Like many students, there were days when New Albany High School was not my favorite place. Maybe it was a test I hadn't studied for in Herr Howard's German class that had me in a foul mood or a term paper I had put off writing.
And no one liked gym class right after lunch.
But as I've grown older my appreciation and love for the school has grown. And after listening to many of the speeches Sunday at the 13th annual New Albany High School Hall of Fame induction luncheon, I am not alone. Many of the inductees said the teachers and school played such a huge role in their adult lives.
"I love New Albany High School," 2019 inductee Don Unruh, class of 1974 and faculty member from 1987 to 2019, said during his induction speech. "I can't think of an honor anymore special than to be inducted into the NAHS Hall of Fame."
Unruh was one of nine who were officially enshrined Sunday afternoon at the induction luncheon. Others included Stuart Gibson, class of 1943; D.J. Hines, class of 1969, faculty 1973-84; Jim Morris, faculty 1963-71; Dr. Stephen Nale, class of 1967; James St. Clair, class of 1962; Willard E. Thorn, class of 1931; Steve Warren, class of 1963; and Nicole Yates, class of 1990.
Like the previous 12 luncheons, Sunday's was full of Bulldog pride, from the speeches to the singing of the school song. Several hall-of-famers and graduates were among the 160 who attended the event.
But the day belonged to the nine who were inducted. There are now 139 members of the school's hall of fame, and like the 2019 class, they all have enjoyed various degrees of success as both students and adults. Some excelled in athletics, others in the business world or as educators. And they all bleed red and black.
"It all would not have been possible without the encouragement of the staff here at New Albany High School," Dr. Nale, who has been team doctor at the school for 39 years, said of his success.
Two of the inductees — Gibson and Thorn — are deceased, but they were represented at the ceremony by family and friends. The other seven were present.
Hines left teaching and coaching for real estate in 1984 and became partner with Schuler Bauer Real Estate Services. He later became president and chief executive officer of the company and chairman of the board. But despite his successes as a student, teacher, coach and businessman, he said he did not feel worthy of being part of the school's hall of fame.
"I don't know what I did to deserve this," he said. "I am embarrassed to know there are people more deserving than me."
But in closing, he said his time at NAHS was memorable because he was "surrounded by exceptional teachers."
He also praised his 10th grade English teacher who sat him next to a young lady named Cynthia, who years later became his wife.
Morris spent eight years teaching and coaching basketball at New Albany. He would later move on to become the architect of the Indiana University Southeast basketball and athletic program.
Morris said he enjoyed his time at the school — 1963-71 — and was surprised to hear he had been selected for the hall of fame.
"I didn't think during my time at New Albany High School I had done anything to merit the hall of fame," he said. "I can say they were eight of the happiest years of my life. It was a great school then as I am sure it is now."
Nale said his teachers always passed on a desire to excel in "whatever you decided to do."
St. Clair spent his career in journalism, working for newspapers and teaching it at IUS for 25 years. He has also authored or co-authored five books and is working on a sixth.
Unruh just retired as the school's athletic director this year. He grew up on Shelby Place and could see the school from his front porch. NAHS has always been part of his life.
Gibson earned his fame in the ring after a stellar football career at New Albany. During his career as a pro wrestler, he fought the likes of Gorgeous George and Andre the Giant.
Thorn was a New Albany businessman and civic leader. He grew his business, L. Thorn, into a multi-million dollar company.
Warren's career in radio has taken him all across the country. He is host and producer of "The Country Oldies," a syndicated radio program. He is also the co-founder and executive producer of Chinamerica Radio.
The youngest inductee Sunday was Yates, a community leader who is president of the New Albany chapter of NAACP. She is the former president of Rotary Club in Jeffersonville and sits on the United Way Board. She has received numerous awards and currently works on U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth's staff.
All talented people who rightfully earned their place in the NAHS Hall of Fame. There are now 138 members of the school's hall of fame. They all have brought pride to the school both as students and in their chosen profession.
It was a proud day to be a Bulldog.
— Assistant Editor Chris Morris can be reached at 812-206-2155 and email@example.com.