One of the South’s oldest schools unveiled its newest honor Thursday night when the Academy of Richmond County welcomed 12 inaugural members into its Hall of Fame.
Honorees for the 229-year-old Augusta school featured not only educators and coaches but also alumni, including a Medal of Honor recipient, a Georgia governor, a Supreme Court justice, an Olympic gold medalist and even a Confederate general.
“What a great, great high school,” inductee Pat Dye told the audience of about 200 at Fat Man’s Mill Cafe at Enterprise Mill.
“But people make things happen,” said Dye, an award-winning college football coach, who led ARC’s 1956 state championship team. “It was the people that occupied those halls. That’s what will always make the difference.”
Bennie Ward, one of ARC’s first black students, in the Class of 1966, talked about his acceptance by white classmates.
“People had been predicting we’d have a hard time, but we didn’t,” said Ward, now a distinguished professor at Baylor University. “The student body was very accepting. Without that opportunity, there was no way I would have gotten to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Then I was able to compete with the people from the best prep schools in the country ... and that was because of Richmond Academy.”
U.S. Appeals Court Judge Frank Hull, who was in Ward’s class, agreed the school was special.
“ARC was drop-dead fabulous,” she said.
She then drew laughter from the crowd when she held up her ARC report cards.
“I brought these,” she said. “But my grades weren’t as good as I remembered. Thank goodness I was getting A’s in geometry because I was getting D’s in phys ed.”
The awards were accepted by recipients or family members.
Two who could not attend, former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders and TV journalist Judy Woodruff, sent video greetings, which were played for the crowd.
“I don’t know of any school that I could have gone to that has meant as much to me,” Sanders said. “I am grateful for this honor.”
“I made so many friendships I still treasure today,” Woodruff said in her video.