republished a photo of the Memphis State Tiger football offense, which inlcuded Larry Wright (Faculty, 1959), shown on left side of backfield, and Bobby Brooks (Faculty, approx. 1960-66), pictured in the center of the backfield. The photo was first published September 11, 1955.

1959 East coach still coaching
Larry Wright coaches with son at Briarcrest Christian School

September 5, 2008
   Larry Wright (Faculty, 1959), former track and football coach at East High, was featured in a television story about his coaching with his son. Produced by WPTY-TV. The video is available. Larry Wright was also mentioned in a June 18, 2009 article that profiled his son, Major Wright, the head football coach at Briarcrest Christian School, when his son named his father as "the person I most admire."


Perfect fits: DT Williams, LB Wilson sized up right for Vols defense
By Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, September 1, 2008
   Dan Williams ['05] was told he was too big. Ellix Wilson was viewed as too small.
   Williams listened to nutritionists, Wilson listened to his heart.
   The result is that a rarity should occur at 7 p.m. CDT today in Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. -- two Memphis high school products starting on defense for Tennessee against UCLA in the 2008 season opener.
   Williams, a former East High star, will likely open at tackle, where he started 10 games last year.
   "I've worked harder this offseason than I've ever worked before," said Williams, a junior, whose only weakness seems to be a fondness for his mother's chicken casserole.
   Wilson, a former Melrose standout, is the starting middle linebacker as a fifth-year senior. It's a spot he first stepped into last January in the Outback Bowl when Jerod Mayo was hurt.
   "I've been around here for five years, so everybody knows what I've got," Wilson said. "I hadn't had a lot of chances to get out there and do it, and now I will get those chances."
   When Williams arrived in Knoxville as a true freshman in July 2005, the Vols' coaching staff wasn't happy with what they saw. ... or rather, what they couldn't miss.
   It was Williams, reporting at 6-3, 360 pounds.
   What happened to the more svelte DT that Tennessee had signed?
   "I guess I took advantage more than I should of all the free food you got on official recruiting visits," Williams said with a laugh. "Then after I graduated, I just got lax working out. All I did was eat pizza and play PlayStation.
   "I guess I wanted to relax before I went to college, because I knew college and college football would be an all-year thing. I guess I relaxed too much. I showed up in Knoxville still thinking I was about 320 until Coach told me to hop on the scale."
   And when Williams did, Fulmer gave him an ultimatum. Drop weight or welcome to the offensive line.
   "I thought Dan would be an offensive lineman," Fulmer said. "I didn't know if he would have the quickness and the speed or dedication to be a defensive tackle in this league."
   Williams proved Fulmer wrong, much to Fulmer's delight.
   "I really wanted to show the coaches I was committed," Williams said. "Coach Fulmer gave me a very small window like until the next spring to lose about 50 pounds. I did that."
   As Williams lost weight, his strength increased and his speed returned. Last year, he stepped solidly into the Vols' DT rotation. After making a career-high six tackles in an early season game vs. Southern Mississippi, he also felt for his mental fog in learning the college game finally burned off.
   "It was one of my better games," said Williams, who now weighs 308. "I felt for the first time I could be a factor in helping my team win. My mind now understands there's no way I'll ever go back to being that heavy."
   Vols' defensive tackle Dan Brooks said Williams' diet discipline has spread to his football.
   "Dan is not a flashy guy, but he's there every snap, because he was Mr. Reliable this past spring," Brooks said. "He's such a nice guy that sometimes I have to tell him he needs to play with an attitude. He started to that some last year." ...

August 29, 2008, The Commercial Appeal publishes this photo of Bonnie Williams, Joanie Williams, Patsy Williams, and Debbie Williams in it's Memphis Memories column. Class associations of the girls is undetermined though it probably is or is near the classes of '62, '64, '65 and '72 respectively. The photo was first published in the newspaper August 29, 1960.

Tiger offensive lineman happy to be back home
Malcom Rawls didn't fit in at Knoxville, but will start vs. Rebels
By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, August 25, 2008
   Malcom Rawls ['05] always heard that college was supposed to be the best time of his life. But when the East High product arrived at the University of Tennessee in 2005, he could tell immediately that something was wrong.
   "I realized early that I didn't really like it," Rawls said. "I was in Knoxville, and I wasn't happy."
   One of the top offensive linemen to come out of this area along with Ole Miss' Michael Oher, Rawls knew something had to change. But he also knew that doing what was in his heart -- transferring to the University of Memphis -- would likely begin a long climb back into the spotlight.
   On Saturday, Rawls will complete the journey when he starts for the Tigers at right guard against Ole Miss.
   "It's good to come back home and be a part of it," Rawls, now a junior, said. "I get to represent Memphis, and that's a big deal to me."
   Much has changed for Rawls since he chose Tennessee over Memphis and a number of other Southeastern Conference schools three years ago.
   Once focused on engineering as his major, he's now studying Spanish. Once a can't-miss prospect, he's now fighting to establish himself as a legitimate college player. But coach Tommy West believes one thing hasn't changed: The talent that was so evident to recruiters from some of the top programs in the country.
   "Malcom has a lot of ability, a lot of God-given talent," West said. "The thing that's holding him back right now is a conditioning level. He's got to get his conditioning to a level where he can play at a pace for a period of time. If he does that, he can be an outstanding player. Right now he can play three or four plays as good as anybody, but he gets tired after that."
   Memphis, however, will be as patient as possible with Rawls' conditioning because his potential to make an impact is so promising. Listed at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Rawls fits perfectly into West's desire to get bigger on the offensive line in recent years. But West also wants to play an up-tempo game on offense, which could test Rawls' staying power.
   As a backup last season, Rawls was on the field for 56 snaps against Rice as a replacement for the injured Dominik Riley but played sporadically in the other eight games he participated in.
   "It's just keeping him fresh. (If he's tired), we'll put somebody else in," West said. "I think mentally he's fine with our system."
   Rawls' mental strength has always been one of his biggest attributes. He turned down opportunities in high school to play at prestigious prep schools in the Northeast and was recruited by most of the academically elite Division 1 football powers.
   During the recruiting process, in fact, Rawls said his top two choices were Notre Dame and Stanford. But as fate would have it, the coaches at both schools -- Tyrone Willingham and Buddy Teevens, respectively -- were fired before signing day. So when Rawls settled on Tennessee, it was not based on enthusiasm as much as process of elimination.
   "I just never liked Knoxville," he said. "It was a difficult adjustment, not liking the city. Coming out of high school my major was civil engineering, and I jumped right into some difficult classes, physics, calculus and trying to learn the playbook. It was a difficult adjustment."
   Rawls commiserated often during his redshirt year with defensive tackle Dan Williams, his friend and former teammate at East, who was also struggling to adjust. While Williams stuck it out at Tennessee and has had a successful career, Rawls decided to come home.
   Though it's taken three years to become a Division 1 starter, Rawls said it's been worth the wait.
   "I tell people every time I can that I love it here," he said. "I just have to work hard and continue to go over plays, talk to offensive line coach (Rick) Mallory. If you listen to the coaches, they have so much experience they'll prepare you. Everything they ask, I try to do it to the best of my ability. That's the best way to get on the field here."

The Commercial Appeal
Memphis Memories
Friday, August 22, 2008

[Editor's note: this photo of Jo Learned ('61) appeared in the "Memphis Memories" section of The Commercial Appeal on August 22, 2008, after having first being published in 1953.]

From The Commercial Appeal, August 21, 2008 - East alumni Tyrone Johnson (class year undetermined) and T.J. Pointer (class year undetermined) move into residence hall at the University of Memphis.

Cash Wants to Enlist Paid Tutors From Student Ranks
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News
August 13, 2008
   As part of the sweeping overhaul he envisions bringing to Memphis City Schools, new district superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash wants to enlist students to work for the school system as tutors.
   "What if instead of working for Back Yard Burger … for $6 an hour, work for me. Work for city schools," Cash said last week to about 250 members of the Memphis Rotary Club.
   His idea to tap students to work as tutors is only one component of Cash's transformative plan for a school system that has about 113,000 students and is beset by a mix of academic and operational challenges.
   But as he spoke to the Rotarians, one person listening in the crowd no doubt felt a measure of satisfaction when he heard Cash mention the tutors.
   Bill Sehnert, director of a nearly five-year-old academic foundation begun at East High School, was in the crowd and caught up with Cash after his remarks. Sehnert helps lead an army of tutors – albeit a private army – at East that already is putting into practice the very idea Cash floated to the audience.
   Capitalism in action
   Started as the Greater East High Foundation in 2004, the basic idea is that academically strong upperclassmen at the school can get paid $10 an hour to tutor their fellow students. One measure of the program's success is the number of local school officials eager to replicate it at their own institutions.
   Versions of the program are up and running in at least five Memphis area schools, including East, Whitehaven High School, Westwood High School, Douglass High School and Lester Middle School.
   "It's the same tune we've been singing for five years," Sehnert said about Cash's idea.
   Commodities trader and East alumnus Charles McVean ['61] provided the financial backing and operational framework that gave birth to the academic program at East. He tapped his eighth grade teacher, Margaret Taylor, to become the foundation's director emeritus.
   The program is one example of how, as the performance of and funding for local schools has lagged in recent years, successful business professionals like McVean are seizing the moment to preach education reform in a way school bureaucracies can't always do. And while he didn't allude to it in his remarks at the Rotary Club, Cash has taken notice of the program at East.
   MCS administrators have asked for details of the program to share with the new superintendent.
   "At Rotary, I said we need to sit down and talk about it, and he said he'd like to," Sehnert said. "So we're trying to schedule a meeting to talk about it.
   "Our programs actually dovetail. They shouldn't compete. We can't compete with our customer. We will work hand in glove with Dr. Cash in any way that he sees we can be an asset to the community."
   The trappings of a movement
   The East High foundation is catching fire even beyond the boundaries of Shelby County.
   McVean has friends and business associates in Mississippi, and schools there in places such as Bolivar County have shown an interest in adapting the foundation's operation for their own use.
   A burgeoning component of the program at East also calls for tapping college-age tutors to come back and train struggling high school students. The foundation's leadership sees that as another way to motivate children – by showing them what they eventually can become.
   Another Memphis businessman, meanwhile, has plunged headlong into the same effort McVean is pursuing. But local venture capitalist Bob Compton is doing so on a much larger stage.
   Taken together, the separate efforts reflect a spirit apparently building among local business leaders to do what the public sector can't when it comes to education reform.
   Compton spent half a million dollars of his own money to produce "Two Million Minutes," a documentary that compares how a group of students in India, China and the U.S. choose to spend their high school years.
   The title comes from the period of time between the first day of classes for a high school freshman and graduation day. That four-year period equates to roughly 2 million minutes.
   Fallacy or fact?
   One of the themes of Compton's project is that American students are being far outpaced by their counterparts in other areas of the world when it comes to excelling in studies that lead to degrees in highly sought-after jobs.
   "And since I spent the last 20 years creating and building new technology companies, I happen to know that what creates companies and what creates jobs are products and technologies that are invented by scientists and engineers," Compton said.
   In June, Compton debated Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews on the CNBC program "Street Signs." Probably the only thing Compton and Mathews agreed on is that their spirited debate is crucial to fixing the country's woes in the field of education.
   "Don't ever go on CNBC to debate Bob Compton, one of America's most energetic prophets of doom, without careful preparation and a willingness to be rude," Mathews said in a column he wrote – only slightly tongue in cheek – after the broadcast.
   Speaking with The Daily News by phone, the veteran education reporter for The Post elaborated on the two men's differences.
   "He and I generally agree that American high schools need to get much better, more rigorous and need to challenge kids in a way they're not doing now. I think we're absolutely on the same wavelength there," Mathews said. "But this scare tactic that we've got to fix our schools or we're going to become the Third World of the world is false.
   "It's pretty clear that if you look at how our kids are doing in school, they're way ahead of the education kids are getting in most other countries."
   A different emphasis entirely
   From Compton's point of view, the divide he highlights in the movie reflects shortcomings in the way U.S. schools educate children compared to the way schools in India and China pursue the same thing.
   "Indians and Chinese (people) pursue academic and intellectual training the way Americans pursue sports – with passion, rigor and intensity," Compton said.
   Compton, who's currently in Beijing to watch the Olympics, enlisted a filmmaking team that includes veterans of the "Frontline" series on PBS to help him create the documentary. The places where he's screened the film include Harvard, Stanford University and the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado in July.
   The latter event was sponsored by Intel Corp. and during a question and answer session after his film was shown, Compton said he was excited to spot a few rows back from the stage New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Friedman's widely acclaimed book "The World is Flat" is what inspired Compton to go to India in 2005, a trip from which the idea for the movie was born.
   Prominently displayed on the Web site for the movie – www.2mminutes.com – is a quote from Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates that reads: "Two Million Minutes casts a bright spotlight on a crisis in this country." A similar thought is reflected in a speech to the nation's governors in 2005, during which Gates described America's high schools as obsolete.
   Movers and shakers are paying attention to the point of the film. Compton had a private meeting about the movie in February with presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Compton caught up with McCain's opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., back in November.
   In addition, Compton is screening the film during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next month. He also hopes to be able to take his film to the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

East High removed from State's "high priorty" list of troubled schools

Memphis City Schools gets mixed report card
District improves, but some schools still lag
By Dakarai I. Aarons , Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, July 28, 2008
   The news on No Child Left Behind for Memphis City Schools is a mixed bag of results, according to information released Monday by the Tennessee Department of Education.
   While the district returned to good standing under No Child Left Behind, the number of individual schools in good standing decreased from 128 to 119.
   In the good news category, the number of schools on the state's "high priority" list dropped by 11, including six schools that had long languished on the list of schools eligible for state takeover.
   Memphis has 30 schools -- down from 41 the year before -- on the "high priority" list, which tracks schools that failed to meet federal benchmarks two years in a row. Twenty of those schools, however, improved in several categories, including 12 of the 15 schools that were eligible for state takeover last year.
   The results released Monday show how close -- or far -- students are from meeting standards for reading and math proficiency, attendance and graduation rates.
   Schools must meet benchmarks in 37 categories or use some other method approved by the state to be considered in good standing.
   "The students, parents, teachers, and staff in schools that performed admirably, as well as those schools that continue to show improvement, are to be commended and should be encouraged by these results," said Supt. Kriner Cash in a prepared statement. Cash and board members are in Park City, Utah, at a reform governance retreat.
   Not all the news was good for Memphis schools, however.
   Memphis schools on the state's less-urgent "target" list, which places schools on watch for narrowly missing benchmarks in the first year, increased to 34 from 16 last year.
   The number of target schools increased statewide as the federal benchmarks went up from 79 to 86 percent proficiency in math and 83 to 89 percent proficiency in reading and language arts.
   That tripped up a number of schools in Greater Memphis. Shelby County's Woodstock Middle and Tipton County's Covington High also landed on the target list.
   A number of Memphis schools used the "safe harbor" provision to meet the mark, which gives schools credit for making a 10 percent reduction in students who tested below proficient the year before and meeting either the attendance or graduation rate target, depending on grade level.
   The number of schools that used "safe harbor," along with details on how individual schools fared on the state's exams, will likely be released by the state in November.
   State officials had high praise for the work done in improving schools that had been on the state's failing list for years, such as Treadwell Elementary, Airways Middle, Vance Middle and East High.
   "They are to be congratulated for what they've done," said Connie Smith, executive director of innovation, improvement, and accountability for the state department of education.
   Smith said she was "particularly proud" of Vance, which had been on the list longer than any of the other schools.
   Smith credited the work done by former Supt. Carol Johnson's "fresh start" plan for the improvements in many schools.
   In those schools, which included Vance and Airways, principals and entire staffs were changed in an effort to boost student achievement.
   But the work remains unfinished. Hamilton High, for example, is in the state's worst-performing category under NCLB.
   Many staff were replaced there last year and Cash recently moved Michael Bates, credited with turning around Humes Middle School, into the principal's position at Hamilton.
   The No Child Left Behind List
   These 56 Memphis-area schools remain on the state's No Child Left Behind list, either as "target" or "high priority" schools.
   Target schools
   The first year a school does not meet federal standards, it is given a warning. There are no sanctions for "target schools," which have another year to demonstrate progress.
   Alcy Elementary
   Alton Elementary
   Coleman Elementary
   Corning Elementary
   Covington High (Tipton County Schools)
   Downtown Elementary
   East High*
   Egypt Elementary
   Evans Elementary
   Fairley Elementary
   Fairview Middle
   Georgia Ave. Elementary
   Getwell Elementary
   Graves Elementary
   Guthrie Elementary
   Hamilton Middle
   Hanley Elementary
   Hawkins Mill Elementary
   Hillcrest High
   Holmes Road Elementary
   Kate Bond Elementary
   Lakeview Elementary
   Lester Elementary
   Lucie E. Campbell Elementary
   Magnolia Elementary
   Mitchell High
   Raineshaven Elementary
   Raleigh-Egypt High
   River City High
   Ross Elementary
   Shannon Elementary
   South Park Elementary
   Vollentine Elementary
   Westhaven Elementary
   Woodstock Middle (Shelby County Schools)

   High priority
   A "high priority" school has missed the same benchmark at least two years in a row. Sanctions in this area can lead up to becoming a school eligible for state takeover.
   A. Maceo Walker Middle
   Booker T. Washington High
   Carver High
   Cherokee Elementary
   Chickasaw Middle
   Cordova Middle
   Corry Middle
   Craigmont High
   Cypress Middle
   Dunbar Elementary
   Fairley High
   Frayser High
   Geeter Middle
   Georgian Hills Elementary
   Grizzlies Academy
   Hamilton High
   Kingsbury High
   Kirby High
   Manassas High
   Northside High
   Oakhaven Middle
   Oakhaven High
   Pyramid Academy**
   Raleigh-Egypt Middle
   Sheffield High
   Treadwell Middle
   Trezevant High
   Wells Station Elementary
   Wooddale High
   Wooddale Middle

   *Moved up from the "high priority" list
   **not a traditional school; most students attend for only part of the school year

East High English teacher named Educator of the Year by Memphis Alliance of Black School Educators
'I guess it was God's calling for me to be an educator'
By Linda Moore, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, July 5, 2008
   Meah King's ['97, Faculty 2002- ] success as a teacher can be measured in many ways, by the number of students who adore her or the lists of administrators who admire her methods. Or there are simply the raw numbers.
   This past school year, 99 percent of the 10th grade English teacher's students passed the state mandated language exam. Over the past five years, the East High teacher's average is about 97 percent.
   For that achievement, along with her activities outside the classroom, King has been named the outstanding educator of the year by the Memphis Alliance of Black School Educators.
   "I see results," said King. "The students are successful regardless of their so-called disabilities and the things that go on at home. We don't let that be an obstacle."
   Although still a young teacher, King, 29, is a standout, said Janice Tankson, treasurer of the alliance and an assistant principal at East, noting that most of King's students are not taking honors English.
   "She's setting those high expectations and the kids are reaching those expectations," Tankson said. "That speaks volumes to us that she's working with those students to be the best they can be."
   East High principal Frederick W. Curry described King as a phenomenal teacher, one of the best he's ever seen.
   "She believes her success is tied to their success," he said.
   King begins every class with a chest-thumping chant of "I can do anything," he said.
   "It's a chant the kids have bought into," said Curry, who is considering taking it school-wide.
   Former students say King is not your average teacher.
   "She makes learning fun," said Alexandria Jones, 18, who will be a freshman at Baptist College of Health Sciences this fall.
   King kept them motivated, kept them reading and had them write at least one essay a week to prepare for the exams.
   "I can't even remember a dull moment in her class," Jones said. "And in 10th grade I had her for sixth period. By the end of the day, after lunch, everyone was ready to go home. But not in her class."
   King also gives of her time and talent away from school, said Jeff Akins, the alliance's president-elect.
   "Not only is she an excellent teacher in the classroom, making sure all her students excel in what they're trying to learn, but she also gives of herself in the community when school day is over," Akins said.
   She is one of the youth advisers for Youth Eager to Serve (YES), a mentoring organization at her church, Lord's Tabernacle Holiness Church, for children 7-17.
   King is the faculty sponsor for Peer Power, a student-to-student tutoring program funded by the Greater East High Foundation.
   "She loves them and they know it," said Margaret Taylor, retired principal of Grahamwood Elementary School and director emeritus for the foundation.
   And King teaches adult General Equivalency Diploma classes and ACT prep classes for high school students.
   King first began working with children at church where at 16 she taught pre-school after school and during the summer.
   She graduated from East in 1997, and earned an undergraduate degree in English literature and master's in instruction and curriculum at the University of Memphis.
   King has been at East for six years.
   "I guess it was God's calling for me to be an educator," King said. "I know it's my calling because once my day is complete I have peace when I go home."

Mitchell Hires New Basketball Coach
Reported by: Jamie Griffin
July 4, 2008 [The video of this story may be still be available at WPTY-TV]
   Sorrell Valentine ('93 and Faculty) spent his fourth of July watching basketball. "I couldn't find anyone who barbecued," said Valentine. Truth be told, Valentine is just a basketball junkie. "I would do this for free," he said of coaching high school basketball. "If I wasn't coaching high school I would be (volunteering) at AAU basketball or working with kids anyway."
   Fortunately for Valentine, he will be allowed to continue to do what he loves to do and get paid at the same time. Mitchell hired Valentine to replace Jerry Johnson, who recently left to coach at Wooddale High.
   Valentine, a graduate of East High School in Memphis, will take over the Tigers after one season at Treadwell where his team finished 13-15 this past season with a lost in the regionals to Mitchell, who went on to play in the Division I AA State Finals.

