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Evening of Pride

Join the Education Foundation as we recognize 12 professional athletes and 2 NFL coaches with roots in our Tomato Bowl.

Tickets are SOLD OUT

The Jacksonville Education Foundation will kick off the 8th annual "Evening With Our Stars" event on August 5 in Jacksonville. This year’s honorees include 11 professional football players, one Major Baseball League player, and two NFL coaches who all started their careers in Jacksonville.

Coach John Paul Young and Coach Bum Phillips coached the Fightin’ Indians in the Tomato Bowl in the early 1960’s and went on to have illustrious careers on the college level and in the NFL. Coach Young and his wife, Delores, currently reside back in Jacksonville. After leaving the Indians, Young coached for SMU and Texas A&M before beginning his 22 year-long Pro Football career. He joined Bum with the Houston Oilers organization and also coached the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Denver Broncos. The late Bum Phillips is the legendary NFL coach with the famous cowboy hat and Jacksonville is so proud to boast of the season he coached in the Tomato Bowl. His son, Wade, now an NFL coach himself, went to school in JISD, and has mentioned his fond memories of the Tomato Bowl many times during his career. Bum’s wife, Debbie, his three daughters, and his sister will attend in Bum’s honor, and to honor their close family friend, John Paul Young.

The players being honored include graduates from both JHS and Fred Douglass High School. In 1955, Burr Davis graduated from Jacksonville High School, played in college and then professionally for the Canadian Blue Bombers. That started a string of graduates from Jacksonville having successful careers in the National Football League. Included in the elite group of players named to a final roster on a team are Pete Lammons, JHS Class of 61 who played for the New York Jets in Super-bowl III; Billy Newsome, Fred Douglass Class of ’66 who also sports a Super-bowl ring for the Baltimore Colts; Marshall Johnson, JHS Class of 1971, Baltimore Colts; Jerry Aldridge, JHS Class of 1975, San Francisco 49ers; James Noble, JHS Class of 1982, Washington Redskins; Ray Ethridge, JHS Class of ’87, San Diego Chargers; Toby Gowin, JHS Class of 1993, Dallas Cowboys; Josh McCown, JHS Class of 1998, New York Jets; Kevin Aldridge, JHS Class of 1998, Tennessee Titans; Luke McCown, JHS Class of 2000, New Orleans Saints; and Micah Hoffpauir, JHS Class of 1998 who played Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs.

A casual "tailgate" theme is planned, and jerseys or jewels is the dress for the evening. During this event, the Foundation’s esteemed "Influential Indian" awards will be announced. These are surprise announcements and the recipients are those who have had $1,000 donated in their honor to be named. The evening will have two popular emcees, or "referees", in the Indian’s sideline announcer Matt Montgomery and Jacksonville Mayor Randy Gorham. After the honors and announcements conclude at the Norman Activity Center, the newly renovated Tomato Bowl will be open for tours and pictures and the Corridor of Champions will be dedicated with the players present. Evening of Pride is set for 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Monday, August 5, 2019.

For more information about the Evening of Pride or the Jacksonville Education Foundation, please visit jisdfoundation.org or call 903-586-6511 x 9434. Tickets are $50.00 per person and may be purchased online or at the Chamber of Commerce, Austin Bank, or JISD Central Office.

Past Stars

Neal McCoy

Neal McCoy

"In my 40 years of travelling the world and getting to experience many cool things, there is still not anything quite like coming back to Jacksonville for a quick trip around town. Reliving some of the great moments and the not so great moments of growing up in the Tomato Capital of the World! The memories of wonderful friends and teachers who prepared me for the big world outside the J’ville city limits, and I am forever grateful and a forever Indian. Sure am looking forward to being home in August to visit with folks!" --Neal McCoy

Neal has released 15 studio albums on various labels, and has released 34 singles to country radio. In 1993, Neal broke through with the back-to-back number 1 singles No Doubt About It and Wink from his platinum-certified album No Doubt About It. His commercial success continued into the late 1990s with two more platinum albums and a gold album, as well as six more Top Ten hits. A seventh Top Ten hit, Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On, came in 2005 from his self-released That’s Life.

