Calling All Lions

Leon High celebrates 100 years of graduating classes with celebrity emcee Cheryl HinesThe Grand Reunion 2History-Steeped Leon High Plans an Ambitious Bash of Diverse Festivities to Celebrate 100 Years of Graduating Classes from the ‘Grand Old School on the Hill’ 

By Jaclyn Emerick 

The inimitable feelings of family and community that Leon High School graduates experience date back to 18 years before Florida became a state, and 34 years before the Civil War. The school originally was founded as the Leon Academy for Boys in 1827 and was the first attempt at formal education in Tallahassee. Today, Leon is Florida’s oldest continuously accredited high school.

Leon High School officially became a part of the Tallahassee community in 1903 when the Leon County Board of Education established the first public high school for white students on the corners of Duval, Tennessee and Bronough Streets. In 1911, the second Leon High School was built at the spot where the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library currently stands.

The current Leon High School, constructed in the
fall of 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project, was the subject of controversy when it was built: It was thought to be too big, too expensive ($500,000) and too far out of town. However, despite its detractors, the finished school had a distinct feeling of permanence and style. Beautiful architectural elements, including 12-foot ceilings, Spanish tile roofing, scrollwork and artwork along the outside of the building, copper drainpipes and more set the “grand old school on the hill” apart.

While the venerable institution is steeped in history, the true measure of the school lies in the thousands of graduates who pass on Leon’s unique traditions to their children and grandchildren as those younger generations walk the same halls their elders once did.

Because maintaining communication and meaningful connections between students, faculty and alumni is something Leon prides itself on, the school recently developed a system to foster and preserve those relationships. A recently founded alumni association serves alumni with social, academic and promotional events. In addition, Leon graduates are able not only to maintain their high school relationships but to expand on them once their time at the school has come to an end. It is this spirit of family and friendship that leads many Leon High parents to send their children to the same school that they once attended.  

The sense of community so many experience at Leon also is symbolized by the fact that a number of graduates return to the school as teachers. Of the school’s 120 current faculty members, 14 – including Principal Rocky Hanna – received their high school diplomas from Leon. And three of those 14 also had parents and/or grandparents who taught at Leon.

As of September 2006, the school’s enrollment is 1,840, with 371 seniors expected to graduate this spring. And for that Class of 2007, it will be a graduation to remember, thanks to the Leon High Foundation.

The foundation, an idea born in November 1980 that arose out of a need to supplement state and federal funding for the school, was chartered in January 1981 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Primarily through fundraising, the foundation has provided several hundred thousand dollars to enrich the academic and extra curricular experiences at Leon. In the form of mini-grants to teachers, staff and support groups, the foundation is able to provide financial support, materials and services for academic and educational aid.

The Leon High School Foundation is the presenting sponsor and beneficiary of the “Grand Reunion 2” – an upcoming celebration honoring 100 years of Leon graduates. The organization provided seed money of $10,000 to make sure the event is a blowout.

Twenty years ago, Leon hosted its first “Grand Reunion” in an attempt to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest graduation party. Unfortunately, the category wasn’t one that was endorsed by Guinness, but the bash did go on – and 5,000 graduates attended the reunion. On Saturday, April 14, Leon is going to do it all again – this time attempting to exceed everyone’s expectations by doubling attendance and celebrating 100 years of graduates.

The diverse festivities scheduled for “Grand Reunion 2” are designed to appeal to generations of graduates. Candi Aubin, a 1975 Leon graduate who has played an integral role in planning and executing the event, hopes it will draw a crowd of 10,000 friends and alumni of Leon High School to celebrate the milestone.

The April 14 celebration will kick off with an open house and tour of the school at 9 a.m. The open house offers a set of mini-reunions, with meeting rooms and gathering points for essentially any high school activity a graduate could have participated in from 1907 to 2007. From band to baseball, student government to steel drums, graduates will be able to reassemble throughout the school to reminisce about their days at Leon.

Graduates, friends and family also will be able to watch a video on the 100-year history of the high school in the auditorium to brush up on Leon’s unique traditions. Before 11 a.m., attendees also can gather in front of the school to witness a dedication ceremony for a new cornerstone of the main building.

The celebrations will pick back up at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center at 5 p.m. for a social reception hour. Leon High VIPs, including the alumni association, foundation board members, teachers, Principal Hanna and sponsors, will be able to attend an invitation-only reception.