U.S. Border Patrol Recruiting Minorities in Memphis
Reported by: Joyce Peterson
July 1, 2008 [The video of this story may be still be available at WPTY-TV]

   Memphis, TN - Mention a job that pays 70-grand a year, with no college degree or high school diploma needed and 21 year-old Courtney Moore ['05] is all ears. He graduated from East High in 2005, but with spiraling tuition costs making college next to impossible, Courtney's looking at every opportunity.
   "Sounds like a good idea," says Moore. "I'm really thinking about joining the border patrol myself."
   The U.S. Border Patrol is actively recruiting African-Americans right now. Of the 16,500 agents currently on staff, only about 1-percent are Black. The federal government's Minority Recruitment Strike Team is targeting cities throughout the Southeastern United States, including Memphis.
   Agents are telling young people like Courtney this is their chance to do something that pays well and provides a service to their country.
   "What they'll be doing," says Agent Michael E. Douglas, "is protecting the nation from terrorists and drug smugglers. And they'll be making life better for those who are here in this country as citizens."
   To become a border patrol agent, you have to study the law, learn self-defense tactics, take aggressive driving lessons and go through firearms training. And you have to be willing to relocate to the Southwest. Border patrol agents live in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
   Applicants also need to be able to speak Spanish. Those who can't, will undergo an intensive 8-week language course at the agency's training academy in New Mexico.
   "Recruits are going to have to put in some effort," says Agent Douglas. "They're going to have to put everything they have into it, whether it be academics or the physical abilities. They're going to be taken to their limits."
   Courtney Moore, and his mother Paulette, both agree that a little hard work is worth it in order to get a big payoff.
   "He's an adult," says Paulette. "He has no family as far as a wife or children. This would be a good opportunity for Courtney."
   "It's not about the money," says Courtney, "because everyone needs money. It's about me doing something. I understand it's a dangerous job. But I'm willing. I'm willing!"
   Agent Douglas says 175 Memphians filled out applications during two previous recruiting trips to the Bluff City. Douglas and his team will be back in town on July 25th.

How we met: Separate ways lead back to 'the one'
By Anita Houk, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, June 29, 2008
   They were kids when they met.
   "We were between 7 and 10," declares LaLita Washington Bivins, 31. "He tries to say we were older, that he was not playing with G.I. Joe then. We met as kids at summer camp at Goodwill Homes."
   As predicted, Lonnie Bivins (class year undetermined), also 31, says they met as teenagers.
   "The meeting," he says, "was quite interesting, quite unexpected for me." It was at a party with a mutual friend the summer they were rising seniors -- he at East High, she at Whitehaven High. "From that point on, we talked quite often. We dated for a year-and-a-half, two years."
   He's a jokester. She's reserved. But they made it mesh -- for a while.
   Then she went off to Austin Peay State University, and he attended University of Memphis. Before long, "She went her way, I went my way," says Lonnie.
   LaLita became a Memphis City Schools teacher. Lonnie moved to Houston, Texas.
   "I'm a contractor at NASA," he says by phone from Houston, "at the facility where they do the astronaut training."
   Working underwater can simulate working in space, as a recent PBS documentary featuring Lonnie's unit illustrates. " 'Good Morning America' was here seven or eight months ago and did a live show. 'Armageddon' and 'Space Cowboys' are part of the movies filmed here."
   Oddly enough, he was in Memphis when he dove into this line of work.
   "I was in welding school at William R. Moore (School of Technology), and I was reading a book about underwater welding. I'd never heard of it. A couple of weeks later, about 3 o'clock in the morning, this commercial came on with this guy underwater welding. There was a school down here (in Houston) that offered it. I moved down here the next month, finished school, got a job and been here ever since.
   "But now," he states emphatically, "it's time to come home."
   Since he left Memphis, he and LaLita each married; each had a daughter. Hers, Lauryn, is 10 and lives with LaLita in Memphis; his, Arianna, is 7 and lives with her mom in Houston.
   "When we were married, we weren't in contact," Lonnie says. "But I would always see her mother when I was in town and she would see my mother ... That's how we knew what was going on in each other's lives."
   When they discovered they were both divorced, the terrain changed. He was already planning to return to Memphis, making inroads to a new career here. Then last summer he was invited to a cousin's wedding.
   "When I came home for the wedding, I called (LaLita)." She invited him to speak to her business students at Trezevant Career & Technology Center. "So I did. Then we went out July 20 of last year. Not even a year later, we're married."
   May 10, in the Japanese Garden at Bartlett City Hall.
   "It's crazy," LaLita says, "because we dated on and off over the years. Recently when we got back together, we said, 'OK, this is it.' So we planned the wedding and we thought he'd be in Memphis before now, but hopefully he'll be here by October.
   "He is the one for me -- that's something I always knew, but we had to grow up, jump the hurdles," she says. "He's smart, giving, loves baseball. He reminds me of my dad. He's a 'pretty boy' but doesn't mind getting dirty. He can figure anything out."
   Well, almost anything. Lonnie has been known to ask for help: "When you ask God for certain things, and God puts the thing in your face that you asked for, you can't do nothing but say thank you," he declares.
   "I asked for the chance with specifically her."

In Brief: Jury convicts Memphis man in 16-year-old's murder
From The Commercial Appeal, June 21, 2008
   A jury on Friday convicted a Memphis man of felony murder and robbery involving the 2004 shooting death of a high school student whose burning body was found near a bike path near McLean and Chelsea in North Memphis.
   Gerraldo White, 19, will be automatically sentenced to life in prison by Criminal Court Judge John Colton Jr.
   State prosecutor Glen Baity said White and two other men abducted DeAngelo Shaw on the night of May 26, 2008, and took him to the bike path, where he was robbed of drugs and money and then shot.
   They carried him to a grassy area nearby, shot him again and then doused him with gasoline and set him on fire.
   Police said Shaw, a 16-year-old student at East High School, had run away from home five days earlier and had been reported missing.
   Joshua Taylor, 19, also was charged in the murder. His case is pending.
   -- Lawrence Buser

After the glory days pass by, the lessons instilled by 'Coach' continue
By Cathryn Stout, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, June 16, 2008
   The kitchen lights are not as grand as the stadium lights he once knew.
   But Jack Turner never needed bright lights to shine. Seventy-seven years old and several years retired from coaching, the gridiron giant radiates leadership as he sits at his Raleigh home crunching tacos with his former players...
   An administrator's offer of autonomy recently lured a local hardwood legend out of retirement.
   For 21 years, Reginald Mosby [Faculty 1986-2007] was synonymous with the East High School boy's basketball program. After taking a sabbatical in 2007, he'll be coaching basketball next year, under the leadership of principal Dr. Lowell Winston at Northside High School.
   "Northside is really blessed to find a coach of this caliber to coach our kids," said Winston.
   Aside from adding a sixth state championship ring to his collection, Mosby has a more pressing goal.
   "To keep those guys off the street," he said of his future players.
   "It's a vacuum for the type of guys that I coached with and against," he said. "And the kids feel it. They don't feel like they have to give back because they don't see their coaches give back."
   Part of his job as a coach, explained Mosby, is teaching about life beyond basketball.
   So he talks to his boys about dating women with values. He forces them to make eye contact when they speak. He reminds them to shine their shoes before job interviews. He even finds jobs for some of them.
   In the 1970s, Mosby coached during the school year and ran the Lester community center pool in the summertime. Daniel Young was one of the high school players he trained as a lifeguard. Now 44, Young has worked his way up to aquatics manager at the same pool.
   Raised without his father in the home, Young is not sure where he would be without Mosby's guiding hand.
   "Probably be in jail. Probably have about three or four babies. Ain't no telling what would have went on," said Young. "It's just a blessing that he was in my life."
   Whether for future or former players, Mosby feels an obligation to offer tough love and unwavering encouragement to the athletes who cross his path, as his grandparents and mother, Lillie Mosby Simmons, did for him.
   "I wasn't privy to being raised by my father," said Mosby, father of two. "I had to scratch my way up, so if I can give somebody else a leg up, I want to."
   At a recent basketball camp at Northside, Mosby scanned the gym of kids until his eyes landed on a middle-schooler about to make a free throw. Before the youngster could release the ball, Mosby put his hands on the child's shoulders, straightens them up and whispered to him.
   Even though the shot missed the basket, the boy looked up at Mosby and smiled.

Northside turns to veteran coaching duo
By Jason Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, June 5, 2008
   Northside athletic director Donald Holmes said this week the school has hired a pair of former East High head coaches to resurrect the Cougars' floundering football and boys basketball programs.
    Holmes said legendary former East boys basketball coach Reginald Mosby has agreed to replace longtime Northside boys basketball coach Curtis Bivins, who was 202-228 in 15 seasons with the Cougars.
   Also, former East boys track and field coach Gary DeBerry is set to replace former Northside football coach Cleodis Weaver, whose Cougar football teams have dropped 30 consecutive games going back to the 2004 season.
   "Both of them (Mosby and DeBerry) have kind of got winning in their system," Holmes said.
   Mosby, who was unavailable for comment, is Shelby-Metro's seventh-winningest boys basketball coach of all time with 500 victories. He takes over a Northside program that won just three games last season.
   "I called him, and he let me know (he would take the job) after he had sat down and thought about it for awhile," Holmes said. "His experience will be a plus for the program."
   DeBerry, who had also been an assistant football coach and assistant girls basketball coach at East, said he hopes to restore some tradition to a Cougar football program that hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 1991.
   "It's a big challenge, but we're going to take it a little at a time and get the guys over here back in the frame of mind of winning," DeBerry said.
   "In the 1970s and '80s, they had a winning tradition over here with guys like Willie Fry (a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers) and Mike Hegman (Dallas Cowboys), and we're trying to get it back to that same status.

Don't call Margaret Taylor retired
From "The Columns: Alumni Reviews," The University of Memphis Magazine, Spring, 2008
by Gabrielle Maxey
   Margaret Taylor [Faculty 1955-69] ended her 41-year career as a teacher and principal in the Memphis City Schools in 1995, but she's hardly retired. At age 90, she works full time for a mentoring program at East High School designed to generate excitement for learning and give students the necessary tools to graduate and pursue meaningful careers.
   Taylor (BS '63, MA '66) retired from Grahamwood Elementary School 12 years ago after serving as principal from 1972-96. She quickly returned to school, serving as substitute principal for six years and supervisor of student teachers at the University of Memphis for four years.
   Under her direction, Grahamwood was designated a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and was named one of the 10 best schools in the state. Grahamwood was so popular during that time that parents would camp out overnight at the Board of Education just to get to their children spots at the school.
   Taylor prefers to share the accolades she earned as an educator. "We had the best faculty, good kids, good, supportive parents, and the Board of Education supported us," says the lively nonagenarian who wears her hair in a sensible gray bun. Taylor has won a string of personal honors as well. She was named Educator of the Year by the University of Memphis Society and Memphis' Outstanding Senior Citizen by the Downtown Kiwanis Club.
   Taylor was tapped for the Peer Power program by businessman and benefactor Charles McVean ['61], who established the Greater East Foundation in 2004. McVean, a 1961 East High graduate and former student of Taylor's, donated $1 million to the school to pay for extra support teachers, building improvements and payments to students who make good grades and who tutor other students. Under the pay-for-performance plan, students make $10 an hour for tutoring math, English and science. The students who attend tutoring sessions, called "scholars," can earn incentives for good grades.
   Tutoring is done for an hour after school Monday through Thursday and three hours on Saturday. East added an eighth period at the end of the day, with only tutoring allowed during that time. Athletics, cheerleading, choir and other activities must wait until after tutoring.
   There are 35 to 40 tutors at East, upperclassmen recruited from the ranks of honor students. They tutor about 100 scholars. Tutors train three days a week for around an hour and a half and teach six to eight hours a week. Tutors are paid for the time they train as well as their teaching. "The tutors benefit by the additional training in communication, academic skills and leadership," says foundation director Bill Sehnert. "They work nine to 12 hours a week, so they don't need to get a job outside of school."
   Scholars and tutors also have a chance to win cash and other prizes in weekly and six-week grading period team competitions. Teams earn points based on quizzes, tests, attendance, and class and conduct grades.
   Many students in Memphis City Schools are classified as economically disadvantaged, says Sehnert. A large number come from single-parent homes, which generally have lower incomes than two-parent families. The way to break the cycle of poverty, says Sehnert, is education. "We want the students to see the connection between hard work, good grades and rewards for performance," he says. "We take kids and advance them a little every day. We make incremental advances. We try to improve not only their grades, but their conduct."
   The results have been impressive since the program was launched three years ago. Of students who attended tutoring last year, 100 percent passed their algebra Gateway exam, compared to 72 percent schoolwide. Of seventh and eighth-graders who were tutored, 100 percent passed the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) test last year, with 51 percent scoring advanced in math. In addition, all of the tutors went on to attend four-year colleges.
   The Peer Power model was created so that other schools can adopt it. The program already is in place at Whitehaven High School. "Margaret Taylor is blessed and also a blessing by being productive in a vital field into her 90s," says Anne Freeman, who established the program at Whitehaven with her husband, Dr. Jerre Freeman. "She has a ready and contagious laugh, a face full of life and a quick wit. I've seen her laughing at a joke while some friends decades younger are still scratching their heads."
   McVean has similar praise. " 'Lady Margaret' taught me eighth-grade math at East High School in 1956 through '57," he says. "She is every bit as sharp now as she was more than 50 years ago. Margaret makes a huge contribution to our program at East and is an inspiration to me each and every day. She is a wonderful living example of what the Greatest Generation was all about."
   Taylor is usually at East by 8 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. "Sometimes I stay until 4:30, 5, sometimes 7," she says. Taylor takes Fridays off since there is tutoring on Saturdays. She reserves some Fridays for trips to casinos in Tunica. ("I take $50 with me. When I spend what I took, I'm done," she explains.) Taylor also has been active in Leadership Memphis, the Kiwanis Club, the Germantown Education Commission, the Memphis Symphony League and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
   How does she manage when many others her age have retired? "I keep on keeping on," says Taylor. "It keeps me involved. It's a challenge. I like to see kids learning."
   Tutors and scholars at East begin each learning session by saying a creed which begins "I want to be somebody some day." Most would agree that Margaret Taylor is someone indeed.

Alumni reaching back to help students at former school
Assisting with tutoring, mentoring, keeping history alive
From The Commercial Appeal, March 19, 2008
Alumni reaching back to help students at former school
Assisting with tutoring, mentoring, keeping history alive
By Lindsay Moore
Monday, May 19, 2008
   Mattie Brown Guy never attended the new, modern Manassas High School.
   But she walks the halls as if it were her own.
   Students in the cafeteria shout greetings and make room for her at a table.
   Guy, class of '54, is a fixture among the alumni who are at Manassas every Tuesday. She never misses a program or sporting event, and students say she doesn't sugarcoat the truth.
   High school administrators say they need more like her.
   With schools feeling pressured from the outside and the inside, alumni can be a valuable resource, administrators say, providing financial assistance, tutoring and mentoring, while also helping to instill a sense of history, school spirit and pride in today's students.
   "If we don't help them, who will help them?" asks Guy, surrounded in the Alumni Room at Manassas by decades-old memorabilia.
   It was the alumni who bolstered the students after a shooting there last October.
   "They let it be known it was an accident and our school is not bad," said DeMarcus Douglas, 17, who graduated on Saturday. "They stood behind us."
   East High model
   Many see the Greater East High Foundation as a model of how alumni can help.
   The foundation, which has received national recognition, was created by Charles McVean, class of '61. Among it's many functions, the foundation pays students to tutor others after school.
   "We have identified the most underutilized resource in our city today, the top performing students at these inner city high schools," said McVean, chairman and CEO of McVean Trading and Investments.
   Known at East as "Charlie Mustang," a nod to the school's mascot, McVean has funded lunch for 200 during parents' meetings and routinely supplies outside speakers to inspire the students. Recently, visitors from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange exposed students to a new world of possibilities.
   East principal Fred Curry is the first to credit McVean's involvement at East for bolstering test scores and school pride.
   "He has the right idea in terms of trying to get pride back in school and in terms of getting alumni back in these schools and to assist schools," Curry said.
   McVean's idea is also being used at Whitehaven High School, where Dr. Jerre Freeman sponsors the Greater Whitehaven High Foundation.
   Dr. Vincent Hunter, principal and member of the class of '82, has proof the program works.
   "Our scores went from 68 percent to 85 percent proficiency in one year."
   Some hard to reach
   As accepting as some students are of the alumni, in many schools there is a large part of the student body -- teens dealing with bad grades, crime-ridden neighborhoods, uninvolved parents or gang recruitment -- who past graduates don't reach.
   "What we have to do is figure out a way to turn these kinds around who are headed in the wrong direction," says McVean.
   He's planning a tutoring program for the students who are not college-bound.
   The Greater East foundation plans to train 50 tutors at the University of Memphis this summer. If Memphis City Schools gives its approval, the foundation will pay them to work with students.
   While intervention might work, others say programs need to bring in some younger alumni to make an impact on students who are harder to reach.
   At Manassas, most active former students graduated in the '40s, '50s and early '60s, said Nadie Kinnard, president of the Manassas Alumni Association.
   She said the students "think we think everything they do is wrong," said Kinnard, class of '65. "They need somebody that understands their language, why they do what they do."
   Manassas alumni have raised money and maintained a college scholarship program but have been unable to establish a formalized mentor program, Kinnard said. Money always helps, but it's not the only answer.
   "You've got to have some people power," Kinnard said. "Younger people can relate to these students better than I can."
   -- Linda A. Moore: 529-2702
   School Volunteers
   Adult volunteers at Memphis City Schools must submit to a background check and meet other criteria.
   To learn more, call 416-7600 or go online to mcsk12.net and click on Volunteer Services at the bottom of the site index list to the right of the page.
   [A photo which accompanied this story is not included here.]

East alumnus, first woman on MUS board, ends term
MUS Today - The Magazine of Memphis University School
March 2008 [posted November 12, 2008]
   At the February Board of Trustees meeting, it was announced that Susan [Bach ('67)] Faber, Jim Varner '73, and Kent Wunderlich '66 were rotating off the board after 52 years of collective experience. They were thanked and recognized as trustees who love this school and have served unselfishly. Each will become a member of the Honorary Board.
   Susan Faber
   Susan Faber, the school's first female trustee, joined the MUS board in 1998. In her decade on the board, Faber served on the Education Committee and was co-chair of the Doors to New Opportunities Special Gifts Committee. Perhaps her most significant contribution as a board member was being co-chair of the Strategic Plan 2004-05 (which also included her being co-chair of the Strategic Plan Ad Hoc Committee on Process). Academic Dean Rick Broer, who was co-chair of the strategic planning process with her, recounts, "Susan Faber was a terrific trustee to work with. It is easy to see that she loves MUS and always has tried to keep the school's best interest uppermost in her mind. As co-chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, she was a great leader. She worked hard and kept the group organized and focused, yet she made the work interesting and fun. I think of her as a quiet but extremely effective trustee."
   Faber and her husband, Butch [Faber ('67)] , were founding members of the Thorn Society and are currently members of the Thorn Society Headmaster's Circle. They are the parents of sons, Michael '96 and Robert '98, and daughter, Carey. Faber is a graduate of East High School and Indiana University.

East High Foundation Gains Admin Friend
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News
Monday, April 21, 2008
   President George W. Bush did not forget about his impromptu encounter late last year with a Memphis businessman and a University of Memphis student.
   The two Memphians had crossed paths with the president in December at a political fundraiser in Omaha, Neb. Local commodities trader Charles McVean ['61] and U of M student Cortney Richardson flew to the event and approached Bush with the goal of selling him on the strengths of an emerging academic foundation at East High School.
   McVean, an East alum, started the foundation in 2004 with the basic idea that upperclassmen at the school would be paid $10 an hour to tutor their fellow students. Richardson is involved with the program as a tutor.
   During their encounter with Bush in Omaha, where the president had traveled to support the U.S. Senate candidacy of former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, the president told his personal assistant to give the pair from Memphis a business card. A packet of material describing the East High program was then forwarded to the White House.
   Bush eventually asked John Bailey, a domestic counsel affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education, to get back in touch with the backers of the local program known as the Greater East High Foundation. That's what led to a 45-minute conference call last week involving McVean, foundation director Bill Sehnert and Bailey as the representative of the education department.
   Taking the next step
   Bailey, impressed with the pitch he was given, at one point asked the East High officials, "What can we do to help?"
   "Charlie said, 'Well, what you can do to help is we believe that a proliferation of these types of private foundations that are privately funded around the country could receive grants from the government or from other private foundations that would pay for performance,'" Sehnert recalled. "And (Bailey) thought that was a good idea.
   "They liked the idea of each foundation basically working with one or two schools, because that way the money goes more to the tutors and to the students in incentives rather than to a large organization."
   Bailey already had read up on the program before last week's phone call. But he also requested more written information on things such as the program's intent to hire additional tutors and the impact of those additions.
   That supportive nod from the nation's capital, meanwhile, joins encouragement from the public and private sectors around the country for the local academic program. After a recent visit to Bolivar County, Miss., for example, one of McVean's friends in the area decided to help launch a version of the academic tutoring program there.
   At the program's three-year anniversary celebration last year, a panoply of notable guest speakers was brought in to praise the effort. Among those people was Clear Channel Communications co-founder and Texas billionaire Red McCombs.
   Creating masters
   And the East High program, which started out as a way McVean figured he could give back to his alma mater and have his money put to productive use, is growing. New college-age tutors will be added to the program's lineup for the next school year.
   "We're going to hire 25 college tutors for next year," Sehnert said. "And we're going to try to use those tutors during the day. They will be math, science and engineering students, so they will have the subject content knowledge.
   "One of the problems in our schools is that we give kids many, many different choices, so they become masters of nothing. And then when they graduate, if they do graduate from high school, they're not really very well-versed in math or very well-versed in science or very well-versed in English."
   Interest in the program is blossoming in other corners. Backers of the foundation have met with officials at Douglass High School in Memphis with the hope of starting a version of the program there. At the moment, East High foundation supporters closer to home are especially eager to bolster the program's lineup of tutors.
   "That," Sehnert said, "will be a walking demonstration to kids that they can succeed."

