Outstanding grads: Andalusia is special place

Published 2:23 am Saturday, September 14, 2013


The five AHS Outstanding Graduates honored with a luncheon at city hall yesterday agreed to a person that growing up and attending school in Andalusia was special.

“I would say that I wouldn’t trade growing up in Andalusia for anything,” Richard Anthony said. “I had a great childhood and teenage experience. ”

Anthony, who retired as CEO of Synovous Financial Corp., said the lessons he learned about communities growing up here served him well in his career.

“One thing I learned early on in banking, is that if you instill in people who work in your organization the idea that their work has meaning beyond producing profits for the shareholders, whereby lives of others are impacted positively, you have a better team,” he said. “The experience I had in living in Andalusia and learning the true meaning of community made me understand that.”

Suzanne Fornaro, a member of the class of 1965 who had a career in journalism and public relations, said she has been blessed with lifelong friends.

“I loved growing up in Andalusia,” she said. “I don’t think you could beat it. It’s a great place. Friends, teachers, schools, your church, your community – All of those people helped my parents provide the knowledge and experience for a solid foundation for my life. I always felt like could do whatever I wanted to do.”

A tireless advocate of AHS and the Class of ’48 Foundation, which she helped found, Suan Riley Salter said she is so proud of her class for having established the foundation which provides scholarships to AHS students.

Shelby Searcy graduated from AHS in 1947 and returned as an educator and coach. He later worked in two other school systems.

“Andalusia is different from all those systems,” he said. “It is a system that is built around the community. And that is very, very important. When they want to do something here in this town, they get it done by just asking for volunteers.”

“I had good parents, I had good grandparents, and good teachers, right here in this building,” he said. “I had good coaches, mentors and a great God to help me. And to all I’m extremely grateful.”

Roger Powell said the Andalusia City School system has played a central part in the lives of his family for decades.

“My dad graduated in ’39,” he said. “My mother came to town, and went to work in superintendent’s office. My aunt who is with me today, attended AHS in 9th grade, then came back to East Three Notch and taught in early 50s.

“My sister graduated in ‘75. Her children are now students at the middle school,” he said, adding that his wife now teaches at Andalusia Elementary.

“My oldest was salutatorian of her class, and our youngest was valedictorian,” he said.

“And then there was me,” he quipped.

Powell said the local school system is special because of all of its traditions – academics, athletics, and excellence in everything. When his family was asked to create a multi-media piece of art last summer, they designed a three-panel study of Andalusia High School, which was sold at auction and contributed to AHS this past week.

“We entitled name of this piece ‘Our Tradition,’ he said. “There is so much of Andalusia High School and Andalusia City Schools in all of us, in all of you here, and it is all of our tradition.”