His awards include 1998 & 1999 Entertainer of the Year, TNN/Music City News Country Awards, 1997 Video of the Year, 2005 ACM/Home Depot Humanitarian Award, three Platinum albums and one Gold album. Close to his heart is his own charitable organization: East Texas Angel Network, which is committed to the enhancement of the lives of children of East Texas who are living with terminal or life-threatening diseases.

Music of Your Life, a big band jazz and country amalgam with Les Brown, Jr. recorded for a public television special, appeared in 2011, with a new studio album, XII, finally arriving in 2012. In 2013 he released Pride: A Tribute to Charley Pride, Neal’s long-time friend and mentor. 2015 brought the Big Band Standards CD You Don’t Know Me.

Neal has been on 15 USO Tours around the world and continues to say it’s one of the achievements he is the proudest of. He is also the recipient of multiple Humanitarian awards from The Academy of Country Music, The Country Radio Broadcasters and The Masonic Grand Lodge. In 2016 Neal has again made a move to continue his patriotic values by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance "Live" on his Facebook page every morning. He has reached millions of viewers all over the country and around the world. Neal still maintains a very busy touring schedule all through the year. Neal and his wife, Melinda reside in Longview, along with their two children, Miki and Swayde. They are also proud grandparents of Titan and Dash.

Sara Sheffield

If you have ever been fortunate enough to see or hear the United States Marine Band perform for White House events or in concert around the country, you have seen one of Jacksonville’s stars and most likely did not realize it.

Sara Sheffield, mezzo-soprano, is a proud native of Jacksonville, Texas. Sara graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1997 and represented JHS in the Texas All-State Choir for three years. She was very active in the choral department under the direction of Larry Cigainero. The additional instruction of her voice teacher, Lydia Reavis, and piano teacher, Helen Fordyce, provided her a solid foundation to pursue a career in music. She earned her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of North Texas.

In 2005, Sara joined "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, becoming the first featured female vocal soloist in the Marine Band's 218-year history. She often supports the musical needs of the White House, and as soloist and concert moderator, performs regularly in the Washington area and across the country during the band's annual concert tour. She has sung for all of the nation’s living presidents, as well as the funerals of Presidents Reagan and Ford. Sara recently participated in the January Presidential Inauguration ceremonies and parade.

Prior to joining "The President's Own", Sara was a member of the US Army Band Army Chorale in Arlington, Virginia. She recently completed her Executive Master’s in Business Administration at George Mason University, and currently resides in Burke, Virginia, with her three children, Leonardo, Josephine and Luca.

Sara has this to say about her hometown, "Jacksonville ISD provided much more for my family than just an education - it gave my grandfather a thriving community in which to coach football and build friendships and bonds that would last generations. It gave my mother the opportunity to be involved in ground-breaking dual language education curriculum, which has since been emulated throughout the state. And JISD provided the tools, confidence and support I needed to pursue an unconventional career in music. I remember our class asking Mrs. Gowin why we needed biology - memorizing the process of cell division? Dissecting worms and cats? How could this possibly be necessary for the path I would take? She said, ‘Your paths may be different. But the discipline you acquire in my class, the study habits you form here - these will be tools vital to your success in the future. Sharpen them now. If you can survive my class, you can get through anything.’ She was right".

Sara is the granddaughter of long-time JHS football coach, the late Dick Sheffield. Grandmother Betty still resides in Jacksonville and our community has benefitted from both of their leadership roles in the school system, library, booster clubs, and so many other aspects of our town. Truly a generation of Jacksonville residents were impacted by one of them at some point in their lives, either through the athletics program or visiting the city library. Maria Sheffield, Sara’s mother, taught many years for JISD and was in fact instrumental in establishing the premier Dual-Language program that is synonymous with Fred Douglass Elementary and Jacksonville. A graduate of JHS, Sara’s father, Brad, was coached by his father and voted Mr. JHS his senior year. The Sheffield name has already been established as one of the "legendary" family names in Jacksonville history.

The Foundation is truly proud to honor Sara and celebrate yet another example of a "legendary" Sheffield among us.

Senator Robert Nichols

If you are in any way familiar with Jacksonville, then you are familiar with Senator Robert Nichols. He has been a force in our community since his days at Jacksonville High School. Robert is a businessman, inventor, visionary and 1963 graduate of JHS. Before he served the State of Texas, he served his hometown of Jacksonville by serving on city council, was elected mayor, built four successful manufacturing facilities, earned 32 U.S. patents, 128 foreign patents, and created more than 900 jobs for East Texas families.

