OTMJ 7.28.22

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BACK TO SCHOOL Michael Gross, Homewood High School’s first principal, in front of the recently renovated school building last week. Inset, Gross is shown in a newspaper article about the newly opened facility in 1973.

Shaia’s founder S.G. Shaia, right, and son Alex pose for a photo inside the family-owned business when it was a Homewood general merchandise store.

Four Generations and Counting

Shaia’s Celebrates Its 100 Years Serving Birmingham Area; Co-Owner Given Lifetime Award


ne of the area’s most well-known, family-owned retail businesses is celebrating its 100th anniversary in downtown Homewood. As Shaia’s menswear store marks its centennial, third-generation co-owner J.L. Shaia of Vestavia Hills was honored in New York with a Lifetime Achievement Award by MR Magazine, considered the “bible” of the men’s apparel business. “I’m very excited. It’s a thrill that all my family will be there for the awards dinner,” held on July 17, Shaia said, adding that his granddaughter, Zanie

‘I am humbled and proud of the designation, but it really is all about the store. It’s an award for the whole family.’ J.L. SHAIA

Love Shaia of Homewood, presented the award to her grandfather. “I am humbled and proud of the designation, but it really is all about the store. It’s an award for the whole family.” The award is prestigious and honors top menswear merchants in the industry. A news release from MR Magazine notes the theme of this year’s celebration is Resilience and Reinvention and says Shaia’s “truly epitomizes the aspirational goals” of that theme. It also credited J.L. Shaia’s leadership during his tenure, as the store won numerous

See SHAIA’S, page 6

GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY Homewood High Was Built From Scratch 50 Years Ago


from the Jefferson County School System and form the Homewood School System. “A lot of parents felt they were paying more than their fair share (for) education. Parents were paying a lot of money in taxes,” Michael Gross, Homewood’s first principal said. When he started teaching at Homewood Junior High in

1964-65, there were 40 students in a class and none of the classrooms had air conditioning, Gross said. So a group of parents approached then-Mayor Bob Waldrop, who was on board with the idea. Waldrop, Gross and noted educator Mamie Foster, who was from Homewood’s Rosedale community, met and strategized what it would take to form a school system. See story page 18.

Journal photo by Jordan Wald; Newspaper clipping courtesy

By Anne Ruisi

2 • Thursday, July 28, 2022


Murphy’s Law

I NEW DIRECTOR Banking executive to head Mountain Brook Chamber PAGE 7

‘JAMEY’S MISSION’ Push for colon cancer screening is man’s legacy PAGE 8

‘A SPECIAL DAY’ Mountain Brook resident gets to be an extra in ‘The Chosen’ PAGE 10

MAKING A DIFFERENCE Vestavia Hill’s Broome receives special AHSAA Award PAGE 21




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It’s All In The Cards

miss going back to school. I do. one quote or factoid per index card, and Making a fresh start every single scribble down the source so when it year? New teacher, new classmates, came time to do my footnotes, (Now new notebooks and pens. I loved it. you’re asking yourself, “Exactly how I also miss being presented with a old is this woman?”) I would be all set. detailed list of elements that, faithfully Each new card was then positioned in a executed, would bring me directly to rubber-banded deck according to where success. It was like having an ironclad it might be useful in the paper. Ahhhh contract. …. Yes, some teachers broke the conOf course, not everybody tract and threw in pop quizzes, loopapproached research papers that way. holes that seemed set up purposely to Some people waited until the last minelicit failure. This was baffling to me. ute, wrote the entire paper and scribbled Sue Murphy Did they not really want everyone to up a bunch of phony index cards to jussucceed? Wasn’t that the point? tify the conclusion they had either Thankfully, however, most teachers invented or stumbled upon somestuck to the script. where along the way. Hooligans. Each grade level Of course, school success was They may have gone on to lead fine, did become more only temporary. The next year, there upstanding lives, but part of me would be a completely different list difficult, but this adult doubts it. of required actions, always more With this concentrated effort, I curriculum contains managed to find the answers to my involved, but I felt sure that if I maintained the same level of comquestions so muddled research queries every single time. mitment, I had a fair shot at figuring though, all those hours spent that they even defy the Funny it all out. I mean, the steps were slogging and organizing and typing printed right there in front of me. and today I couldn’t tell you what use of index cards. As part of our contract, I learned even one of those answers was. I to diagram and calculate and respond don’t even remember the questions. to multiple choice queries, although I thought “all of the But still, I move on. above” and “none of the above” were a bit on the pop Each grade level did become more difficult, but this quiz side. adult curriculum contains questions so muddled that they My real forte, however, was research papers. You even defy the use of index cards. But you know me, I were always given a long time to complete them and the buy them anyway. I buy them and fill them with thoughtformat played right into my organizational wheelhouse. ful quotes and funny snippets of conversation and stack Officially, the first step was to declare a topic, but my them up as evidence that, despite what I see on the nightfirst step was always to buy the index cards. Just holding ly news, people are basically decent. Oh sure, there are a fresh stack of index cards made me feel like I was days when it takes a bit of research to get there, but I’m making tangible progress. better for the digging, and I’m never disappointed. The actual research wasn’t all that fun. Back then, it So, do yourself a favor this school year. Buy some involved multiple trips to a real bricks-and-mortar library index cards. Buy them and go forth to gather positive where you hoped the paper-and-ink books you needed truths of your own. And don’t be dissuaded by the were not already checked out. I would write (with a pen) Chicken Little hooligans. I see a pop quiz in their future.

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otmj.com With everything that’s happening “Over the Mountain,” it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why we have launched the OTMJ newsletter. Published every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - we’ll give you a quick recap of the latest news, sports and social events as well as a heads up on upcoming events so you won’t miss any of the interesting and fun happenings in the Greater Birmingham metro area. To sign up for our newsletter, visit otmj.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @overthemountainjournal, for daily updates on what’s going on around town, too.

Over the Mountain Views Happy Riders at Le Tour de Cahaba


Vol. 32, No. 24

Over The Mountain Journal is a suburban bi-weekly newspaper delivered to Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and North Shelby County areas. Subscriptions for The Journal are available for $24 yearly. Mail to: Over the Mountain Journal, P.O. Box 660502, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216. Phone: (205) 823-9646. E-mail the editorial department at editorial@otmj.com. E-mail our advertising department at mwald@otmj.com. Find us on the Web at otmj.com. Copyright 2022 Over The Mountain Journal, Inc. All rights reserved. The Journal is not responsible for return of photos, copy and other unsolicited materials submitted. To have materials returned, please specify when submitting and provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All materials submitted are subject to editorial review and may be edited or declined without notification.

Cahaba Cycles held its annual race with five route options at its Homewood store on July 24. A post-ride cookout followed the event and $3 from each registration was donated to Bicycle Urban Mountain Pedalers. Left, the Hartman, Cordry, Malkis and Soong families participated in the family friendly event.

Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

July 28, 2022 JOU RNAL Publisher & Editor: Maury Wald Copy Editor: Virginia Martin Features Writer: Donna Cornelius Staff Writer: Anne Ruisi Photographer: Jordan Wald Sports Editor: Rubin E. Grant Contributors: Susan Murphy, June Mathews, Emil Wald, Marvin Gentry, Lee Walls, Bryan Bunch Advertising Sales: Julie Trammell Edwards, Tommy Wald, Gail Kidd

CORRECTIONS: A photo of a light post decorated in a patriotic theme at Ann Thompson’s Vestavia Hills home that ran on page 2 of the July 14 edition of the Over The Mountain Journal should have named Gardner Landscaping, LLC, as the company that created the work.

Claude B. Nielsen’s name was misspelled in a story in the July 14 edition about his induction into the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham’s Birmingham Business Hall of Fame.


Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 3


JULY 28 - AUG 11 Through July 30 Birmingham Restaurant Week

Through Aug 7 Anatomy of Gray

Join Birmingham Festival Theatre for Anatomy of Gray by award-winning author Jim Leonard Jr. When: Showtimes vary Where: Birmingham Festival Theatre

Through Aug. 13 Alabama Triennial

The inaugural launch of the recurring exhibition showcases some of Alabama’s best and brightest contemporary artists. For information: www.alysstepens.org/events/alabama-


This fundraiser featuring live music by T.U.B will benefit the Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge, a place where cancer patients and caregivers can stay free during treatment. When: 6-9 p.m. Where: The Fennec

triennial/ When: Various dates and times Where: Various venues in Birmingham

Wed., Aug. 3 Live on the Plaza: Sofia Talvik

The Swedish singer/songwriter returns for a free performance of songs from her special niche of folk music. When: 7-8:30 p.m. Where: Hoover Library Plaza Wing

Tracy Hayden, Tricia Golden and Marianne Wilson at Hope in the Ham 2021. This year’s ACS fundraiser will be held at The Fennec.

