The Millington Star Year in Review 2021- January to June

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JANUARY 2021

BACK IN OFFICE

The newly re-elected Millington mayor and three aldermen were recently sworn in to new terms at separate events in the city.

On Dec. 22, 2020, at the annual City Employees’ Luncheon in Baker Community Center, District 99 State Rep. Tom Leatherwood administered the Oath of Office to Mayor Terry Jones as well as Aldermen Mike Caruthers and Thomas McGhee.

Because Alderman Don Lowry was out of town on that date, he was sworn in by Jones on Monday night shortly before the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. 

Jones, Caruthers and Lowry were each sworn in to a fourth term and McGhee to a third term.

HOME OF THE BLACK & GOLD

The Millington School Board has assigned the black and gold colors and the Trojan mascot to all three schools that it will operate beginning this fall.

Board members took the action during their Jan. 4 “virtual” monthly meeting on a motion offered by Mark Coulter and seconded by Marlon Evans. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with C. J. Haley absent.

James “Bo” Griffin, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, said this will give the district “more identity” under the slogan of One Millington. He also said it will help financially, because “bulk” purchases can be made with the two colors.

Griffin noted that Millington Middle School has already started to take down some of the blue and white colors and to display the black and gold “M” in its hallways. It has also changed the uniforms for the football and basketball teams.

He said the Trojan logo will be more “child-friendly” for the Pre-K through third-graders and slightly more “mature” for the fourth- through sixth-graders.

ODUM ALL-PRO

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press 2020 NFL All-Pro team selected by a national panel of 50 media members. One of those players on this year’s team is Millington Central High School graduate, former Trojan Football standout George Odum.

The No. 5 Millington Trojan Football jersey of Odum was the fifth in school history to be retired. Back in 2018, Odum came back to his football home for the ceremony during his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts. Odum called Mooney Bosewell Field home until his senior year in 2012.

FEBRUARY 2021

COULTER RESIGNS

Because of his increased business responsibilities, Millington School Board member Mark Coulter stated publicly last week that he had decided to resign from the board.

While announcing his decision at the end of the board’s Feb. 1 meeting, he cited a need to focus more attention on Par-Cou, the local business he co-owns, which has recently experienced significant growth.

Expressing “much regret” in a Jan. 26 letter to board Chairman Chris Denson, Coulter stated that his resignation would be effective on Feb. 10.

“My other commitments have become too great for me to be able to fulfill the requirements of my position on the board,” he wrote. “I feel it is best for me to make room for someone with the time and energy to devote to the job.”

Coulter was initially elected in November 2016 to a four-year term in School Board Position 3 and was re-elected on Nov. 3, 2020.

CARRILLO EARNS VALEDICTORIAN 

In this pandemic school year, normally the students of Millington Central High School are not on campus Feb. 5.

But MCHS senior counselor Ashleigh Curry and instructor Candy Harris invited 10 seniors to the Millington Performing Arts Center for a special presentation. The students were on campus to find out their ranking for the Class of 2021 at the 2021 MCHS Top 10 Reveal.

A little mix up on the agenda had Harris calling out one name too early in front of the parents, faculty, Principal Mark Neal and Millington Municipal School District Superintendent Bo Griffin.

But once things got in order, Harris announced Wesley Percer, Gena Ann Parker, Lauren Horton, Maddie Horn, Eli Roberts, Abbie Joyner, Dalton Ford, Bronwen Davis and Salutatorian Dalton Fitzgerald.

Then the name Harris first announced was called again. Luis Carrillo was recognized for his rightful place as the MCHS Class of 2021 Valedictorian.

NEW WENDY’S COMING

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously approved a Development Agreement with a company for construction of a new Wendy’s restaurant on Highway 51.

Board members took the action during their Dec. 14, 2020 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Bethany Huffman and seconded by Alderman Don Lowry.

Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, said the agreement is a contract that provides for construction of the new restaurant and public improvements on a 0.94-acre tract at 7985 Highway 51 North that is owned by WEN Tennessee Inc.

