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ACHS '62 reunion: Dr. Stephens rights a 55 year old injustice
Kenny Davis finally receives the High School Diploma he earned over a half-century ago.
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By Ed Waggener
Dr. Pam Stephens, Adair County School Superintendent, paid a surprise visit, for almost everyone in the hall, last night at the 55th Adair County Class reunion to 'rectify a wrong' which the school system committed over half a century ago.
She told the class that she had been approached about the matter that one of their class had never received a diploma, despite the fact that he had completed all requirements for one. "I checked the records," she said, "and he had fulfilled all the requirements," adding, "I couldn't do anything with more honor and pride than to rectify this wrong," and pulled a diploma from a large envelope to present to Kenny Davis, 55 years after he earned it." Only a very few of the reunion organizers were aware, beforehand, of what was about to transpire. At least two choked back tears, maybe more.
Dr. Stephens said she had shared a similar experience after entering college in Birmingham. "I got a knock on the door telling me to go to administration building where I was told I would have to leave school, that they had examined my records and found that I was not a high school graduate." She didn't panic. She called her father, George McClure, who went to Russell County High School, get her records, and then got them to Birmingham, that day. Though she was victimized by the system for a part of a day, she empathized with the plight of Kenny Davis, who had to wait 55 years for justice to be served.
Joe Lynn Barbee, a member of the class, negotiated the transactions leading to a wrong being made right. It was diplomatic effort completed in a straightline manner, due in large part to the wisdom of the incumbent superintendent.
Dr. Stephens was introduced by Joe Lynn Barbee who carried out the secret diplomacy, bringing justice for his good friend Kenny Davis.
Barbee recalled his own early academic problems, and the time his dad, the late Joe Russell Barbee, told him he'd worked out an opening with the McClure Brothers, Stanley, Dr. Pam Stephens' uncle, and George McClure, her dad.
"Joe Russell told me, at the time, that I could learn more that summer from Stanley and George than I had all through high school," Joe Lynn Barbee said, and added, "He was right."
When Dr. Stephens called Kenny Davis to come forward and receive his diploma, there was a burst of applause, equalled only by the applause as Dr. Stephens departed.
Kenny Davis had been one of the most popular students ever in the high school. A bit mishievous, his binder held what may have been a record challenged only by that of Joe Lynn Barbee, for accumulating a career total of 37 demerits, just one more than Barbee himself - but a win is a win, and that honor was accorded Davis.
The average for both was nine per year, but in Davis' case, that 10th demerit in his senior year, at the end of school, meant the invocation of 'double secret' punishment - he was told he would never be a graduate of Adair County High School.
Joe Lynn Barbee shared later that for the valor of a classmate, he would have suffered the same fate as Davis. "(A classmate) ate my 10th demerit of the year (and career 37th) on the way to the principals office." The issuing teacher had dispatched her there with the critical demerit, but she chewed it up and it never got into the records."
In part Barbee acknowledges that, though his effort would have been no less on the part of Davis had Kenny been only a best friend, but he had added empathy because he too suffered at the hands of the harsh system of the day.
It was before the nation's educators embraced alternative career pathways to success. Then, their goal for all was to have them be college graduates, become teachers, lawyers, and physicians -- or be relegated to factory and other blue collar jobs - as were so many the schools of the mid 20th century.
That's changed today in the education system, though Barbee believes, and has proven that having preceptors such as the McClure Brothers, outside the school system was even more important for him.
Meeting those preceptors, Barbee remembers, changed his life as well.
Class of '62 has - already - three Adair County Judge Executives
The class holds a record of County Judge Executives, already, with three, James Brock and Richard Lee Walker, who were in attendance, and Jerry Vaughan.
In addition, there are many who have had distinguished careers as educators, in business, and in law, accounting and other professions.
Present at the reunion
Members in attendence were, front row, Ben Burr, Jim McGowan, John R. Pendleton, Pat Dorman, Jane Akin, Marilyn Hunter, Mary Hamilton, Kay Burton, Carolyn Jasper White, Virginia Sparks Wonderling, Charlotte Cheatham Krauss, Ricky England Clutterbuck, Glinda waggener, and Jim Marshall. Back row Alton Feese, Ralph Waggener, Don Knifley, Kenny Davis, James Brock, Terry Farris, Charles Gore, Kenneth Royse, Frances Sneed Estes, Thelma Bennett Hagan, David Mann, Joe Lynn Barbee, and Richard Lee Walker.
Erin Brockman was the official photographer for the event. We are waiting for complete information for placing orders.
The story is subject to updates, corrections, and addtions. Watch for additiona photo(s) to be added.
This story was posted on 2017-10-22 10:44:42
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