Although much of his time now is required in Austin, he still calls Jacksonville home. As for his childhood and attending school here, he says, "JISD not only instilled in me the importance of education, but taught me many meaningful life lessons which emphasized the value of teamwork and never giving up in the face of adversity." Robert was a tri-captain on the 1963 Fightin’ Indian football team that made it to the state semi-finals under the guidance of "legendary" Coach Dick Sheffield, along with others whose names are considered football royalty around Jacksonville. Names like Bates, Clark, Canter, Radford, and Slayton.

Working his way through college by selling fireworks and ironing clothes for other students, Nichols earned a bachelor's degree from Lamar University in 1968. He married his high school sweetheart, Donna, and they are the proud parents of three children: Brittney, Joshua, and Collynn'rae. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville.

First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Robert Nichols represents 19 counties, including the greater part of East Texas and Montgomery County.

In the Texas Senate, Nichols serves as Chairman of the Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Senate Finance, Business and Commerce, and Administration Committees. He is a member of the Legislative Audit Committee and is currently serving his second term as a member on the Sunset Advisory Committee.

During his five sessions as a state senator, Nichols authored and passed legislation to protect landowners’ rights, increase educational opportunities in East Texas and reform transportation policies. He has worked to reduce Medicaid fraud, and promote free-market principles. During his first term with the Sunset Advisory Committee, he was able to help eliminate six state agencies which saved the taxpayers $161.9 million. He has been named a 'Champion for Children' by the Equity Center, a 'Courageous Conservative' by the Texas Conservative Coalition, a 'Friend of County Government' by the Texas Association of Counties and a 'Champion of Free Enterprise' by the Texas Association of Business.

Before running for Senate, Nichols served as transportation commissioner for eight years where he established a reputation for increasing efficiency without compromising quality.

Our community is fortunate to have someone personally committed to looking out for the needs of the residents of East Texas. Senator Nichols may say he has a special place in his heart for Jacksonville, but it is Jacksonville who rightfully holds a special place for a true hometown hero, our very own Senator Robert Nichols. Clearly, he is true to the J’ville motto of "Once an Indian, Always an Indian".

Billy H. Guinn

Mr. Billy Guinn was born on August 17, 1931 to parents Frazier and Mable Guinn of Rusk, Texas. Married 64 years to Bettye (Mercer) Guinn; they have 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. Billy and Bettye reside in Jacksonville Texas.

Mr. Guinn attended Lon Morris College where he received his Associate’s Degree in Science. He then entered Stephen F. Austin University earning his Bachelor of Science in Biology and Masters in Education. After completing all Pre-Med course requirements, his initial plan was to enter Medical School, however at that time grant funding was not available and he was unable to attend. His career focus then turned to teaching. Mr. Guinn started teaching biology at Jacksonville High School in 1952 when after one year of teaching; he was drafted into the United States Army. Serving in the Korean War from 1953- 1955 he returned to JHS to continue his teaching path.

During his teaching career at JHS, he was instrumental in implementing the Anatomy Curriculum into the Public School System in the State of Texas at the High School Level. The certification required a two-year process from the Texas Department of Education where he was then appointed as Chairman for the State Textbook Committee. The committee comprised of 65 teachers representing various disciplines within the District approved textbooks, curriculum standards, and supplemental materials for public schools. Mr. Guinn was recognized by Governor John Connolly in 1966 for his service.

Mr. Guinn initiated the famous "Biology Fair" at JHS where students applied scientific methods in designing experiments and testing hypotheses which either supported or rejected their research. Students were awarded prizes and advanced to state competitions.

Throughout his teaching career he received recognition as "Teacher of the Year" several times from JHS and also received the award of excellence from the Medical Explorer Organization in 1982. After 36 years of teaching at JHS, he retired in 1986 and began teaching at Jacksonville College. He retired from Jacksonville College in 1988. He recalls teaching over 5000 students at JHS with several students successfully completing Medical and Dental Programs. Mr. Guinn served as Chairman for the American Heart Association in Cherokee County and over past years, he assisted many in the Medical profession as well; identifying specific plants, snakes, & toxins which patients may have been exposed to. He was instrumental in changing the treatment method for snake bite protocols in the Boy Scout of America Handbook.