How we met: Couple 'In the Right Time' for love
Professionals find vision and fulfill their destinies
By Anita Houk
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Sunday, April 6, 2008
   "Ricky's vision," his bride, Gwendolyn, explains, "is to help people be their very best, and that's right in line with my vision as well: helping people understand how to get to the next level toward their purpose, their destiny."
   Who knew, they marvel, that when she attended and he emceed a 2006 Habitat for Humanity Women Build fund-raiser that they were fulfilling their destinies to build their lives together?
   "The theme of our wedding," Ricky L. Tucker ['75] inserts, "was 'In the Right Time.'"
   And so it was that in the right time a mutual friend introduced them.
   "I was the manager of diversity and inclusion at International Paper," says Gwen J. Nicholson Tucker. "He told me about being an executive coach, and I thought, wow, this might be an opportunity to understand better what he does in terms of coaching, about young professionals moving up in the organization, and specifically African-American males and what skills and tools they need to move up in corporate America.
   "That was Sept. 7, 2006, we met. We exchanged business cards."
   A few contacts later, Gwen invited Ricky, who owns Rix International, to her office to discuss his proposal to work with IP employees. At that first meeting, he had made an impression.
   "Ricky said that as he was building the executive coaching business, that it was developing his character. I don't hear many people talk about developing their character. People talk about what they do, but not about evolving in their character. So that was something that really stood out to me."
   They talked business -- "I felt that I was getting grilled!" he admits -- and at some point he volunteered his professional package for auction at her church fund-raiser. And then ....
   "I went to this one appointment so that I could secure the business (with IP)," Ricky says, "but between the time I went there and the time I left, it was decided."
   "...We couldn't pursue the business part of the equation," says Gwen.
   They were discussing assessment tools and personality profiles. He knew his. He asked about hers. At first she recoiled, but then took the risk. "I'd never shared anything of that magnitude," she admits.
   He realized the import. "I definitely don't mix business with pleasure," Ricky says, "and I don't take advantage of people. I think I said something to her like, 'I don't have mine but my kimono is open, so if there's anything you want to ask me, you can.' "
   "As I think about it," Gwen continues, "there were certain gates of trust that had to be passed through, and that was me taking a risk to trust him. It was a risk that I took. I found out it was (trust) well-placed. I think this must have been the second or third time that we had met."
   They had learned about each other quickly. He's from Memphis, graduated from East High, University of Tennessee-Knoxville and has worked toward a master's degree. He's 51, divorced, has lived in Indiana and visited South Africa.
   "My prayer was to grow to an international business" and return to South Africa and do good, he says. But then: "When there were straight-line winds in Memphis, my cousin was in an accident and in a coma; he passed away. He had two children. Now, when my mom passed away, his mom had stood in the gap, she was there for me; so I said, I have to come here for him."
   That was 2002, two years after Gwen had moved from her home state of Florida to Memphis for her job at International Paper. While she wasn't looking for a husband, "I'd really been praying for a long time to be married to the right man, the husband that God had prepared for me," says Gwen, 48. "One of the things I've longed for is for the man I'm to marry to ask for my hand in marriage, regardless of how old I am. And he did that."
   They met in September; he proposed in November. He met her family and friends and passed all their tests. She was delighted: "I didn't wait this long to get married to get it wrong!"
   They married April 28, 2007, at The Life Church of Memphis. She has joined Ricky at Rix International, and they do business as a team.
   "I had this vision in my mind that I would probably die alone and lonely," Ricky says. But instead, he found "my soulmate."
   "He calls me My Joy," says Gwen, beaming. "My middle name is Joy, but he says My Joy."

Alumnus featured in column: "80 percent of poor Americans work"
The road from government aid to self-sufficiency often not a smooth one
By Wendi C. Thomas
The Commercial Appeal
Sunday, March 30, 2008
   Poverty in Memphis looks a lot like Taurus Green.
   In fact, 80 percent of the poor people here are single moms and their children.
   Green, 30, is raising her three daughters in a drafty duplex in Parkway Village.
   She dropped out of South Side High School in the 12th grade, but earned a GED from a program she later found out wasn't certified. She can't afford a car, so her world is limited to where she can get rides or where the bus goes.
   Best-case scenario: She earns $800 a month cleaning houses. That's $9,600 a year, which puts her at less than half of the federal poverty level for a family of four -- $21,200.
   But you can't raise a family on $800 a month, so Green receives government assistance. There's about $400 a month in food stamps for her girls, 22-month-old Makayla, 7-year-old Jada and 13-year-old Candace. Section 8 pays for her apartment and part of her staggering utility bill.
   Overweight, Green vows that this month is the month her diet and exercise program will begin in earnest. She takes a handful of pills daily for high blood pressure and diabetes.
   And for many people, including most who have never been poor, that's all they need to know about Green and her family.
   The thinking goes like this: Green made poor choices and now, she's paying for them. No, correction, taxpayers are paying for Green's poor choices.
   For those whose safety nets have safety nets, it can be difficult to muster any compassion for Green.
   After all, no one made her get pregnant. No one made her drop out of high school. No one made her have three children, all by different fathers, only one of whom is involved in his daughter's life.
   But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., were he alive today, might see Green's fate a bit differently. He would have less judgment for how Green got where she is. He would want to know how America planned to help Green and the other 35 million Americans who live in poverty.
   When King was assassinated, he was in the midst of planning a Poor People's Campaign, an effort that was unpopular even among his civil-rights compatriots. The campaign, which culminated posthumously with a monthlong settlement camp of poor Americans on the National Mall in Washington, demanded that the government provide more jobs with a decent wage, better unemployment insurance and higher-quality public education to prepare children for the workforce.
   "Instead of spending $35 billion every year to fight an unjust, ill-considered war in Vietnam and $20billion to put a man on the moon, we need to put God's children on their own two feet," King said on March 18, 1968, in speech to striking Memphis sanitation workers.
   But to be fair, poverty 40 years ago didn't look like poverty today. Then, poverty was starvation, homes with rodent and insect infestation but no heating or indoor plumbing.
   And that's not to say that there aren't poor people in America living in such situations. But Green and her family do have food, shelter and clothing. There is just little room in her budget for extras and certainly no money for emergencies.
   Even the $6 it cost for her daughter Jada's field trip to Pink Palace is a strain.
   A former resident of the Dixie Homes housing project, she moved into her duplex in July and has received job training through Memphis Hope. For her perfect attendance and stellar performance in a job-training class, she got a computer, which she used to make fliers for the residential-cleaning business she hopes to start.
   The computer is now unusable, felled by a virus and Green isn't sure how to fix it.
   Besides, a computer isn't a necessity. What she needed more than a computer was new shoes. Hers had holes in them, and she suspects walking to and from the bus stop with wet feet is probably what made her sick with the flu.
   So when she got her tax refund, it was quickly spent -- on shoes for her and clothes and shoes for her children. On buying the dryer she'd been renting. On a working TV. Life insurance policies for her children. Stocking up on canned goods. And paying all her bills, including an overdue $500 utility bill, through April.
   Like 80 percent of poor Americans, Green works. She has a few regular clients, but if they go on vacation or just don't need her that week, she doesn't get paid.
   In late March, she had $2.41 in her checking account and $14 in her savings account.
   She used to get $142 each month in cash assistance, but last month, she turned that down. The check came with strings -- including a requirement to spend 30 hours each week either at work, school or in volunteer service, but volunteering just a few blocks away at her daughter's school didn't count.
   Green knows her time on welfare is running out. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act limits benefits to 60 months over a lifetime, with some exceptions for aid to children.
   Green estimates she may have two years of that five years left.
   "That's one of the reasons I gave the check up. ... I wanted to see if I could do it myself."
   * * *
   That's a myth about the poor -- that they don't want better for themselves. That they don't want to work, that they're lazy.
   "Sure, that group is there," says Doug Imig, professor at the University of Memphis and fellow at the Urban Child Institute. But that group gets magnified well beyond its size, and examples of fraud are held up as the norm rather than the exception.
   More importantly, says Imig, "We need to pause and realize we hold completely contradictory attitudes" about poor people.
   On one hand, Imig says, we believe poor people are a crafty bunch, adept at scamming the system so they can collect a check. But at the same time, we believe that they must be dumb, because otherwise, they'd figure out a way to escape poverty.
   But moving from poverty to self-sufficiency is rarely a smooth transition free from setbacks.
   Imig has his urban-policy students meet in the Walgreen's lot at Poplar and Cleveland.
   The students are to pretend as if they have a baby in arms and just 20 minutes to find dinner before catching the next bus home.
   Will they try to cross Poplar to go to Kroger -- and if so, will they spend part of that 20 minutes sorting through the produce for the most healthful food available? Or will they pick up a quart of milk at Walgreen's? Or will they stay on the same side of the street and grab some fast food from McDonald's?
   "It's hard to be poor and this is a city that's hard to be poor in," unlike other cities that have efficient mass transportation, Imig says.
   Many Americans earning a middle-class income are still just a paycheck or two away from poverty, and but for the safety nets they have -- families with financial resources, property that can be pawned, even the smallest of nest eggs -- they, too, might find themselves in need of welfare.
   Welfare, Imig says, can be likened to a hospital room with two beds.
   "In one bed, there's someone who stays for just six months. And the other bed, a new patient comes every day," says Imig, who has a "Poverty Sucks" sticker on his office printer.
   "Yes, both beds are occupied all the time, but 98 percent of the use is short-term."
   The new patient would be Lashadran Nelson [class year undetermined], who is well on her way to moving off government assistance.
   Nelson, 21, had graduated from East High by the time she had Aniyah, who turned 2 in January. Aniyah's father, his family and Nelson's mother and grandmother were there with cameras when Aniyah, dressed like a little angel, won a fashion show at her Binghamton day care center.
   Welfare reform forced Nelson, and thousands of other Memphis mothers who receive government assistance, into a workforce-readiness program at BRIDGES.
   Nelson came to the Downtown center last July with a bad attitude, a pierced eyebrow and yellow hair she later dyed hot red. Her clothes were better suited for a night club than an office.
   But that was before she was taught what it'd take to succeed in a professional environment, lessons her mother, who is an IT coordinator for BRIDGES' workforce-development arm, had tried to teach her but Nelson wouldn't listen.
   "My attitude has really improved," says a poised Nelson over dinner, her brown hair braided neatly.
   But, Nelson admits, "It took someone else to tell me."
   That someone else was Pam McCoy. Dr. McCoy, director of supportive services for BRIDGES' Work Bridge program, who is proud to tell you she went from a GED to a Ph.D.
   McCoy, 51, dropped out of high school and had her first child at 15. She married her daughter's father, but was separated just a few years later and divorced in eight years.
   Unmarried, she relied on the government for help, following in the single-motherhood path traveled by her mother and her grandmother.
   But then she got a break, a break that makes the difference between failure and success: Patient teachers and a devoted financial-aid counselor at what was then Shelby State Community College.
   Her first day at junior college in 1977, she showed up wearing a halter top and too-tight jeans, sporting red hair and a gold tooth right in front.
   "With the attitude I had, the first week, I ended up cussing out the dean of students," probably over her financial aid, she assumes.
   "My mindset was, 'You owe me something.'"
   The kindness of her teachers softened her spirit. After she got her degree in counseling at Shelby State, she was hired as an academic adviser. And she had her gold tooth replaced with a natural-colored one.
   In 1991, she got her bachelor's degree in human relations from Western Illinois. She moved to Tulsa, Okla., and earned her master's degree in counseling from Oral Roberts University in 1996. Her Ph.D. came from Jacksonville Theological Seminary in 2003.
   When McCoy -- affectionately called "Madear" by younger BRIDGES clients and staffers -- talks to recalcitrant mothers uninterested in the training program, she does so with the special insight of having been where they are now.
   "You're setting yourself up for defeat," she tells them, when they come in with pierced lips and unusual hair colors. Society will judge them on their appearances -- that's reality, so deal with it.
   Yes, it's hard to be a single mother navigating an often-unfriendly system, when you're so easily knocked off course by a sick child or a late bus.
   "Sometimes we beat ourselves down and we refuse to come up and come out of that," McCoy says.
   But, McCoy says, "Once we change our thinking, we can change our life."
   For Nelson, her thinking changed when Aniyah was born. "When you have a child, it's not about you no more."
   After her classes at BRIDGES were over, she was hired there part-time, and in that job, she and another BRIDGES graduate transformed the transportation-payment system from a daily time-sucker to an orderly process that happens just once a week. Her initiative -- seeing and solving a problem -- impressed McCoy and others. And last month, BRIDGES hired Nelson full-time.
   When the new BRIDGES workforce classes begin on Mondays, it's Nelson who gives a pep talk to the women, most of whom are as reluctant to be there as she was.
   "You can't look and them and say, 'They're not going to do anything' because I had that same expression on my face."
   Still, the transition hasn't been easy. In her first few weeks as a full-time employee, in her first professional job, she sneaked into a bathroom stall to cry.
   Nelson was overwhelmed by all the work, she explained when her mom saw her tear-stained face.
   But she was also crying for joy.
   "I am so proud of myself."

Back in the saddle
Stable operators treat horses like athletes
From The Commercial Appeal, March 13, 2008
Back in the saddle
Stable operators treat horses like athletes
By Chris Van Tuyl
Thursday, March 13, 2008
   Trey Lawson has an accounting degree from Ole Miss, but the 26-year-old's office setting isn't typical. On any given day, he can stomp around 65 acres.
   Lawson has returned home to Olive Branch to work with his parents, Wes [Lawson ('68)] and Rose Marie [Manning ('73)] Lawson, at Oak View Stables, an equestrian training center that has been operating in the Mid-South since Oct. 1, 1977.
   "Ole Miss treated me well, but I was ready to come back to work and play with the horses a little bit," Trey said.
   "It's an addiction in the blood. When you grow up with it, it's hard to move away from it. You're stuck with it one way or another."
   For Trey, it's a good kind of "stuck." He's surrounded by beginner, intermediate and advanced riders every week.
   "We take them as early as about 5 or 6 and work 'em on up as far as they want to go," he said. "We've got people that are happy to sit there and walk around in circles, and we've got people who are ready to gallop at the next big jump in front of them."
   Oak View opened its doors in Germantown but moved to 13600 Looney Road in Olive Branch a little over a decade later.
   "It's been a beautiful life in DeSoto County," Rose Marie said. "I love it."
   The horses certainly aren't complaining.
   "Everybody is checked on everyday," said Trey, "most of the time more than once. They have blankets that come on and off with the weather. They have their own medications, their own speciality diets, their own particular brand of hay -- it just depends.
   "They're professional athletes and we treat them as such. A lot of times, as a professional, we all wish we could be as well-treated as our horses."
   In the next couple of months, it will be prime time for shows and summer camps at Oak View. The next Hunter/Jumper Show is scheduled for May 31, while four sessions of camps begin June2. That means plenty of excitement -- even for Wes.
   "I rode horses as a kid," he said, "but I think my wife married me because I knew how to operate a shovel."
   On a serious note, Wes is the chief groundskeeper, yet his feet aren't always on the ground.
   "He very much appreciates any hauling jobs he can get," Trey said. "He'd take horses all the way to Canada and back if need be."
   For more information on Oak View Stables, visit the Web site oakviewstables.net or call (662) 895-4544.

Don't judge East by actions of a few
From Letters to the editor, The Commercial Appeal, March 3, 2008
Don't judge East by actions of a few
   It is quite unfair to categorize the East High student body as uncivilized because of the actions of a few students, as the writer of a Feb. 28 letter to the editor did [see below]. He is obviously basing his opinion on mere observations and not facts. I'm sure if he truly paid attention, he would see that it is the same students who cut across his yard each day, not the entire student body.
   I am a proud 2003 graduate of East High, and I recently received a B.S. degree from Middle Tennessee State University. I also have classmates who have gone on to graduate from institutions such as Morehouse University, Clark-Atlanta University, Dartmouth University and MIT, just to name a few. Several people who are employed in the medical field in Memphis are products of East's optional Health Sciences program and the Health Occupations Students of America program the school provides. I believe we are very productive, civilized citizens of Memphis.
   Although I do believe that some people need to better their parenting skills, you can't expect the school to pick up where parents leave off. That's what a community is for, or at least that was the original idea. If the writer is so concerned about the behavior of these students, who apparently reside in his community, maybe he should mentor them instead of criticizing them.
   Kearea Ellis

East students are uncivilized
From Letters to the editor, The Commercial Appeal, February 28, 2008
East students are uncivilized
Thursday, February 28, 2008
   The author of your Feb. 21 letter "High expectations are the answer," [see letter below] East High School principal Frederick W. Curry, would do well to observe the behavior of some of the East pupils when they leave school at the end of the day.
   If indeed he thinks these pupils conduct themselves as members of a civilized community, he is sadly mistaken. I live in close proximity to East, and I see and hear the way those so-called students behave.
    Fist fights, yelling obscenities at each other, walking across people's yards -- these are the order of the day. Shirts are hanging out of trousers, which are worn to the point of hardly covering body parts that civilized society expects to be covered.
   These students Curry seems to be proud of have picked flowers from my garden and thrown stones at my dog. The blame for this behavior obviously falls on the parent/parents. Since they have failed, we hope the school will pick up where society has not.
   The letter also stated that each East staff member is asked to mentor one student. Unless the ratio of staff to student is one for one, then I believe the majority of these students do not experience this encouragement.
   The community judges East by the observed behavior of its students. While success may be observed inside East, it certainly is not displayed in the neighborhood in which these students live.
   Finally, I would like to share this thought: "Self praise is no recommendation."
   John Nicholas

High expectations are the answer
From Letters to the editor, The Commercial Appeal, February 21, 2008
High expectations are the answer
Thursday, February 21, 2008
   I applaud Mayor Willie Herenton for his leadership and concern for our plight as educators (Feb. 14 article, "Beefing up school safety"). Metal detectors and more police reinforcement seem to be the way of large urban school districts. These strategies will definitely quell the violence. But is this what we really need in our schools?
   It has been my experience, as a principal, assistant principal, teacher and football coach, that high expectations and character education for all students make schools safe. Students rise or fall to expectations set for them.
   We do not have a Memphis Police Department officer assigned to our school. Instead, my staff members are asked to mentor one student. We believe high expectations are taught through good teacher-student relationships. At East High School, we expect our students to conduct themselves as members of a civilized community.
   When I arrived at East there was much chaos with an officer assigned to our school. Some students who have succumbed to a lifestyle of gang violence may see it as a "badge of honor" to be arrested or to challenge police authority. It has continued to be my observation that corporal punishment and a stronger Memphis police presence in the school lower expectation. This is evidenced at East High School, as we have experienced decreased numbers of Memphis police calls and discipline referrals over a three-year period with no police presence and no corporal punishment.
   We have maintained high expectations for our entire student body, and they do a great job of governing themselves accordingly.
   I also believe children must be taught how to behave. We have found that teaching them to "use your inside voice, tuck in your shirt, and walk to the right of the hall," are important elements of behavior for children.
   Methods we use to teach good character and behavior include requiring our students to learn the school creed and school poem, "Invictus." We also enlighten our students school-wide through announcing daily character words, having character assemblies, and showing great movies like "Akeelah and the Bee."
   Older students at East mentor and tutor younger students after school through our "Peer Power" program. We use "Trust Pays" as a tool for students to take ownership of their school. They are rewarded when they report instances of crime and graffiti to trusted adults.
   I am convinced that high expectation and good character translate into a safe environment. I am proud to report that these things work for us at East High School, and can work at all high schools.
   Frederick W. Curry
   Principal, East High School

Alumnus opens new store
From The Commercial Appeal, February 2, 2008
Vineyard vines spreads to Memphis
Clothing fashion shop opens at Regalia site
By David Flaum
Saturday, February 2, 2008
   Almost as quietly as vines grow, vineyard vines, the retailer of bright-colored, preppy fashion, opened its first Memphis store Friday.
   The joint venture with Oak Hall, which has sold vineyard vines goods for several years, is next to the Oak Hall store in Regalia Center.
   "We've been working on this for three months and it all came together this week," said Bill Levy, co-owner of Oak Hall...
   The Oak Hall and vineyard vines folks hope to use the grand opening event to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a charity Oak Hall has long supported, Levy said. Pediatric oncology is also an interest of the vineyard vines leaders, he said.
   The store may set aside a percentage of sales revenue for grand-opening week for St. Jude and try to give St. Jude patients gifts -- hats or shirts -- from the store, he said.
   In addition, the owners will look into creating a vineyard vines product line from which profits would go to St. Jude, Levy said.

Peer Power program at East High appeals to entrepreneurial spirit of student tutors

From The Memphis Business Journal, January 18, 2008, posted January 31, 2008
Memphis Business Journal - by Karen Ott Mayer
Friday, January 18, 2008
   Peer Power represents the best marriage of business and education.
   When local businessman and founder of the Greater East High Foundation, Charles McVean ['61], formed the foundation for the express purpose of funneling private funds into a single public school, he stepped into uncharted territory.
   What he believed, however, was that by tying simple business principles to an incentive-based tutoring program, educational performance just might improve.
   "We are students of global economics," says McVean, who has personally invested $2 million in foundation programs over the past three years. "Unless we can impact the next generation of kids, America doesn't have a chance to continue being a world leader."
   More importantly, Peer Power recognizes an untapped resource within East High School: "The most underutilized resource is the top-end kids in inner city schools," he says.
   Peer Power treats top-notch students as employees, effectively making their tutoring role also their first job where they are paid at least $10/hour to tutor.
   This past year, the program's third year, 250 students participated. Tutoring happens four days during the week and for at least three hours on Saturday.
   Besides collapsing the teacher ratio from 25:1 to 2:1, Peer Power seeks to change culture.
   "We recognize that the strongest influence on a 7th grade child is a high school student," McVean says. "They look up to them for good or bad. By making this program the desired, elite activity, we can do things like replace gang activity with a competitive team identity. And as business people, we know people respond to monetary incentives."
   And it's working.
   In 2006, 97% of those tutored (called scholars) passed the Tennessee standardized Algebra I Gateway exam, compared to only 52% of the untutored. In 2007, that number jumped again, with 100% of scholars passing the exam.
   Alyssa Carter, now a sophomore at the University of Memphis, became a Peer Power tutor in 2005, helping tutor football scholars in math.
   "I think the most surprising thing I've seen is how motivated kids are," Carter says. "They can relate to someone their own age."
   Students like Carter submit to a formal hiring process.
   "Tutors participate in 80 to 100 hours of paid training during the summer," says William Sehnert, foundation director. "Before that, we ask for a faculty recommendation and students must display honor conduct and be involved in the school as a whole."
   Another important feature of Peer Power is the team approach. Scholars are broken into teams and compete through quizzes, attendance and conduct.
   "Every six weeks, teams are eligible for monetary incentives of $75 and $100," Sehnert says.
   Perhaps the most exciting part of Peer Power for McVean and his team is that the program can be easily duplicated, and his primary objective is to see it replicated nationwide. In the past year, it has been replicated with success at Whitehaven High School where the program is funded by Jerre Freeman.
   "It is management intensive and takes qualified, motivated people to support it, but with the support of the school administrations and strong discipline, anyone can have results comparable to our success," McVean says.
   An early challenge McVean encountered at East High was the lack of discipline: "When we went into the school three years ago, it was bad. You couldn't hear over the noise in the halls."
   McVean says that the support of East High principal Fred Curry and the administration has been essential.
   "Teachers in public schools often get too much blame for education problems," he says. "They signed up to teach, not raise kids. What we've got is a broader societal problem stemming from the failure of the traditional family unit."
   In this light, McVean explains that tutors accept an even greater role.
   "Tutors are qualified to help in the teaching of intangibles, acting almost like surrogate parents to the younger kids," he says.

