Class of 2016 inducted into WCPS Hall of Fame
An Episcopal Church bishop, a Broadway dancer and a longtime basketball coach were among the 12 newest inductees of the Woodford County Public Schools Hall of Fame on Saturday night, Sept. 10. The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees were honored for career achievements, academics, arts and humanities, athletics and public service. Bishop Whayne M. Hougland Jr., who spoke for the Class of 2016 during the induction ceremony, and others interviewed prior to and after the ceremony, talked again and again about the importance of family and community in helping them attain their career and life achievements. "We would be remiss if we did not say a heartfelt 'thank-you' to all our family and friends and loved ones who have supported us in our endeavors throughout the years," said Hougland. ".just know that we are grateful to all of those who have walked along the way with us." Seeing the oldest of her three daughters inducted into the Hall of Fame was a proud moment for Jane Schenck. She knows the many hours that Joni SchenckLanza dedicated to becoming a Broadway performer - beginning at age 2 in Jane's School of Dance (her family's dance studio). "All of that hard work meant something - not just to me, but to my hometown," said Lanza. Knowing her community still supports her "made me incredibly emotional," she said. Tammie Bradley could not share her Hall of Fame induction with her parents. Yet, she was pleased that people from her hometown, who saw her potential as a singer before she ever did, were there to show their love - again. Those feelings were shared by others in the Class of 2016. Longtime Woodford County High School boys' basketball coach Gene Kirk credited those around him for helping him achieve this Hall of Fame recognition. "I'm just extremely honored to be here," he said. Kirk cited former WCHS basketball coach Don Lane and his assistant coach for 27 years, Bill Bland, as two of his greatest mentors in coaching and life. And he takes pride in knowing he's also played a part in the lives of young athletes at WCHS. "Growing up here meant a lot to me, and I'm really proud to be from Woodford County," said inductee Mallory Blackwelder Trudeau, who played golf under Coach Kirk. Listening to the accomplishments of the other Hall of Fame inductees during a halftime ceremony at last Friday night's football game, made Trudeau "proud to be a part of such a great group," she said. Academics Pamela McGill Duncan, who graduated with honors from Woodford County High School in 1981, was lauded for using "her remarkable academic success as an avenue to advance education in a number of arenas," said master of ceremonies Ben Chandler. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Kentucky, Duncan earned her jurisprudence degree from the UK College of Law and received a master's degree in library and information science. Duncan achieved the rank of captain while serving in the United States Air Force, with the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps. Duncan currently serves as associate general counsel for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. She has also been a high school English teacher and a professor at UK's School of Library Information Science as well as an adult education tutor. Darlene Lodmell Porter graduated with honors from WCHS in 1994 and summa cum laude from Western Kentucky University in 1998, before earning a master's degree with an endorsement in gifted education. She went on to earn a rank 1 in administration and a certification in supervision of instruction, and now serves as dean of students at Alvaton Elementary School in Warren County. Before moving into school administration, Porter won the Renaissance Learning Award for Superior Instruction and received other teaching honors. Arts and humanities Tammie Michelle Bradley "mustered the courage to audition" for the WCHS Harambee Choir as a student, but any doubts of her singing abilities "were swept away by the first powerful note out of Tammie's mouth," said Chandler during the WCHS grad's induction into the WCPS Hall of Fame at Woodford County Middle School. During a performance by Bradley at a local church, longtime WCHS teacher Terri Morford - who served as director of the Harambee Choir - remembers her young daughter telling her, "Mommy, that's how the angels must sing." From those humble beginnings, Bradley earned a bachelor's degree at Kentucky State University and a master's degree in vocal performance from Bowling Green State University.