He and his wife retired to their ranch located just south of Jacksonville and have over one hundred head of cattle. Although, Mr. Guinn retired from teaching at JHS and Jacksonville College, he currently teaches Sunday school at First United Methodist Church where he has been a member since 1955. The class size has increased to over 60 members where many participants are his former JHS students.

When ask about his fondest teaching memories, Mr. Guinn stated there were too many to describe during his career. Laughing, he did recall one situation several years ago when his neighbor, Sheriff Horton contacted him to determine if the human leg bone found in his yard belong to the biology professor down the street. Horton was relieved to find out Guinn was putting together a human skeleton for his biology class & was missing one leg bone. It was later determined his children had been playing with the skeleton and left it out when the neighbor’s dog attempted to bury it in Horton’s yard. Mr. Guinn has written an autobiography describing his life experiences which include his 38 years of teaching at Jacksonville High School and Jacksonville College.

Dr. J. Bradley "Brad" Creed

Dr. J. Bradley "Brad" Creed began his duties as Campbell University’s fifth President on July 1, 2015. Previously, Creed was the Provost and Executive Vice President and Professor of Religion at Samford University, a private Christian university in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to joining Samford in 2001, Creed was Professor of Christian History, Associate Dean, and Dean at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He has also served as the Scholar in Residence at the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty in Washington D.C. and Visiting Professor of Church History at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Falls Church, Virginia. Earlier in his career, he served as pastor of churches in Texas and Louisiana and interim pastor of churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Alabama, and Florida.

A Jacksonville, Texas, native and 1975 graduate of Jacksonville High School, Creed received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Baylor University, graduating cum laude. He earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a frequent speaker for universities, civic organizations, and churches, and is the author of several published works and articles on religion, ethics, education, and history which have appeared in journals, magazines, and books.

According to classmate, Lucy Farmer DeRoeck, "For the Class of 1975, Brad Creed was the one. The one you could depend on... The one that gave every effort... The one you could believe in. We knew even then that he would forever represent our Class with class."

Creed’s wife, Kathy, also a Jacksonville, Texas, native is an educator by training and previously served as a public school teacher and principal in Texas and Louisiana. Creed is the son of Charles and Jeanette Creed of Jacksonville, and Kathy is the daughter of the late Vernon and Peggy Harton, also of Jacksonville. The Creeds’ family includes son Charles; daughter Carrie Grace; and a grandson, James Noble Creed.

The music programs of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s at JHS are still remembered as an unforgettable era in Jacksonville ISD. The JHS Band and Choir programs reached amazing heights, and former students still proudly boast of having been in the programs.

Val Rose

Val Rose was born in Jefferson County, Texas in 1939 and spent his childhood in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area with his parents and three siblings. He became involved in the band program at an early age and excelled in that field throughout his Jr. High and High school years. He then attended Stephen F. Austin College on a band scholarship where he met his wife Suzi, also a music educator. Val credits much of his success in his career to her inspiration and input.

His first full time job after college graduation was at Moore Junior High in Tyler, Texas. In 1964, he became the director in Overton where he led the band to their first Sweepstakes in 14 years. He then moved to Troup and again garnered a Sweepstakes award. In 1966, he and Suzi moved to Jacksonville where he spent the next 13 years building a powerhouse band program. When Val arrived, the program was struggling and the band had never made a first division at a UIL concert contest. During his tenure, the JHS Band received eight consecutive Sweepstakes awards. The concert band was a State Honor Band finalist, and the marching band was a five time "Best in Class" winner at the annual HEB marching contest. He claims invaluable assistance during those years from Jr. High and Assistant Directors Raymond Thomas, Joe Teague, Jerry Thomas, Danny Prado, Dean Stewart, Andy Davidson, Wayne Smith, and Dwight Logee.

As a former band JHS band member, Dr. Brad Creed knew Mr. Rose very well. "By instruction and example, Val Rose taught me invaluable lessons about leadership and performance: Preparation and practice are essential. A setback is not failure, only an opportunity to learn and improve. Hard work is non-negotiable. Integrity is foundational. Excellence is as much a factor of flawless execution as it is creativity and talent. These were strategic to Val Rose’s remarkable success with Jacksonville High School bands and are principles I still rely on every day in life and leadership", says Dr. Creed of his former mentor.