   Greater East High Foundation
   Chairman: Charles D. McVean
   Address: 850 Ridge Lake Blvd., Suite 1
   Phone: (901) 761-8400
   Web site: www.easthighfoundation.org

Memphian set for Tennis Hall induction

From The Commercial Appeal, January 15, 2008, posted January 16, 2008
By Phil Stukenborg
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
   She had been invited by friends last summer to The Racquet Club to play tennis, the sport that has been her calling card and companion for more than 55 years, when Bonnie Dondeville Farley was hit, not with an errant forehand, but unexpected news. Bonnie Dondeville Farley, well known for her competitive play, has earned her spot in the USTA Southern Section Tennessee Tennis Association Hall of Fame.
   The invitation to play tennis was a ruse. A party celebrating her entry into the USTA Southern Section Tennessee Tennis Association Hall of Fame was not.
   A lifelong Memphian known by the local tennis community for her fierce competitive nature, her blistering forehands -- righthanded and lefthanded -- and her deep love of the game, Farley, 63, will be inducted into the hall during ceremonies held Jan. 26 in Cool Springs, Tenn., a Nashville suburb.
   Also inducted will be Knoxville native Ben Testerman, a former Top 20 player in the world and a one-time Australian Open quarterfinalist, and Chattanooga's Sue Bartlett, a former All-American at UT-Chattanooga and a longtime high school coach.
   "I'm so proud, it's really neat, it's really cool," Farley said. "I'm probably going to be boo-hooing because my mom and dad won't be there to see me inducted, and they sacrificed so much for me to play tennis."
   Farley said her tennis-playing parents, Clem and Jean, introduced her to the game when she was 5, taking her with them when they'd play matches at old Beauregard Tennis Center. Using a cut-down racquet, she'd hit balls off the backboard on Court No. 18.
   "I'd hit against the wall with one hand, change hands, and hit with the other hand," she said.
   The practice developed two strong forehands, allowing her to avoid using a backhand stroke. By the time she was 12, Farley was playing -- and winning -- local tournaments for 15-year-olds and competing deep into the draw in older age brackets.
   "That whole first summer I competed, I didn't know how to keep score," she said. "All I could do was run over to the ball and dink it back."
   She quickly progressed, learning more about the game than keeping the score. By 1959, when she was 14, Farley competed in national tournaments in Philadelphia and Chicago and earned a No. 1 ranking in the South in the 15-and-under division. In 1960, she was ranked 15th in the nation in the 15s.
   As an amateur, she dominated the women's open division in Tennessee. From 1962, when she graduated from East High, through 1974, she was ranked No. 1 in the division on six occasions.
   While her success as a junior generated headlines, Farley garnered extensive publicity in the early 1960s when, as a student at then-Memphis State University, she tried out for, and made, the men's tennis team. Few college athletics programs offered women's tennis, so Farley played her way onto the Tiger team at the No. 5 singles position. In 1963, she won the singles title at her position while competing in the Tennessee Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships at Sewanee.
   An excellent doubles player, she and Ken Lewis formed the No. 1 doubles team at Memphis for two years and went undefeated.
   Despite the attention her college career brought, Farley admits she wasn't trying to be a pioneer or make a statement for the women's game.
   "There's no doubt in my mind the best women aren't going to come close to competing against the men," she said. "But that was a two-year fun thing. Then I had to get serious about getting my degree."
   Farley taught children with special needs in the Memphis City Schools system for 42 years, retiring last May after spending the last 26 of those years at Egypt Elementary. She played tennis competitively and taught the sport until 1983 when her son, John, was born.
   It was during those local events that her legend as an intense competitor grew. Former Tiger men's player Phil Chamberlain, a member of Memphis' team in the mid-1970s, often drew Farley and her partner in local mixed doubles events. He called her "intimidating."
   "If she had a good partner, she'd win with whoever she was playing with," Chamberlain said. "She was a dominating player and a great competitor. And her ground game was awesome."
   Chamberlain said Farley's unique two-forehand ground game made it difficult to choose how to serve to her.
   "I remember thinking, 'Where do I serve it? Out wide or to her body?"' said Chamberlain, who is tournament director of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and Cellular South Cup, the annual pro tennis stop at The Racquet Club. "I've never seen someone who had two forehands before or since Bonnie."
   During her dominating run in the women's Open division in the state from 1962-74, Farley was ranked No. 1 in doubles three times and No. 2 twice, including once with her mother, Jean.
   "She was dynamic," said Charlotte Peterson, who played and coached women's tennis at Memphis. "And those were heavy, devastating forehands she hit. If you tried to make her decide which forehand to hit by hitting it down the middle, it didn't matter. The ball she hit was so 'heavy,' it was like hitting a rock."
   Peterson also played in tournaments where her doubles team often drew Farley's.
   "Her first shot was always at the net person, especially in mixed doubles," Peterson said. "She was so competitive. And she didn't like to lose. She was fun to play against, but she was scary to play against, too."
   As intense and competitive as she was, she also showed a compassionate side on the courts. Although she taught lessons at several country clubs and tennis centers through the years, she often gave lessons for free on the Memphis Park Commission's public courts. Her skill level allowed her to be placed in exhibition matches against some of the sport's legendary players, including Pancho Segura and Tony Trabert.
   Tommy Buford, a longtime tennis teacher in the Memphis area and a former director of the pro tournament at The Racquet Club, said, like several others who saw Farley play as a junior, that she could have competed at a higher level. Farley said, "a lot of things held me back, one was a lack of funds; I couldn't even afford a tennis lesson."
   She said she doesn't regret what some regard as a missed opportunity.
   "It's a shame she didn't have a chance to expand her skills outside of the Mid-South area," said Buford, who lives outside of Boise, Idaho.
   Farley will add the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame honor to several others she has received, including an induction into the University of Memphis' M Club Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Memphis Amateur Hall of Fame in 1982.
   "Had she been in the right place, she could have played on the pro circuit," Peterson said. "My hat's off to her for getting in the Hall of Fame."

The Value of Good Grades
Schools offer Happy Meals and cash to improve scores

The following excerpt is from U.S. News & World Report, January 3, 2008.
By Eddy Ramírez
   Facing mounting pressure to raise students' scores on standardized tests, schools are prodding kids to work harder by offering them clear-cut incentives. Happy Meals are at the low end of the scale. With the help of businesses, schools are also giving away cars, iPods, coveted seats to basketball games, and—in a growing number of cases—cold, hard cash. The appeal of such programs is obvious, but the consequences of tying grades to goods are still uncertain.
   Even if rewards don't lead to individual achievement on a test, they could have a meaningful effect in the school. Rather than give money to his college alma mater, Charles McVean ['61], a businessman and philanthropist, started a peer tutoring program at East High School in Memphis, where he was once a student. The program pays higher-achieving students $10 an hour to tutor struggling classmates and divides them into teams. During the course of the year, students bond and compete. The team that posts the highest math scores wins the top cash prize of $100. McVean calls the combination of peer tutoring, competition, and cash incentives a recipe for "nothing less than magic."

See the full article at U.S. News & World Report.

Presidential Approval
East High tutoring program receives supportive nod from Bush

From The Daily News, December 11, 2007
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News
   President George W. Bush flew to Nebraska last week to attend a political fundraiser. University of Memphis student Cortney Richardson ['07] flew to the same event, albeit for a different reason.
   Richardson, accompanied by wealthy Memphis commodities trader Charles McVean ['61], hoped to score some face time with the president and bend his ear about an emerging academic foundation at East High School. The U of M freshman got his wish, and then some.
   Bush was in Omaha to support the U.S. Senate candidacy of former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns. Richardson and McVean showed up on behalf of the Greater East High Foundation, a peer-tutoring program launched with funding by McVean, a 1961 East High graduate.
   A few weeks before the Nebraska event, the East High program celebrated its third birthday with an event at the school that included a panoply of notable guest speakers. Among those brought in to extol the program's virtues was Clear Channel Communications co-founder and Texas billionaire Red McCombs. Johanns was there, too.
   The month before that saw Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. Secretary of Education and one of Tennessee's current Republican U.S. senators, show up to applaud the work at East, which uses academically strong students to tutor their struggling peers.
   Hopes for the road
   Fresh off all that attention for the fledgling program, McVean and his protégé took their effort on the road.
   "Actually, we were in line to take a picture (at the fundraiser), and we had some documents about the program we wanted the president to see and take with him so that he could read on the plane back home," Richardson said.
   They were told they wouldn't be able to give anything to the president, however, so McVean and Richardson quickly improvised. McVean let the young East High alumnus make the pitch himself.
   "I just went up and told him, 'I'm Cortney Richardson from the Greater East High Foundation of Memphis, Tenn.,' and 'This is an exceptional program,'" said Richardson, recalling his pitch to Bush. "And I told him, 'Sen. Lamar Alexander and Red McCombs from San Antonio think so, too.'
   "Then he interjected, 'You mean Big Red McCombs from San Antonio, Texas?' And we said, 'Yes, sir.' And we told him Red McCombs said this tutoring program concept is the most significant advancement in education in the last 100 years. (Bush) said right then and there, 'It's a deal.' And he told his personal assistant to give us a business card."
   Proof is in the results
   McVean founded the program in 2004. The basic idea is that East High upperclassmen are paid $10 an hour to tutor their fellow students.
   As a measure of the program's success, in the last school year 100 percent of the seventh- and eighth-grade students who receive the tutoring at East passed the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests.
   Bush promised he would read everything that Richardson and McVean forward to Jared Weinstein, the president's personal assistant. The president also gave Richardson a pointer about his salesmanship.
   After Richardson made his initial pitch, Bush gave him Weinstein's card, then said: "C'mon, let's take this picture."
   Richardson tried to get in another plug for the program at East and share a few statistics related to it.
   "But he stopped me and said, 'There's one thing you need to know as a salesman. Once the deal is closed, stop selling,'" Richardson recalled.
   Following that brief encounter, McVean held court last week in the school library at East. Voice booming, arms outstretched, he predicted to a small group of teachers and participants in the foundation that Bush ultimately would pay a visit to the school.
   Then the transformative program would be on everybody's map, impossible to ignore.
   "We've spent a couple of years trying to create a model that could be replicated elsewhere," said Bill Sehnert, the foundation's director. "Cortney's an example of that model. And if we can create a couple hundred Cortneys and get other schools to create a couple hundred Cortneys, then the future for Memphis gets a lot brighter."

Farmer's Market open house draws crafters, sellers for last hurrah

From The Commercial AppealDecember 2, 2007, posted December 20, 2007
By Pamela Perkins
Sunday, December 2, 2007
[Editor's note: this story has edited to condense it from the original]
   ... other customers got to come back to the Farmer's Market one last time this year for its open house Saturday...
   "This is kind of our last hurrah before the Christmas shopping season is over," said Farmer's Market manager Mark Hoggard.
   Usually open only May through October, nearly 30 vendors of arts and crafts, jewelry, woodwork, Christmas decor, pies and pastries and other delicacies and knickknacks came back for the open house. Hoggard hopes to make it a major annual event.
   "We had a small one last year, but it wasn't quite this magnitude," he said.
   He said it was designed to showcase vendors who don't just sell the traditional farmer's market produce.
   "Through the course of the summer you had people coming in that are buying fruits and vegetables and flowers that are available that time of year. Crafts vendors sometimes don't get the full impact of it. Their season is more or less when people are buying gifts during the holidays," Hoggard said.
   The open house also probably helps the business stand out among the growing number of farmer's markets in the Mid-South...
   Locally, Arlington started one this year and the Memphis Farmer's Market downtown opened last year. Organizers of both markets have said they wanted to bring their communities together while giving them an economic boost.
   "A lot of little communities have it ... for little, small farmers, which is great. Somebody has a backyard garden and has a few tomatoes, a few extra heads of lettuce or cabbage and wants a place to market them," Hoggard said.
   "Everybody thinks it's just the way to go. It's great for a community."
   Hoggard also said if the newer farmer's markets have hurt his business, he hasn't noticed.
   Neither has Eric Matheson ['58] of Germantown, who sells Jerry's Deep Fried Peanuts just about every day during Farmer's Market season.
   "There's so much customer loyalty. ... It's unreal," Matheson said. "I get almost 30 to 40 percent in repeat business. And I've made a lot of friends."

November, 2007 - Chas McVean ('61) and Courtney Richardson ('07) were interviewed on WREG-TV (Memphis) morning program November 21, 2007, discussing The Greater East High Foundation's peer tutoring program.
The video can be seen on youtube.com

Pep Rally for Alumnus McVean and Peer Tutoring Program

The East High Alumni Page, November 28, 2007
   The Greater East High Foundation held what amounted to a pep rally for hundreds of spectators the evening of November 20, 2007, in the auditorium of East High School.
   The program was billed in various ways, depending on the source of the information. The Greater East High Foundation called it "A Birthday Celebration of Accomplishments," the school announced the event as the "McVean Auditorium Dedication Ceremony," and The Commercial Appeal called it "a ceremony Tuesday to commemorate the school's 60th anniversary and the role the Greater East High Foundation has played in boosting student performance." The event was about as focused as the decision on what to call it.
   Starting fifteen minutes late and going 30 minutes beyond the advertised time, the program mostly featured politicians, friends, and associates of Charlie McVean ('61) trading accolades with McVean about each other.
   A former faculty member of East, Mrs. Margaret Taylor, was celebrated for her many years of educating the children of Memphis, first as a teacher at East High, then as an award winning principal at Grahamwood Elementary School. For the past three years she has been very involved with The Greater East High Foundation's efforts at East, first serving as its director and now as director emeritus. Mrs Taylor turned 90 years old late this month. Dr. Shirley Raines, President of the University of Memphis presented Mrs.Taylor with a certificate of appreciation for her service in education and City Councilman Jack Sammons gave her a key to the city. In response to the accolades, Mrs. Taylor said, "I think for the first time in my life I'm speechless. All I can say is I'll get even with you!" She went on to say, "Thank you for all your good thoughts. I'll try to live up to them. Thank you."
   Some of the compliments seemed overly exaggerated. Mr. Red McCombs of Texas, a wealthy businessman who made a fortune with major league sports teams, a major broadcasting chain, and car dealerships, and who has donated millions to the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and to the University of Texas-Austin, alluded to Mr. McVean's inspired peer tutoring program at East as being one of the greatest innovations in education in the past 100 years. Peer tutoring may be a winning strategy for secondary school education, however, it was already an established program at several schools nationwide, most notably perhaps, through the Breakthrough Collaborative, before Mr. McVean began The Greater East High Foundation.
   Dr. Carolyn Farb, a Houston, Texas, based fund raiser for charities, deviated from the ad-lib nature of the comments making a prepared speech.
   According to Mr. McVean, both Dr. Farb and Mr. McCombs are associates and/or friend of his who he persuaded to join him specifically for this event.
   There were brief moments of substance during the evening's comments. Mr. McVean called on the "rank and file of the middle business leaders" to get involved in programs such as his Greater East High Foundation. Mr. Jerry Freeman who has adapted the peer tutoring program at East for Whitehaven High School and Whitehaven High principal Dr. Vincent Hunter spoke of major gains in academic testing results after just one year of the program at that school.
   There was a brief discussion of a chart displayed on stage showing that of those students to receive peer tutoring through The Greater East High Foundation's program at East, 51 percent graded "advanced" on state standardized testing of mathematics. Several other charts indicating academic improvement by pupils participating in the program were displayed outside the auditorium doors and in handouts for attendees to review. (see charts below)
   Not to miss the apparent point of the night, councilman Sammons announced that the City Council had designated Poplar Avenue from Lafayette Street to Holmes Street "Charlie McVean Parkway" and that signs announcing that would be posted along that stretch of highway that fronts the East High School property.
   Finally, near the end of the program, East principal Fred Curry was able to quickly announce the East High auditorium was being named in honor of Charles McVean, a fact already reported here several months ago when the city school board approved the naming.

[If you attended the above event, The East High Alumni Page would like to know. Send us a message at editor@EastHigh.org

Resources: Visit The Greater East High Foundation web site
See the charts:

Good news at MCS

From The Commercial Appeal Editorial page, November 23, 2007, posted November 25, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
   If Memphis City Schools is the hopeless case it's portrayed as by some critics, how does East High senior Alexandria Jones manage a 4.883 grade point average while taking calculus through dual enrollment at Southwest Tennessee Community College and tutoring an East High freshman?
   Why were last year's seniors throughout the MCS system offered 3,436 scholarships, only 189 of which were for athletics, worth $97,353,806?
   The reason is that MCS has the resources to help students perform academically and even excel if they're motivated to do well.
   While management problems in the district and a grand jury investigation of school building contracts dominate the headlines, there are good teachers and administrators quietly and effectively carrying out the district's educational mission.
   And there are students like Jones, who manages to keep her grades up, take a college-level class and help freshman Jerica Falls in her studies, earning $10 an hour in a Greater East High Foundation tutoring program.
   Greater East High Foundation is the creation of businessman and East alum Charles McVean ['61], who has a desire to see the school recapture some of the glory of its earlier years.
   It's the kind of program that can provide the motivation and the role models to help students excel no matter what their socioeconomic status may be.
   Help like that isn't available at every one of the district's schools, but it sets an example that alumni and support groups throughout the system should try to follow.

Students reap benefits of peer tutoring
TCAP scores soar thanks to East High Foundation program

From The Commercial Appeal, November 18, 2007, posted November 20, 2007
By Dakarai I. Aarons
Sunday, November 18, 2007
   The way Jerica Falls and Alexandria Jones talk, you'd think they'd grown up together as sisters.
   The two East High School students have formed a tight bond in the months they've spent together in the Greater East High Foundation's tutoring program, often finishing each other's sentences.
   Jones, a senior with a 4.883 GPA, spends her afternoons helping Falls, a freshman, with her geometry homework.
   She is taking calculus through dual enrollment at Southwest Tennessee Community College.
   Jones said she's also seen a benefit from participating as a tutor.
   "Being a tutor has taught me how to analyze a problem," she said. "That has helped me with my communication skills and people skills."
   And Falls says learning from a peer is sometimes less intimidating than working with a teacher one-on-one after school.
   "To have someone your own age who knows the subject, it helps you form a relationship with them."
   And the personalized attention is also a plus, she said.
   "In a classroom, the teacher has 20 or 30 other students to think about," Falls said.
   Founded in 2004 by businessman and East alum Charles McVean ['61], the foundation aims to help return the school that has seen many transitions in the past decade back to its former glory.
   Nearly 120 students participate in the foundation's program, which works with students for an hour after school Monday through Thursday and three hours on Saturday mornings.
   Students receive tutoring from upperclassmen in mastering their math, science and writing skills. The tutors are paid $10 an hour.
   The foundation's work will be celebrated at a Tuesday night ceremony in the school's auditorium.
   Legendary Memphis educator Margaret Taylor [Faculty], who will turn 90 later this month, plays a key part role in the foundation's work, spending countless hours each day mentoring and tutoring students.
   The student-to-student tutoring has paid off.
   In the 2005-06 school year, 97 percent of the foundation's seventh- and eighth-graders passed the state's Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests. Last school year, 100 percent of students passed, said Bill Sehnert, the foundation's director.
   In a study released earlier this year by the University of Memphis' Center for Research in Educational Policy, researchers found that students in the scholars tutoring program scored "significantly higher" than their peers at the school.
   Sehnert said he is proud of the results, but those test scores are just the beginning.
   The foundation's hope is to make sure these students advance through school and do well enough on the ACT college entrance exam that they can attend the nation's top colleges and universities on scholarship.
   Along the way, students learn the benefit of giving back to their community and can help create a vibrant workforce for Memphis, Sehnert said.
   At the end of the year, they can look and say, 'I've helped my fellow kids.'" he said.

   East High Celebration
   What: East High School is having a ceremony Tuesday to commemorate the school's 60th anniversary and the role the Greater East High Foundation has played in boosting student performance.
   Who: Speakers include philanthropist Carolyn Farb of Houston, Texas, who has raised more than $35 million for hundreds of charitable causes and Clear Channel Communications co-founder Red McCombs.
   When: The celebration will take place Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m.
   Where: It will be held in the East High auditorium, 3206 Poplar.

Alumnus expresses views on annexation

From The Commercial Appeal, October 26, 2007, posted November 1, 2007
Compiled by Raina Hanna
Desoto Appeal, October 26, 2007
    How do you feel about the city of Olive Branch's plans to annex the land east of the city to the Marshall County line? [italics theirs]
   Well, I don't suppose we have any choice about it happening. I really wish they would let the residents vote on it. They didn't ask or get our opinion, but I guess we'll have to accept it.
   Wes Lawson ['68]
   DeSoto County
   "My Two Cents" takes the pulse of the DeSoto County community on topics in the news....

Alumnus album features songs about Mid-South murders

posted October 16, 2007
Bob Frank ('62) is featured in an article in the October issue of Memphis Magazine about his colaboration with another Memphian in producing an album with songs about legendary or actual murders having occurred in the Mid-South. There is also a web site for the album and the artists.

Aim high, honors students are told
Alexander cites work of East High Foundation

From The Commercial Appeal, Tuesday, October 16, 2007 By Dakarai I. Aarons
October 16, 2007
   Sen. Lamar Alexander told East High School honors students Monday not to let challenges like poverty get in the way of their goals.
   "Aim for the top," Alexander said. "There's more room there."
   Tennessee's senior senator was on hand for a ceremony naming the school auditorium for businessman Charles McVean ('61), who founded the Greater East High Foundation.
   Alexander said there is support on Capitol Hill for giving more flexibility to teachers in helping students succeed.
   He cited the Greater East High Foundation's work in mentoring students as an example of local-based solutions that help schools succeed.
   "Back in Washington, I think we need to make sure we give schools and states the flexibility they need to use models like this program and the work of Charles McVean to improve the rest of our nation's schools," said Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education.
   Alexander, who sits on the Senate's Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions, said the No Child Left Behind law has been good for the country, but could use some work, as it undergoes reauthorization.
   The current rules heavily penalize schools that narrowly miss the benchmarks, placing them on the same level as schools that are consistently underperforming, Alexander said.
   In a few weeks, he will introduce a bill that creates a pilot program that would allow 12 states to create their own method for calculating Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind, with permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
   The states would have to keep the same standards, but would have more flexibility in determining whether students and schools have met those standards.
   States would also be given more leeway in how to spend education dollars.
   "We ought to catch people doing things right rather than wrong," he said. "In No Child Left Behind, it seems like we give only C's and F's."

