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Noted Alexander grads honored

    Editor’s note: Today The DAILY LEADER begins a series highlighting the 16 inductees into the 2012 Alexander High School Hall of Honor. Four honorees will be featured each day during the series.

  From 1937 when the first 12th-grade class graduated to 1970 when the last class graduated, records show that 1,692 students graduated during this period.

     These graduates have gone on to achieve tremendous success in their chosen fields of study. To honor their success, the Alexander High School Legacy Committee created the Alexander High School Hall of Honor in 2006.

     The Hall of Honor recognizes and honors Alexander alumni and former students who, through leadership, character and hard work, have made exceptional contributions in their chosen field and in their communities.

     The Hall of Honor Committee will present the following alumni as the third class of the Alexander High School Legacy Hall of Honor: James Walter Barnes II, Sadie Poole Batiest, Vanzetta May Bridgemon, Mae Robinson Brown, Willie Helen Kelly Buie, Billy Campbell, Eva Hall Harris, Willie Albert Harrison, Josie Byrd Hightower, Dr. Willie D. Humphrey, Tyree McBeth Jr., Dolores Calloway Lane, Velma Smith Lee, Gloria Jean Smith, Annie Lou Dillon Tillman and Charles Herman Wilson Sr.

     The Legacy Committee is planning a reception, recognition and induction program in their honor. The reception and induction program will be at the Old National Guard Armory, 689 Highway 51 North, Brookhaven, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, July 27. The program will start at noon. 

James Walter Barnes II

     James Walter Barnes II was born in Brookhaven and graduated in 1965 from Alexander High School. He was a pioneer at Alexander, where he was named a 1965 All-American; he scored the most points in the state of Mississippi in high school in a single season in 1965. He received a Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Social Sciences from Jackson State College, now Jackson State University in 1969. At Jackson State, he was the 1968 and 1969 basketball team captain and was named 2nd Team All Southwestern Athletic Conference in 1969.

     He is the oldest son of the late James Walter and Lillian Barnes of Brookhaven. After college, he was drafted by the New Orleans Buccaneers of the American Basketball Association and the Dallas Cowboys. He chose to become a high school basketball and football coach at McCullough High School in Monticello. After leaving Mississippi, he became the basketball coach at St. Martin Deporus High School in Detroit, Mich. In 1971, he was drafted into the United States Army. After serving our country, he relocated to Rockdale, Texas, where he worked for Alco Aluminum until he retired in 1990.

     Barnes is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and the Original Twelve Club of Rockdale. During the summer, he sponsors   a football, basketball and baseball camp for young people.  Because of his belief in giving back to the community, he financially supports many community organizations and needy families.

     Honoree Barnes has served as a city alderman for the city of Rockdale, and is the recipient of numerous awards. Barnes is a widower and the father of six children and 12 grandchildren.

Sadie Poole Batiest

     Sadie Poole Batiest, the daughter of Willie L. and Shellie M. Poole, is a 1968 graduate of Alexander High School. While attending Alexander, she was a member of the Mighty Panther Band, the National Honor Society, Science Club, Math Club and Ms. Debutante 1968. She continued her education earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Dillard University in New Orleans, La., in 1972. She also obtained a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Mississippi College in 1988.

     Honoree Batiest spent 31 years in the nursing field at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. When she retired in 2003, she was the director of nursing.

     Active in various community activities, Batiest is an active member of the Dillard University Alumni Association, the National Association for Female Executives, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Sigma Theta Tau Inc. and the Mississippi Nurses Association.

     Batiest has been the recipient of numerous awards. She is a recipient of the Mississippi Nursing Association Administrative Nurse of the Year 1995, Who’s Who in American Nursing 1986-1989, Children’s Miracle Network Champion 1993, Quorum Health Resources Inc. Nurse Executive 1994 and the Children’s Miracle Network Award 2003.

     Honoree Batiest is married to Michael A. Batiest, also an Alexander graduate. They are residents of Jackson.

Vanzetta May Bridgemon

     Helping people has always been a part of Vanzetta May Bridgemon’s life. She is the daughter of Carrie Harris May and Clonzo May Sr. Growing up in Brookhaven, raised by her grandmother and aunt, the young Bridgemon had a knack for caring for people.