Socializing and reuniting with old friends will temporarily cease at 7 p.m. as the herds of graduates are seated by decade and class year to watch the “Centennial Grand Reunion” Broadway-style review production, which will showcase 100 years of Leon High history.

Millie Seckel, 1977 Leon graduate, returned from off-Broadway in 1980 to become the choreographer of the band, chorus and drama departments of Leon. She has been planning the centennial show since August 2006. Unlike her regular productions, Seckel has extended her cast to include the school’s band, chorus and drama departments – as well as graduates from all decades and all geographic locations.

Seckel’s attitude toward the show is “the more alumni the better.” She has focused her attention on recruiting Leon graduates and the Class of 2007 to be the primary participants in the show.

“I want the alumni to be involved, to let them be a part of their celebration,” Seckel said. “This is our 100th, not just the current students’ 100th.”

Rehearsing with the current accessible students will be easy for Seckel. It’s the out-of-towners and the older alumni who add the pressure, she said. Steckel takes the project day by day and works with the cast as they are available. She had to send the script to California for actress Cheryl Hines, the honorary emcee of the show, and other cast members who aren’t local.

The show will be a nonstop dancing and singing “yearbook” showcasing each decade from the past 100 years.

“It’s going to be grand,” Seckel said. “No one is going to sit there and ask, ‘When is this going to be over?’ The 45 to 60 minutes is going to go by like ‘BAM!’”

The party is far from over after the show as the “Grand Reunion Celebration After Party” goes into full swing. Entertainment aiming to appeal to all ages will take place throughout the Civic Center on three stages. Wilson Dean, a favorite among the younger generation, will play in the arena. Rock ’n’ roll band Eli, well known among the 40-something alumni, and 8 of Us, targeting graduates from the 1950s and ’60s, will play as well. A disc jockey will fill in the gaps, playing music from all decades.

“It’s going to be three big parties in the Civic Center,” Leon alumna Aubin said.

Leon High products and souvenirs will be for sale throughout the event, including T-shirts and sweats, as well as a hot-off-the-presses hardcover book written by third-generation Leon graduate and current faculty member Linda Teague. While the event lasts only a single day, graduates can take home these physical memories to last them a lifetime.

As overwhelmingly large as the “Grand Reunion 2” appears to sound, the event aims to include each graduate by involving them in various mini-reunions.

“Leon graduates are from all walks of life,” Aubin said.

She’s right; Leon graduates touch everything around them. They’re involved in national and local government; they’re successful lawyers, doctors and parents; and they’re everyday people.

“Look around the community and you will see the Leon alumni that still live and work here, that support our community, the local economy, and their families,” Aubin said.

 

Return of the QueenCheryl Hines is living the life of a Hollywood star, but Leon High’s homecoming queen of 1983 stays true to her Tallahassee roots.

By Rosanne Dunkelberger

On one installment of HBO’s quirky comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the show’s main character, Larry David, engages in a little end-of-the-day pillow talk with his wife, Cheryl. If you were observant, you might have noticed her bedtime attire included a Florida State University T-shirt.

That wasn’t just serendipity. It was a shout-out to the home folks from Cheryl Hines, Leon High alumna, homecoming queen – and, fast-forward 24 years – now a television and movie star.

Returning to Tallahassee to serve as emcee for Leon’s “Grand Reunion 2,” Hines said she has fond memories of the hometown where her acting career started and the place that keeps her grounded in the sometimes surreal L.A. world she now inhabits.

“It’s funny, because when I was growing up in Tallahassee (she moved here when she was in the sixth grade), I was secretly mad at my mom and dad for not living in a big city,” Hines said. “Now, looking back, I’m so glad I grew up in Tallahassee . . . the people there are genuine and fun, good people. So when I moved to L.A., the big city, I wanted to surround myself with people like that – people that make me feel like home.”

And that’s what she has done, literally. Her personal assistant is from Tallahassee and her best friend in La-La Land, now known as Paul Beckett, played opposite her in a high school musical.

“It keeps everything in perspective,” she said.

 
The Leon Years

Hines had acting ambitions as far back as her Leon days and was active in drama and chorus throughout her high school years.

