Honoring Wag

Published 9:43 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 was proclaimed Betty Wagoner Day in Troy. And, on Wagoner’s day, the Charles Henderson High School gymnasium was named in her honor and will now and forever more be Wagoner Hall.

And, for, perhaps, the first time in her life Betty Wagoner was speechless.

“Shaking on the inside and speechless.”

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That’s most unusual for the lady who is usually in total control and expressing exactly what’s on her mind.

However, she was caught completely by surprise Friday at the CHHS 2009 Homecoming assembly.

“That’s the way we planned it and I was standing by just in case,” Melissa Scarbrough, school nurse, said smiling. “We knew Wag was going to be shocked. We didn’t want her to faint.”

Fainting would have been out of character for “Wag,” who has been the “spiritual” leader of CHHS for 41 years. But then, never before has she been so honored as she was on Friday.

“I can’t think enough to make a comment,” Wagoner said.

“I’m just overwhelmed. I’m shaking on the inside. I don’t deserve this. There are just too many other people. I’m honored and humbled. I just don’t know what to say.”

Then in true Wag fashion, she quipped, “Who did this?”

Wagoner had ushered the CHHS Class of 2010 into the gymnasium and took it all in stride when Tara Youngblood presented her with a yellow rose.

Then one at a time, a member of each of the 40 senior classes she has “mothered” filed by with a rose for Wag.

“That’s when I knew something was up,” Wagoner said. “I didn’t know what.”

Following her former students was her family and that’s when tears streamed from misty eyes.

A collective cheer went up from the student body and alumni that packed the gym in appreciation for what Betty Wagoner means to CHHS and the Troy community.

“Betty takes so much pride in this gym,” said David Helms, CHHS principal.

“It’s her assembly hall. After it was renovated, the idea of dedicating this gym seemed to be a perfect tribute to a lady who has done so much for this school and touched the lives of so many people. You multiply 41 years times 150 students and that’s thousands of lives that Betty Wagoner has touched.”

Helms said what impresses him most about Wagoner is the unique relationship she has with the students.

“She can say anything to them and get away with it,” he said. “And, there’s not one kid who wants to disappoint her. In that way, she’s kind of like Bear Bryant. His players had such tremendous respect for him and didn’t want to disappoint him. That’s the way it is with Betty Wagoner. Kids just have a tremendous respect for her and they love her.

“And, you know, I’ll bet that after 41 years Betty Wagoner is as good as she has ever been.

“That she can relate to the kids today just like she did 30 years ago. She is amazing.”

Helms said Wagoner is the most honest, genuine person he has ever known.

“She’ll tell you like it is,” he said, laughing.

“She’s not going to sugar coat anything. She believes in letting the students learn from their mistakes. When they leave CHHS, Wag wants them to be the best they can be and she wants them to realize the importance of giving something back to the community. She’s one of a kind, and we love her and hope that she is going to stay with us many more years. I don’t know what we would do without her.”

Wagoner has always been one who would rather be in the background.

She never wants to be center stage.

“But she’s up front today and whether she likes it or not,” Helms said and added laughing. “And, there might be some heads that are going to roll.”

Dr. Linda Felton-Smith, superintendent Troy City Schools, expressed appreciation to Wagoner for all that she means to the school system and the community.

“We appreciate what she means to us today, in the past and in the future,” Felton-Smith said.

“As a way of showing our appreciation, we have established the Betty Wagoner Scholarship Fund and, two seniors from the Charles Henderson High School Class of 2010 will be the first recipients of this scholarship which will be awarded for academic, leadership and service, which exemplify Betty Wagoner.”

Allen Jones and Shelia Deveridge, CHHS Class of 1973, “that broke her in” made a $2,500 donation to the Betty Wagoner Scholarship Fund.

The donation was the first to the fund. Others who would like to donate to the scholarship fund may do so at the CHHS office.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford presented a proclamation designating Oct. 9, Betty Wagoner Day in Troy.

“Betty Wagoner’s influence has extended far beyond the classroom,” Lunsford said.

“It is with deep heartfelt appreciation that we recognize what she means to all of us.”