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Gwinnett’s character

I understand that change is good and inevitable but who would have thought that the classic 1975 “Land Shark” pose would be nearly extinct 40 years later.  Kudos are due to the 2015 Grayson High School Lacrosse Seniors Boys for heading a revival of this concept.

Photo by Loralee Beard, Magic Moment Photography

The athletes are entering a season under the leadership of Jake Schwab in his first year as Head Coach and Assistant Bobby Losurdo, whose involvement in area Lacrosse across age groups has spearheaded much of the rapid growth of this sport in Grayson.

Dana Pugh, Principal of Grayson High School, has succeeded in guiding his student body to focus on all aspects of high school accomplishments.  Photographer Les Beard captured a ceremony of Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a program offered to high schools that teaches students “character education, student achievement, wellness, leadership, and diversity.” Les was struck with the dignity of the occasion.

Dr. Melissa Walker’s determination to see the world outside of her very small hometown in Texas is a story of determination and success.  Her world views broadened when she followed a teacher’s advice and spent educational and early career years in Europe, where she met her husband Robert, an Air Force attorney at the time. Now the Mother of 3 children, Dr. Walker and her husband—now a Gwinnett County resident — maintain community involvement with their children while developing two intensive careers.  Dr. Walker is the Principal at Benefield Elementary School but was recently named as the Principal who will “open” Jordan Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  

When I first met Keith and Yvette Chaney in 2004, they had 3 very young sons and Keith was taking over leadership of Grayson High School from Dr. Moody.  Mr. Chaney had leadership and charm to spare but looked about 23. (The only area leader that looked even younger than Mr. Chaney was head football Coach Mickey Conn).  A few years have passed and Mr. Chaney is now Principal of Mountain View High School.  

His charm has ripened into charisma and wife Yvette is as lovely as ever, but the 3 small boys are young men.  Oldest son Austin Chaney, a young man who has always known his future is in broadcasting, was escorted by both parents at Mountain View winter sport Senior night.  Austin is headed for the University of Georgia in the fall to continue his broadcasting education.

Archer Principal Ken Johnson and wife Suzanne also spend weekends encouraging their sons Cooper and Kendall and daughter Carly in activities.  Therefore when I was photographing the Miss Cherry Blossom pageant, I enjoyed seeing Carly as a Miss Cherry Blossom finalist but looked in vain for Mr. Johnson.  Wife Suzanne (a teacher at McConnell Middle School) explained that when they divided Saturday activities, he opted for baseball with the boys and left her to attend Carly at the pageant.

One recent school day, Central Gwinnett High School Principal Maryanne Grimes was told that the High School was being toured by Alvin Wilbanks, Kevin Tashlein, Debra Dees, Ed Shaddix and any other high ranking executive in Gwinnett County School system.  It was only at the end of the day when she entered the CGHS auditorium to a standing ovation that she realized she had been selected Georgia High School Principal of 2015.  Everyone likes to be in on a happy secret and I was delighted that her dedicated office staff/partners in crime,  Beverly Fields and Denise Millholland, clued me on the event.  My personal assessment of Ms. Grimes is that she is a natural leader and like myself grew up in the “Garden State”, where the state cuisine is Pizza and Devil Dogs.

Dr. Janet Blanchette has been the Principal of  Lovin Elementary School in Lawrenceville since January. Her leadership is marked by a school culture of friendliness and admirable academic achievement. Dr. Blanchette seems pleased to be at all LES events and recently attended the annual Lovin Father-Daughter Dance with its aptly chosen theme of “Frozen”, Dr. Blanchette socialized with students throughout the evening and bedecked in her tiara, she is shown posing with several of her students from various classes.

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