Members of Wilson Central High School's Class of 2020 are celebrating their 18th birthdays along with the school itself, and the administration is marking that milestone with an engraved brick wall for alumni and community partners.
"We're approaching 20 years since the school has been in existence, and we've got a lot of alumni that are at that professional age now," Principal Travis Mayfield said. "We want to recognize their accomplishments, and I think it goes back to building that community where they can come back to their high school and find that block with their name on it."
The display will be installed outside the school's theater along with a set of trophy cases, and Wilson Central's STEM and engineering students are designing the wall.
Each brick measures 4-by-8 inches and has space for two lines of wording for a name and graduating class. Orders will be accepted until Feb. 28, 2020 for $100 each, and the proceeds will be used to fund school-sponsored events for the senior class.
"This is something Central has had in mind to do over the past 18 years," Assistant Principal Ranesa Shipman said. "Mr. Mayfield always gives me the freedom to be creative, and I always want to take it to the next level … we have to model the behavior we want our kids to show."
English teacher Lanita Harris ordered the first brick in the wall for her daughter Mia, who graduated from Wilson Central last year and is attending Rhodes College in Memphis.
"(Mia) loves this school," Harris said. "When we found out about this, she immediately wanted me to buy her a brick because this school was her foundation. She's majoring in biology and swims for the school, which is something she also did here."
Another alumni that will be represented on the wall is Katie Herndon, who was Wilson Central's first student body president and currently works as a Nashville-area realtor.
"It's nice to be in that stage of life where you're available to give back (to your alma mater) and plug back in," she said. "It feels like I'm contributing toward helping the students be successful and putting my name back onto a piece of school history."
Although the wall will bear the names of alumni, several current students were involved with the project as well, from the engineering class to the student council members.
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"This is something that involves a lot of approval and change to the building, so having the assistant principal back it is really good," Leonard said, crediting Shipman with taking the lead on the project. "I'm really excited about it, because Wilson Central's been in kind of a weird place. We're in Lebanon, but Lebanon already has a high school and Mt. Juliet has theirs. We just got a new middle school (Gladeville Middle School) for this area, so it's another step toward building the community around Central where we have our own place and history."
Wilson County Board of Education member Chad Karl said the wall shows the school has been in place long enough to make a lasting impact on its students and the community.
"From a board standpoint, we're here to support what the schools are doing," he said. "If someone has a good idea, we want them to be able to move ahead with it, and we want the schools to have the spirit and pride in our alumni as they come back into the community later on. This building really is the foundation of learning for a lot of kids."
The school plans to receive all the bricks at once after placing the order in February. A link to the order form can be found on Wilson Central's website at https://www.wcschools.com/wchs.
"(This is) a part of building the culture," Shipman said. "It's a great place to be, and it's always a great day to be a Wilson Central Wildcat."