Tuesday, May 03, 2016


Leader senior staff writer

We are the Titans!

The Jacksonville High School Titans will take the field for the first time when the Mills University Studies High School football team comes to Jacksonville for the season opener on Sept. 2.

As of about 7:15 p.m. Monday, the official Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District mascot for all uses and all schools will be the Titans after the July 1 detachment from the Pulaski County Special School District.

After about 20 minutes of discussion, the board voted 5-2 to adopt Titans as the mascot and red and white as school colors with black and gold trim.

The name “Titans” was proposed as a nod toward the historic 308th Strategic Missile Wing based at Jacksonville from the 1960s into the 1980s, and the movie “Remember the Titans,” wherein two racially diverse schools come together in unity on and off the field.

By Tuesday morning, Jacksonville cheerleaders could already be heard practicing new cheers, such as the ubiquitous “We are the Titans, the mighty, mighty Titans, everywhere we go-oh, people want to know……” heard in the movie.

Miriam Webster defines a Titan as “any of a family of giants in Greek mythology ruling the Earth…until overthrown by the Olympian gods
or one that is gigantic in size or power: one that stands out for greatness of achievement. School board president Daniel Gray found definitions that titan is a person of prodigious knowledge, strength and influence, he said.

Gray said that was a unique and powerful model for students and it was about striving for success in all matters, not just on the playing fields.


Board member Deena Toney and Ron McDaniel voted against the motion, Toney not wanting to decide yet and McDaniel choosing another way to honor the base’s 60-year importance in the affairs of Jacksonville.

McDaniel, a retired Air Force colonel, recommended red, white and blue as the school colors and for the mascot, the blue bombers.

Nearly everyone on the board is military, ex-military or is in a military family.

A few in the audience or at an earlier workshop or a survey, wanted to stay with the Jacksonville Red Devils, but nearly all board members said they recognized the need for a fresh start that wouldn’t dishonor students and graduates of either high school and which would promote unity and a new beginning.

It was Gray who promoted the Titan mascot Monday night, and when First Arkansas Bank and Trust marketing director Roger Sundermeier showed some prepared slides of possible Titan logos, including some typefaces and the suggested color scheme, the idea seemed to gather momentum.

“We could committee this to death,” said school board member Jim Moore, who is fond of saying “committee this to death,” but that it was time to change and move on.

“This would be a clear message for a change,” said Gray. “Another meeting would be divisive.”

Board secretary Carol Miles said she supported the single, unifying mascot throughout all the schools and grades.

Toney said she would be “the bad thumb.”

“We really don’t have a budget that any of us have even seen,” noting that new football, basketball, baseball, softball, track, band and cheerleader uniforms could be quite expensive for a brand new school district, which doesn’t even have a budget.”

Gray said Tuesday morning that they could continue on with most uniforms, with red and white still the main colors.

“Decals could be put on football helmets,” he said. New band uniforms are only about two years old.

“I’m Red Devil to the core” said board member Marcia Dornblaser, a Jacksonville High School graduate and former cheerleader, but in a bow to unity, she voted for the new mascot and colors. “It’s a gut-wrenching decision for me,” she said.

“The time to do it is now,” said Gray, himself a former North Pulaski High graduate. “It’s an emotional decision. Some want to get us bogged down. Remember, enrollment has declined 40 percent in the last 10 years.”

Gray said a trophy case and historical display for both schools could be incorporated into the design of the new high school, slated for occupancy by fall 2019.

“Change connotes opportunity to do something different than what you’ve done before,” said Col. William Brooks, commander of the 19th Mission Support Group of the 19th Airlift Wing, who is the Air Force’s ex-officio school board member. “We’re proud to be part of this community. It’s an honor to be accorded that kind of stature in the community. Change to make a future that you want.”

“I think we need a total new look,” Mayor Gary Fletcher said.

Final design work on the logo and mascot hasn’t yet been considered.


The board unanimously approved the proposed elementary school attendance zone changes. At a previous hearing, parents seemed more interested in trying to apply for transfers from, for instance, a newly assigned elementary school to the one the child currently attends.

An online survey will ask for specifics to see if such requests could be accommodated without too much difficulty.

The survey asks identification and contact information, the school the child currently attends, school assigned under the new attendance zones, preferred school and rationale.

Because not everyone has good Internet access or skills, the district is providing a copy to each elementary school where parents can go to complete the survey.

The board has not committed to providing with these intra-district transfers, but hasn’t yet ruled them out.

All surveys must be completed by May 17, with a special school board meeting to be scheduled soon thereafter, according to JNPSD chief of staff Phyllis Stewart.

To take the online multiple choice survey, visit www.jnpsd.org.

When the homepage comes up, scroll down to “Latest News” and click on “The School Board Wants to Hear from You.” Then click in the red “read more” box and at the end of the second paragraph, click on the link “survey.”


The board returned from executive session to hire 68 new employees, including Courtney Holmes, as director of special education for the balance of the current school year and for the 2016-2017 school year.

Holmes, a 1999 University of Central Arkansas graduate, received a master’s degree from Albany State University in 2001 and an education specialist degree from Argosy University in 2010.


Elementary teachers hired include, alphabetically:

Kristin Beach, John Birmingham, Lisa Buchan, Stephan Burrows, Morgan Clark; Melissa Cormier, Hayley Earls, Regina Eubanks, Maghan Evans, Patricia Gibbs;

Kristen Ging, Stephanie Glover, Amber Gordon, Teyah Green, Kristi Heathwaite;

Kelsea Jackson, Crystal Kinsey, Emily Leonard, Lora Linder, Tiffinie Martin;

Melissa Matus, Melanie Godfrey-Maupin, Carol McFall, Anna Grace Minner, Elsie Mitchell;

Jacquel Moss, Crystal McMullen, Sherrice Niece, Audra Noris, Danielle Pelletier;

Page Pennock, Donna Phillips, Terra Pilkinton, Rhonda Pool, Melissa Reed;

Kylee Robinson, Stephanie Rodella, April Ryans, Taka Smith, Rhiannon Sniffin;

Angela Sprow, Michelle Turner, Kenisha Watson, Monica Williams.

The board hired community based instructors Lori Gold, Charlotte Ramsey and Sharon Presley.

Lori Cates was hired as a counselor, and secondary English teachers Nellis Caldwell, Paula George, Kathryn Gracie and Tiffany Shettles-Till also were hired.


Licensed employees hired for the 2016-17 school year include:

Lauren Gasper, elementary school teacher; Miranda Wilborn, special education; Susan Cheatham, teacher/middle school girls coach; Morgan Collins, middle school social studies; Sarah Mitchell, middle school English language arts.

Josh Nation, teacher/middle school boys coach; NaToya Norwood, middle school English language arts; Lamont Page, middle school coach, previously hired as a teacher; Robbie Walker, middle school math; Nita Wilson, art.

Ashley Zago, middle school English language arts; Sarah Zubor, middle school social studies; Paige Viger, secondary social studies; Vincent McIntosh, secondary English language arts.

The board also accepted resignations from elementary school teacher Lisa Hickingbotham and director of maintenance Spencer Mayfield, both of whom were hired recently.