“I auditioned for a lot of plays and musicals,” she said. “I didn’t get everything I auditioned for, so that was a helpful learning experience.

“I actually have a journal that I kept during my psychology class from my senior year with Dr. Rogers (she’s now known as Linda Teague, who still teaches psychology and is compiling a history of Leon High). On the first day of class, she wanted us to break down our goals and where we wanted to be in 10 years, and I wrote down that I wanted to be a professional actress, paying my bills. It took a little longer than 10 years,” Hines said with a laugh.

After saying that she reconsidered, recalling that when she graduated from the University of Central Florida, “I started working at Universal Studios on their tour. It was an acting job, and I was a professional actress at that point, even though it was just getting stabbed in the ‘Psycho’ shower scene. So I guess I did achieve my goal.”

Of her high school days, Hines said that “I had a really good time at Leon High School. I wasn’t the rich, popular kid – my best friend and I would shop at the Goodwill for our prom dresses – but we had a group of really good friends.

“Leon is such a big school, there did seem to be something for everyone. I loved the tradition at Leon – the school’s been around for so long. There were a lot of traditions that my friends and I really embraced. We loved the pep rallies and we loved going to football games and basketball games, the musicals . . . The band was always fun to listen to and dance to. Whenever we went to the football games, we tried to sit next to the band so we could dance along with whatever they were doing.”

Hines’ older brother and sister attended Leon before her.

“By the time I got there, I was known as ‘Chris and Becky’s sister,’” she said.

But although she was pretty, friendly and had a megawatt smile, Hines’ high school days weren’t all rosy. Her parents divorced when she was in the ninth grade, her parents were often working and, ultimately, her older siblings became wrapped up in their college lives at FSU.

“I really felt alone,” she said. “I felt very independent – whether I wanted to be or not.”

She was helped through the tough time by that psychology class journal.

“I really took the opportunity to write a lot,” she said. “I also felt like I was going through things that probably nobody else in the school was going through. Looking back, I realize probably a lot of kids were going through (the same difficulties). It was good to have an adult that cared and that was interested and wanted to help.”

 
A Not-Quite Overnight Success

Hines ultimately would travel to Los Angeles with hopes of making a living as an actress, and for “seven or eight years” she toiled in relative obscurity.

She took classes and ultimately became a member of The Groundlings Theater (the jumping-off point for some of the biggest stars in comedy today, including Will Ferrell, Jon Lovitz, Lisa Kudrow, Phil Hartman and a host of other “Saturday Night Live” alumni), honing her skill in writing and performing in sketch comedy and improvisation.

While she appeared in several sitcom episodes over the years (including “Suddenly Susan,” “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”), Hines’ acting breakthrough came in 2000 when she landed the role of Cheryl David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” A far cry from the typical television comedy, the actors improvise much of the show, which revolves around the day-to-day high dramas created by Larry David (the co-creator of “Seinfeld”), who basically plays a more high-strung version of himself. While David is loud and confrontational, Hines’ character is much more low-key.

Even though her comedic style in the show isn’t broad, it has earned Hines accolades, including two Emmy nominations.

“I think I fall under the more subtle style of comedy,” she said. “Some people (are) better at sitcom – hitting a joke. I like to find the humor in reactions – or just trying to let the audience in on what I’m thinking. That’s sort of my approach to comedy.”

Hines now is in the midst of filming the show’s sixth – and most likely final – season. On shooting days, she said, she’s up at 5 or 6 a.m. to get to the set, and then spends about an hour and a half in hair, makeup and wardrobe getting ready for the day’s shooting – which goes on for about 12 hours each day.

“It will take probably eight days to shoot one show,” Hines said. “It’s all on location. The show is all improvised, so we just keep shooting until we get it.”

And what’s it like playing the long-suffering wife of perhaps the most famous neurotic on television?

“I’m a pretty easygoing gal. I can roll with just about anything,” she said. “In real life, I find Larry very amusing. I would probably not want to be married to him, but he’s really fun to hang around with and to work with.”

Hines said she was in Tallahassee having dinner with her mother, stepfather and family of her personal assistant, Sarita Mani, when she got word of her next big career break, landing a starring role in the movie “RV,” playing opposite Robin Williams. She also had smaller roles in “Keeping Up With the Steins” and “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”

She has since worked on other films to be released year. One is “Waitress,” which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. She stars opposite Keri Russell as Becky, a longtime waitress married to an invalid who is longing for some affection and adventure in her life.

