By B.C. Manion
Eleven Gaither High students have joined the elite ranks of the school’s Honor Circle, a tradition that began two decades ago.
Family, friends, Gaither administrators and faculty members looked on as this year’s honorees were recognized during an April 15 ceremony.
One by one, the inductees placed their photographs and name cards into a glass cabinet, in a prominent spot in the school’s main corridor.
Jacqueline Lawson, valedictorian of the Class of 2013, had the distinction of placing her photograph, biography and name card on the top shelf.
On a lower shelf are the photographs and name cards of the next 10-highest ranked students in the class: salutatorian Riley Walman, Anoosha Kishore, Davie Chen, Monica Tromer, Emily Daboll, Logan Marshall, Jessica Whittington, Amber Razzano, Allison Stern-Harbutte and Charlotte Mallardi.
As each student approached the case, Gaither principal Marie Whelan and Ken Adum, the school’s principal from 1993 to 2003, shook the student’s hand and offered congratulations.
Whelan invited Adum to the ceremony, but she had an ulterior motive in bringing back the former principal. She wanted to celebrate Honor Circle’s 20th anniversary and to recognize Adum for establishing it.
To show her appreciation, Whelan unveiled a plaque honoring Adum. She also gave him a miniature version to have for his home.
The tokens of appreciation came as a surprise to Adum.
“Normally, I would wear a tie and a suit,” said Adum, who was wearing khaki slacks and a polo shirt.
After the ceremony, Adum explained why he started Honor Circle.
“When I first came here, they didn’t have any academic trophy cases. It was all athletics. I wanted a trophy case for academics,” Adum said.
Adum said he hoped that students would see the case and think to themselves, “I’ve got a shot to be in that case.”
That’s what happened with Jacqueline’s older sister Jessica saw the cabinet.
Jessica pointed to the photo of the valedictorian and said she wanted hers to be in that spot one day, recalled her mom Lisa Lawson.
Jessica graduated at the top of her class in 2010, and now her younger sister is doing the same thing this year.
Their mother thanked Adum for inspiring students to strive for academic success.
Jerry Murray, a science teacher who worked with Adum for 15 years, was pleased to see his former boss honored.
Murray said that Adum was a huge supporter of academic achievement and always encouraged teachers to grow so they could share their knowledge with the students.
Adum’s creation of the Honor Circle was a variation on a theme of a previous program he launched when he was principal at Adams Junior High in Forest Hills, which is now a middle school.
Adum’s wife, Linda, who also was surprised by Whelan’s gesture, was happy to see her husband honored and was sure that he was gratified: “He’ll cherish that.”