Goforth noted that the contract includes approximately $4,800 in fees and a bond of $45,889 that must be approved by the board prior to its release.

At its Nov. 16, 2020 meeting, the Millington Municipal Planning Commission unanimously approved the Site Plan for the new Wendy’s.

Goforth told the commission that the building will have slightly less than 2,600 square feet. Although 17 parking spaces are required, there will actually be 31.

He said the planning staff has worked with the Millington Fire Department to ensure that there will be “adequate access” to the drive-thru.

RECORD SNOW STORM

Feb. 8 turned out to be a preview for what was to come this week.Monday marked a major winter storm affecting the Mid-South through the evening. And weather experts said more it to come Wednesday heading into Thursday of this week. On Feb. 11, a thin sheet of ice covered the Memphis area. Then Valentine’s weekend brought bitter cold temperatures and snowy conditions. As the sun rose today, an upper level trough moved through the Mid-South and will last into this evening. Very cold temperatures combined with winter precipitation is expected to fall across the entire Mid-South. Wintry precipitation will intensify today and become heavier at times. Once snow begins to accumulate, blowing of snowwill be possible across the area due to the gusty northerly winds reducing visibilities further. 

YOUNG HERO

Sunday tragedy struck a Shelby County family with the passing of a 10-year-old boy.

In North Shelby County, brother and sister Benjamin and Abigail Luckett fell into an icy pond near their home. Benjamin died saving his sister from the freezing water. Abigail is currently recovering at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

According to reports, Benjamin jumped into the pond after his sister. Their other sibling ran back to the house for help during the incident.

Firefighters responded to the call Sunday on Brunswick Road just outside of Millington. Later the 10-year-old was announced died and his sister was taken to the hospital in Memphis.

REBELS HEADING TO STATE

It was time for lockdown.

Trailing 42-37 entering the fourth quarter of Division II-A Sectional game to the Knoxville Webb Spartans, Tipton-Rosemark Academy Head Coach Cedric Anderson gave his Rebels the cue that has taken them to wins over the ECS Eagles and FACS Crusaders leading to the West Regional championship.

Saturday inside the TRA Gymnasium, the fourth-quarter defensive effort was needed to earn a spot in next week’s Division II-A Boys State Basketball Tournament in Cookeville. The Rebels held the Spartans to 6 points in the final 8 minutes to prevail 50-48. The Rebels are returning to State for the first time since 2019.

“I’m going back to what our monicker was three weeks ago, this team has to have more discipline,” Coach Anderson said. “And we started showing that more in the past two weeks. That’s one took resiliency because we stayed the course the entire time. They made us play their pace. We tried to speed them up but just couldn’t. We just stayed down and stuck to our guns. I really appreciate those guys.”

GOING TO OUTER SPACE

“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.” 

That was a common response for many children in the 1970s and 80s when asked what do you want to be in the future. The dream of many will come true for Munford resident Monica Parks soon. 

“My love and obsession with space began in 1986 while in elementary school,” Parks recalled. “I grew up in the Space Shuttle Age and I was completely fascinated with the idea that NASA was going to send an everyday person to space (referring to Christa McAuliffe on the Challenger). I’ve always been in love with space and with the idea of being involved in the space community but without a higher education I never knew how I could get involved.”

The wife, mother and space advocate has been selected to join as an active participant and analog astronaut crew member on an upcoming Moon mission at the HI-SEAS analog training habitat in Hawaii. HI-SEAS is an acronym for Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. HI-SEAS, in collaboration with NASA Goddard, is a simulated space Habitat located at approximately 8200 feet above sea level on the isolated, dry, and rocky “Mars/Moon-like” Mauna Loa side of the saddle area on the Big Island of Hawaii.

RITTER FILLS THE SPOT

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously appointed Gregory Ritter this week to fill the vacancy created on the School Board by Mark Coulter’s resignation.

Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Don Lowry.

With Mayor Terry Jones administering the Oath of Office, Ritter vowed to “faithfully discharge” the duties of the office of Millington School Board member and to uphold the city’s Charter and ordinances, as well as the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions and statutes. 

