Ready to dazzle! Alumni twirlers at a recent practice session: Melinda Maldonado Emmons, Class of 1979; Denise Ball Carter, Class of 1980; Sherri Pavey Harris, Class of 1979; Sally Maldonado Wingard, Class of 1976; and organizer Jamie Hugo Ashby, Class of 1969.
Performances by a Grammy-nominated Nashville singer/songwriter and a team of alumni twirlers are part of an event-filled agenda that promises to make South Houston High’s 57th homecoming on Friday the biggest in school history.
Larry Willoughby, a 1969 South Houston graduate and one of three new inductees into the school’s Alumni Hall of Honor, will perform his Grammy-nominated song “Building Bridges” during open house activities that day.
Now the vice president of A&R for Capitol Records-Nashville, Willoughby wrote and recorded the song in 1984. “Building Bridges” reached No. 55 on the charts, but 12 years later was covered by country stars Brooks & Dunn, in collaboration with Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill. That version hit No. 4 on the charts and was nominated for a Grammy.
Also included in Open House activities is the grand opening of the school’s new Hall of History, a permanent campus museum that highlights the history of South Houston High and the community since the fall of 1957, when the first classes were held.
All alumni and the general public are invited to the grand opening, which is set for 10:30 a.m. The school’s annual courtyard festival, featuring with free hotdogs and student performances, will run from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Willoughby will perform at a reception for alumni and teacher Hall of Honor inductees beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Reinartz Center on campus. The annual homecoming pep rally will be held at 1:45 in the competition gym with a section reserved for alumni students and former teachers.
A squad of alumni twirlers will join in with student pep rally participants. Jamie Hugo Ashby, Class of 1969, will lead eight former twirlers in a fight song routine. The group will perform again during homecoming ceremonies that night before the kickoff of the Trojans’ homecoming game against Pasadena High.
Ashby will one of the alumni honored at the reception and before the game. One of the founders of the South Houston HS Alumni Association four years ago, Ashby will be introduced at the winner of the David M. Ainsworth Alumni Spirit Award for her contributions to alumni endeavors.
Willoughby will be inducted in the Hall of Honor along with Bob Garner, Class of 1971, a Central Texas rancher and host of a popular spring bash for South Houston alumni; and Bill Hughes, Class of 1980, an award-winning sci-fi-illustrator and filmmaker who will show a short video on his “Matt Mercury” project during the reception.
Three former teachers will also be inducted: Barbara Coon, a physics teacher and counselor during her South Houston tenure; Ella Gauthier, a math teacher and success coordinator; and George Neal, a law enforcement instructor and coach.
In addition to Ashby, alumni twirlers set to perform are Jan Teer Schwartz, Class of 1967; Jo Ellen Meador McCall, Class of 1971; Sally Maldonado Wingard, Class of 1976; Yolanda Francisco, Class of 1979; Melinda Maldonado Emmons, Class of 1979; Sherri Pavey Harris, Class of 1979; and Denise Ball Carter, Class of 1980.
Alumni who attend the game will have the opportunity for a look at two major projects funded by the alumni association: a decorated cargo trailer for the Trojan band, now in its second year of use; and new this year – a football entrance tunnel for the football team.
Over the past four years, the alumni association has raised nearly $40,000, almost all of it targeted for school groups and activities. Alumni recently contributed more than $20,000 to help cover costs of the Hall of History.
Several graduating classes are planning parties and dinners before and after the game, with all alumni invited to each event. For a complete list of activities, visit the “South Houston HS Alumni Association” page on Facebook.