Fri., Aug. 5 Art on the Rocks

Art On The Rocks is back. Join Birmingham Museum of Art for a night of entertainment featuring a concert by Grammy-winning artist Eric Bellinger, DJs, an interactive mural, and more When: 7-11 p.m. Where: Birmingham Museum of Art

Sail away with us on November 17, 2022 THE CLUB Live Music Casino Tables Silent Auction Honorary Cruise Director: John Michael Pierce

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presented by: The Thomas E. Jernigan Foundation Edwards Chevrolet Hoar Construction er pancreati liv c


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Virigina Samford Theatre tells the story of disco diva Deloris Van Cartier, who is put into protective custody after witnessing a murder. When: Showtimes vary Where: Shades Valley High School

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Sister Act Jr.

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July 28-31

Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

Area restaurants will feature special prix fixe menus and other specials. When: Varied hours Where: Participating restaurants

for more information, visit reedgifoundation.com 205 907-3473

Toss One for the Community

Hand in Paw’s Picasso Pets Set for Aug. 13 This Year Prominent local artists will be meeting with Hand in Paw patrons and their pets this summer to create custom artwork that will be displayed during this year’s Picasso Pets. The 21st annual event will be held Aug. 13 at The Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham and is presented by VP Funds. Picasso Pets is Hand in Paw’s largest fundraiser and ensures that its animal-assisted therapy services can be delivered free to more than 60 facilities across North Central Alabama and Tuscaloosa. The gala will begin with a cocktail reception, including a gift card wall and wine pull, along with drinks. Following will be a seated dinner and program hosted by civil rights activist Lisa McNair. A live auction held by local philanthropist Ken Jackson also will be featured, along with Hand in Paw Therapy Teams’ interacting with guests. “Secret Garden Party” is this year’s theme, and guests are encouraged to wear floral colors and prints. The Faces of Picasso Pets this year are Fern and Olive Stoltzner, who are Hand in Paw therapy dogs and visit Children’s of Alabama and other facilities with their handler, Stephanie. Stephanie has volunteered with Hand in Paw since 2016, and in 2019 she was named volunteer of the year. “Picasso Pets is the event that finishes the summer on a high note!” said Margaret Stinnett, Hand in Paw’s executive director. Picasso Pets general admission tickets are $250; reserved tables are available for sponsors. To buy a ticket or learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit www.picassopets.com.

Sat., Aug. 13 Disc Golf Goes Pink Tournament More than 100 disc golfers are expected to play 36 holes at two courses in a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. When: 7:30 a.m. Where: Calera

Mason Music Fest

This family-friendly event benefits the Mason Music Foundation, which provides music lesson scholarships for families who qualify for financial assistance. The show is standing general admission, with no dogs allowed. When: 1-10 p.m. Where: Avondale Brewing Company

Journal file photo by Maury Wald

Ruff Artistic Displays

The Vestavia Hills Rotary Club and Sunrise Rotary Club are teaming up to hold a communitywide Cornhole Tournament Aug. 13. The competition is from 2-5:30 p.m. at Vestavia Hills City Center. The winning and runner-up teams will represent Vestavia Hills in the statewide Rotary cornhole competition against 51 other Rotary clubs across central and north Alabama. That event will be Aug. 20 at Otey’s in Crestline Village during the Boiling From left: Will Connor, Sunrise Rotary president; Sallie Bryant, N’ Bragging tailgate event. Sunrise member and Boiling N’ Bragging committee member, Kent The two teams with the most donations will be recog- Howard, Vestavia Rotary Cornhole Tournament committee member nized Aug. 13 and rewarded and Keith Covington, Vestavia Rotary president. with a Tailgate for Twenty from Vestavia restaurants. Children’s of Alabama Critical Care Transport Proceeds will support Vestavia Hills first Team. responders, programs and scholarships for For more information or make a donation, go Vestavia Hills community schools, and to www.vestaviarotary.org.

Nurturing Musical Passion

Mason Music Festival Marks Anniversary With Bands at Avondale Brewing Mason Music is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a family-friendly music festival on Aug. 13 at Avondale Brewing Company. There will be musical performances by national, regional and local acts, including The Brook & The Bluff, (pictured) Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, Gatlin, Lady Legs, and Shaheed, along with food trucks, face painting, drum circles, student performances and an interactive hip hop exhibit. Courtesy

File photo

Vestavia Hills Rotary Clubs Host Fundraising Cornhole Competition




Pin Down Polio Bowling Tournament

Join the Rotaract Club of Birmingham for this family-friendly event to benefit Rotary International End Polio Now campaign and the Rotaract Club of Birmingham. When: 2-4 p.m. Where: Vestavia Bowl

Tues., August 18 The J’la Gala

LJCC’s new gala will feature auctions, cocktails, and a three-course kosher dinner. Proceeds will support programming at The J, including youth camps; theater, adult, and Jewish programming; and community outreach. When: 5-8 p.m. Where: Levite Jewish Community Center. Tickets at bhamjcc.org.

All proceeds will benefit the Mason Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for music lessons to families that qualify for financial assistance. Mason Music has studios in Cahaba Heights, Mountain Brook Village, Bluff Park, Greystone and Woodlawn. For tickets, a lineup of artists scheduled to perform and more information, go to masonmusicfest.com.

Fri, Aug. 26 Sweet Home Brews

Fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama. When: 6 - 9 p.m. Where: Pepper Place

Sat., Aug. 20 Homewood Library Foundation Block Party

This family-friendly fundraiser benefits the library. Food, drinks, live music and children’s activities will be on hand. Tickets available from our local sponsors. Tickets are available at the door or at homewoodpubliclibrary. instagift.com/block-party-2022. When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Where: Homewood Library

Fall Favorite

Bluff Park Art Show Moves to the Hoover Met The Bluff Park Art Show is moving to the Hoover Met for its Oct. 1 show. The free event is presented by the Bluff Park Art Association. This year marks the art show’s 59th annual event. The show will feature 130 artists from around the state, region and country, including 40 who will be exhibiting for the first time. The show has been held at the Bluff Park Community Center and Park for the past 58 years; the move to the Hoover Met is temporary, said Heather Skaggs, who is handing the event’s publicity. Construction at the community center and park is not expected to be completed in time for the show this year, so an alternate location had to be found. The Hoover Met does have some advantages, including more parking and an indoor reception area. “This year we see the return of the indoor art show gallery, where works being judged will be displayed in one place for viewing and presentation of awards ceremony. Like all of us, I am eager to see all the art again from returning and new artists to the Bluff Park Art Show,” Matt Groves, Bluff Park Art Association president, said in a news release. Artistic mediums represented at the art show will include clay, glass, jewelry, metalworking, painting, photography, printmaking, 2-D and 3-D mixed media, ceramics and sculpture. Serving as the judge this year is Anne Perry Uhlman, director of Upward Bound Math and Science at Bevill State Community College and director/curator of the Fayette Art Museum. The Bluff Park Art Association awards thousands of dollars to artists at the show each year. The top prize is the Best in Show Purchase Award. The artwork receiving this award is added to the association’s permanent collection of more than 100 pieces strategically placed and rotated among schools, libraries and displays in the community.