He also vowed to perform his duties without favor or partiality and not affected by “personal consideration, gain or conflict.”

MARCH 2021

THEY PLAY’N BASKETBALL

The Official Basketball Association hit the big stage in Millington Saturday night. 

The William Osteen Gymnasium was the place for the debut of the Millington Showstoppers. Joining the Showstoppers were their local rivals the Memphis Thunder. Inclement weather outside produced Thunder that shock up those in attendance. 

But the Thunder on the court were overwhelmed 163-93 by the Showstoppers making their first home game a success. 

“We’re 2-0 now,” Millington Head Coach Anthony Jones said. “Either they play it my way or don’t play. The chemistry is going to be built fast that way.”

JACK’S UP

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously approved a Development Agreement for construction of a Jack’s Family Restaurant on Highway 51.

Board members took the action during their March 8 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Don Lowry and seconded by Alderman Thomas McGhee.

Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, said Jack’s Family Restaurant is purchasing the

0.952-acre tract zoned B-2, General Commercial, at 7954 Highway 51 North and the building that was originally the Shoney’s restaurant to demolish it and construct a new building.

The Millington Planning Commission, on a motion offered by Curtis Park and seconded by Brenda Barber, unanimously approved a Site Plan for the restaurant at its Feb. 22 meeting.

The required Site Plan bond or optional cash payment with Escrow Agreement must be approved by the city board prior to its release. 

APRIL 2021

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BRUNSON TO THE RESCUE

A major tragedy was avoided in Millington last Thursday morning thanks to the quick thinking of Millington Police Officer Sgt. Dennis Brunson.

Brunson was patrolling the area near Aycock Park on Juana when he heard an explosion. The boom came from the home of 77-year-old William Nelson. Nelson and his wife were also home with their 11-month-old great grandaugther.

Another explosion came from the Baker Street house and Brunson spotted flames in the backyard. Brunson sprung into action and ran upon the house spotting the family. Having to break the door, Brunson was able to get the family to safety.

Below this message was provided to The Millington Star expressing gratitude for the heroic effort of the MPD’s Sgt. Brunson.

I wanted to take a minute to give a BIG shout out to all of the Millington officers today. 

Earlier yesterday while Sgt. Brunson was doing his normal daily routine checks of neighborhoods he heard an explosion.  Thinking it was probably some kids playing with fireworks, he turned around to try to find them.  Instead he heard a second explosion and found a house in the area partially engulfed in flames.  Sgt. Brunson made contact with an older couple and an 11 month old infant inside the house that were unable to get out on their own.  (He had already radioed for back up and the fire department.)

GRAHAM BECOMES HEAD OF TRA

The Board of Trustees of Tipton-Rosemark Academy is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Andy Graham, Jr. as Head of School effective July 1.

Graham who succeeds Bobby Baker in the leadership role is currently serving as the Associate Head of School at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin.

During his tenure at Battle Ground Academy, Graham has worked in a variety of leadership positions including Head of Lower School, Head of Upper School, and as Athletic Director among many other responsibilities.

In his role as Associate Head of School, Graham has overseen K-12 curriculum and instruction, faculty professional development, new faculty mentoring, school security, and diversity equity and inclusion among other administrative duties. Throughout his career, Graham has shown a commitment to student success, faculty growth, and building positive relationships with parents.

LADY REBELS REUNITE

When May 27 rolled around, it was officially 10 years since the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels made their presence felt on the TSSAA Softball stage. 

Built on the blood, sweat and tears of players like Lyndsey Sterling, Robyn Hornsby and many others, the work of previous Lady Rebel players and coaches like Mike Sterling set the table for May 27, 2011. It was in Murfreesboro at the Murfreesboro Sports Complex & McKnight Fields that day the TRA Softball team captured the school’s first State title in any sport with a 7-5 victory over the University School of Jackson Lady Bruins. 

“It was a just a great day for this small school,” former TRA Assistant Coach Amber Needham said. “Sometimes great things come in small packages. I’m just truly blessed to be a part of it. When you go back and look at this team that won State in 2011, it was kind of the foundation that laid out the journey for the rest of the teams thereafter. The program has been very successful since that day.”

