Come and Celebrate Central Haywood High

By Donna Parris | Jun 10, 2014

Twenty years ago Richard Reeves came to me and surprised me with "My dream is going to be a reality. Haywood County is going to have an alternative high school. Come and work with me, I am going to be the principal!"

We moved into a bank building with an active bank waiting to be moved to their new facility. We were 7 – 12th grades, working around painters and construction workers with only one bathroom on two floors. We had students from a variety of backgrounds with many different needs, several had dropped out in previous years and many started out NOT happy with being moved to this ‘new’ place.

We were created to give hope to students behind in credits, struggling with traditional, larger schools or help drop outs get that diploma. Our first graduate had dropped out and Richard Reeves coaxed him back to school to complete his credits and he did so before Christmas!

This year is our 20th graduation celebration. Hundreds of students and dozens of staff members have been a part of CHHS’s history. We are proud of almost 300 graduates from our campus and many more when combined with our annex program at The Alternative Learning Center. We remember so many great times, and some not so happy times.

We have had former students lose their lives in some tragedy or not accomplish anything worthwhile or spend time incarcerated, but we have seen many more with terrific families, good jobs or careers and many of the bonds forged at CHHS have lasted in great marriages and life-long friendships, too!These bonds are students with students and many between students and staff from the school. So many former students see me in stores, run up for a hug, maybe show me their children, brag on their lives or tell me about how much CHHS meant to them.

Many times our former students have told me “If it hadn’t been for Central Haywood, I would never have made it.”  Wow! What a legacy!!

The 20 years have been full of obstacles, hurdles, a flood, moving from place to place and re-settling quickly, local and state changes in curriculum, testing and financial woes. All the while we have celebrated educational growth, special relationships and seeing young lives change forever.

All this combined with stretched patience, frustrations, loss and sadness, struggles and roadblocks, but MUCH more in hope, success, wonderful blessings and incredible support from the school system, community organizations, clubs and churches. It has been and continues to be a journey worth taking. I have experienced many blessings as I remain the only one to be here all 20 years.

Central Haywood High wishes all former students and staff members can find a way to be at Haywood Community College auditorium at 6 p.m. on June 13 to join us in celebrating this amazing milestone. Mr. Richard Reeves will recognize all who attend and deliver the keynote address.

All former and current principals of the school will attend.

Donna Parris is a 20-year veteran Central Haywood High School staff member and the current lead teacher.