District to name new facilities after influential educators
WISD school board members announced several areas of the new high school and other WISD buildings will be named after influential educators who served the district with distinction.
The dedications were made during Monday night’s regularly scheduled school board meeting. At the new high school, which is expected to open in 2018 at the corner of U.S. Highway 287 and U.S. Highway 287 business, the following areas were named: the Benton and Wanda Cain Library, the Harold Dorsey Courtyard, the Eugene Head Auditorium, the Ronnie Siebert Indoor Activities Center, the Bill Midkiff Outdoor Sports Complex and the Mike Turner Gymnasium.
The announcements didn’t stop there though. WISD’s third junior high will be named Evelyn Coleman Junior High School and the current Ninth Grade Academy building will be named the Billy Ray Hancock Building. The facility names were derived through a nomination process via solicitations from the entire district, considered by a committee and presented to the school board for approval. Both the new high school and third junior high are part of a $125 million bond approved in May 2015 for major district construction and renovations to address growth.
Here’s a bit of background about what these individuals did to make an impact within the school district:
Benton and Wanda Cain
Libraries are portals to all of the world’s knowledge. Libraries offer services and materials that level the intellectual playing field. They allow people of any income level or background the access to high-quality information. Some might even say Libraries change lives.
For a total of 76 years, these two dedicated educators changed countless lives right here in Waxahachie. Benton and Wanda Cain’s contributions to the district go well beyond the classroom. Both are true examples of the high standard of excellence that WISD expects of their students and faculty. Their love for education showed in their desire to teach, mentor and enlighten every child they served.
The new Benton and Wanda Cain Library will be place where future generations of Waxahachie students can be inspired to learn, discuss, explore and build their academic foundation for life.
For the last three years, Waxahachie has earned the honor of Best Community for Music Education. The WISD fine arts program has gained state and national recognition. The students in these programs are hardworking and dedicated members of our district and community.
During his service in WWII, Gene Head promised the man upstairs to do something for somebody every day and the best way he knew to do that was to teach. Consequently, he served as a loyal and committed educator for 37 years, 30 of which were with the Waxahachie Independent School District as a teacher, coach, counselor, and finally as an administrator.
‘My kids’ as he calls them, remember him as a man dedicated to the town, the school, and most importantly the well-being of the students. While a teacher, Eugene Head sent 10 needy students through college. Throughout his career, Head was known as a man who educated, empowered, and embraced those around him with loyalty and commitment and is always passionately fighting for what he believed was right.
District officials believe the Fine Arts Program and its students foster the six principles he lives by — those of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope and charity.
Billy Ray Hancock
Billy Hancock was born on June 1, 1931 in Waxahachie and resides here to this day. After 40 years of dedicated service in WISD, he has touched generations of lives, has a place in the hearts of many and is remembered as a mentor and a role model. Hancock has influenced many lives and was a favorite of many because he was firm, but encouraging and caring. The lessons he shared extended beyond the classroom, teaching students about respect, being good citizens and “taking care of your business.” He is truly a legend in the halls of WISD.
Currently, the Board is considering placing Global High School in the Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy Building facility. There is no greater honor than to have Hancock’s name on the building that houses the early college high school program, creating a lasting memory of his dedication to the community and school system he so proudly represented, a place where students are challenged each and every day to work hard and do their best.
During the committee meetings to discuss the naming of facilities, one member referred to the courtyard (located in the center of the school) as the heartbeat of the campus.
For 32 years, Harold Dorsey served WISD, including 12 years as high school principal. In 2015, guest columnist for the Waxahachie Daily Light and former WISD student Richard Todd said of Mr. Dorsey, “If you knew Mr. Dorsey, you knew that he was a man of integrity, a man devoted to his vocation, a man who distinguished himself, a man with an impeccable reputation, a man who was truly admired and loved by all.”
Monday night, it was the recommendation that the school board approve the naming and that his daughter Leigh Ann McClure would allow the district the honor of memorializing the courtyard, the heart of the new WHS campus, by naming it the “Harold Dorsey Courtyard” — a place where students will gather to learn, share and develop the skills necessary to become great citizens.
Ronald Dale Siebert moved to Waxahachie in 1976 to teach and became the Junior High Athletic Coordinator, later coaching golf at WHS until his passing. One student stated, “He was always smiling and laughing and found joy in everyday activities. As a teacher he challenged his students and made learning fun.” Coach Siebert always exemplified God and integrity, and at the time of his death many students and colleagues shared stories about Coach Siebert and how he was able to make everyone he encountered feel important. Coach Siebert was a man of passion. He loved his family, his church, his community, and his school. He exemplified what it means to be a Waxahachie Indian.
The school board approved that his wife, Terri, and daughter, Tiffani, would allow us the honor of memorializing the new WHS Indoor Activity Center, by naming it the “Ronnie Siebert Activity Center.”
“I believe in the power of sport. I have experienced it firsthand. Athletics has played a significant role in my personal life and receives at least partial credit for getting me to where I am today. We have many individuals from Waxahachie who feel the same way,” one nomination committee member stated. “The experience of participating in high school athletics provides many students with essential life skills such as self-discipline and teamwork. Central Office Administrator, Principal, Assistant Principal, and Teacher … Yes, Mike Turner was all of those things, but most people still refer to him as COACH.”
Mike Tuner is a role model; a graduate of Waxahachie High School who came back home to live and work, to raise his children, and a man that continues to serve this great community today.
Great coaches have an edge when it comes to inspiring youth. For most athletes, their coach is an influential element in life. In Waxahachie, a community with a rich history in baseball, one name stands out, Coach Bill Midkiff. He was a tough, hardworking coach that helped to shape the lives of many young men on and off the field. Midkiff spent 34 years in education, 26 of those in Waxahachie. He won 420 games, 13 district championships and was a two-time state finalist. He was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Baseball Hall of Fame and the Waxahachie Athletic Hall of Fame.
With the naming, the hope is that future athletes will show the same character and respect that Coach Midkiff instilled in his players.
The next honoree came from humble beginnings. Born on the East side of Waxahachie in a small house on Munchus Street, she was one of the last graduates of Turner High School before integration. For 31 years, Evelyn Coleman served WISD as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator. After retirement, she gave the district another 10 years of service on the WISD school board, eventually becoming the first black female Board President. For more than 40 years, she has humbly served the district, always smiling, always positive, but never compromising her belief to give all students an equal opportunity at education. More than most, Coleman understands that education is a key to unlock doors for people.
For more on the May 2015 bond or the new high school, visit www.waxahachietx.com or www.wisd.org.