Former East Student Asks Mayoral Candidates Question

   From WMC-TV Mayoral Election debate, September 21, 2007
John Reed (associated with the Class of '69) was one of the members of the public chosen to ask the Memphis mayoral candidates a question during WMC-TV's candidate debate airing Friday, September 21, 2007. He asked, I was wondering if there's one thing ... that inspired you to want to run for mayor."
   The debate telecast can be viewed on the Internet by pointing your browser to
www.midsouthvotes.com and selecting to view the "Memphis Mayoral Debate (Part 1)." Reed appears in the clip entitled "Memphis Mayoral Debate (Part 2)," which has to be selected separately.

Family marks 90 years

From The Commercial Appeal " My Life" section September 16, 2007
By Mary Mitchell
Special to My Life
Sunday, September 16, 2007
   Winnie Allbright [Faculty]* recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She was feted by family on a railroad car in Collierville. Family came from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Gatlinburg, Mississippi and Memphis. Food and celebration were the order of the night.
   Winnie has three nieces; Mary Mitchell and Martha Gandy of Memphis, and Charlene Stinson of Gatlinburg. Winnie has been a second mother and best friend to all her nieces, as well as her great-nieces and nephews. Her family feels that she's "the greatest" and that she has been a wonderful influence to all of them through the years.
   Winnie was born in Arkansas and raised in Harrisburg. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in education and began teaching at Oak Ridge, Tenn., during WWII. After college, she married Paul H. Allbright. He was sent to Pearl Harbor and was there on the day of the bombing.
   In addition to her teaching, Winnie has enjoyed being active in community service. She served as president of the American Association of the University Women in Memphis and was honored by the AAUW with a Grant Fellowship Award. She also enjoyed being a docent for the Wonder Series.
   Winnie's hobbies include pickling, cooking, traveling and educational tours. She is a member of Kingsway Christian Church.
   Mary Mitchell is a niece of Winnie Allbright.

See Mrs.Allbright's page in the Elementary section.

Harvey Goldner Remembered

From KPLU, September 10, 2007
Daysha Eaton
   SEATTLE, WA (2007-09-10) Earlier this year, Seattle lost a man who became known as the Bard of Belltown. Harvey Goldner ['60] was a regular at poetry readings across the city, where he became a mentor to many. After years of chain-smoking, Goldner died this summer at age 65. A memorial for him brought Seattle's poetry community together. KPLU'S Daysha Eaton has more. (5:00)

[The story can be heard at this KPLU link.].

A printed obituary for Harvey Goldner is available.

East principal, coach smooth over concerns

From The Commercial Appeal, September 4, 2007
By Jason Smith
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
   While most of you were barbecuing and spending your Labor Day relaxing, I arrived at work Monday afternoon to find several urgent phone messages alerting me that Fred Curry, the principal at East, had fired his head football coach and his staff following the Mustangs' 12-6 loss to Wooddale last Friday.
   The rumor had also reached the high school sports message boards. On CoachT.com, a post titled "Memphis East, Principal fires entire football staff -- new direction again?" also claimed that Curry dismissed the entire Mustang coaching staff sometime after Friday's loss.
   Keep in mind, this is the same Fred Curry who dumped former Mustang coach Wayne Randall following the 2005 season for no reason other than "as a new principal, I want to take the football program in another direction."
   But Curry said Monday that contrary to rumor, he has not fired second-year head coach Marcus Wimberly, whom Curry described Monday as "a good influence and a great guy."
   Curry did confirm, however, that he met Monday morning with Wimberly and members of the Mustang booster club to discuss what he called "some concerns" he had about the program.
   "I met with the coaches this morning and I met with parents. We kind of ironed out those concerns, so he's still my coach," Curry said.
   "It had nothing to do with winning, because as you know, I would've kept my last coach if everything had to do with winning. ... I just thought that we needed to get on the same page in terms of what kind of young men we want to produce."
   Also reached Monday, Wimberly, an East graduate whose Mustangs have gone a combined 6-7 since his hiring last year, said Curry's concerns were "smoothed over" during Monday's meeting.
   "That's what he conveyed to the parents and myself, that it wasn't about wins and losses," said Wimberly, whose Mustangs (0-2) travel to face 12th-ranked Fairley on Friday. "Like I tell everybody, I have a young football team, and in the years to come, I think we're gonna be pretty good. I think we're gonna end up being pretty good this year.
   We're going in the right direction. Everything's been smoothed over, so we're all right."

Outdoor warning siren on the roof of East High School one of the oldest




   In an article published in the "My Life" section of The Commercial Appeal September 1, 2007 (or possibly August 25, 2007, the newspaper gives both dates) focusing on the career of an employee of the Memphis/Shelby County Emergency Management Agency, a photo of the siren atop East High School and a cutline (caption) was included:

Officer Thompson checking the Biersach & Niedermayer outdoor warning siren on the roof of East High School. It is one of the oldest sirens in Shelby County, powered by electricity now but originally operated by a gasoline engine.

Recent articles in the "Memphis Memories" column of The Commercial Appeal have included the following:
In the August 18, 2007 Memphis Memories features a photo of Mac Holladay ('63).

Mac Holladay, age 8, 1963 alumnus of East High

The August 25, 2007 Memphis Memories also carried an article from 1982 about Jake Schorr ('58):
August 25
25 years ago: 1982
Jake Schorr and Shawnee Cavnar have expanded their carriage business in the shadow of downtown Memphis. They're restoring several 1890s-vintage horse-drawn carriages salvaged from an old barn near Jackson, Tenn. When finished, the enclosed carriages will be used by River City Carriage Tours for cozy wintertime tours of downtown Memphis and others will be sold to collectors. Schorr, a woodworking hobbyist who does most of the restoration, says the restored carriages are worth about $5,000.
The August 25, 2007 Memphis Memories featured a picture of former East High faculty member and head football coach Bobby Brooks (faculty approximately 1960-1966) when he was a student athlete at Memphis State College.
Bobby Brooks as a college student and football player.

No verdict again in 2001 killing

From The Commercial Appeal, August 21, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Greater Memphis
   For a second time this summer, a jury could not reach a verdict in a murder trial involving a shooting outside 150 Peabody Place.
   John Edward McClee, who is now 25, was charged with killing Tedrick C. Dawson ['93], 26, on Aug. 26, 2001, outside of Jillian's.
   Dawson was shot once in the shoulder and twice in the back, while a friend, Romond Arnold, was shot in the buttocks, police said.
   McClee did not deny the 1:50 a.m. shooting, but said he acted in self-defense.
   A Criminal Court jury deliberated more than 10 hours Friday before announcing it was deadlocked on the second degree murder charge.
   McClee was convicted on three lesser charges, however, including reckless endangerment, possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of a weapon.
   The case is set for a status report next month.
   -- Lawrence Buser

A previous story about Mr. Dawson's death is below.

Laptop computers to be supplied to East pupils and teachers

   August 21, 2007 - East High is among 16 Memphis high schools in which an "Interactive ACT-Designed Laptop Learning System" will be implemented, according the the Memphis City Schools system.
   The Epic Learning System, developed by the academic standardized test firm ACT, provides the laptop computers loaded with Math, Science, English and Social Studies courses. The school system claims the pupils will be able to submit assignments and quizzes online to be graded automatically and placed in the teacher's grade book, allowing students and their parents to receive immediate feedback.
   "We believe that this supplemental curriculum and instructional support program will enhance the positive academic programs already in place that are designed to accelerate achievement and directly impact student performance on the ACT," said Dr. Alfred Hall, Chief Academic Officer for Memphis City Schools.
   The laptop computers should be in place at the schools in September.
   There is a web site with more information about the Epic Learning System at http://www.epiclearningsystem.com/aboutEpic.asp
   Source: Memphis City Schools

2007 ACT scores may show small improvement

   August 19, 2007 - The academic testing service ACT has released the composite ACT scores for graduating high school seniors and it appears to show a very slight improvement in the level of accomplishment at East High.
   The average composite ACT score for the East High Class of 2007 was 16.8, according to an August 19 article in The Commercial Appeal. State data shows the "three year average" ACT composite scores for East pupils at 16.7 for 2005 and 2006. However, the numbers may not be comperable since one is based on a "three year average" and may include all pupils who took the test and the 2007 figure purports to show the composite score of graduating seniors.
   The 2007 graduating seniors average composite score average for all city schools was 17.7, the average for all Shelby County schools was 21.7. The Tennessee average for the Class of 2007 was 20.7 and the national average was 21.2. White Station High and Houston High had the highest local public school averages with seniors at both instutitions averaging a composite score of 23.6.
   There have been other indications of some improvement at East High. While the state has involved itself with the running of East due to inadaequate progress over recent years, it did classify the school as "State/LEA Reconstitution Plan 1 - Improving" in July. The East High Alumni Page had earlier reported that the results of the Gateway exams showed significantly higher scores which met the level required by the state to be categorized as satisfactory performance. The results of other standardized tests have yet to be released to the public.
   Please also see the reports below:
"State recognizes improvement at East," and "Could these numbers represent the much needed turnaround?"
   Sources: The Commercial Appeal, Tennessee Department of Education, ACT, Inc., The East High Alumni Page

Race led to firing, alleges ex-coach

From The Commercial Appeal, August 10, 2007
By David Healy
August 10, 2007
   Wayne Randall was a successful head football coach at East High School before leaving 17 months ago.
   A lawsuit filed by the coach earlier this year, claiming racial discrimination, may shed some light on why he is now coaching Munford High.
   In his lawsuit Randall contends that East principal Fred Curry fired the coach because Randall is white.
   The lawsuit states Curry, "created an atmosphere of racial animosity and let it be known that he wanted a black football head coach. Although Mr. Randall produced a winning team that won a state championship, Mr. Curry never gave a reason for his dismissal."
   Numerous attempts to reach Curry were unsuccessful.
   In the defendants' answer to the complaint, attorney Michael R. Marshall, who is out of town, wrote that "the defendants had legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for relieving Mr. Randall as football coach at East High School."
   Curry gave little reason for Randall's firing.
   In a March 21, 2006, story in The Commercial Appeal, Curry would only say, "I can't tell you another reason other than as a new principal, I want to take the football program in another direction."
   The lawsuit names Memphis City School board members and former Supt. Carol Johnson as co-defendants.
   Efforts to reach school board officials regarding the lawsuit and Randall's claims were unsuccessful.
   Randall, who also declined comment on advice of his attorney, became head coach at Munford a month after his dismissal at East.
   Randall seeks $500,000 for mental and emotional distress from his termination, and another $100,000 in punitive damages against Curry individually.
   Randall's attorney, Richard B. Fields, filed the lawsuit March 9 in Shelby County Circuit Court.
   "We have a great case. There was no reason for him to be fired," Fields said. "Coach Randall's teams did extremely well and he was universally loved by the parents and the students at the school. He was one of the most outstanding coaches in the history of Memphis football. The principal simply didn't want him to coach anymore because he was white."
   Fields said it may be two years before the case is finally decided.
   In his 12 seasons at East, Randall led the Mustangs to nine straight playoff appearances and won the 1999 Class 4-A state championship. He had a record of 100-42, and over the last eight years averaged 10 wins a season.
   Last year, Randall led Munford to an 8-4 record and the District 7-4A championship. Munford won just two games the season before Randall's arrival.

State recognizes improvement at East

August 6, 2007
The latest State evaluation of East High School, released Aug. 6, 2007, puts East in the category of "State/LEA Reconstitution Plan 1 - Improving." For the previous school year (2005-2006), it was listed simply as State/LEA Reconstitution Plan. The "improving" aspect may reflect better TCAP results anticipated after scores on Gateway exams were higher. See our related stories below: "
Could these numbers represent the much needed turnaround?" and "State intervenes in running East High School - details now available."

State intervenes in running East High School - details now available

by Ken Welch, editor, The East High Alumni Page
August 2, 2007
[updated 4:05 pm CDT with comment from Principal Curry]
   The State of Tennessee Department of Education intervention into the running of East High school calls for changes in the guidance office but endorses the leadership of top administration at the school.
See the directives
   Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind and other monitoring methods early in this decade, East High has performed poorly. The State put the school "on notice" that it needed to improve during the 2001-2002 school year. Each year thereafter the school has received some classification indicating significant improvement was needed. On July 31, the State announced its direct intervention in the troubled schools, its most forceful step yet. It has classified East as being in the State/LEA Reconstitution Plan category.
   In its directive to the school system, the Department of Education says it found East's principal for the past 2 years, Fred Curry, to apparently be "an effective administrator who communicates high expectations to both staff and students." The report says Mr. Curry is well respected by the faculty and has 2 educational facilitators who also seem to be effective. This endorsement of the school's leadership is in contrast to some other of the schools in which the State is ordering the administration be changed.
   After the directive was issued, Mr. Curry said, "My vision of East High is to not only raise the academic rigor to where it was [decades ago]..., rather to raise it to a level where our kids can compete academically with the Japanese, Indians(India) and the rest of the global community."
   The primary personnel directive given by the state for East High is that it orders the reconsideration of the removal of one "effective" guidance counselor and the retention of one "ineffective" counselor. The report indicates the retained counselor was kept on the school's staff due to seniority and tenure issues. The report also calls for the school system to ensure that the school has a "highly effective" attendance clerk to address student attendance and participation rates.
   Beyond those personnel considerations, the orders from the State for East High generally are of a supporting and monitoring nature. It calls for an incentive plan, including bonuses, for attracting and keeping qualified administrators and teachers who meet performance benchmarks for student proficiency. It also directs that the school to be afforded the necessary resources for behavioral and family specialists.
   The State is requiring the school system to provide special oversight and support to East and the other school in which it is taking direct action. It also is requiring a number of reporting actions such as a response within 10 days of how it will implement the orders it has been given and to show cause if it fails to follow staffing recommendations made by the principal or the special personnel assigned to oversee the school's rehabilitation.
   The Department of Education says the current $12.8 million renovation must be completed by the time students are to resume classes on August 13 and that some stolen technology equipment be replaced in the same time frame. (See our report on the renovation in a August 1, 2007 edition of the Mustang Roundup - Alumni Edition.
   You can see all the directives ordered by the State Department of Education by clicking/selecting this link.
   It should be noted that East no longer has a middle school component. The seventh grade was removed from the school for the 2006-2007 school year and with the opening of classes August 13, East becomes a pure high school with only grades 9 through 12.
   The State is expected to release its latest "report card" on the evaluation of East and other schools within the next several days.
   For more information about the academic performance at East, you may review the Today's East High section of The East High Alumni Page and the story below about the improvement on some standardized tests.

Mustang Roundup — Alumni Edition:
Photo tour of $11.5 million renovation as construction rushes toward completion
Biggest visual change in decades underway at East High
Click here to go to the August, 2007 edition of the Mustang Roundup — Alumni Edition.

State intervenes in running East High School

August 1, 2007

   A day after the announcement, details as to how the Tennessee Department of Education intervening in the running of East High and 16 other Memphis schools remain hard to come by. [see above update] As reported yesterday, the Department of Education is intervening in the running of East High School and 16 other city schools after years of unsatisfactory performance.
   Memphis City Schools did finallly post some general information on its web site about the state's intervention.
Out of the $42,040,000 in additional state revenue (BEP 2.0) going to the Memphis City Schools district, $9.7 million will be used for intensive improvements in teaching and learning in a core group of Memphis City Schools currently on the state's probationary list of "striving schools." The remainder of the funds will be used across the district for additional teaching and teacher support and enhanced academic and student support programs. Governor Phil Bredesen has mandated that the school district adopt and implement a stringent action plan for schools that still remain on the state-identified probationary list. Each of the Memphis schools in the core group will receive academic support tailored to its particular needs. In addition, the probationary or "striving" schools will have longer school hours beginning with the start of the 2007-08 school year. The plan for these "striving schools" is modeled after Douglas Reeves' STAR Model for Success, and other strategies successfully implemented in the Miami-Dade and New York City Public Schools. Schools will be provided with ongoing professional development for their teachers, more visible tracking of student progress, additional staff and greater collaboration between school staff, parents and students. The plan also provides district-level accountability and support, such as content-area specialists to work with school-based literacy and mathematics coaches and an academic superintendent to directly supervise the principals in the core group of schools. The anticipated group of schools to receive this support are: Airways Middle, Carver High, Cypress Middle, East High, Fairley High, Frayser High, Geeter Middle, Hamilton High, Kingsbury Middle/High, Sherwood Middle, Treadwell Elementary, Treadwell High, Vance Middle, and Westside Middle. The school day at those schools for the 2007-08 school year will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. This change adds 30 minutes to each school day, for the equivalent of approximately 14 additional days of instruction each year. In addition to a longer school day at these schools, other changes for the "striving schools" are: * Graduation coaches will be hired for high schools, based on a state recommendation to increase graduation rates. The coaches will provide intensive support of schools and students. * Additional staff will be hired for the probationary schools, including literacy and mathematics coaches to help monitor and improve teaching and learning. * Based on the need of the individual school, an additional parent/family or behavior specialist will be allocated to the school. * Based on the school's need, an additional school counselor or social worker will be allocated. * Performance-based incentives for principals, teachers, and staff will be offered. Slightly more than $14 million of the funding will be used across the district to hire additional teachers and staff to support schools with high percentages of Special Education students, additional mathematics teachers and tutors to lower the student-teacher ratio in secondary schools, additional support for English as a Second Language teachers, for ongoing, comprehensive school-based professional development for teachers, and an additional allocation for supplies and materials for every teacher in the Memphis school district ($200 per teacher, double the amount teachers received previously). The changes will be in place for the 2007-08 school year. Memphis City Schools will work collaboratively with the state to successfully implement the measures.
   Neither the Tennessee Department of Education nor East High Principal have yet responded to requests from The East High Alumni Page for more informaton.
   As indicated in the story below, East Principal Fred Curry had hoped improving test scores would keep the state from taking immediate action. To what extent the improved scores, if they hold true for all the standardized tests, may mitigate the state's intervention in the oversight of East High remains to be seen.
   More details here as they become available.

Special Report:

Could these numbers represent the much needed turnaround?
Indications are of academic improvement at East High

A special report from The East High Alumni Page
July 13, 2007
   The top administrator at East High School is smiling these days. After years of academic and disciplinary difficulties, there is hope a new trend is beginning. Although some of the aggregate standardized test scores for the 2006-2007 school year have not been released to the public yet, those that have seem to indicate a considerable improvement. "I'm amazed and pleased," said second year principal Fred Curry as he discussed the "quick" turnaround he's seen since coming to the school.
   With some data to indicate improvement and optimism by East's principal, for some the dismay about the school's performance may now replaced by questions. Has East High turned the corner? Could East High be headed in the right direction with enough momentum to establish an ongoing trend leading to it regaining the academic status it once had?
   Pupils who entered the ninth grade in 2001-2002 must obtain a score indicating "Proficient" or "Advanced" on each of the Gateway examinations in three subject areas - mathematics, science and language arts - in order to earn a high school diploma. Mr. Curry says the Gateway results for East for the 2006-2007 year were up significantly. The school's percentages of students taking the Algebra I Gateway exam this year getting proficient or advanced scores was 77% compared to 52% the previous year. In English II, essentially 10th grade English, 91% attained the proficient or better categories. In 2005-2006 the figure was 85%. The Gateway results for Biology were 91%, an increase of 9 percentage points over last year's scores. All of this year's Gateway scores are above those the state requires as satisfactory performance.
   After more than two decades as one of the premier academic public schools in Memphis and the region, the problems were first noted in the 1970s. East High becomes a school administrators considered as a school in trouble. At that point, a public acknowledgment of the problem was that many in the school's attendance district were choosing not to go to East. By the 1990s and 2000s, as standardized testing scores were mandated to be made public, the highly questionable academic performance of the school's students became apparent. Average ACT composite scores had plummeted to the low 16s. As a comparison, White Station High School's 2005 composite ACT score was 23.2. ACT possible scores range from 1 to 36. The University of Memphis requires a 19 on the enhanced ACT for admission without a student being required to take special remedial courses. Since the federal government got highly involved in academic accountability in the past few years, East was characterized as deficient in meeting No Child Left Behind requirements. It was assigned the status of "restructuring 2" by the state in 2005, meaning significant changes in the school were required. Options included conversion to a charter school, replacing existing staff, taking over management or contracting with a university to take over management.
   Principal Curry has made changes. A number of faculty members, including coaches, have left the school, more advanced placement (AP) classes have been offered, and he has continued the work with The Greater East High Foundation, which had begun to organized peer-to-peer student tutoring and classes the year before Mr. Curry was transferred to East, and with other individuals and organizations offering help to the school. It takes two years of satisfactory performance for a school to get off the "target list" of troubled schools. The tale is not yet told as the full assessment for this year has not been released and it will take likely take years of improvements to bring East High into academic repute. The alumni of East High will be watching closely and with great hope.

Critic back at Malco job -- temporarily
Chain now requires 'confidentiality agreement'

From The Commercial Appeal, June 19, 2007
By John Beifuss
June 19, 2007
   It was more like compromise time than clobberin' time when projectionist Jesse Morrison and Malco senior vice president Jimmy Tashie ('66) met Monday morning to resolve Morrison's suspension for writing an unauthorized early review of "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer."
   The outcome: Morrison is back at his 30-hour-a-week, $7-an-hour job at Malco's Ridgeway Four for the next two weeks, after which he'll leave to pursue other opportunities.
   What's more significant is that as a result of the Morrison incident, Malco projectionists and other employees who see advance screenings of films will be required to sign a "confidentiality agreement" stating they will not write about the movie in advance of its opening date.
   Other movie chains may follow suit, Tashie said. "There's heightened security now, there's no doubt about it," he said.
   Morrison, 29, became something of an Internet celebrity after he was suspended June 11 for posting a week-early pan of "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" on the popular Web site, Ain't It Cool News (aintitcool.com).
   Morrison -- who also writes reviews for his own site, Memflixbeyond.com -- blasted "Silver Surfer" after seeing the film when he projected it at a private "trade screening" for Malco officials and other local movie exhibitors.
   Angry representatives of 20th Century Fox, the studio that produced "Silver Surfer," contacted Malco to complain, and Tashie suspended Morrison for what he called a breach of trust.
   The disciplinary action generated nationwide debate about freedom of speech, job responsibility and the Internet's impact on movie publicity.
   Many members of the online community accused Fox and Malco of violating Morrison's free speech and punishing him for not liking the movie.
   The story was picked up nationally, with The Hollywood Reporter writing that the incident "might mark the first time someone working in the entertainment industry has lost a job for voicing an early opinion online."
   Monday, Tashie lifted Morrison's suspension, but with the stipulation that the projectionist would no longer work advance screenings. Morrison decided to return to work but gave two weeks' notice.
   "The national exposure ... put a strain on the employee-employer relationship," Morrison wrote Monday on his Web site. "I don't believe it is a reparable situation. I feel it's better to just move on."
   The brouhaha didn't hurt "Surfer" at the box office, where it was No. 1 this past weekend, earning more than $57 million.