Boiling N’ Bragging

Pre-season tailgate party organized by Rotary District 6860 will benefit critical care transport at Children’s of Alabama. When: 6-9 p.m. Where: Otey’s in Crestline

Aug. 25-27 Lil Lambs Consignment

Consignment sale of children’s clothing, toys, furniture and other items. When: Times vary based on day Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, Homewood

Sat., August 27 Fairy Tale Ball

Family event benefitting Childcare

Resources. When: 5:30 p.m. Where: Hyatt Regency Birmingham, The Wynfrey Hotel

Just A Call Away 5k

Race and Fun Run sponsored by Crisis Center Inc. When: 6:30-9 p.m. Where: Patriot Park, Homewood

Tailgate Challenge

Fundraiser for the Bell Center will feature food, music and kid-friendly events. When: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Where: The Bell Center, Homewood

Back to School Bash

Rides, bounce houses, food and live entertainment mark this fundraiser for the Homewood High School Band. When: 4:30-8:30 p.m. Where: Patriot Park, Homewood

Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

4 • Thursday, July 28, 2022


Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 5


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6 • Thursday, July 28, 2022



Four Generations and Counting

Expanding the Store’s Focus

Meanwhile, back at the store, Alex Shaia added a variety of items so that Shaia’s was like a department store, J.L. said. “My dad wanted it to be a junior department store,” with sections for ladies, boys and babies, J.L. said. So it was through the next decades. J.L. started working at the store in 1953 and in 1955, the store moved just

Above, a current photo of J.L. Shaia and son Ken Shaia. J.L.’s brother, Leo Shaia, joined the business in 1957. By the 1970s, the brothers were co-owners who wanted to remodel the store and change the business focus to fine quality menswear. Below left, Shaia’s founder, S.G. Shaia, sits on the steps of a house in Homewood that was next door to the original shop, which opened in 1922. Below right, a shoe sale was underway when Alex Shaia, left, and his father, Shaia’s founder S.G. Shaia, posed for this photo in front of the family business in downtown Homewood.

When casual Fridays became prevalent in the office, Shaia’s expanded its line of men’s shoes, which the store had carried for 30 or 40 years at that point.

Renovating While Preserving the Past

two doors down from its original address, 2814 18th Street South to 2818 18th Street South. J.L.’s brother, Leo Shaia, joined the business in 1957. By the 1970s, the brothers were co-owners who wanted to remodel the store and change the business focus to fine quality menswear. “We decided we did not want to compete with Parisians (department store). We found our customer was a professional person in most cases.” Since then, every generation has added its own touches to the business, adapting and improving products and service. “We found lines that weren’t as well-known but were of good quality,” such as Ralph Lauren Polo, which Shaia’s carried for 10 years before the designer launched his own stores, J.L. said.

Improvements also have come to the bricks and mortar aspect of the store, J.L. Shaia said. The store itself has been remodeled three times since 1955, and in 1982 Shaia’s expanded to the retail space next door. That project marked a fresh overhaul for the shop, with Birmingham architect Fritz Woehle, who was a Shaia’s customer, designing

the space. At first, Woehle, who designed home interiors, not retail, walked out of the store when approached about the project. He later agreed to do the project. “We didn’t want another cookie-cutter store,” J.L. said. Behind the wallpaper and paneling of the store at that time, a 13-inch-thick brick wall was discovered, which now makes up a key element of the interior décor. So does the skylight that Woehle added

Photos courtesy

national, state and local awards and “has become one of the most respected men’s stores in America.” The Shaia family held a centennial party at the store May 15. J.L.’s grandfather, S.G. Shaia, was a 16-year-old Lebanese orphan who came to the United States in 1896, J.L. said. At first the teenager, who didn’t know a word of English, went to Lexington, Kentucky, and Nashville, then came to Birmingham in 1905. “He was a peddler and carried a 100-pound pack on his back, selling his wares in Jefferson and Shelby counties,” J.L. said. His grandfather saved his pennies and in 1921 bought lots in Homewood. Seeing there were no grocery or drug stores in the area, he decided to open a store in 1922. His business license, dated 192122, shows S.G. was authorized to sell bottled drinks and cigarettes. He expanded the goods he sold to include what the community needed, something that has driven the family business through the years, J.L. said. By the 1930s, when he was no longer working in the store, S.G. was not only a successful businessman but a beloved member of the Homewood community. He visited the store daily, and people sought him out due to his ability to “conjure” warts away, according to family lore, J.L. said. “He had some secret an Indian told him” for banishing warts and those afflicted went to him for help, his grandson said. “I don’t know what he did. He couldn’t tell the secret.” S.G., a widower who never remarried after his wife, Badia, died in 1931, lived to be 96 and died in 1976. In the 1930s, the second generation, S.G’s son Alex Shaia, led the business. His brother, George Shaia, was the store’s bookkeeper but left to work at Southern Railway and in the late 1940s, then took the civil service exam, eventually becoming a Homewood city inspector.

Photo by Brandon Robbins

From Page One

Four generations of the Shaia family have worked in the family business in Homewood since 1922. Here, from left to right, are Ken Shaia, J.L. Shaia’s son; J.L. Shaia; Alex Shaia, J.L’s father; and Leo Shaia, J.L.’s brother.

to the ceiling, which lets in natural light. The store has been remodeled twice since 1982, and the brick wall and skylight have remained. One personal touch that has remained is the handle on Shaia’s front door, J.L. said. The grapevines climbing up the handle reflect the family’s roots in Lebanon. “Our heritage is deep and our ancestors were the Phoenicians, the first merchants,” he said, noting the ancient people of Lebanon who were seafaring merchants and traded throughout the Mediterranean. Leo Shaia retired in 2015 and J.L. retired from the business in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but he goes into the shop to meet friends and see old customers. His son, Ken Shaia, who represents the fourth generation, is “holding the reins. He’s been with us for 25 or 30 years.”


Banking Executive to Head Mountain Brook Chamber

First Horizons Bank, where she was private client relationship manager. Her alma mater is the University of Alabama, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts. Jensen is active in community service, which includes serving on the executive board of Childcare Resources. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Birmingham and served two terms on its junior executive board. She also participated in Children’s of Alabama Committee for The Future. Chamber members who haven’t met Jensen may do so at the organization’s quarterly luncheon Aug. 2 at the Country Club of Birmingham. The featured speaker will be Jennifer Ryan, founder and owner of the restaurant Blueroot and creator of the Croux app, which helps restaurants fill shifts quickly with local talent. Tickets are available until July 31 at www.mtnbrookchamber. org.

By Anne Ruisi The Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce has a new executive director. Emily Jensen will succeed Suzan Doidge, who is retiring after 14 years as the chamber’s executive director. Jensen came onboard July 5 and is working with Doidge until Doidge leaves at the end of

Jensen’s business background includes 17 years in the banking industry, where she worked in managerial positions at Iberiabank and Regions Bank. September. During the transition period, she is learning all aspects of the organization and meeting chamber members and community partners who’ve helped sustain the organization, she said. She also wants to build on Doidge’s accomplishments for the chamber. “There are so many moving parts,” Jensen said.

Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 7


Emily Jensen, above, will succeed Suzan Doidge, who is retiring after 14 years.

As executive director, she will be in charge of membership development and communication, strategic planning and marketing, financial management and fundraising and general oversight. Jensen’s business background includes 17 years in the banking industry, where she worked in managerial positions at Iberiabank and Regions Bank. Her most recent position prior to joining the Mountain Brook chamber was at

FOODBAR is committed to providing employment opportunities for young people who may have an interest in the culinary field. A number of college and high school age young people have benefitted from and valued their work experiences at FOODBAR. If you think you would have an interest in a front-ofhouse or kitchen position at FOODBAR, please give us a call at (205)876-8100 to discuss the application process.