The other is “The Grand,” an improvised comedy filmed in Las Vegas about a poker tournament – a subject Hines already is familiar with.

“I’m a huge poker player,” she said. “It’s not all luck. That’s the beauty of Texas Hold ’Em. There’s a combination of luck and skill and, I guess, psychology.” She has played in celebrity poker showdowns twice – winning once – and took $50,000 in winnings at a tournament in Costa Rica.

Professionally, she also is getting experience on the other side of the camera as an executive producer of the Oxygen network series “Campus Ladies.” The show just wrapped up its second season, and Hines was able to take on the role of director for one episode.

“You don’t have to worry about tucking in your stomach when you’re directing,” she said, only half seriously. “You can show up at the set with greasy hair and nobody cares. You can be creative in a different way.”

She and friend Julie Welch also are writing a television script, a comedy about the life of a personal assistant. Hines has intimate knowledge of the subject, because at one point she was the assistant to director Rob Reiner and his family.

“It’s a very odd job,” she said. “As a personal assistant, you just end up having to do crazy and ridiculous things.”

She remembers being in Reiner’s house when she looked up from working on one of the family’s photo albums to see Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“And that was like a pretty normal day,” she said.

 
Getting Personal

Hines has been married for four years to Paul Young, owner of a company that manages actors, directors and writers and produces television shows (“Reno 911!” and “Campus Ladies”) and movies. They met while serving together on the board of directors of the Groundlings.

Hines confessed to finding a new object of her affections – her 3-year-old daughter, Catherine Rose.

“It’s a love affair,” she said of motherhood. “It’s very sweet, very sweet.

“It did take me a while to get to (having a child),” she said. “I knew that it always required a lot of time and energy, and I wanted to make sure that I had that to give. I didn’t expect to like hanging out with her as much as I do. We love to laugh, and we love to listen to music together. We sing along to Beyoncé in the car.”

Catherine has been traveling with Hines to shoots since she was an infant (“She’s great on a plane,” Mom said with pride), and the Sunshine State is one of her favorite places to visit. They come here often, Hines said, because her mother lives in Shell Point and her three siblings all are based in the Orlando area.

“She loves Florida,” Hines said. “I’m not sure she understands it’s a state. In her mind, it’s a state of being.”

 
Success Hasn’t Spoiled Her

“I feel like I’m grounded because of my family,” she said. “My brothers and sister will be the first to make me sit in the back of the pickup truck. They don’t care that I just flew in a private jet. I’m still the last in line.

“I’ve worked hard to get work as an actress,” Hines said. “Before I got ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ I auditioned for plenty of things that I never got.  So when I do get a job, I take it seriously and I’m grateful and I want to do the best job that I can do – and usually it does not involve going out to nightclubs.

“It’s not about the parties – although it is fun to go to a party to hang out with Christian Slater – but at the end of the day, it’s your friends you want to hang with, and they’re the ones that you want to go to the party with. So you can stand in the corner and say, ‘Oh my God, there’s Stephen Spielberg!’ 

 

Linda Teague: Chronicling Leon’s History

By Jaclyn Emerick 

It’s difficult to put into words the feelings of loyalty and love that students, alumni and faculty associate with Leon High School. However, one alumna is working to do just that.

Linda Teague, a third-generation teacher at Leon as well as a graduate (Class of 1963), has dedicated her time to piecing together the dense and captivating history of the school, making it visible for the world.

As with many Leon High graduates, Teague has strong ties to the school.

“My grandmother taught here, and she also started the Leon High Life, the high school newspaper,” she said.

Teague began teaching at the school in 1970; her mother followed in her footsteps as a teacher in 1974.

“I teach AP psychology and sometimes honors world history,” Teague said. “Both in my grandmother’s classroom.”

About five years ago, she came to a sad realization: Until that moment, there had been no thorough compilation of the history of Leon. While the task of preserving archives, creating a system of organization and documenting the personal history of the high school seemed an overwhelming task, Teague thought it was necessary. So, having always been interested in history, Teague decided to devote her extra time to preserving Leon’s.