Val Rose is a name revered in the high school band directors’ realm. Mr. Rose held offices in UIL Regions 4, 21, and 10, including TMEA Region Chairman and Band Chairman; UIL Executive Secretary, Band Contest Chairman, and State Advisory Council Member. He has been invited to present lectures at TCU, Lamar, and SFA University. He is also a charter member of TMAA and a member of Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Mu. Val was honored in 1997 with membership Lamar University’s Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia chapter, and in 2000 was inducted into the SFASU Band Director’s Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was presented with the Meritorious Achievement Award by the Texas Bandmasters Association. In 2008, Val was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

He built an outstanding and highly respected reputation for the Jacksonville band program, and continues to keep in contact with many former band members. A number of his students have become band directors, including his son Greg, and now his grandson, Eric. Greg, a 1981 JHS graduate, followed in his father’s footsteps as an award winning director in Nederland, Texas. Daughter, Shannon Rose Shipp, a 1985 JHS graduate, lives with husband John and son Zachary and is an elementary music teacher in Gladewater.

Larry Joe Cigainero

Larry Joe Cigainero was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. Larry’s music education began at the age of seven when he learned to play the piano. Those early piano lessons not only sparked his love for music, but helped begin his career of teaching others a love for music as well. In middle school, Larry began teaching piano lessons and playing the pipe organ at St. Edward’s Catholic Church. After graduating from St. Edward’s Catholic High School, Larry attended Texarkana Junior College and later received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from North Texas State University.

Larry then began his career in education. During the next 35 years, Larry taught his students that working hard, discipline and doing your best will prepare you for any job or career. His drive to do the best job he could was the basis on which he built his career. He began teaching in Mt. Pleasant as an elementary music teacher. After two years, Larry moved his wife Rosa and two small children to Jacksonville where he spent the next 33 years building strong music programs in the Jacksonville Independent School District. He began teaching music at East Side and West Side Elementary schools. He also taught at Joe Wright in the summer in the Head Start program. He moved on to Jacksonville Jr. High, Jacksonville Middle School, and finally Jacksonville High School.

During his tenure as the Jacksonville High School Choir Director, the JHS Choral Department achieved many awards and honors in the University Interscholastic League, Texas Music Educators Association choral tryouts as well as invitational contests such as Six Flags over Texas Choral Festival, Buccaneer Choral Festival, Bluebonnet Festival and the Yellow Rose Festival. Many former students will also remember the annual Madrigal Dinners that Larry coordinated during the holiday seasons, and so many of them continue to reminisce about Mr. "C" as he was fondly known to most.

Larry never gave up his passion for teaching piano. He taught private lessons from 1966 – 1986, and during that time many of his students participated in Guild Auditions and Guild National Recording Piano competitions. Larry served as a Piano Guild judge in East Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Florida. After retirement, he has continued to judge University Interscholastic League and Texas Music Educators Association Choral events throughout Texas, coach various professional vocalists and occasionally performs for friends and family. He also served as an organist for many years at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Jacksonville and currently is the director of the Tyler Presbyterian Church Choir.

"When you have received the love and direction that I have been blessed to have had and still receive from this Jacksonville icon from the age of 5, then I have much to say when the name of Larry Joe Cigainero is mentioned. He’s been my piano teacher, my mentor, my director, my counselor, my family friend, and he confirms why my favorite four-letter word is HOME. Mr. Cigainero taught me endurance, discipline, and confidence that have been lessons for life. If he can take a little child of color like me and mold him into someone whom I hope he would be proud of, then I know his efforts were not in vain. I am so honored that he sprinkled some of his most trusted wisdom on me. Congratulations to him for any and all of the accolades that come his way", states 1979 JHS Valedictorian Dr. Cordell Adams.

Larry now spends his time hunting and fishing with grandsons, Joey, Jeffrey and Jeremy Pitts. He passed on his love for music to his children, Laura and Joey, his grandchildren, and is proud to say many former students. His passion for music will live on for generations through those he has touched, especially in Jacksonville, Texas.

The Education Foundation sees this event as an opportunity for former students to "come back home" and visit with their former teachers and friends. As in the past, the coveted Influential Indian awards will be presented during this event to deserving individuals who have made an impact in Jacksonville ISD. If you would like to honor someone as an Influential Indian, please see the Foundation website (jisdfoundation.org) for more details, or contact any Foundation Board member. As always, all proceeds from the Evening With Our Stars event go towards supporting, incentivizing, and encouraging academic achievement for the students and staff of Jacksonville Independent School District.