Longtime East coach moves on

From The Commercial Appeal, June 7, 2007
Jason Smith
June 7, 2007
   After 21 years, the hardest part of leaving East High was packing up his white van with more than two decades worth of memories as the Lady Mustangs' track and field coach.
   "It hurt me," longtime East coach Danny Joe Young remembers of last Thursday, his final day at East. "All the kids had gone home, and I had one girl that came up there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and helped me real hard, crating stuff up and boxing stuff up and loading stuff up.
   "It hurts, but they understand. They understand it wasn't my doing and that I'm not walking out on them just because we've had a couple bad years here lately. This was probably one of the best and most memorable teams I've ever had because everything that came out of my mouth, these kids listened to."
   One of several longtime East coaches to have recently been "surplussed" (let go), Young, 56, who guided the Lady Mustangs to seven track and field state titles since joining East in 1985, is set to become the new girls cross-country and track and field head coach at Melrose.
   "It was just like the sky opened up," Young said this week. "(Melrose principal LaVaughn) Bridges opened his arms up and said, 'Mr. Young, I've been watching you for 20 years and I've seen what you've done at East High School -- not just win, but how you handle your kids and how you teach life skills.' He said, 'I want you on my team. My kids deserve that. They haven't had it in years.'
   "I mean, what can you say? He wanted me, and he wanted me for the right reasons."
   Young said he harbors no ill will toward East principal Fred Curry, who, since his hiring at East in 2005, has also let go longtime Mustang football coach Wayne Randall, legendary Mustang basketball coach Reginald Mosby and Mosby's longtime assistant, Willie Turner.
   "I'm a very loyal person when it comes to Mr. Curry," said Young, who also led the Lady Mustangs to three state runnerup finishes (from 2002-04) and 18 city championships. "From an education standpoint, I am very loyal to him, his ideas and what he's trying to do. I understand he's trying to raise the test scores at East and I applaud him for that.
   "But I'm looking forward to going to Melrose. There has been a tradition at Melrose in girls track. Sheila Echols (a 1988 Olympic gold medalist) came from there, and also Rochelle Stevens (a 1996 Olympic gold medalist). Even before that, (three-time Best of the Preps girls cross-country winner) Tania Wells came through there. She holds the state record in the 800-meter run. So there's a tradition to a point, and I don't know why (Bridges) just hasn't been able to get the kind of coach he needed to continue that. But I do believe things happen for a reason."

Former Tiger Gibson following Mosby at East

From The Commercial Appeal, May 12, 2007
Jason Smith
May 12, 2007
   Cheyenne Gibson calls them huge shoes to fill, those of former East High basketball coach Reginald Mosby, and he's right.
   With 500 career victories and five state-title rings, Mosby has left behind a legacy of success at East, where Gibson, the former Memphis State basketball standout and Sheffield High head coach, has been hired as the Mustangs' new head basketball coach.
   "I think it's a better situation than where I was," said Gibson, who compiled a 118-70 record in six seasons at Sheffield, but was let go by Sheffield principal Jimmy Holland following a 19-10 campaign this season.
   "I sat down with the (East) principal (Fred Curry) and Mosby (on Thursday), and we just talked about some things. I told (Curry) I was going to take (the job), and Mosby said that it couldn't have gone to a better guy."
   Mosby told The Commercial Appeal in February he was considering stepping down following his 21st year as East's head coach.
   "Those are some big shoes to step into," said Gibson, who played against Mosby's East teams during his days as a high school standout at Westwood. "He's so well respected. He's done a great job."

How we Met    Mail call: packet of love for Ensign Terrell
'When he was gone overseas this past year, he got a letter every day'

From The Commercial Appeal, May 6, 2007
Anita Houk May 6, 2007
   The officer in soon-to-be Navy Ensign Jason Terrell knew he had to do what he had to do.
   The gentleman in him knew he had to come clean about it with Kamilah Averyhart.
   The question: When?
   He chose the February night in 2005 they went to the Orpheum to see the Alvin Ailey dancers.
   "I got accepted into Officer Candidate School with the Navy," he announced to her before the show.
   "Congratulations. So you're going to be in Millington?"
   "No," he said. "I'm going to be in OCS in Florida for three months, then six months in Georgia and then overseas."
   Kamilah was distraught. She didn't want to see the dancers. She didn't want to talk about his news. She wanted to cry. "At intermission I said, 'Why didn't you tell me about it before?' He said, 'I tried to tell you but I was scared you were going to dump me.'"
   He explains: "We had a conversation once about the military, and I asked her would you ever date somebody that was in the Navy? And she says, 'No!' So I just kept it to myself."
   After all, they'd met in marketing class in fall 2003, working on master's degrees at Webster University (Millington campus). Jason was a Memphis Catholic High and University of Memphis grad (2002, management information systems) and worked in marketing at FedEx.
   "He sat across from me every week," says Kamilah, who graduated from East High and UT-Chattanooga (2001, finance and marketing). She's a community development analyst for Memphis' Division of Housing and Community Development.
   "There was some other guy who was always talking, just rambling on, and every time he would talk we would look at each other and go (roll our eyes)," she says.
   Next class: economics. "In econ, (Jason) beat me on a quiz. No one had ever beat me on a quiz before. After he didn't come to our first study session I saw him and said, 'You think you're too smart to come to the study session?' And so he showed up for the next one.
   "By the time we got to finance (class), he said he was going to ask me out, but ..."
   "I was watching her!" he interjects. "I remember the first time I saw her in marketing. I just said to myself, 'Wow! That's the woman I'm going to marry.'"
   Kamilah was watching him, too. "Then, he was always showing off his arms. Huge arms. He always had on these shirts that would hug his arms. I'd actually check 'em out and then look the other way and keep doing my work."
   Then one evening when he took his sister to Isaac Hayes' club for her birthday, Jason saw Kamilah there alone. When the Prince song "Adore" was played, they danced.
   Days later, he was gloating that he got tickets to a Prince concert -- and would she take notes for him in class that night.
   "It was probably three hours before the concert and finally I called her and said, 'Would you like to go to the Prince concert with me?' She actually goes to Oak Court Mall and buys a completely new outfit."
   "I had to get something purple!" she protests.
   "That," says Jason, 28, "is when we really officially had our first date, the Prince concert."
   "So we had known each other about seven months before our first date," says Kamilah, 27.
   By then, Jason knew that if she said she didn't want a military man, "I'm not going to tell her I'm even thinking about becoming an officer in the Navy. I didn't tell her until I thought she could be The One."
   Or rather, until she knew he was The One.
   "I guess I was a little iffy on the long-distance thing," she admits. "But as soon as you gave me your address, I mailed your first package. And every day that he was gone, I had written him a letter."
   When he came home last spring, they married April 22, 2006 at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. Four days later he departed for Diego Garcia, a tiny atoll of a military base 7 degrees south of the equator in the heart of the Indian Ocean.
   "When he was gone overseas this past year, he got a letter every day," she says.
   "When mail call came," he says, "I was always expecting a box full of letters."
   "And Oreo cookies," she adds.
   "Because I love Oreo cookies," he says smiling.
   Tuesday, they're off together to San Diego to live, as he's been assigned to the USS Nimitz. But before they go, they want to recount how an early family tradition came to be.
   It was Jason's birthday, Jan. 5, 2006, and he was ready to propose. He asked her mom for Kamilah's hand, then went to pick up Kamilah for what she thought was his birthday dinner at Ronnie Grisanti & Sons on Poplar. When Jason arrived, Kamilah was just putting on her shoes. He dove right in.
   "Do you love me?" he asked.
   "How much?"
   "Very much," she said.
   "Well, HOW much?"
   "Priceless," she responded.
   At that, he fell to his knee and asked, "Will you marry me?"
   It's a moment to hold dear.
   "Every now and then we conjure it up," he says. "We say, 'How much do you love me?'
   " 'Priceless.' "

Bartlett personnel chief Hilbun praised at retirement ... again

From The Commercial Appeal, April 5, 2007
By Shannon Massey
Special to Bartlett-Cordova Appeal
April 5, 2007
   Between the plaques and gifts, Bartlett's personnel director fought back tears at his retirement party as three of the city's mayors praised Larry Hilbun's ['52] sense of duty and his integrity at City Hall on Tuesday night.Bartlett personnel director Larry Hilbun reacts to a comment from Mayor Keith McDonald during a retirement ceremony.
   "Get us legal and keep us legal," former mayor Bobby Flaherty says he told Hilbun when he was hired 12 years ago. "We looked for a good man, and we found him."
   When Hilbun was hired by Bartlett he was 60, and had already retired once as personnel director for Shelby County after serving more than 16 years. Before that, he was director of employee relations for Cook Industries Inc. for 13 years.
   Before he came to Bartlett, the city never had a personnel director. Each individual department handled its own human resources issues.
   "The best part of my job with the city of Bartlett is the quality of the people that I have had the pleasure to work with from the personnel staff to the managers and supervisors and the many fine employees," Hilbun said. "I have had the opportunity to serve three outstanding mayors, all dedicated and competent men who work hard to do what is best for the citizens of Bartlett." When Hilbun arrived in Bartlett, the city had 262 full-time employees; today there are more than 500.
   "You really have cost the city a lot of money," joked Mayor Keith McDonald, who presented Hilbun a plaque and the key to the city. Richard Stokes of the Tennessee Personnel Management Association also presented Hilbun with a plaque. In 2004, Hilbun was the first recipient of the state's Outstanding Human Resource Professional award.
   Former mayor Ken Fulmar said Hilbun made an impression on him early on. "He was so honest, we really appreciated his honesty."
   Since Hilbun also had a hand in bringing the local Bartlett-area Lifeblood to the area, Jason Sykes of Lifeblood presented Hilbun with the Community Partner Award.
   "Several years ago, Bartlett was using about 8,000 units of blood a year but only receiving about 1,800 units in donations from its residents," Sykes said. "Now, through Mr. Hilbun's vision and a strategic five-year plan, Bartlett is the only self-sufficient suburb in Shelby County."
   "It took only three years to reach that goal under Hilbun's leadership," Sykes said, adding that Hilbun will continue to serve as chairman the Bartlett-area Lifeblood facility.
   Hilbun grew up in the Binghamton neighborhood of Memphis and never lived away from there until he joined the Army. He was in the second graduating class of East High School in 1952 and a graduate of the University of Memphis, where he was named Mr. Memphis State in 1956. He earned this title on the same day his future wife, Peggy Duke, was crowned Miss May Queen.
   Hilbun officially retired from the city of Bartlett on Friday, the same day he and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
   The city's new personnel director, Peter Voss, thanked Hilbun for being a mentor. "Mayor Flaherty told me some good advice. He said, 'Get to know Larry.' And I did."

Retired educator answers call, goes back to school
'Lady Margaret' is heart, soul of East High Foundation

From The Commercial Appeal, March 27, 2007
By Dakarai I. Aarons
March 27, 2007
   Margaret Taylor retired once.Mrs. Taylor with East pupils.
   Twelve years ago, at age 77, she packed up the pictures on the desk where she sat for 24 years as principal at Grahamwood Elementary School.
   She boxed up teacher-of-the-year awards and the countless notes she'd received over her more than 40 years as an educator.
   She left the school and headed to a life where she didn't have to compete with the rising of the sun each morning.
   That lasted three months.
   She hadn't even figured out what her first retirement project would be before she found herself back in the classroom, supervising student teachers.
   And when a former student came calling, Taylor was once again in the bustling hallways of East High School, where her teaching career began in 1955.
   Her silver hair in a sleek bun, she's walking through its grand halls from 7:30 to 4:30 each day in her role as the heart and soul of the Greater East High Foundation.
   "I'm the only one who's here all day," she says with a wry laugh. "I wanted to be busy busy."
   Founded in 2004 by businessman and East alum Charles McVean, the foundation aims to help return the school that has seen many transitions in the past decade back to its former glory.
   "(He) wanted to bring academic achievement back up to a level where they could be proud of it, so he drafted me to help," she said.
   And how could Taylor say no? She's had a soft spot for McVean since he was a student in her eighth-grade math class.
   Her title is director emeritus, but Taylor's true role is den mother, providing invaluable advice, said Bill Sehnert, the foundation's director.
   "She's our methodologist," he said. "She knows more than anyone else."
   Taylor shrugs off such a notion.
   "It's just a challenge and it keeps me busy."
   Taylor has dusted off those skills, showing the adult staffers and upperclassmen tutors alike how to help young students grasp the complexities of algebraic concepts.
   The witty octogenarian known as "Lady Margaret" spends her days in East's algebra classes, observing teachers and looking for lessons that cause students the most difficulty.
   The foundation's scholars program works with students for an hour after school daily and three hours on Saturdays.
   Eighth- and ninth-grade students receive tutoring from upperclassmen in mastering their math science and writing skills. The tutors are paid $10 an hour.
   The focus is on producing quality high school graduates who can go on to successful post-secondary lives, Sehnert said.
   The foundation's work is proving effective, according to an analysis done by the University of Memphis. It found that students in the scholars program were significantly more likely to pass the state's TCAP tests than their peers.
   On a recent afternoon, Sehnert and a group of East teachers walk around helping the student tutors who are quizzing students on equation solving.
   Taylor floats from table to table, greeting students and encouraging them as they race each other to find the answers first.
   To see her energy, you'd never guess she'd turned down school district staffers when they first asked her to teach.
   Back then, Taylor was 38 and didn't have a college degree, having spent her adult life rearing two kids and working in her father's grocery store.
   But it didn't take long for her to see it was where she belonged. And more than 50 years later, she couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
   "I got caught up in it and loved it so much," she said.

Culture of Corruption
Ex-cop wore badge of evil culture of corruption 'No regard for rules'

From The Commercial Appeal, March 26, 2007
By Marc Perrusquia
March 26, 2007

   Terrance Harris [class year undetermined] lived very well for a police officer on a $48,000-a-year salary.
   He built a large home overlooking a golf course and had a stable of expensive cars. He owned a fast-food restaurant and bragged of running another.
   If his bosses at the Memphis Police Department ever questioned how a uniformed patrolman could afford such expensive toys or how he managed bank deposits of $43,000 a month -- cash with "an odd odor," tellers said -- there's no record of it in his personnel file.
   But then, few supervisors dared to lean too hard on Harris, a large man with a menacing temper.
   Hired in 1997 despite arrests for theft and criminal trespass, Harris befriended rappers and drug dealers, and seemed untouchable as he skated through one misconduct charge after another until federal authorities arrested him last year on drug conspiracy charges.
   Harris, 32, pleaded guilty last fall to aiding a drug cartel, and with that admission joined a growing gallery of MPD rogues: He's one of 23 cops busted since 2004, lifting Memphis into unenviable company with cities such as New Orleans and Los Angeles that are wrestling with rampant police corruption.
   "We no longer have Officer Collig on the beat like in the old Hardy Boys movies, where he was the honest, caring protective cop," said Leslie Ballin, a prominent Memphis defense lawyer who deals regularly with MPD officers.
   "Now there's very little difference from the ones who are locked up and the ones who are doing the locking up."
   MPD employees have been charged with stealing huge sums of cash and drugs from the evidence room, providing protection to criminals, running drugs, even planting evidence on innocent drivers during traffic stops. Even the brass have gotten involved: Two commanders took diversion and are on probation for fixing a traffic accident.
   The story of Terrance Lashun Harris is more than one police officer's personal tragedy. It's an anatomy of the department's insidious corruption.
   Personnel files for Harris and others reveal some common threads, including a failure by the department to detect hidden character flaws during the hiring process and a lack of supervision of troubled officers once they are turned loose on the streets.
   Unlike many police agencies, MPD doesn't administer lie detector tests to recruits. And for years, the department allowed many people with arrest histories onto the force -- often a predictor of trouble.
   Until recently, MPD didn't attempt to predict problems by tracking disciplinary patterns among its 2,018 uniformed patrol officers.
   Police Director Larry Godwin, the city's sixth police director in 12 years, says he's working to correct those mistakes.
   "Godwin is exhibiting the first real leadership of the police department since I left," said former director E. Winslow "Buddy" Chapman, who ran the department from 1976 to 1983 and is now executive director of CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County.
   Nonetheless, supervision still seems lacking, Chapman said, particularly when one considers officers such as the convicted Harris, whose ill-gotten wealth included two fast-food restaurants.
   "Wouldn't it seem logical that his supervisor would have been aware that he owned two Dixie Queens?"
   It was a cold, drizzly day last winter when Harris pulled into the lot across from East Towne Shopping Center and parked.
   He was meeting a new acquaintance, a drug smuggler from Texas, he was told.
   Harris didn't know it, but the smuggler, already convicted of dealing in cocaine, was working for the FBI. He approached Harris with a proposition: Help him move shipments up from Texas, and both would profit handsomely.
   "Let's go. What you waitin' on?" the impatient cop told his new companion on a surveillance recording.
   "I'm ready to rock and roll with it, man."
   The officer vowed there would be no trouble from his colleagues in law enforcement.
   "If they were stopped, Harris would simply have to show his police credentials, and in any event the drugs would be in a hidden compartment in the vehicle," read an FBI affidavit unveiled in court.
   Harris performed as promised over the next several weeks, investing cash in the venture and riding along on a dope delivery up Interstate 40 into rural West Tennessee.
   It was clear to the FBI agents involved in the sting that Harris had done this sort of thing before.
   In fact, the investigation found he'd been doing it right under the noses of his MPD employers. Though suspicions led the department to eventually refer him to Operation Tarnished Blue -- an FBI-led sting to nab corrupt cops -- Harris had been going strong for some time.
   In retrospect, the signs were everywhere. In 2003, six years after he joined the force, Harris somehow came up with $360,000 to open a Dixie Queen franchise. Then another. He was driving a new Hummer, a Mercedes and a two-year-old Corvette and bragged of holding interests in a nightclub.
   His personnel file bulged with disciplinary complaints. Yet, the department was ill-equipped to do much about him.
   "I feel officer Harris has proven that he has no regard for the rules and regulations of the department and will continue to be an embarrassment to the Memphis Police Department," chief Mike Dodd wrote in 1999 in firing Harris -- a termination later overturned by the Civil Service Commission.
   Harris and his attorney, Dewun Settle, declined requests for an interview for this story.
   Perhaps there were no absolute signs when he was hired in 1997 that Harris would become a dirty cop.
   But there were plenty of concerns -- issues seemingly overlooked when police brass gave him his commission.
   Harris had been arrested twice before joining the force. As a 15-year-old, Harris was taken into custody for stealing a Nintendo game from a local Sears store. Juvenile Court records show he was counseled and released. As an adult in 1993, Harris was arrested on suspicion of aggravated criminal trespass, but the charge was dismissed.
   His record was minor yet it was exactly the sort of thing many police agencies want to know about their recruits.
   "In the police business, you are really looking for reasons not to hire people," said Tom Long, chief of police in Southaven. That department, like many others, subjects recruits to polygraph testing aimed at learning if they've ever stolen anything, used drugs or done other things that may affect their ability as cops.
   MPD gives recruits a battery of psychological tests, yet hasn't administered lie detector tests in years, said Insp. Matt McCann, who oversees the Training Academy. He said he got a polygraph when he was hired in 1974, but neither he nor several recent directors could tell The Commercial Appeal when the practice was discontinued.
   "The importance of that is to establish character," Long said. "You should be able to stand up to that."
   In his job application, Harris also made it clear he wasn't the long-suffering type when it came to performing a job he didn't like. In his job history, he listed employment as a $7.50-an-hour warehouse worker -- a job he quit after the first day.
   "I didn't want to waste anyone's time," Harris wrote. "I left because after one day it wasn't for me."
   As a teen, Harris stayed with an aunt in North Memphis' rough-and-tumble Howell Street Apartments, estranged from his mother and incarcerated father. One of his peers went to prison for murder and another for robbery, yet Harris stayed in school, playing football at East High. As a senior defensive lineman, Harris, already 6-2 and over 200 pounds, was called into a meeting by assistant coach Wayne Randall, who asked if he was ready to get serious.
   "I want to play, I want to contribute this year. I will do whatever it takes to get out there on that field," Randall recalled Harris telling him. "There was a commitment there his senior year that we didn't find there previously. And he did an outstanding job for us."
   After high school, Harris joined the Navy, serving two years in Jacksonville. With his military service, Harris was waived from an MPD standard requiring two years of college. At 23, Harris got a badge and a gun, and was turned loose in South Memphis.
   Harris was fired two years into his new career. The statement of charges cited a number of reasons -- sleeping on the job; harassing and flirting with a nurse; displaying obscene pictures at work.
   By then, Harris had already been written up and disciplined at least eight other times.
   He'd been admonished for defying security at a concert in Atlanta by taking a gun into an auditorium. He'd been suspended 10 days for allegedly stealing a drunken-driving suspect's cell phone.
   When complaints began to pour in about his work in the police holding area at The Med, police brass had seen enough and terminated him in November 1999.
   But four months later, the city Civil Service Commission reversed the termination and ordered a 30-day suspension instead. Ruling that Harris had been treated unfairly, the commission unanimously found that another officer with a similar record had only been suspended, ruling that discipline must be meted out equally.
   "Those are tough decisions," said City Councilman Dedrick Brittenum, who chaired the commission when it reversed Harris' termination. Police once had the power to fire officers on a case-by-case basis, but a lawsuit around that time required police brass to consider how it had treated peers, Brittenum said.
   Veteran police administrators such as Melvin Burgess, who served as MPD director until his 1994 retirement, say latitude is needed in dismissing unfit cops because of the danger they pose to the public.
   "If you believe you can salvage a person you try to do it," Burgess said.
   But when it's clear a cop is unfit, supervisors need the authority to cut him loose, he said.
   Reinstated, Harris became a holy terror.
   Over nearly nine years on the force he was written up on conduct violations 35 times -- four times a year on average -- for everything from crashing vehicles to cursing out fellow cops and citizens to mishandling evidence.
   He grew ferocious and seemingly unaccountable, yet each time he wriggled off with reprimands or minor suspensions.
   When a passing supervisor questioned why he was in a parking lot speaking with an unidentified man wearing a bandana on his head, Harris became irate.
   According to a report of the Dec. 9, 2001, incident, Harris shouted a derogatory term at the supervisor and accused her of "racial profiling and disrespecting" him. He followed her into the Southeast Precinct station and began pounding his fists on a captain's desk and yelling he "was not going to be treated this way."
   Weeks later in a written response to disciplinary charges, Harris claimed he was in the parking lot with his son and a law-abiding friend.
   Harris exhibited "outrageous behavior," wrote the supervisor, Lt. Stephanie Hanscom, who pressed an insubordination charge against him. Curiously, when the disciplinary hearing rolled around, Hanscom didn't remember it like that anymore.
   "Lt. Hanscom states now that the statement of charges was not accurate," wrote Maj. Larry R. Young, dismissing the charge.
   The following July, Harris again skated in and out of trouble, this time over the disappearance of cocaine from a crime scene.
   Responding to shots fired at the Greenbrook Apartments in East Memphis, Harris and a partner soon veered from the scene of the shooting and focused their attention on the complainant who reported it.
   Obtaining a pass key from the manager, Harris entered the apartment over the objections of the complainant's girlfriend, and began rifling through drawers, according to an official report of the July 16, 2002, incident.
   Harris and a partner tagged a gun, drug scales and other evidence -- but not a bag of cocaine said to be at the scene.
   Harris and his partner told investigators they only found drug residue. Yet the " complainant advised that he had 10 grams of cocaine." Other officers, too, said they saw "what appeared to be about an ounce of cocaine in the cellophane bag."
   A hearing officer found several problems with Harris' performance that day. For starters, he'd had no probable cause to search the apartment in the first place. And Harris made several inconsistent statements to investigators. Nonetheless, police brass let him go with a three-day suspension.
   "I feel that this will be sufficient to remind officer Harris to be more careful in the future," Maj. D.W. Cooper wrote.
   Even before the ink dried on Cooper's September 2003 written decision, Harris found even deeper trouble.
   That January, he and an associate bought a vacant piece of commercial property for $150,000 on Winchester Road in Hickory Hill. The pair sank more money into the site -- another $191,000 -- to build a restaurant and obtain a Dixie Queen franchise. The food stand opened in 2004 and is worth $360,400, property records show.
   That and other financial details led agents to conclude Harris "appears to be laundering significant amounts of illegal income," according to an FBI affidavit.
   Following a tip about suspicious cash deposits, federal agents determined Harris was depositing $15,000 a week into an account at the Bank of Bartlett.
   In all, investigators identified $835,422 deposited into the account from March 2004 through September 2005 -- $43,969 a month. "The deposits were all of small denomination bills, and some of the bills have had an odd odor," an FBI affidavit said. "Harris usually went to a particular teller for the deposits, and when he dealt with other tellers he objected if the tellers requested identification."
   Harris' partner in the venture was a medical doctor, Larry Walker, who told a reporter he never knew Harris was in the drug trade and suspects he was set up by authorities.
   "People get set up with this sort of thing all the time," Walker said. He said he met Harris through mutual friends and believed he was in the recording business -- something Harris told others.
   Harris' facade began to crack on Aug. 23, 2005, when he was pulled over while off duty and caught riding with a thug. The driver, Calvin B. Glenith, had a long rap sheet of felonies -- robbery, theft and gun possession among them.
   At first, Harris tried tried to talk his way out, then became "verbally beligerent," alleging he was a victim of oppression.
   "I hope I stop you in a traffic stop!" Harris yelled at an officer.
   Exactly how the incident affected the federal investigation is unclear, yet by January 2006, the FBI dispatched a confidential informant to sting Harris. Wired with a recording device, the informant paid Harris to escort him on a cocaine delivery to a town near Jackson, Tenn.
   Harris was just part of a long, endemic problem of poor supervision at MPD, said former director Chapman. Wayward officers seldom got the attention or discipline they needed, he said, likening management's outlook to a kind of connivance.
   "Don't ask too many questions. Don't get into it too deep."

