For the eleventh year, Gainesville High School will confer four honorary diplomas to members of the community who "uphold the school's mission and who help sustain the support of its students."
"In 2009, Gainesville High became the first high school in the nation to bestow honorary diplomas," said principal Jamie Green, "and the decisions are made by our governance council upon receipt of nominations and supporting letters. We are very pleased to honor Melvin Cooper, Jerry Davis, LaCrisia Larkin and David Smith as members of our 125th graduating class."
They will be honored at GHS graduation May 24 on Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park.
Cooper, a Commerce High and University of Georgia graduate, is retiring as director of the Gainesville Parks & Recreation Department, a job he has held for thirty years.
Davis, a South Hall High and University of Georgia graduate, coached boys basketball at GHS for 26 years. Amassing 614 wins, he was twice named Georgia coach of the year and earned region coach of the year honors twelve times.
Larkin graduated from Brunswick High and Fort Valley State College. She devoted her entire career in public education, 34 years, at Gainesville High School as a VOCA instructor, CTAE department chair, assistant principal and principal. Larkin was the first woman to serve as principal at GHS.
A Kentucky native and graduate of Franklin County High and Georgetown College in Kentucky, Smith came to Gainesville as the youth minister at First United Methodist and a teacher at the Christian Education Center in 1989. The Christian Education Center became Center Point in 2002 and has long offered courses in religion, comparative religions, and ethics and also serves students with mentoring, counseling, substance abuse prevention and parenting. Smith worked at Center Point from 1989 until his retirement earlier this year.
The GHS Governance Council, comprised of parents, teachers and administrators, considers nominations for honorary diplomas each spring. Recipients must be living, not a graduate of a Gainesville city high school (Gainesville High, E. E. Butler High or Fair Street High) and demonstrate outstanding support for the school and students, according to a news release from the Gainesville City School System.