Past and present Donoho students, families and faculty gathered today for the school’s Founders’ Day program to celebrate 50 years of growth and success.
Fifty years later, this success amazes those who were initially involved.
“I think it fulfills and exceeds our hopes and aspirations for what we would have as a place of brilliant academic goals,” said Betty Potts Woodruff, who was married to one founding board member, the late Thomas Potts, and another, Dr. Gerald Woodruff Jr.
Gerald Woodruff, the only surviving member of the founding board of directors, said he was fortunate to have an independent school education at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., and was able to avoid sending his five children off to school. Instead, his kids were able to receive a college preparatory education in Anniston. He and his wife said his fellow founders would be thrilled to see the day’s activities and the success of the school’s students.
“That was the whole goal of this, to have a really, truly, fine college preparatory school,” Betty Woodruff said.
The school opened in 1963 as the Anniston Academy, with 78 students in grades seven through 10. and renamed the Donoho School in 1976 in honor of Harriet W. Donoho, the school’s major benefactor.
Over the past 50 years, the school has grown to 347 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In that time, among the many accomplishments of the school’s students, 91 have been named National Merit Scholars.
Monday’s program was part of a weekend of festivities for alumni, faculty and families.
During the program, nine new members were inducted into the school’s outstanding alumni — including doctors, lawyers, professors and teachers — who shared fond memories of hanging out in the school’s senior lounge, going to football games, and succeeding in the classroom.
“I think it’s wonderful for our current students to see these successful alumni to be coming back and recognized,” school president Jan Hurd said.
Student body president Raj Kashyap, who delivered a keynote address, defined “the Donoho difference” that leads to such success. He said the difference could be found in the senior lounge that makes classmates family, the football players in the front row of the drama production, the homecoming queen who plays flute in the band, the required community service for high school students and the mutual respect students develop for their peers and their teachers.
Kashyup said it’s also “the number of doors that were opened for me during high school, before college and that continue to open today ... Donoho gave me the opportunity to excel in arts, athletics and academics.”
Allan Strand, who served as headmaster of the Anniston Academy from 1966 until 1971 noted that Donoho was founded during turbulent times, when families who feared problems that could come from school integration began starting what he called “escape schools.”
Anniston Academy was not among these escape academies.
“As we are gathered here this morning, you may be sure your forefathers and mothers were focused on the quality of the educational experience they wanted their children to have,” he said.
Strand told the crowd that the Donoho School has a proud history and has seen awesome progress over its five decades.
“May you who are current faculty, students, trustees and families hold in trust all the good that has been created here over many years,” he said, “and proudly pass it on to the generations yet to come to this place and the culture that is the Donoho School.”
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
Outstanding Alumni, 2013 Inductees
Jeffrey S. Ballard, ‘80
Griffin Doster Fry, ‘76
Anne Klinefelter, ‘77
Sharel Love Laidig, ‘81
Dr. John Andrew Morrow Jr., ‘78
Joanne King Pope, ‘70
Grazier Connors Rhea, ‘70
David M. Smith, ‘75
Dr. Beth Gibbins White, ‘88
Faculty and staff with 20 or more years of service
Barbara Tiller Carter
George E. Gorey Jr.
Karen Hester, ‘77