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About 100 Columbus High School/Columbus North High School graduates and their families rose from their seats to stand in front of the newly created Hall of Fame. They proudly sang the school’s original hymn, “Hail to CHS.”
Led by the “25th Street Singers,” the school’s vocal jazz ensemble, the members linked arms and swayed with the music, with the song serving as a solemn overture to Friday’s inaugural Bull Dog Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The song would serve as a leitmotif for the evening, as inductees or their representatives recalled good friends made decades ago and praised the school and its teachers for the solid foundation on which inductees built their lives.
Inductee Shirley Lyster, 83, said she hopes the accomplishments of the inaugural class of the Columbus North High School Hall of Fame will fill students with inspiration.
She envisions today’s students being encouraged when they stop by the Hall of Fame to gaze at the faces of people who formerly walked the same hallways. Lyster said she hopes that the achievements of those who came before them will help students realize that they can overcome challenges before them and achieve greatness themselves.
“I think it’s wonderful for the kids who are in school … to see and hear about what people have done in the past,” Lyster, 83, said. “To give them a sense of pride and maybe direction in their own life.”
Columbus certainly merits having a Hall of Fame, she said, as the school has produced many noteworthy graduates.
About 38,000 students have graduated since Columbus High School opened in 1868, said Pete King, president of the Bull Dog Alumni Association board, who also served as emcee during Friday’s ceremony.
King and Hedy George, executive director of the Alumni Association, said its members have long talked about establishing a hall of fame to recognize former students’ accomplishments and to give today’s students positive role models to emulate.
The evening produced handshakes and hugs as former students reconnected after many years. Nearby, a display of this year’s honorees’ memorabilia included a pink pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars, a record of The Four Freshman, old yearbooks and a plaque Lyster received for receiving the 1983 Edna V. Folger Outstanding Teacher award.
One of the evening’s attendees, local architect Nolan Bingham, a member of the class of 1964, said he thinks it will help today’s students to see the photos of and read the stories about former local students.
Tom Spurgeon, another inaugural member, said creating the Hall of Fame is a great idea because it will connect today’s students to the past and alumni to the school’s present.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “The students who are there now need to learn a little bit about who went before them.”
The hall of fame will provide alumni with an additional reason to keep up with what is happening with Columbus North, he said. “I just think it’s important to stay in touch — both directions.”
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