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8 • Thursday, July 28, 2022


‘JAMEY’S MISSION’ Push for Colon Cancer Screening is Man’s Legacy

By Anne Ruisi



f he’d had a colonoscopy earlier, Jamey Hollingsworth might not have died of colon cancer in his Mountain Brook home, he, his family and friends said. One of his brothers died from colon cancer and polyps were removed from two other brothers when they were first screened, his wife of 21 years, Dany Hollingsworth, said. “Jamey missed the notice to get screened,” she said, adding that when he finally did get a colonoscopy, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that had extensively metastasized to his liver. The 51-year-old husband and father of two, who died July 19, wanted to leave a legacy to promote colon cancer awareness and strongly encourage people to get screened. The Hollingsworth Colorectal Awareness Foundation, under the umbrella of the Robert E. Reed Gastrointestinal Oncology Research Foundation in Birmingham, will do that. “It’s Jamey’s mission. He wanted to get the word out,” that the average person should get their first colonoscopy screening at age 45, according to the American Cancer Society’s new guidelines, said Knight Sauls, a longtime friend of Jamey’s who attended Sewanee, the University of the South, with him. “The idea is to not let this happen to someone else,” Dany said. Jamey Hollingsworth is seen in a family portrait with, from left, wife Dany and daughters Heidi and Halli Jamey didn’t have colon cancer Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth, who died from colon cancer on July 19, was an avid fisherman. symptoms that he recognized, although he was going to the bathroom with more frequency and had stomach trouble, Dany said. He thought it was all associated Jamey died. “I’m losing my husband, the love of with his soon turning 50. And as this started my life and my very best friend.” during the COVID-19 pandemic, he wasn’t going to the doctor for his annual exam. Using His Last Days in “We never thought it would happen to him,” Service of the Cause she said, noting he was a runner and ate healthy. As Jamey’s illness progressed, he wrote a It wasn’t until a Father’s Day dinner last year mission proposal for a foundation to encourage left Dany and Jamey with severe upset stomachs colon cancer screening, especially focusing on after eating undercooked lobster that he decided the new baseline of 45 as the age when most to get screened. He had to wait several months people should get their first colonoscopy, Sauls for an appointment and had the procedure that said. fall. On Sept. 17, the couple received the devasBut people might be reluctant to get a colotating test results. noscopy because the day before the procedure, “We were told in September he had one year they have to take laxatives to clear the colon. to live,” Dany said. Dany urged them not to let that deter them. An aggressive chemotherapy campaign was “The prep is no fun, but they put you to launched, but doctors discovered Jamey had a sleep” for the actual colonoscopy, she said. form of colon cancer resistant to chemotherapy. Jamey’s openness that earlier screening prob“It’s awful,” Dany said a few days before

The 51-year-old husband and father of two, who died July 19, wanted to leave a legacy to promote colon cancer awareness and strongly encourage people to get screened. The Hollingsworth Colorectal Awareness Foundation, under the umbrella of the Robert E. Reed Gastrointestinal Oncology Research Foundation in Birmingham, will do that. ably would have saved his life is the lesson he wanted to share, his wife and friends said. Sauls said she recently had colon resection surgery following a colonoscopy that discovered a cancerous polyp. She hadn’t had any signs of cancer. “I’m 2½ weeks out (from the surgery) and there is no residual cancer. It didn’t go anywhere,” she said. “We are poster children for how important this is. This major push is in Jamey’s honor.” Charles Robinson, another longtime friend who’s known Jamey since they were in junior high school and who is involved in the foundation, said he also personally knows how important screening is. At his first colonoscopy two years ago at age 50, a polyp that could be the type that becomes cancer was removed. He has since been told to get screened every three years. While Jamey’s cancer is not genetic, the couple’s daughters, Halli, 17, and Heidi, 14, will get their first colonoscopies at age 38, because a risk factor remains for them, Dany said. That Jamey wanted to help others avoid his fate is a testament to the kind, thoughtful person that he is, Robinson said the week before his death. “He is a real kind soul.” His family coped with Jamey’s deteriorating condition day by day as he went in and out of lucidity, Dany said. Their church family at Independent Presbyterian has been very supportive, and their faith in God carries them. “We didn’t get the miracle we wanted, but He’s been walking by our side,” Dany said. For more information on colon cancer, go to reedgifoundation.com. To donate to the Hollingsworth Colorectal Cancer Awareness Fund, click on the link on that page to the Hollingsworth CRC Fund.


Gregg Wadsworth to Lead Homewood Rotary Club

Gregg Wadsworth has been elected Homewood Rotary president for the 2022-2023 club year. He was installed by Rotary International Assistant District Gov. Derek Brown at the club’s June 23 meeting. Wadsworth, regional accounting support manager with Buffalo Rock, has been a Rotarian since 2008. Other newly installed officers are Gregg Wadsworth Jennifer Kyle, program chair/president-elect; Jo-Ann Bradley, secretary; Kathryn Henry, treasurer; and Peter Bradley, sergeant-at-arms. The leadership team also includes RI Foundation Director Michael O’Kelley, club foundation Director Bo Duke, youth service Director Mike Hathorne, club service/membership Director Mary Lou Reynolds, grants Chair Laura Tucker and immediate past President Rhett McCreight. Homewood Rotary supports local, national and international projects through service and financial commitment. Its annual college scholarship program has assisted hundreds of Homewood High School graduates over five decades. The club awarded scholarships totaling $20,000 in 2022. Third-graders at Homewood’s three elementary schools enjoy receiving dictionaries personally presented by Rotarians. The club also supports varied other projects and services that impact area residents of all ages. To meet these financial needs, the club is

Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 9

PEOPLE known for its Chalk Art Festival at We Love Homewood Day each May, a St. Patrick’s Day auction and other fundraising opportunities throughout the year. Homewood Rotary meets at noon on Thursdays at Homewood Library. Learn more at homewoodrotaryal.org and #homewoodrotary.

Hoover Resident Elected Vice-Chair of the National Wildlife Federation

The National Wildlife Federation, the nation’s oldest and largest wildlife conservation organization, has elected Rebecca Wright Pritchett of Adams and Reese as eastern vice-chair of its board of directors. “I am honored to have been elected by NWF’s affiliates as the Rebecca Pritchett federation’s eastern vice chair representing the eastern third of the country,” Pritchett, a resident of Hoover, said in a statement from her law firm. “As an affiliate-based organization with independently governed, local affiliates in the states and several U.S. territories, the federation has a unique advantage among national nonprofits,” she continued. “We have boots on the ground and local perspectives to guide our actions at the federal level. Our affiliates set the federation’s national conservation policy, ensuring that we focus on the things that are important to them. “I look forward to continuing to work

with and represent the affiliates on the NWF board and advocating on their behalf at the national level,” she said. Pritchett, a Jackson native, served as president of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, one of NWF’s oldest state affiliates, from 2004 to 2005. She has chaired multiple resolution committees and participated on several bylaws committees. She has served on the NWF board of directors as Region 4 director since 2017, representing Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia,

Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. One of her most notable projects as a member of the organization was traveling to the Dakotas with NWF to help resolve affiliate conflict over the Garrison Diversion Project, an interbasin water transfer project, in 2001. Pritchett has more than 29 years of experience in environmental and natural resources law. As special counsel at Adams and Reese, she

focuses on assisting clients across the country with regulatory compliance, enforcement actions and civil litigation in all aspects of environmental and natural resources law, as well as brownfield redevelopment and formation of habitat mitigation banks. Pritchett has received some of the legal community’s most coveted honors, including a ranking in Chambers USA for environmental law. She is admitted to practice in Alabama and California.

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‘A Special Day’

By Rubin E. Grant lmost from the outset, Lori Smith was hooked on “The Chosen,” a television drama based on the life of


Mountain Brook Resident Gets to Be an Extra in ‘The Chosen’


Jesus. So, when she had the opportunity to be an extra in an episode, she jumped on it. In early June, Smith traveled to Midlothian, Texas, just north of Dallas, to take part in the filming of the Feeding of the 5,000 scene. The filming lasted three days, and the scene will be included in the season 3 finale, expected to air in December or January. “It’s really exciting,” said Smith, a resident of Mountain Brook who attends St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. “Four years ago, I was scrolling Facebook and something caught my eye. It mentioned something about the show, even before a thing had been filmed.” What Smith saw was a 20-minute clip called ‘The Shepherd.’ When it was released, she got a chance to watch it and it referenced how viewers could invest in the upcoming drama “The Chosen.” “After watching the clip, I decided that whatever it takes I wanted to be a part of it,” Smith said. The show is completely crowdfunded, and those interested can make a financial investment. The producers needed $10 million to film the first season. Smith made an initial $100 contribution and has continued to about the show, giving it a glowing invest in the show. review. “The show is free to the viewer, “What I like about ‘The Chosen’ with millions of dollars being raised is that it allows you to get to know by ‘paying it forward,’ if someone is each of the apostles able, in order for other people to have “On the first day of more personally intimately, the chance to watch filming, they literally and including all of it, too,” Smith said. their flaws and American filmhad 5,000 extras imperfections, maker Dallas there who are all while at the same Jenkins created, fans of ‘The Chosen,’ time showing the directed and coside of wrote “The which is how I got human Jesus and his comChosen.” He is the to be a part of the passion for others son of Jerry B. and the impact this Jenkins, a Christian show.” has on those around novelist best known LORI SMITH him,” she said. for the Left Behind “What I espeseries. cially love about ‘The Chosen’ is “The first season was better than I how it tries to be as biblically accuthought it was going to be,” Smith rate as possible even though it does said. “Each season has eight episodes and each episode is typically about 45 take some liberty in writing back stories that allow you to get to know to 50 minutes in length.” the apostles and those involved in Humanizing Jesus and the Jesus’ life better. There is a Catholic Apostles priest, a Jewish rabbi and an evanSmith can’t hide her enthusiasm gelical pastor who are consulted