John Alexander

John Alexander was born August 16, 1941 in Wellington, Texas. Married for 31 years to Donna Alexander, John and Donna have 5 children and 7 grandchildren. John has taught and coached at Wilson High School in Wilson, Texas, Roosevelt High School in Lubbock, Texas, Post High School in Post, Texas and was a favorite coach and teacher at Jacksonville High School from 1978 through 1997. His 1984 Jacksonville Basketball team advanced to the state semi-finals in Austin. In 1988 he was voted by Texas High School Coaches Association to coach the South All-Star team in the annual All Star game. John retired with 613 wins.

John retired after 34 years of teaching and coaching, and left the JHS halls (and lunchtime in the cafeteria) with a void that has been hard to fill. It never mattered what the talent level consisted of on one of Alexander’s teams, for each player played his heart out for this incredible coach. He brought out the very best not only in his players, but also in every student that he so graciously took the time to get to know and encourage each day. After a brief retirement, John went back to teaching and coaching Elementary P.E. in Rusk for 14 years, and again became a favorite at Rusk, ISD. He made many lifelong friends while "retired" in Rusk.

Coach, as he is known to hundreds of Jacksonville students who passed through the halls of JHS during his tenure, is known for his constant cheerful enthusiasm and his positive, upbeat attitude. Each day he greeted kids and staff alike with his trademark phrase, "you can either decide to have a good attitude today or a bad one".

"My greatest honor in coaching was being able to coach my two sons."

"Although I did not graduate from JHS, it is my home. I passed up several job offers because I wanted my children to graduate from JHS. Each one received a quality education that has enabled them to be a success in life, as have hundreds of others. I bleed Blue and Gold!"

In 2015, the former Lon Morris College Gymnasium was purchased by Jacksonville ISD. The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to rename the gym the "John Alexander Gymnasium".

Lee Ann Womack

When Lee Ann Womack walked onstage to accept the 2005 Country Music Association Album of the Year Award for There’s More Where That Came From, she wasn’t striking a blow for modern country music. She’d already won Single of the Year for "I May Hate Myself in the Morning" and Vocal Event of the Year for "Good News, Bad News," her duet with George Strait – and that night spoke pretty loudly about the things that the petite Texan with the pure voice valued: great songs, real life and classic country music.

"You don’t ever make records to win awards – or even to make big statements," says the woman who’s won six – including Female Vocalist of the Year -- and been nominated for 20 CMA Awards. "You’re trying to catch a moment of someone’s life, and in my case, make the best kind of country music you can, because country music – to me – is real life."

Not that Womack’s kind of country doesn’t blur formats and cross genres. Her ubiquitous six-week #1 hit "I Hope You Dance" was heard on every kind of radio station, and her duet partners range from Willie Nelson to Harry Connick, Alan Jackson to the Blind Boys of Alabama, Buddy Miller to George Strait.

She has also cut songs from progressive roots writers Julie Miller, Jim Lauderdale and Bruce Robison, as well as young writers like Natalie Hemby, Marla Cannon and Waylon Payne and legends Dean Dillon, Ronnie Bowman and Rodney Crowell . She also wrote the seminal "Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago." For the mother of two, it comes down to one thing: "Trying to be true to the music, the story and what I can sing"

Womack comes by her mission honestly. Raised the child of a pair of teachers, her father was also a country music disc jockey who would take his small daughter to the radio station where he was on the air near Jacksonville, Texas. It was there that the Grammy-winner was exposed to the best classic country music: Nelson, Merle Haggard, Western swing, vintage Dolly Parton and Ray Price.

A stint at South Plains Jr. College in Levelland, Texas – the first college that offered a country music degree – led to a stint at Belmont University’s Music Business program. But the Grammy Award-winner’s heart was always in making music, and it wasn’t long before she’d found an internship at MCA Records and a songwriting deal at legendary music publisher Sony/Tree.

With her first album yielding the breakout hit "The Fool," as well as the pristine Wurlitzer jukebox feeling "Never Again," Womack found herself established in a big way. Winning the Academy of Country Music Top New Female Award and Billboard’s Top New Artist, she was on her way.