Bradley went onto to perform with the Houston Grand Opera and Opera Ebony in New York City. In 2015, Bradley was selected to join the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera of New York. Among her award-winning performances, Bradley won the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition and the grand prize in the Music Academy of the West's Marilyn Horne Competition. Joni Schenk Lanza became a professional dancer, actor and singer after graduating from WCHS in 1995. She learned how to become a performer under her mom's tutelage at Jane's School of Dance in Versailles before appearing in Radio City Music Hall's "Christmas Spectacular" for five years. She also performed and toured for five years in the Tony Award-winning "42nd Street," as an understudy for the lead role of Peggy - starring onstage nearly 90 times. Additionally, Lanza was a cast member of "Coca Cabana" with singer Barry Manilow, "Beauty and the Beast," and "Thoroughly Modern Millie," with Leslie Uggams. Retired from dancing, Lanza now lives with her family on a farm in New York, where she continues to perform as a singer. Athletics Mallory Blackwelder Trudeau became the most successful golfer in school history before graduating from WCHS in 2005. She was named to the KHSAA All-State Golf Team for three straight years and won the state golf championship in 2004. As a collegiate golfer, Trudeau recorded the lowest-ever scoring average at the University of Kentucky, where as a senior she led the ladies' golf team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in nine seasons. The 2009 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year continued playing golf as a professional. Twice appearing on the Golf Channel's "Big Break," Trudeau earned LPGA Tour membership in 2014 after winning the Symetra Tour Championship. After playing in 14 LPGA tournaments, including the U.S. Women's Open, during the 2015 season, Trudeau has stepped away from professional competition. She continues to play in pro-am and charity golf events. Gene Kirk led the WCHS boys' basketball team to 452 wins - the most wins by a coach in school history - and a Sweet 16 State Tournament in 1986. In addition to guiding the Yellow Jackets to the only state tournament in school history, Kirk won eight district titles during his coaching career at WCHS. Kirk coached the Yellow Jackets from 1971 to 1999, before returning for one more season in 2009-10. Including his years as head basketball coach at Sayre High School, Kirk led his teams to 567 victories during his career - ranking 23rd on the all-time list for wins by a boys' basketball coach in Kentucky. A nine-time Central Kentucky Conference Coach of the Year in boys' basketball, Kirk also coached boys' and girls' golf, and has served as athletic director during his years at WCHS. Career achievement Whayne M. Hougland Jr. was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Western Michigan, in 2013. The 1981 WCHS grad oversees 55 churches in the diocese. Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1998, Hougland served as canon evangelist at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington until 2005. He served for more than eight years as rector of Saint Luke's Episcopal Church in Salisbury, N.C., before becoming a Bishop. Hougland, who received his doctor of divinity degree in 2015, enrolled at Sewanee: The University of the South School of Theology after "a dissatisfying career in the corporate world." Dr. Ben Roach, a 1936 graduate of Midway High School, returned home to practice family medicine for 55 years. Before his death in 2005, Dr. Roach co-founded the UK Markey Cancer Center in 1983 - helping raise $70 million for its construction and operation. The longtime Midway healthcare provider became the first physician licensed for a family practice in Kentucky, and he founded the nursing program at what's now known as Midway University. Away from his medical practice, Dr. Roach owned and bred dozens of Thoroughbred stakes winners at Parrish Hill Farm, including 1999 Kentucky Derby champion Charismatic and 1983 Kentucky Oaks winner Princess Rooney. Dr. Roach's daughter, Helen Roach Rentch, and son, Jim Roach, accepted their father's Hall of Fame plaque during Saturday's ceremony. Patrons Joe Graviss, owner of the McDonald's restaurants in Midway and Versailles, has contributed thousands of dollars to Woodford County's schools, students, teachers, teams and other organizations over the past decade. He has supported school-related programs, while also donating food, supplies and coupons for school events and fundraisers. In addition to advocacy for education, Graviss has supported other organizations in the community such as Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary and Midway University. With Graviss away on a long-planned vacation with his wife, Graviss McDonald's marketing director, Bob Waitkus, represented the longtime restaurateur at Saturday's WCPS Hall of Fame ceremony. Bill Grimes was "an invaluable asset to Woodford County schools as a teacher, administrator and coach," from 1961 to 1989. During his tenure as principal at Woodford County Middle School - spanning 13 years - he guided the school's transition from a junior high to a middle school. Grimes began his career in education as a teacher and coach at Midway High School in 1961. He continued his career as an educator and track coach at WCHS before becoming an assistant principal at the high school. In addition to his years in Woodford County schools, Grimes served as schools superintendent for Danville Independent Schools for nearly a decade. Public service Jerry Davis graduated from WCHS in 1974, and "has gone to extraordinary lengths to build and strengthen the bonds among all Woodford County alumnae," Chandler told those attending Saturday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. In addition to organizing class reunions, Davis ensured a 50th birthday celebration for the high school became a weekend event for alums from all graduating classes. Before he returned to Central Kentucky from Seattle, Davis created "Picture Then," a Facebook page memorializing Woodford County students and teachers who died. The page now has nearly 3,500 followers. Davis has also created a website called "Woodford Reserved," which gives WCHS alums digital access to every page of their high school's yearbooks. Tricia Nave Kittinger began her career in public service shortly after graduating from WCHS in 1975. A 34-year career in the Woodford County Circuit Clerk's office began as a deputy clerk. For 15 years, Kittinger was circuit court clerk and remained in the position until her retirement in 2013. Her duties included managing the court records and proceedings of three courts, collecting state fees and issuing driver's licenses. One of her most life-changing contributions was helping to raise $56,000 for organ donation awareness and adding 10,500 local residents to the organ donation registry through her office's participation in the Kentucky Circuit Clerks: Trust for Life program. "That was gratifying when you see lives changed by the organ donor awareness program," Kittinger said. Legacy Award In addition to honoring this year's Hall of Fame inductees, last Saturday night's ceremony recognized eight men and women for their selfless hours and dedication to the WCHS athletic department with its Legacy Award. Dick Brock, Ron Peters - known for his homemade chili for hotdogs served during games - and Sue Sanders volunteered countless hours while overseeing and working the concession stands at WCHS athletic events for more than 30 years. Gayle Douglas was a concession stand volunteer, who also provided rides home to many athletes as well as providing meals for athletes in need. For 19 years, Johnna and Pete Pettyjohn served as volunteer equipment managers for the WCHS football team. "An entire generation of Woodford County football players and their parents will always remember the care and dedication that Pete and Johnna gave to the team in black and gold," said Chandler. King Richeson - a biology teacher who also announced games - and Phyllis Washington both spent three decades keeping the scorebooks and game clocks for the WCHS basketball teams.