“I didn’t want people who knew the history of Leon to leave or die without having their stories recorded,” she said. “There are so many Leon High graduates involved in the community, but many of them are dying – and with them, so is the history.”

Soon after Teague decided the best means of preserving the abundant and seemingly endless history of Leon would be writing it all into a book. She started the tremendous undertaking in 2003 and is working on it to this day.

With decades of information to seek and a full teaching schedule, getting started on the project seemed like the most difficult task.

“Getting contacts was big – people to talk to and learning where to direct my research,” she said. “From there, I just started contacting people, taping and talking to them. I had no idea of the enormity of the research.”

Writing her doctoral dissertation and a monograph on leadership classes for the National Association of Secondary School Principals had provided Teague with some experience in drafting a book; however she said that her current project is something completely different – and utterly challenging.

“I want it to be a personal history of Leon, not a definitive one,” Teague said. “I want to capture the feelings and memories and contributions people make to the school, then later to their families and community.”

In order to do that, Teague has become immersed in a remarkable amount of research. From archives to texts on Tallahassee and handwritten school-board minutes dating back to the 1800s, she has found fodder for her book.

“There’s so much information – the vastness of the subject is overwhelming,” she said. “It’s a story of the people. I have this fear that I will leave something out that’s really important, or that I might miss something.”

In addition to working on her book daily and devoting about five to six hours per day on the weekends, Teague managed to preserve the school’s yearbooks and keep archives of the school newspaper and other related documents. She said she felt the need to organize and preserve this history because, prior to her efforts, there had been no comprehensive attempt at preserving the physical history.

“This took a tremendous amount of my time for a long time,” Teague said.

The past few years of Teague’s life have been so consumed with Leon High School history that she barely had time to focus on herself. However, in January 2006, that all changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Teague underwent exhausting treatment, including a lumpectomy and radiation.

“The first six to seven months with the cancer didn’t leave me with the energy to work on my book at all,” she said. “But now it doesn’t matter if I have the energy or not – it’s gotta get done!”

Her book, “The Lion’s Tale,” is expected to debut at the Grand Reunion 2. Full of anecdotes, pictures, charming stories and fascinating historical context, the coffee table-style book is expected to be a big hit among alumni and local history buffs.

Teague has spent an awe-inspiring amount of time on this project, and those who know her claim that she is an instrumental part of Leon High history. She said she is eagerly anticipating the printing of her book.

“It’s like having a baby,” she said.

After April’s due date, she plans to celebrate and travel.

“One thing is for sure,” Teague said. “I will not be writing another book.”

 

Leon’s Principal has Always had his Heart in High School

By Jaclyn Emerick 

Having graduated in Leon High School’s Class of 1982 with a less-than-stellar 2.4 grade point average, Rocky Hanna finds himself in an overachiever’s dream come true as the principal of Tallahassee’s oldest high school.

A third-generation graduate of the school, Hanna’s connections with Leon go as far back as childhood, when his father would take him to the football field so that Hanna could hit the varsity football players’ tackling dummy.

Now viewed by many as the personification of Leon High School, Hanna embodies the sense of family, legacy, community and support that Leon stands for.

Long before he ever walked the halls of Leon High, Hanna’s grandmother (Class of 1930) and father (Class of 1960), as well as aunts and uncles, were taking classes there and cheering on the Lions. After Hanna received his own diploma, his younger brother and sister also became part of the Leon tradition, along with his stepbrothers and stepsisters.

Scared of freshman-year orientation and fearful he would never fit in, Hanna said he became involved in football, chorus, Key Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He fondly remembers the hijinks in the football locker room, attempting to one-up teammates on silly pranks, and holding girls’ books between classes. It didn’t take long for him to settle in and become comfortable, he said – to realize he had found a home in Leon.

Junior year threw a devastating curveball at Hanna when his father suddenly died. Looking back, he recalled that Leon faculty and friends were instrumental in helping him get through the difficult time.

“I remember the sight of the church aisles flooded with red and white during the service,” Hanna said.

Connie Walberg, who teaches Advanced Placement art history and humanities and is a 35-year veteran of Leon, was Hanna’s homeroom teacher his senior year.

“The thing that I always remember about Rocky as a student is that he was so respectful, so polite and so kind,” she said. “I remember even seeing him in the hallways and thinking to myself, ‘What a gentleman.’”