"A Little Past Little Rock" and "I’ll Think of a Reason Later," from her sophomore "Some Things I Know", continued her hit-making roll. With "I Hope You Dance," which also won the Grammy and CMA Song of the Year Award, Womack found herself singing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, "A Capital Fourth" in Washington, DC and on "Oprah" at the request of Dr. Maya Angelou.

"You can’t dream these things," explains the woman who spent the last year as part of the George Strait/Reba McEntire tour. "You can only set your eye on making music you think matters, telling stories that feel right and trying to be the best you’re capable of being."

That extends to giving back. Beyond stints home schooling her girls, Womack is active in a variety of causes. Most visibly is JoinMyVillage.com, deemed a click-to-commit-social change initiative benefiting the women and children of Malawi – and focusing on girls by bringing in women teachers, supporting education, creating housing and helping the mothers’ start businesses and earn better livings.

"You want to give back, to make a difference," Womack explains. "In this very crazy busy world, this is as easy a way as I have found. You go to the site, click on a link, watch a video that explains what the people in Malawi are trying to do – and money gets donated. It’s low impact, but it cumulatively makes a huge difference."

Making a difference, whether in her music, people’s lives or the world beyond her, is a big part of who Lee Ann Womack is. Quietly setting her sites on various projects including the studio with her husband Frank Liddell, a producer known for his work with Miranda Lambert, David Nail and Chris Knight, recording with a variety of artists and being active with www.JoinMyVillage -- the woman with the silvery voice is about making every moment count, every song matter and every memory be all that it can be.

Margo Martindale

Margo Martindale is an American film, stage and television actress. In 2011, She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Mags Bennett on Justified in 2011. She currently stars in the CBS series A Gifted Man.

Margo Martindale was born in Jacksonville, Texas to parents William Everett and Margaret (Pruitt) Martindale and was the youngest of three children and only daughter. Margo participated in golf, cheerleading and drama while at Jacksonville High School and was crowned "Football Sweetheart" as well as "Miss JHS 1969."

Peter Spencer Lammons, Jr

Peter Spencer Lammons, Jr. was born in Crockett, Texas and is a former professional American football player who played tight end for the American Football League's New York Jets, winning the AFL Championship with them in 1968, and playing in their victory over the National Football League champion Baltimore Colts in the third AFL-NFL World Championship game. He also played for the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

As a high school freshman, Lammons played briefly under NFL coaching legend Bum Phillips during his tenure as head coach at Jacksonville High School

Sissy Phillips Austin

Sissy Phillips Austin, a native of Jacksonville, Texas is an Aerospace Engineer, Banker, Community Leader, and a member of the first class to graduate from the "New" Jacksonville High School Building in 1959.

Laurel Ann (Sissy) Phillips Austin was born September 20, 1941 to Wallace (Windmill) and Annie Laurie Phillips in Jacksonville. Sissy’s early childhood memories are of being on the Lon Morris campus, where her parents were faculty members.

Sissy was Valedictorian of the JHS Class of 1959, and received Academic Honors from the University of Oklahoma where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics in 1963. While on a spring break visit to NASA, she observed staff working on a difficult problem, and promptly solved it for them. Needless to say, NASA recruited Sissy and she began work on the legendary Apollo Project. She took the job at NASA over many other more lucrative offers to be part of the history-making project. "It was so fun and exciting to get up every day and go to work on the ground floor of this project to get us ahead of the Russians." This was at a time when women were not often in the workplace, and certainly not in the area of Aerospace Engineering. Sissy went on to become a consultant to the space program with TRW Systems of Houston. She was a local hero, returning to Jacksonville to present programs on America’s space program.

Sissy joined First National Bank, Jacksonville (now Austin Bank) in 1971, where she is now Executive Senior Vice President and Director. When first joining the banking team, she instituted computerization using her extensive software and programming expertise, oversaw investments, and was a major loan officer. She and her husband Jeff, Jr., have led Austin Bank to a legendary status, and the close-knit "Austin Bank Family" standard of community commitment and professionalism begins with them.

Her leadership abilities have been recognized since college days, where she was elected to Tassels, Mortar Board, Big Women on Campus as well as an officer of Pi Beta Phi. She was President of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Class Vice-President of Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU, Regent and Chairperson of Stephen F. Austin State University; Director and chairperson of Trinity Mother Frances Health Care System, director of Finance for Pi Beta Phi Arrowmont School, and Jacksonville Business Woman of the Year and Citizen of the Year.

