Teacher Hall of Honor Unveiling Launches SHHS Homecoming Week

Teacher Hall of Honor Unveiling Launches SHHS Homecoming Week
Posted on 09/25/2013
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Terry Tand Beeson, a 1970 South Houston graduate and campus volunteer, holds posters commemorating the careers of teachers Carolyn Perry and Janet Barnett Reed.

main panelFor the first time in the school’s 56-year history, homecoming activities at South Houston High School will have real meaning for those who taught there.

The Trojans’ 2013 homecoming observance begins on Tuesday (Oct. 1) with the induction of the first 20 teachers selected for the Distinguished Faculty and Staff portion of the school’s Hall of Honor.

The festivities conclude on Oct. 4 with an alumni open house at the school, beginning at noon, and the Homecoming Game that night against Pasadena High. After the game, more than 200 alumni will gather for a private party at La Brisa Restaurant in League City.

The teacher induction and unveiling of a faculty plaque display comes three years after the school dedicated the main portion of the Hall of Honor, a tribute to distinguished alumni.

Three additional alumni will join the Hall of Honor ranks during ceremonies scheduled for the open house and also pre-game ceremonies on Oct 4.

The three alumni honorees are:

  • Dr. Rhonda Goodman, Class of 1971, a nursing professor at Florida Atlantic University noted for her promotion of humanitarian causes in Africa and Central America.

  • Dr. Steven Hamilton, Class of 1972, a former illustrator now regarded as a leader in the field of plastic surgery.

  • Trey Speegle, Class of 1978, a New York-based painter and designer whose artwork can be seen in shops and galleries across the country.

Sixty-nine South Houston alumni have been selected to the Hall of Honor over the past four years.

The selection of 20 former teachers to the Hall of Honor launches what will become an annual selection process for former faculty and staff. Additional former teachers – former staff members are also eligible – will be chosen each year by the school’s baccalaureate committee to be honored at homecoming along with additional Hall of Honor alumni.

The first group of 20 inductees represents teachers who spent a total of nearly 500 years at South Houston High.

Eleven of the 20 will be honored posthumously. All nine living inductees plan to attend the ceremony. Family members representing 10 of the 11 deceased inductees also plan to attend.

The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception in the Reinartz Center at the school. The event is open to the public.

The list of teacher inductees includes the school’s first band director, the late Thomas Gorsuch, first head football coach, Harry Morgan, and first librarian, Margaret Lodge.

Both Morgan and Lodge plan to attend. Lodge, who launched the Pasadena ISD’s first National Honor Chapter at South Houston, will celebrate her 100th birthday in December.

The late James Barber, another original faculty member, will also be inducted. Barber served as an assistant football coach at South Houston before becoming dean of boys. He moved to Dobie as assistant principle when that school opened in 1968 but returned to South Houston in 1981 for a 10-year stint as principal.

Inductees also include Janet Barnett Reed, whose 41-year tenure ranks as the longest in school history. Reed taught history and government at the school from 1967 until her retirement in 2008.

Reed will offer an address on behalf of all the inductees.

The teacher list includes four of South Houston’s first five head football coaches: Morgan, the late Ray Cleckler, Bill Newcomb and Dick Nance.

Cleckler, who coached from 1968 to 1980, holds the record for Trojan coaching victories. Both Newcomb, who coached from 1981 to 1987, and Nance, who coached from 1991 to 2001, went on to become Pasadena ISD athletics directors.

Both were long-time football assistants at South Houston before becoming the school’s head coach.

Gorsuch is one of three performing arts teachers on the inductee list. The late Richard “Tom” Myers and Sally Schott, whose back-to-back tenures as South Houston choir directors stretched 42 years, were both selected.

Prominent on the list are teachers who began their careers during the school’s first decade and whose tenures stretched across generational lines.

Among that first wave, inductees include the late Dennis Skarda, a chemistry teacher who arrived in 1963 and taught at the school for 16 years; the late Dorothy Williams, who joined the faculty in 1961 and taught until her retirement in 1984; and the late John Lyday, and American history teacher whose South Houston tenure lasted from 1963 until his retirement as lead counselor in 1987.

Four English teachers were selected, including three whose careers were an integral part of the South Houston experience in the 1960s.

English teachers named were the late Ina McDaniel, who arrived in 1959 and taught until 1982; the late Carolyn Perry, who came to South Houston in 1961 and taught until she was hired away by San Jacinto College in 1970; and the late Hanna Timmons, who left her job in the trucking industry to enter teaching. Timmons, who taught at South Houston from 1960 to 1974, is best remembered for her speech classes and for her work with South Houston debate teams.

Kathy Dittmar, another inductee from the ranks of South Houston’s English Department, is one of three inductees with long tenures that ended in 2008. In addition to Reed and Dittmar, inductee John White retired in 2008 after 31 years as a South Houston history, economics and sociology teacher. Another inductee, JoAnn Stringer, retired in 2011 after 34 years as a science and biology teacher at the school.

One inductee, the late Walter “Jerry” Dunaway, was a member of the South Houston faculty as recently as two years ago. Dunaway, who established and coached the school’s highly regarded fencing program, died in 2011 at the age of 51.

Dunaway spent 24 years at the school as a science teacher and fencing coach.

Dr. Goodman, Dr. Hamilton and Speegle will be honored at a reception during the school’s alumni open house on Oct. 4. The open house starts at noon with the reception starting 30 minutes later. Alumni are invited to attend a courtyard festival, join in tours of the school and participate in a “Beat Pasadena” pep rally at 1:45 p.m.

The alumni honorees will be formally inducted in pre-game ceremonies beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Alumni Choir, under the direction of Schott and currently choir director Brenda Varvoutis, will perform the Alma Mater and national anthem.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

About 1,500 alumni participated in last year’s homecoming events.

Alumni needing information on the alumni party at La Brisa are asked to call 713-740-0276.