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Giving credit where credit is due

I have the greatest respect for school teachers.

It is hard to believe that soon, my high school friends and I will have been gone for 16 years.

We're getting old.

For the last few weeks, since returning to work here, I've seen many of my favorite teachers around town.

Sometimes it is a quick chat in frozen foods at Winn-Dixie or like this past Saturday, a quick hug and hello from Frances Benson in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

She was a favorite teacher.

There were times I know she wanted to strangle me and my cohort, the former Sandy Ganus, but she never did.

She would give us that exasperated look and we'd move on.

I often wondered if that look meant, "These two will never make it."

So it did me good to see her and have her to tell me how proud she is of me.

She should be proud.

She did an excellent job of getting me ready for the next stage in my life, and for that I'll never be able to repay her.

Another favorite teacher was Mrs. Rose Ellis.

My senior year, I spent two hours with her each morning, followed by Mrs. Benson's business class.

I took high school journalism under Mrs. Ellis.

She got me hooked on this vocation and gave me the first injection of ink in my blood.

We took a field trip one morning to a local radio station.

I guess she thought some of us actually wanted to do radio.

So off we went.

We took our personal cars so of course, being high school students, some lit cigarettes, others applied makeup and we all seemed to be chewing gum.

Those of us who arrived quickly were crossing Commerce Street when Mrs. Ellis came wheeling around the corner in her two door coupe.

We turned just in time to see her stick her blonde head out the window and say, "Get rid of your gum!"

The woman had not even stopped and she knew we were chewing gum.

I guess it goes with the sixth sense that teachers develop over the years.

They know students will take any opportunity to break a rule, and gum chewing was the easiest.

Another favorite teacher was Ms. Glenda Fritz, our own Johnna Pitts' mother.

My favorite memory of Ms. Fritz will always be the 1997 Class 5A State Championship football game in Russellville.

She promised at the pep rally that if Greenville won, she would throw a sombrero on the field and dance around it.

She got to fulfill her promise that Friday night.

I think we all danced that night.

So to Jennifer Shell, Rose Ellis, Don Yancey, James Lewis, Frances Benson, Ruby Shambray, Glenda Fritz and

Peggy Horn, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jay Thomas is the managing editor of the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 334-382-3111 or via email at jay.thomas@greenvilleadvocate. com.