In past 10 years, the Lady Rebels have had numerous college signees, multiple trips back to State and another title in 2014. Most of the players on that team joined Coach Needham for the reunion Saturday between games against the Covington Lady Chargers. A few of the Lady Rebels were not able to make the trip back to the TRA Softball Field. And another notable absence was the head coach of that team Joe Layton. Battling complications from COVID-19, the event and entire day was dedicated to Layton’s recovery with “Play for Joe.”

MAY 2021

BRIDGE DOWN

MEMPHIS – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contract crews will begin emergency repairs on the I-40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River after a routine inspection uncovered a crack in the bottom side of the bridge truss. For the motoring public’s safety, the bridge will be entirely shut down while crews investigate the crack’s extent further and then repair the problem, which could take some time.

TDOT shares responsibility for the bridge with the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT). An ArDOT contractor discovered the problem during a routine inspection and immediately shut down the bridge. It is unclear, at this time, how long the repairs will take. Detours are in place in Tennessee and Arkansas. Traffic is being rerouted in both directions to I-55 as an alternate route across the river. River traffic is also shut down until further notice.

From your desktop or mobile device, get the latest construction activity and live streaming SmartWay traffic

LOCAL NIGHT OF PRAYER

An emotional night at the Baker Community ended with a prayer circle around Millington Mayor Terry Jones. 

The former Navy officer, had his family on his heart as he opened up the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer in the Flag City. With an illness in his family, Jones fought back tears getting the evening of prayers started. Once all the presenters were done, the group called Jones back to the forefront for a prayer dedicated to his situation. 

The 71st National Day of Prayer event for Millington was organized by the Millington Arts & Recreation Department’s Alex Harris, community leaders, dignitaries and clergy delivered prayers focusing on government, church, military, family, education, media, business and the National Prayer.

This year’s event had a couple of special elements opening with a video featuring the Battle Hymn Republic. Then Jones delivered the opening prayer prior to special guest, the honorable Judge Chris Craft, 30th Judicial District Criminal Court Judge of Memphis took to the podium. 

KFC RETURNS TO MILLINGTON

Within eyeshot of the Millington First Baptist Church, Arby’s, Holiday Inn and Huey’s, a development has been underway for several months.

The 3 acres at the corner of West Union and Highway 51 North was transforming into the newest eatery in Flag City. After a long absence, the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand was back in Millington.

May 18 was the official opening day for KFC. KFC Area Coach for West Tennessee Wendall Teague and other leaders were on site throughout the day welcoming customers to the All-American Showman design KFC.

“I’m glad to be back in Millington,” Teague said. “The town has been without a KFC for a long time. We’re a new ownership. We didn’t own the old me and we’re here to make this one great and serve the community of Shelby County.”

Before the opening this week the nearest KFC was located in Atoka at 11200 Highway 51 South. Several years ago the chicken restaurant founded by Colonel Harland Sanders was located at 8322 Highway 51 North in Millington. That building is now an Advance Financial 24/7.

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CLASS OF 2021 REUNITED

For the first time during the 2020-21 school year, the members of the Millington Central High School Class of 2021 were finally all together on the campus.

Since August the seniors had to navigate a new educational format of hybrid schedules or all virtual learning. The two options available during a global pandemic caused the typical senior year of prom, sporting events, after-school functions and other events to be the only chances for longtime classmates to see one another.

Finally Thursday night on the turf of Mooney Boswell Field, the 111th MCHS Commencement brought together 168 seniors to say hello and farewell. Under the direction of outgoing Principal Mark Neal and with the official recommendation of Millington Municipal Schools Superintendent James “Bo” Griffin those students were awarded their diplomas.

Prior to the Trojans walking across the stage to graduate, the students proceeded into the stadium under the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance played by Kreston Smith’s band. Then seniors Tre Dean and Allyson Marona delivered the National Anthem.

SOCCER HISTORY FOR MCHS

The Millington Trojan Soccer team has been on a historic march all season. 

