Warrenton High School's annual banquet is no longer just about sports.
For years an athletics fundraiser, this year's event in September marked the start of the Warrenton High School Hall of Fame, whose first class of inductees included some title-winning teams, but also several school-supporting community members.
The fourth annual banquet highlighted another major transition as well: a shift away from fundraising geared toward sports to supporting activities that benefit all students.
"Hundreds of people donated supplies and energy to make it all come together," said teacher and Athletic Director Doug Calvert.
The banquet began several years ago as a way to raise money for coaches' salaries, which had been cut from many schools' budgets. But following an increase in state support this year, Warrenton was able to reinstate funding for sports, with the banquet becoming "one with which the school could honor those who had made Warrenton High School proud," Calvert said.
In addition, he said, the new Hall of Fame Foundation has been created to assist all children - not just athletes - in getting extra help, supplies and equipment they need. But funding for students' projects has strings attached. The point, said Calvert, is for children to "learn community pride and a work ethic as they will be asked to do something for their community or school before funds are awarded to their cause." The organization has already made its first disbursement of funds to help purchase a piano for the school music department.
All proceeds from the yearly banquet and sponsorships will now support the foundation. Roughly 300 people turned out for this year's big event at Camp Rilea's Warrior Hall, where the following groups and individuals were honored:
? The 1943 State Championship Basketball Team, represented by team member Fred Wilson;
? The 1972 State Championship Volleyball Team, represented by seven of eight of the "giant killers" who defeated much larger schools to secure their win, and who were together at the banquet for the first time since graduating;
? The 1994 State Championship Baseball Team, represented by coach Lennie Wolfe with five of 13 team members present;
? Coach Jessie Wallace, a "pioneer of women's athletics at Warrenton";
? Former faculty members Dick and Harriett Baldwin, now deceased, who created a trust that has provided more than $300,000 in scholarship money since 2002 and will continue helping many WHS graduates attend college;
? Alumnus and community supporter Dennis Bjork, described as an individual raised in Warrenton who at times benefited from help and guidance of others in the community, and who has shown his appreciation by "giving back." At the ceremony, his "second mom" Gladys Dyer presented him with her late husband, Keith's, favorite shotgun, saying, "He would want you to have this," Calvert recounted.
? Track champion Cynthia (Shepherd) Harber, the first individual student athlete to be enshrined. Following the 1980 State Track Meet, she was possibly one of just three athletes to ever win four individual events in the same year at State. She landed six gold medals in track and field over her career.