Although Walberg said she remembers some of Hanna’s teachers regarding him as a mediocre student, most said that Hanna always paid attention in class.

“He was a star football player and everybody loved him,” Walberg said. “While he didn’t set things on fire with his academics, I enjoyed having him in class.”

Walberg said she expected Hanna to take his people skills and head into the world of business. She recalled him having a huge network and circle of friends.

“I certainly never expected him to become my principal,” she said.

After graduating from college, Hanna returned to Leon in 1987, working for minimum wage as a hall monitor. His passion for football led him to a coaching position at Godby High School in 1988, where he also taught history.

In 1993, Hanna made another move – this time to Lincoln High School, where he coached football and taught a dropout prevention course. He returned to Leon in 1997, moving from teaching to administration. Hanna became the dean of students that year and moved up to assistant principal in 2000.

In the summer of 2005, Hanna became principal of his alma mater.

“I don’t even use the word ‘job’ to describe what I do, because it isn’t a job to me,” he said of his duties.

Hanna has noticed a number of changes at the school since his years as a student. One of the biggest and most beneficial is that the kids are more accepting and tolerant of each other than they were in his time.

“They are so culturally diverse now, but they accept that of each other,” he said. “That is far different from how it was when I went here in the ’70s.”

Another major focus for Leon is community service. Hanna noted that the school’s students work throughout the year on various service projects, including cancer awareness, canned-food drives and Habitat for Humanity.

Although high school can be hard work for students and faculty alike, Hanna works to maintain morale in novel ways. According to Walberg, he dresses up each year for Halloween and enlists the entire administrative staff in a particular theme. In 2005, for example, it was “The Wizard of Oz” and Hanna was – what else? – the Lion. This past Halloween, the theme was “Batman,” and students got to hear Batman music between classes.

Hanna strives to create an environment of trust and comfort so that students feel protected. Believing that the best defense is a good offense, he remains approachable and said he likes it when students come to him with concerns or problems.

“I tell my students four things: to dream (realistically), to set goals (short term), to work hard, and to persevere and never give up,” he said.

Students with GPAs of 3.0 and higher generally are motivated and tend to put in the effort to accomplish their goals, which is why Hanna wants to redirect the focus on “the Rockys of the world” – the not-so-motivated students with GPAs on the lower end of the spectrum. In order to light a spark in such students, Hanna tells them his underdog story: how a student with a low-to-average GPA and a job as the hall monitor made it to the top.

“I want to continue to search for a way so that all kids can feel included and that the educational experience is important for all,” he said.

During his time at Leon, Hanna has had the opportunity to work with some of the same teachers who taught him as a student; he even recently hired his aunt as a teacher. He said he doesn’t find such circumstances unusual – they are typical of the school.

“Family is big; we really push that here,” Hanna said, adding that he makes it a point to develop relationships with all members of the school’s faculty.

Hanna also said he believes it is his job to make the job of each of the 120 teachers at Leon easy as possible.

“Happy teachers make happy students, which makes happy parents – and then life is good for everyone,” he said.

Hanna has worked at three of Tallahassee’s five public high schools and stands by his word that “the kids at Leon are just different.” Its rich history and legacy alone make Leon unique among the city’s high schools. And, while there is a strength and support that comes with being a graduate of Leon, Hanna said there also is a responsibility to be a positive contributor to family and community.

“You don’t want to let the other graduates of the past down,” he said.

Walberg confirmed that Leon is “perhaps the happiest school in the state,” which makes it a great environment in which to teach and learn. She credited Hanna with helping establish such an environment.

“The kids feel connected to the school and to Rocky,” she said. “There is a feeling of happiness and family that is just palpable.”

Hanna said he hopes the “Grand Reunion 2” will draw big numbers, bringing graduates from all eras together to celebrate the uniqueness and longstanding traditions of Leon High School.

As for the future, Hanna said he plans to continue to build on Leon’s successes, both in and out of the classroom, during the remainder of his time at the school. However, his long list of accomplishments and strong character already have won him the admiration of one person – his former homeroom teacher.

“Rocky Hanna has grown into one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” Walberg said. “I don’t think you can measure the success he has had.”

For Hanna, his tenure as principal of Leon High School is not the end of the road but the beginning of a journey.

“I couldn’t have written a better story for myself,” he said.

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