Last Thursday evening at Hornet Field the Trojans had a chance to add another footnote to a special season. In the way was familiar District 15-2A foe the Haywood Tomcats. Winners of the regular-season title, Millington captured the district tournament title in a thriller of Haywood. 

The Tomcats earned the right for a rematch against the Trojans beating Craigmont in the Regional Semifinals. Haywood appeared ready to stop Millington from winning its first Regional title in soccer heading into halftime tied 0-0. Then the Trojans blitz Haywood with five goals to prevail 5-0 and win the championship. 

“The first half we tried something different just to give them a different look because this was the third time we were playing them,” Millington Coach William Carter said. “In the second half, when we felt we had them efficiently tired we went back to playing what we like to play and I think they were tired enough. The passing lanes were there and our captains did a good enough job directing traffic. Luis and others did a good job back there.”

MMS STATE CHAMPS

The city of Millington is preparing for a major overhaul of it’s educational system this August. 

But prior to the transformation from four schools to three institutions, members of Millington Municipal Schools are celebrating the historic achievement of the Millington Middle School Lady Trojan 4x200m relay team. Back on May 22, the quartet of Jhade Swain, Omonefe Aigbomian, Savannah Keys and Ehi Aigbomian won the gold medal at Fortera Stadium on the campus of Austin Peay State University with a personal record of 1:52.18. 

Since 2016 the program under the leadership of Coach Thonda Taylor put the Millington Middle Stallions name on the statewide map starting with the gold medal finish of Aliyah Williamson in the 800m and 1600m races. 

But the victory by the 2021 Millington Middle relay team is the first gold finish under the Trojan name. 

“It’s pretty cool because we are the first Trojans to win this at the middle school,” Omonefe said. “We’ll have our name with that forever.”

WILSON REFLECTS

It’s hard to fade into the background when you’re a respected colleague, working in a school with no walls.

The desire to want to just stay in the back drop becomes even more difficult when you excel at education and have a huge impact on hundreds of students. But the laid-back approach of Millington Elementary School Principal Kathy Wilson has helped her be a quiet foundational piece of education in the Millington/Tipton County area since 1976.

Now as she approaches retirement June 30, those who worked alongside her, set in her classroom, visited her office and admire her dedication to teaching the youth of Millington are recognizing her distinguished career.

“Actually I started off at E.A. Harrold with the third grade,” Wilson recalled. “They didn’t have enough kids so the day Elvis died, I moved over to Millington Central Elementary School and taught kindergarten.”

Before reaching that destination on Aug. 16, 1977, Wilson started her career in education in 1976 in Tipton County at Home-school. The Covington High School and UT-Martin graduate made the move to Flag City and planted her roots there.

“What made me stay was at Millington Central Elementary School – it was family,” Wilson noted. “It was an open-space school at that time. It had no walls. We divided by bookcases. There was a teacher named Ms. Joyce Gauche and also Georgia Dawson. I worked with them in kindergarten. As a young teacher I happen to get ideas from the both of them. I kind of built my career from there.”

JUNE 2021

PRISONER ESCAPES

Officials are currently searching for an inmate man who they said escaped from a federal prison in Millington.

Cecil Corey Haggins, 33, was discovered missing from the Federal Correctional Institution Memphis’ satellite camp Monday around 8:30 p.m.

According to the release, a prison officer noticed he was gone during a special count.

The inmate was sentenced to a 120-month sentence in prison at the Eastern District of Tennessee for Possession With Intent to Distribute Fifty Grams or More of a Methamphetamine Mixture and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense.

INDICTMENT COMES DOWN

A grand jury also indicted defendant Ethan Wells, 21, with leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, and reckless driving. He is being held on a bond of $1 million.

Investigators with the Millington Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said that on Oct. 1, 2020, Wells was driving a pickup truck at a high rate of speed southbound on U.S. Highway 51 at Wilkinsville Road in Millington.

His vehicle crashed into the rear of an SUV, causing the vehicle’s fuel tank to explode. The occupants of the SUV, Thomas Perry, 62, and wife Karen Perry, 61, were killed.