     This Class of 1965 Alexander High School graduate has more than 30 years of nursing experience. While at Alexander she was in the band, Drama Club and was the head drum majorette. After graduating from Alexander, she furthered her education by attending Wilson Junior College in Chicago, Ill., the University of Chicago School of Nursing, the Chicago Healer Academy, Leidecker Institute, Chicago Computer School and Barbizon School of Modeling in Chicago.

     Bridgemon is the owner of the Therapeutic Touch in Waukegan, Ill. The company is a salon that provides an array of professional and comforting therapy to promote stress reduction, peace of mind and improvements in health as well as beauty and weight loss. She is a licensed nurse, licensed in Naturopath Herbal Medicine, Herbal Preparation, Reflexology, Therapeutic Touch, Herbal Preparation and Certified Body Wrap Technician. Bridgemon is a nursing practitioner, a Health Class Teacher, and has appeared on cable TV and radio in the Chicago area. She has operated a healing business for 18 years while working in the health field. In addition, she opened the first Alzheimer’s Unit in Zion, Ill., in 1991. She has served on many nursing, medical boards and committees.

     Honoree Bridgemon was the fourth runner up in the Mrs. Illinois Pageant in 1985. She was named the 1998 NAACP Woman of the Year, Harris Fur Top Model and Mrs. Personality in 1973, Professional Business Woman Award for Contributions to Lake County and Certificate of Appreciation from the United Negro College Fund Support Award in 1992.

     Believing in making a difference, she is a member of the NAACP, Emblem Chapter No. 140 Order of the Eastern Star (O.E.S), Shawall Court No. 4 Daughter of Isis, North Shore Assembly No. 59, Fine Arts Guild O.E.S. and Grand Chapter.

     She is a member of First Baptist Church in North Chicago, Ill. At her church, she is the coordinator of the Women’s Ministry. She is married to Charles E. Bridgemon and they are the parents of Candance, Alicia, Charzetta and Latonya and 10 grandchildren.

     The Bridgemon’s have plans to give back to the Brookhaven community by opening a business in Brookhaven for senior citizens in the very near future.

Mae Robinson Brown

     Musician and band director extraordinaire, Mae Robinson Brown was born to Clara and Eddie Banks. The Banks were the proud parents of 13 children whereas Mae was the youngest girl child. Her uncle and aunt, Ed Howard and Daisy Louise, later adopted her in 1937.

     Mae Robinson Brown was educated in Brookhaven at Alexander School for all 12 grades. She exemplified herself as the consummate student, excelling both academically and within extracurricular activities. She was elected May Day Queen and became Mr. Wright’s student assistant band director while a sophomore. Robinson Brown participated in drama and choir both as a vocalist and musician.

     Graduating valedictorian in 1953, Robinson Brown matriculated to Southern University and Agriculture & Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, La. She graduated magna cum laude from Southern in 1957 with a degree in Music Education.

     Honoree Robinson Brown returned to Alexander High School in Brookhaven in August 1957 as band director. The first year was a building year where she literally went through the neighborhoods recruiting students; there were only 17 members from the previous year’s band. During her tenure, the size of the band grew yearly, reaching 125 members.

     Under her direction, the band traveled to various festivals and was instrumental in receiving Superior Ratings during all but one festival. This superior band was invited to participate in many parades, but particularly celebrated the invitations from the Crewe of Carrolton Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, the New Orleans Saints Halftime Shows, the Rose Bowl Parade, and trips to Grambling University.

     In 1972, she married and began her travels throughout Western Europe as a military wife and mother. She worked as a counselor, receiving several military commendations and citations for quality work.

     Finally settling in Brookhaven in 1981, Robinson Brown worked at Copiah-Lincoln Community College until her mother became ill. She made a career move to Brookhaven Elementary School, where she retired on December 19, 1997.

     Robinson Brown was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. At Bethel, she served as a musician, Sunday school contributor, and the Julia Heywood Missionary Society. She taught private piano lessons to many young people in Brookhaven and surrounding areas. Both teacher and students collaborated with various annual programs in Brookhaven such as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the NAACP Mother of the Year and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Alpha Beautillion.

     Honoree Robinson Brown was the proud mother of two children, a son, Lamont Brown, and daughter, Dr. Ouida Brown. Mae Robinson Brown died on October 27, 2008.