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Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 11

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LIFT YOUR SPIRITS Beachy Vibe Highlights Community Grief Support Event

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ommunity Grief Support held its first in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic began with its Lift Your Spirits: Permission to Play! fundraiser and auction on July

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

The event, held at Vestavia Country Club, had a beach party atmosphere that featured silent and live auctions, a DJ, dancing, lawn games, food and signature cocktails. Community Grief Support provides free grief counseling to individuals, couples and families as they face the challenge of rebuilding their lives without their loved ones. ❖

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Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 13

Journal photos by Jordan Wald


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Top 50 Over 50

Midlifers Who Make a Difference Honored by Positive Maturity Positive Maturity of Birmingham celebrated the 2022 class of its Top 50 Over 50 with an event July 21 at The Club. The list is Positive Maturity’s way to recognize people in midlife who are making a mark in the community, or, as its website states, people who “find opportunities to make a difference, become a catalyst in the world and leave it with no regrets.” ❖

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Rock Out

Otey’s Fest Presents Live Music to Raise Money for Phoenix Club

The vibrant funk, R&B and jazz of New Orleans band Galactic rocked the stage at the 13th annual Otey’s Fest on July 16 at Otey’s Tavern in Mountain Brook. Live entertainment also was provided by Gri Cashio, the Will Steward Band and TUB. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used for the Phoenix Club of Birmingham, an organization that provides developmental opportunities for young professional men to become social, business and philanthropic community leaders. ❖

Virginia Nelson and Jere Nelson

Journal photos by Jordan Wald

Kate Hinson and Frances Cheatham



Scout Campbell, Noah Bishop and Crossan Ryals

Hannah Tant, Frances Richardson and Caroline Parker

Jacelynn Bernstein and Will Cole

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Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 15

Journal photos by Jordan Wald


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Batter Up!

Hoover’s World Games Block Party Kicks Off Softball Competition The family-friendly World Games Block Party presented by the city of Hoover on July 9 drew crowds eager to celebrate the international sporting event in the middle of summer. The 12-hour party – from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. – featured live music and food trucks at Brock’s Gap Brewing Company. The event was held the day before the softball competitions kicked off at the Hoover Met. ❖

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Backyard Bash



Journal photos by Jordan Wald

Exceptional Foundation Junior Board Parties to Raise Money for Programs

The Exceptional Foundation’s junior board held its first Backyard Bash fundraiser on July 23. Live music and a raffle for a 2023 Chili Cook-Off prize package highlighted the event at Avondale Brewing Company. The event raised money to support the foundation’s programs that serve youth and adults with intellectual disabilities. ❖

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Art from the Heart

Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 17


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Studio by the Tracks Auctioned Students’ Art

Studio by the Tracks held its 33rd annual Art From the Heart fundraiser July 24 at The Fennec in Birmingham. The event benefits the studio and art gallery for adult artists on the autism spectrum. It gives them access to the resources they need to pursue a creative career path in the arts. A highlight of the event was a live auction of students’ art. ❖

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GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY Homewood High Was Built From Scratch 50 Years Ago

By Anne Ruisi


Homewood yearbook photo


omewood High’s colors are red, white and blue, but this year gold has been added to that palette as the school celebrates its 50th anniversary. The road to opening the system’s first four-year high school was challenging, one that involved temporarily housing students at multiple locations and persuading Shades Valley High School seniors from Homewood to skip their final year there and go a completely new school, Michael Gross, Homewood High’s first principal, recalled. It couldn’t have been done without the support of the students, parents, faculty and community, he said. Parents were the initial driving force to break away from the Jefferson County School System and form the Homewood School System, Gross said. “A lot of parents felt they were paying more than their fair share (for) education. Parents were paying a lot of money in taxes,” he said. When he started teaching at Homewood Junior High in 1964-65, there were 40 students in a class and none of the classrooms had air conditioning, Gross said. So a group of parents approached thenMayor Bob Waldrop, who was on board with the idea. Waldrop, Gross and noted educator Mamie Foster, who was from Homewood’s Rosedale community, met and strategized what it would take to form a school system. At the time, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jefferson County schools were under a court order to racially integrate schools that had long been part of Jim Crow Alabama, so a federal court had to grant permission for a new school system to be formed. Ensuring integration was a moot point, Gross said. “The key thing about it is Homewood had a black community, Rosedale. In 1968-69, Jefferson County had a court order to desegregate Homewood and they had no problem integrating. The kids played together, knew each other,” Gross said. The city of Homewood set up a school board in 1970-71 and appointed the first

The Vietnam War was raging at the time and students had strong feelings of patriotism ... Over 90 percent voted for the now-familiar Homewood Patriot, a Revolutionary War soldier, and the school colors of red, white and blue. school superintendent, Virgil Nunn, who came from the Fairfield School System. “He was a very fine gentleman who knew what he was doing. He was a great leader for the school system,” Gross said, adding that one of Nunn’s first jobs was to hire a principal for the new high school. Nunn recruited Gross for the position. One of his pressing goals was to ensure the junior high was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a high school when the seniors were affiliated with it. Then accreditation had to be obtained for the new high school. These are crucial designations demanded by colleges considering student applications. Accreditation was achieved under Gross’ leadership. By the time the school system was formed, high school students from Shades Valley High were transferring to the new system grade by grade, with grades 8-11 already at the old Homewood Junior High School.

Moving to a New Home

The new $5.2 million high school – $36.8 million in today’s money – was being built on Lakeshore Road, and it was Gross’ job to persuade students who would have been seniors at Shades Valley High in the 1971-72 school year to transfer to Homewood. “They weren’t happy. I told them, you seniors are the leaders of the school,” and they came, Gross said. A problem facing school officials in the first semester was that the old junior high already was crammed to the gills with students and there was no room for the senior class. Some shuffling was needed. The junior high was a couple of blocks north of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church and near Trinity United Methodist Church, and both offered to let the school system use its Sunday school rooms as temporary classrooms, Gross said. So, for the fall 1971 semester, the seniors went to Dawson and eighth graders used the

The city of Homewood set up a school board in 1970-71 and appointed the first school superintendent, Virgil Nunn, who came from the Fairfield School System. One of Nunn’s first jobs was to hire a principal for the new high school. Nunn recruited Michael Gross, shown above in a photo from 1972, for the position.

classrooms at Trinity. In December, the new high school was nearing completion, and “everyone was so excited about forming the new high school. Everyone pulled together. That made my job easier,” Gross said. Cooperation was the key not only to forming the new school system and building the new high school, but in furnishing it, Gross said. The plan was to move into the school right after the Christmas holiday, but the furniture wasn’t delivered until the week before Christmas, the same week final exams were being held. “I offered to let them take exams or help set up the furniture,” Gross said of the senior class. “Almost 100 percent helped.” About 300 seniors pitched in to set up desks, chairs and other school furniture, and the high school opened just two days later than other systems following the break. The first day in the new facility began with See HOMEWOOD, page 20

As their school celebrates its Golden Anniversary, the Homewood Patriot Marching Band and its auxiliaries also are celebrating their 50th anniversary and marking the milestone with a reunion, an alumni pregame performance with the Homewood Patriots Marching Band and other activities Sept. 23-24. The event will kick off Sept. 23 at 6:25 p.m., when the 50th Reunion Alumni Band members will march into Waldrop Stadium for their pre-game performance on the field, according to information on the reunion website, www.homewoodband.org. The Homewood Patriots will play Pinson Valley at 7 p.m. The 450-member Homewood Patriot Band, the Star Spangled Girls, the Patriot Guard, the drumline and the drum majors will be celebrated at the pregame performance, said Terrence Cobb, an assistant director of bands. On Sept. 24, tours of the Homewood High fine arts wing will be available, followed by lunch and a video slideshow on the band over the past 50 years. For more information, contact director of bands Chris Cooper at: ccooper@ homewood.k12.al.us.