Mosby's influence surpasses wins

From The Commercial Appeal, February 23, 2007
February 23, 2007
   To the hundreds of boys he helped become men, East boys basketball coach Reginald Mosby will always be more than "Coach."
   He's been a father, a mentor and an inspirator, and they have cherished him for it.
   "Strip me of any material things that I've acquired or been awarded, and the one thing I know is that I am a man because of what Reginald Mosby taught me day-in and day-out," former East High and University of Memphis basketball standout Billy Smith said of Mosby, who after reaching the 500-win mark for his career is contemplating retirement.
   "I'm going to try to sum this up, but it's hard to condense when somebody has done as much as he has in the neighborhood and for young people. Coach is one of the people who molded me into who I am today. To see things for what they are, and if things are bad, to make them better.
   "Before he taught me basketball, it was all about being a young man and being a gentleman. He's a teacher-slash-coach-slash-father. ... He's what society is missing now as far as grooming young people to be productive citizens in the community."
   On Feb. 13, in the Mustangs' final regular-season game, Mosby picked up his 500th career victory -- a 48-41 district win over Melrose -- without much fanfare.
   There was no celebration. Just a few handshakes and pats on the back for a man who's spent nearly half of his life mentoring youths raised in the same Binghampton neighborhood he was from.
   "The thing I've always felt like was I had a calling to stay in my area here at East and in this neighborhood," said Mosby, who's been a part of five state-championship basketball teams at East going back to his days as an assistant under former Mustang coach Robert Manning. "Just like how proud the people are to come from Orange Mound, I'm just as proud to come from Binghampton.
   "If people only knew that the little money we get for coaching is nothing. When you touch these young guys and see them keep straight, and then they come back, it gives me complete reverence. I thought that some of the them would come back and get on my butt for running them so much, but they always come back and say, 'Coach, thank you.'"
   Mosby, who recently wrapped up his 21st year as East's head basketball coach, is not in the best of health, and refuses to discuss the issue in detail other than to say "I've got to step back and look at some things."
   Yet even while dealing with his own health concerns, he's still "Coach," even to former players like Andre Laird, whose older brother Eric Laird, a former standout at East and Ole Miss (1982-85), died Feb. 15 of congestive heart failure, just two days after Mosby earned his 500th victory.
   Eric Laird helped East earn the school's first basketball state title in 1979.
   "When they were playing for us here, I took them under my wing and right now, (Andre) is disoriented," Mosby said. "I'm trying to help him through this thing."
   Andre, who also starred at East and later played at Ole Miss, said Thursday he's called on Mosby often since graduating from East in 1983.
   "I wasn't able to celebrate his 500 wins with him because my mother was ill at the same time my brother was passing away," Andre said. "I was like, Coach what am I going to do?'
   "I mean, I had to be totally strong for my mother, so the first person I called was Coach, and he said to leave it in the Lord's hands. He said everything would be all right. ... Coach hasn't been there just for me. He's been there for all East High products."

Poag's retail taste shaped shopping revolution
Creator of Saddle Creek lifestyle center was 'way ahead of curve'

From The Commercial Appeal, February 21, 2007
By Amos Maki
February 21, 2007
   Editor's note:
   This is the first in a series of four profiles of this year's Society of Entrepreneurs inductees, who will be officially inducted into the organization April 21 at the University of Memphis.
   G. Dan Poag Jr. ['59]
   Chief executive officer, Poag &McEwen Lifestyle Centers
   Age: 65
   Hometown: Memphis
   Education: Princeton University, Class of 1963.
   Hobbies: Memphis Grizzlies games, travel and his four grandchildren.
   Community involvement: Poag is chair-elect of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's board of directors. He also serves on the executive committee of the Urban Land Institute's Memphis District Council.
   On the Internet: pm-lifestyle.com.
   G. Dan Poag Jr. didn't set out to start a retail revolution, he simply wanted to design and develop a high-end retail center that appealed to him and the way he liked to shop.
   That meant no mall crowds or long walks to the stores he wanted to frequent. Poag also wanted great landscaping and architectural touches to set his centers apart and to keep the customers in the shopping center.
   The result was the Shops at Saddle Creek, the Germantown lifestyle center that opened in 1987 and is still considered one of the area's premier shopping destinations.
   "We were just building a center that appealed to us," said Poag, chief executive officer of Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers. "There were really just a few tenants in the malls we were interested in, so we thought, 'what if we took those few tenants and put them in a format we liked?'"
   That format, so new in the mall-dominated 1980s, is now the nation's fastest-growing retail format.
   In 2002, there were only 30 lifestyle centers in existence. The International Council of Shopping Centers says more than 50 lifestyle centers will open this year, joining 150 existing centers.
   Industry observers credit Poag, and longtime partner Terry McEwen, with starting the trend.
   "Most people in the industry credit them with creating the lifestyle center concept," said Malachy Kavanagh, spokesman for the ICSC. "They were way ahead of the curve."
   For his vision and determination to build a better mousetrap, or in this case, retail concept, Poag, 65, will be inducted this April into the Society of Entrepreneurs.
   Although lifestyles centers are all the rage in the retail world today, the story was quite different 20 years ago.
   For one thing, massive suburban malls, complete with department store anchors, had dominated the retail scene for decades.
   Movies and pop songs -- and the social lives of millions of American teenagers -- revolved around the monolithic, windowless malls.
   Lenders weren't accustomed to financing large, uncovered shopping centers with no department store anchors. When lenders asked Poag which department store he had lined up as an anchor tenant, he said there wasn't one. When they asked who his main anchor would be, Poag told them the individual stores and retailers would be the anchors.
   A few people told Poag he was crazy.
   "When we tried to arrange financing, I heard it many, many times," he said.
   But overcoming adversity in the business world was nothing new for Poag, who graduated from East High School before attending Princeton.
   In fact, his first foray into retail could have ended in disaster, but Poag's ingenuity and determination, hallmarks of his career, turned it into a winner.
   After beginning his real estate career in the apartment business, Poag had the opportunity in the early 1980s to buy the Knickerbocker building on Poplar, just east of Perkins.
   The retail and office portions were leased by Casual Corner, and Poag signed a contract to purchase the building. However, Casual Corner decided to leave the property while Poag was under contract.
   It could have been a crushing blow, but Poag renegotiated the purchase price and was able to re-lease the building at four times the rate of the previous tenant.
   "Dan is very bright," McEwen said. "He's able to look at things with a clear head and not let emotion cloud the issue."
   Poag's son, Josh Poag, said the company's one major defeat, a rejection by Germantown for an early Saddle Creek expansion, may have been his dad's finest moment.
   The first phase of Saddle Creek was wildly successful and Poag & McEwen wanted to expand on the site that is now home to Memphis Pizza Cafe.
   Neighbors who had caught wind of the possible expansion contacted Poag and told him they would support the project if Poag built them a new pool and made a $50,000 donation to the neighborhood association.
   "My dad just said no because he has always taught us you never do anything like that that crosses ethical lines," Josh Poag said. "Once you cross those lines, people own you. And not only do they own you, you ruin your reputation, and that's all you've got in this business."
   The neighborhood showed up en masse to a city meeting and the project was defeated.
   "It was the only time in our 25-year history as a company that we got a negative vote on anything we were working on," Josh Poag said. "We don't have a perfect record, but that's because my dad stood by his morals and ethics."

Mid-South Memories

On January 11, 2007, The Commercial Appeal, published a photo of East High School during a snow day in 1962.
See the image.

Ex-anchor admits sexual abuse
Meroney to serve 18 months at home

From The Commercial Appeal, November 17, 2006
By Bartholomew Sullivan
November 17, 2006
   Former Fox 13 anchorman Ron Meroney ['54] pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse in Maryland Thursday and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but the judge suspended all but 18 months.Ron Meroney promotional picture. Source: WHBQ-TV
   Those months will be served with electronic monitoring when he returns to his Shelby County home in Arlington.
   Meroney, 70, a minister and former host of Fox's "Good Morning, Memphis" show, had been indicted on a charge of statutory rape last December stemming from an incident in 1974.
   In court in Salisbury, Md., on Thursday, he was ordered to register as a child sex offender and was told to have no unsupervised contact with minor children and to enroll in a state-approved sex offender program.
   Meroney came to Fox 13 in December 1995 after running a radio station near St. Petersburg, Fla., that played pop-style Christian music. In the late 1950s, he replaced well-known TV personality Wink Martindale on Channel 13's "Top Ten Dance Party."
   In a dramatic courtroom statement, one of his victims, abused at age 4 and now an adult, described Meroney as an alligator in a swamp who snatches "unsuspecting children."
   "He takes us to the murky bottom where there is no light and no hope. He stole the natural sparkle from our eyes and left them dull," said the woman. The newspaper is not identifying her because she is a victim of sexual abuse. "He took our spontaneous bursts of giggles and laughter and replaced them with silence..."
   "He has left a wide path of destruction, of broken spirits," she continued. "Spiritual murder is what I call it. And to compound it, he portrayed and continues to portray himself as a righteous Christian."
   Wicomico County Circuit Judge W. Newton Jackson III sentenced Meroney to 15 years but suspended all but 18 months, which will be served inside his home in Shelby County and coordinated with local law enforcement.
   In his own statement in court, Meroney addressed both the victim and her brother. "I want to apologize to you for sexually abusing you when you were little. It was wrong of me and I know it has caused pain in your life. I ask you to forgive me."
   The woman's nearly four-page, single-spaced typewritten statement was faxed to The Commercial Appeal by Asst. State Atty. Elizabeth Ireland, who prosecuted the case. In it, the woman said that she and her other siblings, both boys and girls, had been fondled by Meroney when they were pre-pubescent.
   The Wicomico County charges relate to events that occurred in 1974, but Meroney faced similar charges, also in Maryland, 10 years later.
   According to court records in Towson, Md., near Baltimore, seven criminal charges were filed against Meroney in July 1984 that included child sexual abuse, assault and rape.
   All were dismissed a month later with the exception of a charge of third-degree sexual offense in which he was given probation before judgment, a resolution in which a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty but with the final judgment technically suspended.

Rivalry's real, so let's manage it

From The Commercial Appeal, November 12, 2006
By Anthony 'Tony' Valentine
Special to Viewpoints
November 12, 2006
Photo Photos by Karen Pulfer Focht
The Commercial Appeal

   Anthony Valentine: "The rules are simple. When you go to someone else's neighborhood, you should respect their neighborhood as much as you would respect your own. . . . But, if you come looking for trouble or trying to start something, you will find what you are looking for."
   I don't know how it all started, but the point is, it's real.
   A rival is defined as a person or thing that can equal or surpass another in some way. Rivalry, then, is the condition of being a rival.
   As a student at East High School, one of the very first things I became acclimated to was the "Rival Feud" between Binghamton and Orange Mound. It was not until we played Melrose in 2001, my seventh-grade year, that I was even aware of a problem with the neighborhoods.
   I have been able to discern that the perpetuation of the rivalry is deeply based in beliefs and opinions about the opposing neighborhoods. The rivalry seems to center on the sports teams that represent local high schools in the areas.
   Problems arise due to a lack of healthy sportsmanship and competition, particularly from the fans and some other students. Unfortunately, the school gets the negative attention from the media and other communities when actually it is only an innocent bystander.
   I am now a graduating senior and I have watched the feud grow more violent over the last few years.
   As far as the day to day, there really is no direct effect that can be seen. The rules are simple. When you go to someone else's neighborhood, you should respect their neighborhood as much as you would respect your own. For example, if you come to Binghamton and just chill, then there is not a problem.
   But, if you come looking for trouble or trying to start something, you will find what you are looking for. Also, each neighborhood seems to have an "all for one, one for all" philosophy.
   People in the neighborhoods are very closely knit and many believe that sticking together is the best chance at survival for all. Many Binghamton residents think that if a person, especially one from Orange Mound, has a problem with them, then it is a problem for the entire neighborhood.
   In today's society, this attitude is somewhat out of place and has been the cause of many avoidable deaths and brutal beatings because of things being so out of hand. Just this summer, an eighth-grade student, Melissa Robinson, was senselessly killed stemming from an argument between young ladies from Binghamton and Orange Mound.
   Concern primarily centers on the sporting events held at the respective schools. There is definitely a lack of, or low participation in, nighttime social events (games, dances, etc.) in these areas because of fears about violence.
   Do I see a resolution? Some may think this is a bit extreme, but you could compare the feud between Binghamton and Orange Mound to the generations-long feud between the Capulets and the Montagues (in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet").
   Like crime or racism, this feud will never be completely eradicated. It is going to take strong leadership from people very closely connected to each neighborhood before any type of agreement can be reached.
   How the neighbors perceive a person is critical and is definitely something to consider if you have already made a name for yourself in the neighborhood. You certainly would not want to appear to be an outcast or viewed as a "traitor."
   As a proud product of Binghamton, I only hope that each individual person involved will step up and take responsibility for their choice of actions.
   Rivalry has its place, so it is up to the communities to end the violence now.

Anthony 'Tony' Valentine, who lives in Binghamton, is a senior at East High School.

Freshman tackles the odds
Rebels' Vaughn makes strides for playing time

From The Commercial Appeal, November 10, 2006
By Scott Cacciola
November 10, 2006
   OXFORD, Miss. -- Cassius Vaughn ['06] realized he would have to make the most of his brief moments on the field. After all, most true freshmen in the Southeastern Conference are limited to honing their play in practice, staying patient as they try to climb the depth chart.
   Vaughn, a freshman cornerback who starred at East High, knew that when he first stepped foot on campus last summer. But he also understood that the Rebels were young, that he would have opportunities to make an impact.
   "I wanted to come in and make a statement," Vaughn said. "And I feel like I kind of made a statement on special teams."
   Vaughn blocked a punt against Georgia on Sept. 30. The next week against Vanderbilt, he topped himself by actually tackling the punter for a 13-yard loss, and the Rebels went on to score a touchdown. Coach Ed Orgeron said he could sense Vaughn's track background when he made those plays.
   "He has a tremendous start," Orgeron said. "The thing we like about him is his speed."
   For many of the Rebels (3-7, 1-5 SEC), the season has, in fact, been a blur. They are enjoying their lone open week of the season before they play at No. 12 LSU (7-2, 3-2) on Nov. 18, and defensive backs coach Chris Rippon said the break would be invaluable for his young players.
   For 10 straight weeks, Rippon said, they have been subjected to a constant stream of information. Every week, there are new schemes and new personnel to study, and there has been little time to focus on technique. But having a mini-vacation to rest and recharge, Rippon said, should benefit the team's young players, who have been on overload since the preseason. That group includes Vaughn.
   "There are glimpses of his skills that reaffirm that he is going to be a good player," Rippon said. "There's also evidence that the speed of the game, the technique issues that you have to have to be successful against these people aren't developed enough.
   "He has those physical skills, he has great speed, he has real good hips, he accelerates out of cuts, he has excellent hands. So all of those things are good. It's just working on different techniques and consistency. It's a mark of a freshman."
   Vaughn, a standout running back and sprinter in high school, said he chose Ole Miss over schools such as LSU and Alabama because of his relationship with his position coach. Rippon, he said, convinced him he could grow to be a good cornerback -- and, considering Ole Miss' overall youth, there was the added benefit of potentially playing early at an SEC school.
   "If it weren't for Coach Rip, I don't think I would have wound up here," Vaughn said. "But I am here, and it's a blessing."
   Like the rest of his teammates, Vaughn said he feels disappointed in the Rebels' record. A break here or there, he said, and things would be different.
   "If it all came down to almost winning, we'd be up there with them," he said. "But we know with the young talent we have this year and the experience we're going to have next year, it's going to be like, man, you better watch out for Ole Miss. We're coming together as a unit."
   After playing special teams almost exclusively, Vaughn got several snaps at cornerback in Ole Miss' 23-17 loss to Auburn on Oct. 28. He looked a step behind at times, Rippon said, and that was no surprise.
   "He's going to make some young mistakes," Rippon said, "and primarily the hardest thing these kids have to do is have the ability to focus on each play, one at a time. Cornerbacks need a short memory. Things happen quickly. As soon as one play breaks, he's gotta get rid of that. And I think he understands that."
   Vaughn said he expects there to be plenty of competition for a starting role on next year's team.
   "You'll always have to beat someone out for a spot," he said "I'll be a sophomore next year, I'll have a little more confidence, and I really want to be considered a lockdown corner for us. I just have to continue to work hard."

A sky king
In Air Guard, business aviation, Bob Wilson ['62] has hit heights

From The Commercial Appeal, November 8, 2006
By Jane Roberts
November 8, 2006
   For years and years, Bob Wilson lived a double life, managing the affairs of the Kemmons Wilson Cos. while the sun was out, then stealing away to fly nighttime missions for the Tennessee Air National Guard.
   Saturday, he will join the state's heroes of flight -- including astronaut Margaret Rhea Seddon, FedEx Corp. founder Frederick W. Smith and Walter Beech, the brilliant tinkerer from Pulaski who ultimately founded the Beech Aircraft Corp. -- as members of the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame.
   Wilson, 62, got there by dint of his ambition, serving 28 years -- the maximum allowed -- for a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.
   "The difference was, I could work all day, leave my office and fly a local training mission. I'd be in a whole other world. I always loved it and came away really refreshed," Wilson said.
   Wilson signed on with the Air National Guard in 1966. By 1969, he was carrying cargo to war zones in Vietnam, fending off shots that downed many U.S. planes.
   While the TV ads say National Guard duty takes two days month, Wilson often flew once a week, delivering outsize equipment, paratroopers or cargo needed in war and peacetime operations on four or five continents.
   "Many months, I would end up being gone 10 to 14 days. Often on very secret stuff," Wilson said, chuckling that he flew Delta Force missions "before I even knew what the Delta Force was." (Formed shortly after Vietnam, the unit's primary task revolved around counterterrorism, although it is capable of many mission profiles.)
   In the 1980s, Wilson, son of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson, went to work to get safety equipment installed on the C-130 that ultimately made it much safer for low-visibility landings.
   The trouble was, the military had few C-130s at the time and didn't feel like investing more in them.
   "Bob talked to a lot of folks in Washington. He is a very respected businessman. When Bob speaks, a lot of folks listen," said Maj. Gen. Russ Cotney, commander of the nearly 3,700 Air Guardsman in the Tennessee Air National Guard.
   When the hall of fame nominations came around this year, Cotney made his first, choosing to honor Wilson.
   "Bob Wilson taught me a lot. I picked up a lot of good flying habits from him. He's the kind of person you want to follow just to see what he does in difficult situations."
   Wilson got his first taste of the great blue yonder as a kid, sitting in his father's lap in the cockpit.
   At 15, he had his student pilot's license.
   "On my 16th birthday, I got my pilot's license, then I went and got my driver's license."
   The Air Guard gave him a chance to fly with the country's great pilots, he said, "from airline people down to the farmers that flew with us."
   He would trade nothing for it, saying simply that he'd hate to think he spent his life without it.
   "Bob is an easy guy to fly with, and a great guy to be around," said Col. Harry Montgomery, head of the 164th Airlift Wing. "He didn't need to spend any time in the Guard, let alone 28 years. He's a great patriot for doing it."
   Wilson's own theory is that that the country would be a better place if military service were not voluntary.
   "I'm one that thinks the draft was a good deal; it would change a lot of attitudes if everyone would serve a year or two," he said.
   When Wilson retired from the Guard in 1996, he was operations group commander for the Memphis-based 164th Airlift Wing, and he was also starting up Wilson Air Center, the fixed-base operator with its signature canopy at 2930 Winchester.
   For seven years since, the readers of Aviation International News have ranked it the best FBO in the country, heaping praise on the staff for efficiency and service that mean a pilot 10 minutes away can have pizza, barbecue, even caviar waiting when the plane lands.
   Everyone on the staff calls it the Wilson way.
   "We do not say 'no' to customers," said Dave Ivey, manager.
   "That was the creed in the hospitality industry. You exceed customer expectations."
Hall of Fame Induction
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, Sevierville
Other inductees: James W. Campbell, posthumously, created the FAA's Flight Instructor Refresher courses, still used today.
John Ellington, longtime commercial airline pilot and executive from Murfreesboro.
Dr. Charles Smith was both a physician and pilot for American Airlines. simultaneously. Today, he practices medicine as an FAA medical examiner in Nashville.