Many Jacksonville residents remember Sissy as an accomplished water-skier on the newly formed Lake Jacksonville. The poise and grace of the 5 person ski pyramids are still the talk of the Lake. Sissy’s hobbies are varied; from water-ski to snow-ski, travel, camping, reading, solving puzzles, canoe adventures, tennis, jogging, and boating. She also received her pilot license in Houston. Her friends fondly recall her various automobiles, as well as being a member of the cast of the JHS one-act play that was featured in Life Magazine as they advanced to the State Finals of UIL.

The years at Jacksonville High School are remembered fondly by Sissy. She credits teachers such as Lois Boles, Mary Frances Childress, James Everett, Neta Hanna, Billy Guinn, and Bubs Mosley for giving her the foundation for her future successful career.

She is proud of this honor.

Toby Gowin

Toby Gowin graduated from JHS in 1993 where he was punter for the Fightn’ Indians under Coach Danny Long. His lifelong dream was to be a Dallas Cowboy, and after playing for the University of North Texas, Toby joined the Cowboy organization as punter from 1997 through 1999 and again for the 2003 season. Toby recognizes the coaching staff of JHS as equipping him with enough determination and perseverance to fulfill that dream. Mr. Gowin had an eight year long career in the NFL and now resides in Jacksonville with his wife and two children. His Cowboy jersey proudly hangs on the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Wall of Fame as well as on the Wall of Honor in the JHS Field House.

Kelli Green Carpenter

Kelli Green Carpenter is a 1991 graduate of JHS where she was a cheerleader and named Most Beautiful her senior year. After graduation, she attended TCU where she graduated with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations in 1995. Kelli served as a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader from 1994 through 1996. "I never imagined that Niki and I would go from cheering at the Tomato Bowl to cheering on America’s Team, standing side by side. Being on the squad together in Super Bowl XXX was beyond my wildest dreams!". Kelli was also selected to perform with the DCC Show Group, a group of twelve girls chosen to travel on the Cheerleaders 31st USO/DOD tour to visit American troops in South America, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Italy, and Macedonia during Desert Storm. "I was blessed to have teachers at JHS that inspired me to follow my dreams and continued to do so even after graduation. JHS teachers are special and truly care about the people their students become". She now lives in Flint with her husband, Kevin and two children, Kade and Kasen.

Shannon Swanson Landers

Shannon Swanson Landers is a 1992 JHS graduate where she was captain of the Cherokee Charmers and voted Homecoming Queen her senior year. She became a TJC Apache Belle and competed as Miss Tyler USA in the Miss Texas USA pageant before becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. Shannon graduated from SMU in 1997 with a BBA in Business, and cheered for the Cowboys from 1994-97, and again from 2001-2003. She was a group leader for 2 years and was selected as the Pro-Bowl representative for the Cowboys for the 2003 Pro-Bowl. Shannon was also one of the two five-year veteran cheerleaders that presented Emmitt Smith the trophy when he broke the rushing record in 2002. As for her JISD memories, Shannon says, "I loved being a Cherokee Charmer, and I absolutely loved both of my drill team directors, Becky Ganong and Christie McCullough. One of my favorite classes was biology with Mrs. Gowin". Shannon resides in Dallas with her husband, Scott and four daughters, Lauren, Lilly, Lexie and Lola.

Niki Green Gowin

Jacksonville High School was also home to Niki Green Gowin, who was an Indian varsity cheerleader and graduated in 1993. Niki was voted Most Beautiful during her senior year, and was named an All-American cheerleader. After high school graduation, she attended Tyler Junior College where she performed with the well-known TJC Apache Belles. She was selected for the Dallas Cowboy Squad for the 1995-96 season, and says, "I never would have dreamed that two years later I would be cheering for the Cowboys again, but this time from the stands as a player’s wife!". Niki and Toby married in 1998 and he began an eight year adventure in the National Football League where they lived in Dallas, New Orleans, Long Island, and Atlanta. They are back in Jacksonville and have 2 children, Jaeger and Greenlee. "Looking back, the encouraging support from the teachers and staff at JHS was such a blessing. The JHS community is truly special".