Homewood yearbook photo

Reunion, Alumni Performance Set for Patriot Band Celebration



Mountain Brook School Board’s Brad Sklar Attends Last Meeting

‘Brad has pushed us to think outside the box, never settling for average or status quo.’ BOARD MEMBER NICKY BARNES

“It’s so gratifying to know what the school system has accomplished for the over 4,000 students I’ve seen graduate in the last 12 years as well as the ones currently matriculating through the system,” Sklar, who attended his last board meeting earlier in the summer, said in a story on the school system’s website. “I am greatly optimistic for the future because of the former and upcoming graduates of Mountain Brook Schools. Thank you for allowing me to serve.” As a school board member, Sklar


In his 12 years on the Mountain Brook Board of Education, Brad Sklar said, three school system achievements particularly stand out in his mind: the INCubatoredu student entrepreneurship program, the recognition of Mountain Brook as the most technology-proficient school system in the country and the current building program to modernize and update its school buildings.

Brad Sklar served 12 years on the Mountain Brook Board of Education.

helped guide the school system through a variety of experiences, including recessions, technology enhancements, facility improvements and the pandemic, while keeping education first. “In my 13 years as the superintendent, Brad has been right there and has been a key in maintaining the success of Mountain Brook Schools,” Dr. Dicky Barlow said in the story. “In addition to his service to the community, he has become a great friend. I know he will enjoy the extra bit of time and continue to find ways to help others in the community.” Mountain Brook City Councilman

Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 19

Billy Pritchard said Sklar’s “friendship and exercise of his wise and measured sense of good judgment has been invaluable over the last 12 years.” Sklar’s fellow board members also praised their departing colleague. “Brad has pushed us to think outside the box, never settling for average or status quo,” board member Nicky Barnes said. Sklar presided over one last board meeting in May in Barnes’ absence, the article said. He thanked Mountain Brook Schools’ faculty and staff for their hard work and the relationships he’s made during his time on the board. He thanked school and city leaders for their guidance and the community for its continued support.

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20 • Thursday, July 28, 2022




Breaking Away

From page 18

In that first year, the new high school needed a mascot, and Gross wanted the students to vote on it. The Vietnam War was raging at the time and students had strong feelings of patriotism, he said. Over 90

“I had a school with no (sports) equipment,” Gross recalled, as it wasn’t budgeted in its construction. “Fred Sington came and said, ‘Order what you want and pay when you can.’ He was that civic minded.” percent voted for the now-familiar Homewood Patriot, a Revolutionary War soldier, and the school colors of red, white and blue. It was then that Homewood’s marching band was kitted out in a Revolutionary War-style uniform, which members wore for the first of their many appearances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1978. That trip was the first time many of the students had flown on a plane or gone to New York, and it was snowing when they got there – another first for some of the students. Before they left, school officials emphasized how crucial it was that band members be disciplined, obey the rules and follow their lead

Homewood and Vestavia Hills weren’t the only school systems to break away from the Jefferson County School System in the second half of the 20th century. Hoover and Mountain Brook also decided to go their own way.


Homewood High also made its mark in football in its early years coached by Alvin Bresler, who led the program to its first state championship in 1974. Homewood players run onto the field of the brand new Robert G. Waldrop Stadium in 1974. Prior to that the school had played their home games at Samford University or Berry High School.

on the trip. The students listened. That first night, the group went to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes perform. At intermission, band director Pat Morrow went to the lobby for popcorn and a soft drink, and “150 kids got up and followed him,” Gross said. Also formed in 1972 were the color guard, drumline and the Star Spangled Girls, a precision dance team recruited by retired Homewood teacher Cindy Wade. Prospective members had to audition and Wade, a physical education teacher, was their instructor. “It’s been a great tradition,” Wade said of the dance team. Homewood High also made its mark in football in its early years coached by Alvin Bresler, who led the program to its first state championship in 1974. That the football players and other teams at Homewood High had proper equipment to play in the beginning was due to the generosity of Fred Sington, the former University of Alabama football star and Birmingham civic leader. “I had a school with no (sports) equipment,” Gross recalled, as it wasn’t budgeted in its construction. “Fred Sington came and said, ‘Order what you want and pay when you can.’ He was that civic minded.” The principal pledged the school would pay the debt within five years, but thanks to fundraising efforts, such as through the school’s sports boosters, it was paid in three. Early on, Homewood High had an Air Force Junior ROTC program, which led to military careers for some participants. While not every student planned to enlist in the military after graduation, many showed their support for an American POW shot down over North Vietnam by

wearing bracelets with his name, Capt. Edwin Hawley. “They wrote letters to him, but I doubt he ever got the letters,” Gross said. Hawley was released early in 1973 and came to visit the school that March. All these aspects of the new school and the support and cooperation of the community set the stage for success, but the teaching excellence of the faculty crowned efforts to set the high academic standing that Homewood High enjoys to this day, Gross said.

Gross Goes to Vestavia

Gross became Homewood schools’ superintendent in 1978 and remained at the helm in Homewood until 1985, when he got a job offer to lead Vestavia Hills High School. He retired from the high school post in 1999, but stayed with the school system until 2002 in the position of interim superintendent until a permanent one was hired. “I was fortunate to be at two very fine school systems,” he said. Like Homewood, Vestavia was carved out of the Jefferson County system when the school system was founded in 1970. When Gross went there, he didn’t want to make a lot of changes at first but wanted to learn how the school system worked. “I wanted to make sure the teachers had the tools to teach. It begins and ends with the kids,” Gross said. “My job was to let them (the teachers) be free to teach, and I had the support of the faculty, community and the board.” During his tenure, Vestavia continued its strong academic program while its high school math and debate teams went on to win at national competitions. More national recognition came to Vestavia High when it was named

to Redbook magazine’s Top 10 high schools in the country. Also, Vestavia and Homewood schools were designated Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education while Gross was superintendent. It’s an honor that recognizes overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to the Department of Education’s website. The honors reflect the goal of preparing students for life after high school, Gross said. At the high school, for example, students headed for college were writing term papers and taking advanced sciences, such as physics and anatomy. At Vestavia and Homewood high schools, art classes were popular; noted Alabama potter Tena Payne is a Homewood High graduate. The fine arts thrived at both high schools and were “second to none,” Gross said. In Homewood, Wade recalled, there was dance instruction, orchestra, a choir and a drama department. “Many parents paid for private music lessons – took them to the ballet. They believed in the arts. The parents had pride and joy in seeing their kids (perform),” Wade said. After-school activities are an important component of high school life. “The idea is to keep the kids involved in positive activities,” Gross said. For example, then and now, he said, students in Vestavia and Homewood clubs have participated in fundraising walks and other activities for charity. They also formed Interact, service-oriented clubs affiliated with Rotary. “The kids in Homewood and Vestavia had the opportunity for a well-rounded education,” Gross said.

The Hoover School System was formed when it broke away from the Jefferson County School System in 1987. The first school year for Hoover City Schools was 1988-1989. Hoover City Schools started with five elementary schools that were originally under the Jefferson County School System, including Bluff Park, Shades Mountain, Rocky Ridge, Gwin and Green Valley elementary schools, Simmons Middle School and Berry High School. Since then, the school system has expanded, with two high schools, three middle schools, an intermediate school, 10 elementary schools and an international baccalaureate program.

Mountain Brook

The Mountain Brook School System got its start in June 1959, when the City Council decided to form a school system independent of Jefferson County schools, according to the Mountain Brook schools’ website. The council also appointed the city’s first Board of Education. The city acquired three schools in the city limits, Crestline and Mountain Brook elementary (pictured) schools and Mountain Brook Junior High, which had been in Jefferson County schools. As the population in the southern part of the city continued to grow, a third elementary school was built; Brookwood Forest was completed in 1965, the school system’s website said. At the same time, construction of a high school was begun, and the doors opened to its first students in 1966, with the first class of seniors graduating in 1968. Cherokee Bend Elementary opened in 1969.

Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Mascot, Band, Football Established

Hoover, Mountain Brook Also Formed School Systems

Homewood yearbook photo

all 1,200 students in the auditorium, where teachers led them to their new homerooms and then took them on a tour of the school, which was separated into “pods” according to grade level, clustered around a large library. “Everything ran smoothly,” he said. The new high school also had a huge gym and a swimming pool, which years later was filled in and the space used for additional classrooms. Not long after the high school opened, Gross recalls hearing a “ping ping” sound coming from outside and “here come Birmingham, Homewood, the county and state police. There was a gun battle in the parking lot,” as police engaged with bank robbers who had fled over Red Mountain after hitting a bank in Birmingham, Gross said. The robbers had abandoned their car in the school parking lot, and it was assumed at the time that they’d fled into the woods behind the school. There also was a fear that the criminals might kidnap a student when school was dismissed. Police organized a safe evacuation, but the bank robbers were never caught, Gross said.