After the crash, investigators said Wells disrobed and tried to run from the scene, but was captured by law enforcement officers after a short chase.

The case is being handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Vanessa Murtaugh of the District Attorney’s DUI Unit which seeks to reduce the number of DUI-related fatalities and injuries. Members of the Unit also conduct training sessions to keep law enforcement officers updated on new laws and changes to existing laws related to the operation of motor vehicles.

TRIO WINS AOY HONORS

Between the voting of The Millington Star office and online ballots, the 2021 Female and Male Athletes of the Year have been tallied up. For the first time since 2007, there was a tie for the girls’ award. Tipton-Rosemark Academy’s Brianna Hall and Munford’s Maiya Reed received 5 first place votes to become co-Female Athlete of the Year. Fourteen years ago Brighton’s Amber Gatewood and Munford’s Whitney Malone shared the honor. Reed has become the first person to win two Star Athlete of the Year awards.

For the boys, Tipton County product Gavin Haynes edged out Millington’s Milton Yarbrough for the 2021 honor. This year The Star took the vote to the public through social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram represented one first-place vote for the nominees.

Facebook Winners: Milton Yarbrough (Male), Maiya Reed (Female)

Twitter Winners: Javaris Tolton (Male), Maiya Reed (Female)

Instagram Winners: TJ Graves (Male), Maiya Reed (Female)

HARROLD FAREWELL

Under a crystal blue sky, those who taught, learned and ran E.A. Harrold in recent years provided the perfect contrast with their green.

Wearing the primary school color of E.A. Harrold Elementary wasn’t a mandate as part of E.A. Harrold Day, which was declared by the City of Millington and Mayor Terry Jones. But those full of the Hornet school spirit sported their best green as Millington Municipal School Superintendent James “Bo” Griffin hosted a ceremony to celebrate the nearly 100 year legacy of the institution and mark it’s closing as a place of everyday education.

Griffin and other distinguished guests met outside the historic venue under a shade tree to reflect on the impact of E.A. Harrold on the city of Millington since the early 1920s.

E.A. Harrold Elementary came to be during the 1973-74 school year. Prior to that formation, Harrold was the black school of Millington.

PROPERTY TAX RATE SET

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has passed an ordinance on final reading that adopts a $1.40 property tax rate for the 2022 fiscal year. Board members took the action during their June 14 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Don Lowry and seconded by Alderman Thomas McGhee. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Alderman Mike Caruthers dissenting.

The ordinance will levy a tax on real and personal property at the new rate of $1.40 for each $100 of assessed valuation.

When collected, 85 cents of that rate will be apportioned for Millington’s “general purposes” and 55 cents for the city’s debt service.

But shortly before its vote on the new rate, the board unanimously adopted a resolution approving the “certified” rate for the 2021 tax year.

The resolution states that the Shelby County assessor completed a required reappraisal of all real and personal property in the county and certified the Jan. 1 values as of April 20.

NEW ERA OF EDUCATION

You can’t really call it a passing of the torch.

Incoming Millington Central Middle-High School Principal Michael Perry and Millington Municipal School District first Deputy Superintendent Mark Neal have shared the baton in recent months with the transitions of their careers and for the overall district. 

Under the guidance of MMSD Superintendent James “Bo” Griffin, Perry and Neal have worn multiple hats preparing for their new roles starting July 1 and helping the district transform from a four-school system to a trio of learning institutions. 

Perry makes his return to Millington after starting his professional career at MCHS in 2000. After a stop with Bartlett City Schools as the High School Instructional Program Assistant, Perry took the job to return back to Flag City. 

“It’s the family atmosphere,” he said. “All the teachers are here for all the right reasons. Incredible group of teachers, everyone feels like a family. Everybody has that mentality ‘What can I do that is best for the family.’ 

“We put our own feelings aside and get the job done,” Perry continued. “That family atmosphere and feel of belonging and doing what is right for the students.”

It was two years ago Neal came back home after being the principal at Melrose High School in Memphis. Just like Perry, Neal came to MCHS in 2000 serving as a teacher, coach and later principal before his departure. 

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