Alumnus promotes products on morning talk shows

October 17, 2006 Class of '68 alumnus Eric "Ricky" Witherspoon was on television morning shows in Memphis on October 17 promoting his Wacky's products. You can watch the 10 minute clip at

East drops 7th grade, 8th grade goes next year

September 2, 2006
   East High School took another step with the beginning of this school year to becoming a high school only institution. The school no longer has a 7th grade. Most pupils who would have attended 7th grade at East were assigned to the grade at Lester, which has been an elementary school but is transitioning to a middle school.
   For the 2007-2008 school year, East will give up the 8th grade to Lester, making East the 9-12 grade school recommended in the proposed Master Plan for city schools.
   This is the first adjustment in grades at East since the elementary was removed in 1972. At that time, many East elementary pupils were assigned to Lester, while Lester's junior high pupils were assigned to East in a grade swap called pairing.
   East began as a 10 grade school when it opened in September, 1948. It added the 11th grade the next year and the 12 grade in 1950. The first class was graduated in the spring of 1951.
   Source: The East High Alumni Page

East gets failing grade in No Child Left Behind assessment

August 16, 2006
   East High has again failed to meet the Annual Yearly Progress requirement of the No Child Left Behind act.1 According to the Tennessee Department of Education, East High is assigned the 2006-2007 status of "State/LEA Reconstitution Plan.2" (LEA = Local Education Agency).
   Tennessee lists the following actions as its response to a school being put on the status of "State/LEA Reconstitution Plan3"
1.  High Priority Schools, 2006-2007, Tennessee Department of Education, http://www.tennessee.gov/education/nclb/ayp/doc/2006%20High%20Priority%20Schools.pdf.

2. U.S. Department of Education, Facts and Terms Every Parent Should Know About NCLB, http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/parents/parentfacts.html.

3 Source: Tennessee Department of Education, Consolidated State Application,  Accountability Workbook, Revised June 27, 2006  (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/tncsa.pdf)

   Sources: Tennessee Department of Education, Memphis City Schools, United States Department of Education

East High Teachers Canvass Neighborhood for Students

Posted by Stephanie Scurlock
East High Teachers Canvass Neighborhood for Students
   MEMPHIS,TN-Class starts Monday for students in Memphis city and DeSoto county schools. This weekend teachers at East High hit the streets to talk to parents about their expectations.
   Step by step the faculty at East High hopes to make a difference in the lives of their students. They started this weekend meeting with potential parents. Teachers split up into 5 teams. They visited almost every section of the neighborhood. "We're a family friendly school and the only way we can educate the students of binghamton is that we work together,"said Fred Curry, East High School Principal.
   The teachers are walking the Binghamton neighborhood in order to bridge the gap between the school and the community. They believe in order to have a successful school year the two have to go hand in hand. Building that line of communication starts with everyday conversations. What follows is a recipe for success.
   East High teachers want the focus fixed on education. They believe in it so much they're willing to walk these streets on a hot summer day. "Our motto is failure is not an option. We're going to get in those kids faces and let them know you're going to set a plan. You're going to follow that plan and you are going to be successful,"Curry said. He says if the school is successful then so is the community.

Some attorneys back off black mold lawsuit

From WMC-TV, July 25, 2006
By Kontji Anthony [The video of this story may still be available from
   Almost five years after the discovery and cleanup of black mold at East High School, attorneys behind a class action lawsuit want off the case.
    This week, 15 Memphis City School parents and students got a letter from attorneys asking the courts to be cut from the case. Parents claim they're being dropped cold with just three months to regroup.
   Zorina Bowen says she doesn't know where to turn after attorneys mailed her this letter saying they want off the case.
   "It's been a mess ever since we started this thing back in 2001," she said.
   The former PTA president says black mold discovered at East High School gave her daughter, Jessica, asthma.
   "When I'd walk up the stairs to class, I would notice I'd get short of breath and I stayed out a lot during my seventh and eighth grade year," said the former East High School student.
   Jessica says she never had asthma before then and gave up ice skating because of it. She's one of several students at East High who say mold made them sick.
   "I think they're gonna have a very, very difficult time showing that any of the mold that was in east high school had anything to do with the problems that some of these folks complained about," said Memphis City Schools Attorney, Mike Marshall. He says plaintiffs have until October to make their case. "The court has set a deadline that if they can't prove their case or at least bring forth evidence to show that there's reason to go forward, then those cases are gonna be dismissed," he said.
   The attorneys dropping the lawsuit say the parents have a good case against Memphis City Schools and their former cleanup company Aramark-ServiceMaster, but they don't have the money to prove the case.
   "I believe they actually took the case under false pretenses because they led us to believe that they had the resources to fight it and we find out later that they don't," Bowen said.
   Attorneys say they did everything they could to move the case forward. Now plaintiffs say they're back to square-one. Parents and students are now looking for new legal counsel.

Helping kids Golden's goal
Former standout player relies on knowledge

From The Commercial Appeal, June 29, 2006
By Jason Smith
June 29, 2006

    LaMarcus Golden (class year undetermined) has yet to take a seat on the bench behind him, even with his 8-and-under Amateur Athletic Union basketball team now trailing by 20 points late in the first quarter.
   No, Golden, the former Treadwell High and University of Tennessee basketball standout, is smiling and dishing out praise, content that his Memphis Mustangs, playing in this week's AAU 8-and-under national tournament in Memphis, are giving it their all.
   "To me, it's just like raising my own kids or kids around me in my neighborhood," said Golden, now a 32-year-old father of three and current point guard for the World Basketball Association's North Mississippi Tornadoes.
   "It's not who wins or who loses. I mean, that's what you want to do in the long run -- is win.
   "But we're trying to teach them how to work hard, and that they'll be rewarded for working hard ... We want them to experience something different, and if I can inspire three of these kids, or just one, to do better than what I've done, to me that's an accomplishment."
   On Wednesday at Sheffield High, Golden's Mustangs, based out of Lester Community Center in Binghamton, were overwhelmed on the court by a North Carolina squad that led, 22-2, after a quarter and, 31-6, by halftime.
   Yet there were Golden and his assistant coach, Desmond Merriweather, still teaching and encouraging their overmatched team in an eventual 51-14 blowout loss.
   "(Golden) took me out for no reason," complained star player Jalen Winston upon being pulled in the first quarter.
   "Calm down," explained Merriweather. "You've got two fouls already. You'll foul out!"
   Just two days earlier on Monday, Golden and Merriweather had been driving the Mustangs back to Binghamton from their tourney opener at Sheffield when they learned of the shooting of 13-year-old Melissa Robinson, who died Tuesday after being shot in the head Monday in a Binghamton park.
   Like the kids they're coaching this week, Golden and Merriweather grew up in Binghamton and North Memphis.
   "We want to send our condolences out to Melissa Robertson's family," said Merriweather, a 32-year-old East High graduate. "That's why we're getting these kids out here, because tragic things like that happen in our neighborhood.
   "We want to give them an opportunity to see something besides all that. Where we're from, you've got to give kids opportunities to see better things."
   Added Golden, whose team was supplied its white, away jerseys Wednesday by current Treadwell basketball coach Richard Cummings: "Desmond and I have both been in North Memphis and Binghamton all of our lives, and we're just trying to help the kids who haven't been able to do anything like this."
   The AAU's 8-and-under national tournament continues today through Sunday at Sheffield High and Hickory Ridge Middle School. The championship game is set for Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at Sheffield.
   The AAU's 13-and-under Division 1 and 2 national tournaments also continue in Memphis through Sunday, with the Division 1 championship game set for Sunday at 3:10 p.m. at Wooddale High.
   The 13-and-under Division 2 championship game will be played Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at Ridgeway High.

East student fatally shot in Binghampton park - Obituary

   Thirteen year old Melissa Robinson, who would have been an 8th grader at East High School this autumn, was shot during a gang related confrontation at Howze Park near Mimosa and Tillman Streets in Memphis June 26. Police Lt. Toney Armstrong said the girl was involved in the argument but it was uncertain whether she was a gang member. A 19 year old woman and others in the car from where the shots came were arrested within minutes.
Source: The Commercial Appeal

   MELISSA NICOLE ROBINSON, 13 year old daughter of Carol Robinson and Milton Ellis, Sr. of Memphis, died June 27, 2006 at the Regional Medical Center. Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 30 at N.H. Owens Funeral Home. Service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 1 at Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church with burial in Galilee Memorial Gardens. She was a student at East High School. She also leaves three sisters, Michelle Robinson, Nathalie Ellis and Marquita Ellis; two brothers, Milton Ellis, Jr. and Milton Ellis.

The king's prerogative
The crown came off, but the Crown & Sceptre Ball went on in celebration of Carnival Memphis' 75th year

From The Commercial Appeal, June 6, 2006
Donahue/Party Line
Michael Donahue
June 6, 2006
   Shortly after being introduced as 2006 King of Carnival Memphis at the Crown & Sceptre Ball, Giles Coors (associated with the class of '74) said he was going to remove his crown: ". . . if my royal subjects will allow me. 'Cause it's hurting my head."
   Giles and Carnival Memphis Queen Katie Brindell kicked off their reign of Carnival festivities and charitable visits during Carnival Week at the ball Friday night at the Hilton Memphis. Carnival Memphis, known as the "Party With a Purpose," is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
   Giles removed his crown, but this year the princesses of the Royal Court revived an old Carnival tradition of wearing tiaras with their evening gowns. Their escorts revived another tradition: They wore white gloves with their white tie and tails.
   Carnival Memphis began as Cotton Carnival in 1931 as "a celebration of our community," said Carnival president Neely Mallory.
   Since it began its Children's Charity Initiative in 1999, Carnival has raised $600,000. The Grand Krewe of Ennead, which already raised almost $40,000 this year, is the No. 1 fund-raising Carnival krewe of 2006, followed by the grand krewes of Luxor and Osiris. A total of $125,000 has been raised by the grand krewes and Carnival Memphis for charities this year. Ed Galfsky, Carnival Memphis executive director, described the krewes as "the heartbeat of the Carnival celebration."
   This week, the Carnival king and queen, the Royal Court, the Royal Pages and the Loyal Order of Scarabs -- young men whose duty is to protect the queen --will visit the krewe clubrooms at night. During the day, royalty and their entourage will visit hospitals and nursing homes.
   Also taking part activities are the men in green who wear masks with snouts and ride around in a green truck -- the members of the Secret Order of Boll Weevils, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
   "This has been my dream since my dad was king and sister was queen," Queen Katie told the audience. Her father, Charlie Brindell, was Carnival King in 1993, and her sister, Jennifer Brindell Pembroke, was Carnival Queen in 2001. "My sister is giving me tips on how to be a good queen."
   King Giles Coors
   King Giles Augustus Coors III and his wife, Suzette Turner Coors, who was Carnival queen in 1984, have two children -- George Russell Coors II, 15, and Suzette Randolph Coors, 13.
   Giles is senior vice president of Stephens Inc., a privately held, full-service investment banking firm based in Little Rock, with offices in the United States and London. Giles was 2000 Carnival Memphis president. His sister, Mignon Coors Canale, was Carnival queen in 1985. Their father, Giles 'Bull' Coors, served as the 41st king of Carnival in 1972.
   Giles, whose mother is the late artist Sophie Coors, attended East High School and graduated from The Darlington School in Rome, Ga. He majored in banking/finance at University of Mississippi and graduated with a business administration degree. He attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and completed the Stephens University master's program at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, N.C.
   Queen Katie Brindell
   Carnival Memphis Queen Katherine 'Katie' Conner Brindell, the daughter of Ronell and Charlie Brindell, is a junior at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, majoring in advertising and public relations. She is assistant pledge educator in her sorority, Pi Beta Phi.
   Katie volunteers at the Fort Worth Women's Shelter and at Cook's Children's Medical Center. She also is an active member of the Reformed University Fellowship at TCU. She attended The Darlington School in Rome, Ga., where she received the John Glenn Award for Achievement and a special award from the Rome Rotary Club.

East Career and Technology Center Becomes Separate School

June 5, 2006

   The East Career and Technology Center (CTC) became a separate school on the East High campus earlier this year, according to East High principal Fred Curry.
   It was noted here in January that Charles Green had been appointed principal of the East CTC (
see earlier story).
   The East CTC started as East Vo-Tech when a separate building was constructed behind the school, north of the faculty parking lot in 1976. In 1984, another additional building was added to the campus, immediately west of the Vo-Tech building and connected to it. The 1984 building held computer, engineering and health science classrooms and laboratories and was the focus of the school's new optional program in those areas.
   It is reported that both of the newer buildings are now part of the East CTC and the academic optional school programs at East High have been moved into the main school building.
   Source: The East High Alumni Page

East student's death gives life to organ recipients

From The Commercial Appeal, May 17 2006
By Zack McMillin
May 17, 2006
   Inside the mother's purse, next to a photo sleeve filled with pictures of her children, rested a small roll of toilet paper.
   Monica Walker knew her daughter's name would be called often at East High's Senior Day on Tuesday. She knew she would be asked to walk to the stage at the school's new auditorium, knew she would smile some and cry some, too.
   A sinus infection had stripped her voice bare, but she knew she would be asked to talk about how her 17-year-old daughter, LaMetra, had become what the Mid-South Transplant Foundation calls a hero.
   Her daughter should have been there Tuesday, in one of the smart white dresses, swaggering down the auditorium aisles with the rest of East's Class of 2006, joining in the choreographed hugfest, lifting a joyful noise into the whirlwind of exuberance.
   She should be preparing for boot camp -- though her parents tried to talk her out of it, the National Guard was paying her money on top of the scholarship she had earned to attend UT-Knoxville.
   She had just gotten the $3,000 signing bonus, and had already talked about shopping for new dresses when she returned from spring break with her grandmother in Martin, Tenn.
   She never made it to Martin. Around 10 a.m. on March 17, a hit-and-run accident triggered by two other cars forced her Toyota Camry onto the median on U.S. 51 near Atoka, flipping it over and over.
   Donald and Monica Walker found out a few hours later and rushed to The Med. Monica, a nurse at Methodist-University, said she knew as soon as she saw the chaplain.
   Very early the next morning, she began having conversations with another man whose job is to help guide grieving loved ones -- Brent Manseau, a transplant coordinator for the Mid-South Transplant Foundation.
   "She was so, so strong," Brent recalled Tuesday, after he'd told the overflow crowd of the lives LeMetra's organs had saved.
   Her heart was given to a 59-year-old man.
   Her kidney to a 51-year-old father married for 30 years.
   Her other kidney to a 32-year-old woman in Tennessee on the waiting list for four years.
   Her lungs to a 15-year-old in Oklahoma with Cystic Fibrosis.
   Anyone who knew LaMetra well had heard her talk about her desire to be an organ donor. She had responded after a presentation by the Foundation in Sharon Hightower's class.
   Every day, according to the Foundation, 18 people die waiting on an organ transplant, and 40-45 percent of families opt not to have their loved one's organs harvested.
   "She always said that," said Krystal Jeffries, her best friend since sixth grade at Colonial Middle. "She said if she died, she wanted to help somebody else."
   LaMetra's was the second funeral for the Class of 2006. Jessica Sisson was killed last summer, an innocent bystander to a gang feud in Raleigh.
   East gave each girl's parents the red cap and gown they would have worn to graduation. The art department painted portraits. The National Guard presented the Walkers with LeMetra's orders and an American flag.
   Monica reached for that roll of paper often, but she also snapped pictures and laughed with her husband and hugged.
   "I was happy for the ones that were able to be here," Monica said, "but I was just sitting back wishing LaMetra was able to be here as well."
   Monica has tried to explain to her youngest children, 8-year-old LeMoyne and 7-year-old LaTosha, about their sister's organ donation. She pulls out a medical book and points to the parts of the body.
   "Sometimes they'll just say, 'She has given a part of her body to someone else,' and that makes me think they understand," Monica said. "But they don't elaborate."
   To 7-year-old LaTosha, the most obvious reality is that her big sister, who would make funnel cakes for her every Saturday morning, is gone.
   Every day, she writes letters that say, "I miss my big sister."
   On Mother's Day, LaTosha made Monica a card, with LaMetra's name written inside a heart.
   "I miss you," the little sister wrote. "Love, LaTosha."

See an additonal story below.

Students and family remember kind spirit of organ donor

WMC-TV, posted May 17, 2006
May 16, 2006
   She should have been graduating with East High School's class of 2006.
   Two months ago, LaMetra Walker died in a car wreck near Atoka. But the Walker family's tragedy was a blessing to four others. LaMetra's organs saved four lives. Four strangers are using her heart, lungs, and both kidneys.
   At an event in LaMatra's honor East High School Tuesday, Monica Walker, her mother, said the donation shows LaMetra's kind spirit.
   "She was a special child," Monica Walker said. "She loved everybody. She loved helping everybody."
   LaMetra Walker had talked to her parents about being an organ donor. When she was in that fatal wreck, Monica Walker knew what her daughter wanted to do.
   LaMetra's classmates celebrated that generosity at their awards ceremony, with artwork, flowers and an eternal flame, all given to her parents.
   "It makes me feel like she's still here," Monica Walker said. "Not with me, but with others, so she's bringing life for everyone else to survive."
   Walker said her daughter was still touching lives, even in death.

Handorf to lead state doctors

From The Commercial Appeal, May 6, 2006
Pathologist once saved Captain Kangaroo
By Mary Powers
May 6, 2006

   A Memphis pathologist who once saved Captain Kangaroo's life is scheduled to become the Tennessee Medical Association's 152nd president Sunday.
   Dr. Charles Handorf ('69) is set to be installed during its annual meeting this weekend in Nashville.
   Even as he prepared to lead the 7,000-member organization, Handorf acknowledged he might always be best remembered for coming to the aid of Bob Keeshan when the longtime children's TV host collapsed in the Toronto airport. It was 1981 when Handorf performed CPR on Keeshan for 45 minutes. Keeshan died in 2004 at age 76.
   As TMA president, Handorf's focus will likely be on medical liability reform and Gov. Phil Bredesen's new proposal for expanding coverage of the uninsured.
   Dr. Phyllis Miller, a Chattanooga obstetrician and outgoing TMA president, said Handorf's humor and intelligence will be an asset. "He has a charisma about him," she said. "Sometimes meetings can get pretty dull and boring. He always injects some humor."
   Bredesen's Cover Tennessee plan is designed to expand health insurance coverage in the next three years to include about 185,000 of the state's estimated 700,000 uninsured residents.
   With many Cover Tennessee details undetermined, Handorf said physicians want to play a role in shaping the plan. "We all understand we have limited resources," he said, adding that doctors are looking for fair pay, understandable rules and transparency.
   Handorf said TMA's campaign to revamp the state's medical malpractice statutes has been under way for several years.
   In March, a bill backed by TMA and nearly 50 other groups failed to attract the necessary votes and died in a state House subcommittee. "We have more work to do. We won't go away on this," Handorf said.
   It would cap noneconomic damages at $250,000, limit attorneys fees and require that a malpractice claim either state a specific allegation of negligence as well as the expert expected to testify or post a $10,000 bond the person filing suit could lose if the case is dismissed.
   The American Medical Association is also pushing a national cap of $250,000 on damages designed to compensate patients for pain and suffering. In February, the AMA listed Tennessee as one of 20 states where access to health care is being jeopardized by the medical liability climate.
   The changes are designed to slow malpractice insurance premium increases. Handorf cited California, which overhauled its system in 1975, as a state where the approach has worked.
   California medical malpractice premiums rose 282 percent between 1976 and 2003. In comparison, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported premiums nationally rose 920 percent nationally during that period and 335 percent in Tennessee. Since then, Tennessee rates rose slightly more than 4 percent.
   Without change, Handorf predicted it would be harder for Tennessee residents, particularly in smaller communities, to find specialists like neurosurgeons, obstetricians or orthopedic surgeons.
   He argued it also harms both patients and doctors.
   "If the system is supposed to provide recompense for injured patients, it doesn't do that very well," he said.
   "It is personal when you are told you've done something to a patient," Handorf said, who's been named in four lawsuits. All were dismissed. "It is also very expensive to defend yourself."
   But he said the alternatives proposed so far, including nonbinding arbitration, are flawed because they might still end in a courtroom.
   "An open approach is a good approach, but how do you put it into practice? I have a lot of faith in the public to be reasonable, but the unreasonable (patients) can ruin your life."
   Dr. Charles R. Handorf
   Education: He earned a bachelor's degree from Rice University, a doctorate in medicinal chemistry and medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
   Professional: He is a board certified pathologist and president of Duckworth Pathology Group. He is also professor and chairman of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's department of pathology and laboratory medicine.
   Community volunteer: Opera Memphis, St. John's United Methodist Church and the Boy Scouts of America.
   Personal: He is 55 and married with two children.

Shots Fired At East Memphis High School

WREG-TV, posted May 10, 2006

   Memphis, TN-- An investigation is underway by Memphis Police after shots ring out Friday night [May 5, 2006] outside an East Memphis High School. It happened as students left East High School Friday night after a dance. Police say 2 men were injured in the shooting. Detective Byron Braxton with the Memphis Police Department says, "Sometime during the argument someone in one of the groups pulled a hand gun and started firing." No one involved in the shooting was a student. In fact, Memphis Police say they were adults at East High, picking up students from the dance. Two people were sent to the hospital. One was treated and released at Methodist, the other who suffered a gunshot wound to his lower back is still recovering at the Regional Medical Center. Police are n