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Making a Difference Vestavia Hill’s Broome Receives Special AHSAA Award

Debra Broome was completely caught off guard when she received the news that she was the Class 7A recipient of the 2022 Making a Difference Award given by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association. “I was shocked, totally surprised,” said Broome, a longtime coach at Vestavia Hills High School. One recipient from each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications was selected from about 40 nominations submitted by AHSAA member schools and other support organizations or individuals. The recipients were chosen because they have made an impact as exemplary role models. Each honoree was recognized July 22 during the 2022 AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches’ Awards Banquet at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. Broome said any recognition she receives is a credit “to the people I’ve worked with.” Then she added, “This means a lot to me. Once the word got out, I got lots of emails, texts and phone calls, some from old players who said I did make a difference in their lives.” Broome has served as a physical education teacher and coach for 35 years – with all but one year in the Vestavia Hills City School System. A graduate of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, she has spent most of her teaching time in elementary or middle school physical education. In her year working in the Jefferson County School system, she also assisted the special education teacher in her daily duties.


By Rubin E. Grant

Debra Broome has served as a physical education teacher and coach for 35 years – with all but one year in the Vestavia Hills City School System.

Go-To Woman

As a coach, Broome has been someone Vestavia Hills High School could turn to no matter the sport. She has coached at one time or another recreational softball and basketball; middle school basketball and volleyball; and high school volleyball, basketball, softball, golf, bowling and girls flag football. She currently serves as girls golf coach, girls bowling coach and girls flag football coach. She served as assistant basketball coach for former Lady Rebels head coach Fran Braasch for many years. Her nominator described Broome by saying, “Coach Broome fits the description of what a difference maker should be. On a daily basis she makes sure that all her players are taken care of, and she has the day-to-day logistics organized to a tee. “You never have to worry about anything when Coach Broome is the coach because she is so professional, organized, caring and ALWAYS goes above and beyond for everyone,” the

SCHOOLS nomination continued. “She is a true team player and blessing to us at Vestavia Hills High School. Her loving and caring disposition around everyone is why she makes a difference every day. She brings the best out in us all.” This summer, Broome assisted with the just-completed World Games. She checked in athletes, helped the Hoover Met get ready to host softball, worked at the bowling event and even served as VIP driver. “I got to meet a lot of international people,” Broome said. “It was really fabulous, a great experience.” The Making a Difference Award was established in 2011 by the AHSAA and AHSADCA to recognize individuals who go beyond their normal duties as a coach, teacher or administrator to make a positive impact in their schools and communities. This year’s recipients include one baseball coach, one volleyball coach, one soccer coach, one track coach, one head football coach, another former head football coach who serves as head girls basketball coach, and one coach who serves as head track, girls basketball and softball coach. “The recipients in this 2022 Making a Difference class are prime examples of men and women who take their positions as role models for their students, faculty and community very seriously and have shown exceptional leadership and determination in the challenges each has faced,” said AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs. “Each of these individuals have spent their entire teaching, coaching and administrative careers making a major positive impact in their communities and schools across the state and are excellent examples for what this award stands for. “This award is the most important honor a professional educator in our state can receive. Qualities considered for this prestigious award include the recipient’s character, integrity, determination and service, all of which have enabled them to have a life-changing impact on the community or school which they serve.”

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Vestavia Hills’ Huber, Hoover’s Keplinger Retire

From page 24

ished team camp and it was a good experience. We had workouts from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and there were zero complaints. The girls showed up and worked hard.” The Bucs also have been playing in the Power League, an idea created by Camper for teams from the Birmingham area to scrimmage against each other. Among 12 teams in the league are defending Class 7A champion Spain Park and defending Class 6A champion Mountain Brook. “It’s been a very strong league this year,” Wood said. “It’s been a good challenge.”

By Rubin E. Grant

Peyton David, a libero, is one of nine seniors on the team.

Hoover will compete in Class 7A, Area 5 along with Oak Mountain, Thompson and Tuscaloosa County. “My expectations are for us to be

competitive,” Wood said. “Our girls will be well prepared, and they enjoy each other, which has been refreshing to see.”


Oliveiras Medal in Recent Wrestling Championships

Yasmine Oliveira competed in the USMC/USAW Junior Women’s Freestyle Nationals at Fargo, North Dakota, placing fourth with a 6-2 record and earning All-American status.

Spain Park’s Kyle Oliveira won double silver at the Cadet United World Wrestling Pan-American Championships June 24-26 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and his sister Yasmine Oliveira became an All-American last week. Kyle, who is entering his junior year at Spain Park, competed for the Brazilian National Team at 92kg (202 pounds) in Greco-Roman style and at 110 kg (243 pounds) in freestyle. He won two Greco-Roman matches before losing to Sawyer Bartelt from Coral Gables, Florida, in the gold medal match. In freestyle, Oliveira lost his opening round match, but after a bye in the second round, he won two matches to reach the gold medal match before losing to Koy Hopke from Amery, Wisconsin. Yasmine, who graduated from Spain Park in May, wrestled for Brazil in the U20 United World Wrestling Pan-American Junior Championships July 8-10 in Oaxtepec, Mexico, but did not medal. A week and a half later, she competed in the USMC/USAW Junior Women’s Freestyle Nationals at Fargo, North Dakota, placing fourth with a 6-2 record and earning All-American status. She is headed to King University, where she also will be wrestling.

Brett Huber has gone to Florida – and not on a beach vacation or fishing trip. He has moved there to live and work. Huber retired as Vestavia Hills’ head track coach at the end of the school year after spending 23 years in Vestavia, including 21 as head coach. He had been teaching and coaching overall for 29 years, but for family and financial reasons decided it was time to move on. He has two children in college, another who just graduated high school, and two more at home. “We looked at our schedules for the next three years and how much money we were making and decided it was a good time to end my teaching and coaching career,” Huber said. Huber, 53, has settled in Jacksonville, opening a Backyard Adventures franchise there. The company specializes in recreational and limited commercial playground equipment, such as swing sets and trampolines. “I know the guy who owns it and they have several stores, and the Lord connected the dots for me to do this,” Huber said. In his final track meet at Vestavia Hills, Huber guided the Rebels’ boys and girls to Class 7A runner-up finishes in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May. During his time with the Rebels, Huber won four state championships, including titles in cross-country, and indoor and outdoor track and field, and he finished with 12 runner-up trophies. “God blessed me with great coaches and athletes and families over the years,” Huber said. “I am very appreciative. It was really special. “What I’ll miss the most is all the people. I wore many hats. I drove the school bus for track and I taught K-5 PE as well as coached track.” Assistant coach Richard Anderson has been elevated to the head coaching job to replace Huber. Anderson was head coach at Helena for four years before joining the Rebels last year as an assistant.

“I wasn’t thinking about retiring when I brought him over,” Huber said. “He can do it all. He went through the hiring process and they thought he was the best candidate to be the new head coach.”

Time for Remodeling

Huber wasn’t the only ultra-successful Over-the-Mountain head coach to retire at the end of the school year. Hoover boys soccer coach Kris Keplinger also called it quits after 16 years at the helm. “I wanted to do something different,” Keplinger said. “I had my years in and if I was going to do anything else, I didn’t want my window closing before I became a completely old man. “I like to do remodeling and my last day of school was my first day working at a cabinet shop in Sylacauga. I am renovating my house and I asked the guy there if he would make my cabinets, but he said they were short-handed, so I told him I’d come work for him if he made my cabinets.” Before going to Hoover, Keplinger coached at Shades Valley for a decade, winning three state championships (2001, 2004 and 2006). He led Hoover to the 2019 Class 7A state title after several close finishes. “I felt like we’d had so many really good teams and just couldn’t ever seem to seal the deal,” Keplinger said. “That team had a lot of grit.” During his career, Keplinger finished as the state runner-up two times, advanced to two other state final fours and seven other quarterfinal appearances. His teams won the area championship 16 times and he finished with an overall record of 444-124-42. “I had a great coaching staff and great kids to work with,” Keplinger said. “It’s never a good time to step away because you have freshmen coming in and sophomores and juniors who you’ve built a relationship with. And you get to see the kids grow into young men. I will miss the relationships with the kids.” Assistant Tyler Welch has been named as Keplinger’s replacement. “He was a longtime assistant,” Keplinger said. “He played for me at Shades Valley. He’ll do a great job.”

Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

Putting Together a Team

Wood has nine seniors on her team – Peyton David, Adair Byars, Reagan James, Lauren Ware, Elise Hart, Bella Muenster, Maggie Harris, Reese Hawkins and Alan Alanah Pooler. David is a libero; Byars and James are outside hitters/right-side hitters; Ware, Hart and Guenster are defensive specialists; Harris is a setter; and Hawks and Pooler are middle blockers. “Most of them had a taste of playing last year, but I don’t know if you can say any of them are returning starters,” Wood said. Juniors Grace Johnston, rightside/middle blocker; Kendyl Mitchell, outside hitter/right-side; and Kenzie Richards, middle blocker, round out the roster with sophomore Sydney Durban, defensive specialist. “We have several underclassmen who could make the team, but we have only 15 jerseys,” Wood said. Wood believes the Bucs’ biggest challenge will be finding a court leader, the way Rya McKinnon, a high school All-American, was last year. She is now at Howard University. “They were used to Rya being the go-to player but now some of them are realizing they have to be the go-to player and step up,” Wood said. “That’s not a surprise, but I think it opens doors for different people.”


Kris Keplinger, standing far right, led Hoover to the 2019 Class 7A state title after several close finishes.


Complex. Spain Park’s Madison Davis also scored a goal and Homewood’s Maddie Massie had two assists. “It was a lot of fun,” said McDonald, who has committed to play in college at Alabama. “I only knew a

From page 24

Keirson McDonald attempted six shots on goal with one finding the back of the net and played a key role on defense as the North shut out the South 5-0.

No. 20 because my regular jersey number is 17.” But for the All-Star game, McDonald donned No. 20 and she indeed had been tabbed MVP. A

defender, she attempted six shots on goal with one finding the back of the net and played a key role on defense as the North shut out the South 5-0 last Wednesday at Emory Folmar Soccer






McDonald, an Oak Mountain senior, didn’t go into the North-South All-Star girls soccer expecting to be an MVP. “I didn’t even know they named an MVP, one for each team,” McDonald said. “They called out the name of the girl from the South (Amiya Brown of Opelika) and then they said, ‘From the North, No. 20.’ I started asking who’s


Journal photo by Marvin Gentry

Who, Me, MVP?

couple of people before I went down there, so it was different getting to talk to all of them and play with them. We all worked well together, so it was easy for me to do well. “Although we won 5-0 it was definitely a hard-fought game.”

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match for the Jaguars. She closed out the match against the South with two big points for a 15-11 win. Breazeale recorded 14 kills and 10 digs to earn MVP honors, becoming the first Spain Park player to be named MVP in the AHSAA All-Star game. “It was a lot of fun meeting new girls I hadn’t met before, and getting a chance to play with them was great,” Breazeale said. “It was exciting to be named MVP, but I couldn’t have done it without them. The coaches did a great job of making sure we stayed positive and played with energy.” Vestavia Hills’ Savannah Gann contributed 10 kills to the North’s victory. The North won the first two games 25-20 and 25-18, but the South won the next two games 25-21 and 25-23, setting the stage for Breazeale’s heroics.

Thursday, July 28, 2022 • 23





Coaching News: Vestavia Hills’ Huber, Hoover’s Keplinger Retire Page 22 Oliveiras Medal in Recent Wrestling Championships Page 22

Thursday, July 28, 2022 ❖ OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

THE ONE TO BEAT Mountain Brook’s Riley Shatters All-Star Week Cross-Country Record

By Rubin E. Grant


Journal photos by Marvin Gentry

In the girls 5,000-meter race at Montgomery’s Gateway Park, Reagan Riley, the 2021 Class 6A state cross-country champion, set a new all-star event record.

Breazeale Steps Up

See ALL-STARS, page 23

Wood Ready for First Season as Hoover’s Volleyball Coach


Last week, Riley blew away the competition during the Alabama High School Athletic Association All-Star Sports Week North-South crosscountry competition.

Breazeale helped the North earn a hardfought 3-2 victory in the All-Star volleyball game last Thursday at the Cramton Bowl MultiPlex. In the final game of the five-game match, Breazeale, a senior outside hitter, stepped up to spark the North – showing the same kind of play she did in the 2021 Class 7A state championship

Competitive Expectations

By Rubin E. Grant

ountain Brook senior Reagan Riley has served notice that she’s the one to beat when the 2022 high school cross-country season commences in the fall. Last week, Riley blew away the competition during the Alabama High School Athletic Association All-Star Sports Week North-South cross-country competition. In the girls 5,000-meter race at Montgomery’s Gateway Park, Riley, the 2021 Class 6A state cross-country champion, set a new all-star event record, winning with a time of 17:59.25. The previous All-Star Week record was set in 2018 by Amaris Tyynismaa of Montgomery Catholic. Lawrence County’s Savannah Williams, the Class 5A state champion last season, also surpassed Tyynismaa’s mark with a time of

18:54.61 to finish second. Her twin sister, Taylor Williams, was third, clocking 19:20.26. The North girls won the race against the South, 19-38. “That was great,” Riley said. “That was my first cross-country race in some time, so it was a good baseline to see what kind of fitness I need to work on. Our first race (for Mountain Brook) isn’t until Sept. 1, so it’s a little over a month.” Riley didn’t only have to beat the competition in the All-Star race but also the heat. “It was really hot,” she said. “We were supposed to start at 7:30 a.m. but it got pushed back to 8. It was 84 degrees and all in direct sunlight. The course was just ground and grass, so it wasn’t the best footing. “I was sweating so much when I finished that my uniform was completely soaked.” Riley’s record-setting race was among a few notable performances by Over the Mountain athletes during the All-Star week in Montgomery, including MVP efforts from Spain Park’s Emily Breazeale in volleyball and Oak Mountain’s Keirson McDonald in girls soccer.

DON’T MISS AUG. 25 OTMJ The 2022 OTM High School Football Preview. Team profiles, key players to watch, schedules and more!

Emily Breazeale recorded 14 kills and 10 digs to earn MVP honors.

manda Wood is ready to embark on the next phase of her volleyball coaching career, although the beginning was somewhat bumpy. Wood was hired as Hoover’s new coach in February after spending the past 10 years at James Clemens in Madison, but it took her a few months to find a place to live near her new school. “I am not going to lie to you, from February to May, it was a little rough, driving back and forth,” Wood said, “but once I moved here it’s been smooth sailing.” The Bucs officially begin preseason practice for the 2022 season Monday and open the season April 18 with a tri-match at Helena that also includes Chelsea. Wood replaces Chris Camper, who retired after 22 years as a head Amanda Wood replaces Chris coach, including the past 10 at Hoover. He Camper, who retired led the Bucs to the 2020 after 22 years as a Class 7A state champi- head coach, including the past 10 at onship with a 50-1 Hoover. record. Camper and Wood have spoken frequently since Wood took over. “We’re besties,” Wood said. “We talk all the time. He probably wishes he could delete me from his list of contacts.” Wood played volleyball at Muscle Shoals, where she won a state title, and in college at the University of Alabama Huntsville. She took over the James Clemens program in 2012 when the school opened. It was her first head coaching job. She compiled a 254-202 record and led James Clemens to five regional appearances. The Jets finished the 2021 season 29-21 and reached the Class 7A regional tournament. “It was a tough decision to move because of my players, my peers and the support I had from the administration and the Madison community,” Wood said. “But a job like Hoover doesn’t come open very often and I knew Andy Urban (Hoover’s athletics director). “It’s a step I knew would be beneficial for my career and it came at the right time.” Hoover has one of the top volleyball programs in the state, a “powerhouse program,” as Wood describes it. The Bucs earned a spot in the state championship tournament eight of the past 10 seasons with three appearances in the state title match. Wood hopes to continue that success. She has had a busy summer getting to know her players. “We’ve looked good,” Wood said. “We finSee HOOVER, page 22