It was over a year ago now that multiple community members and former Baldwin High School basketball players attended a Baldwin County Board of Education meeting, asking the governing body to name the BHS gymnasium after former head boys basketball coach James Lunsford.
That was in September 2018. Since then, a policy for naming school district-owned facilities (athletic fields/arenas, buildings, auditoriums, etc.) has been created. That policy allows for both honorary naming — as would be the case for Lunsford — and naming through paid sponsorship. A regulation attached to that policy calls for the creation of a committee that will weigh whether or not nominations are a good fit and then submit a recommendation to School Superintendent Dr. Noris Price, who will bring that recommendation to the board for approval or rejection. At last month’s board work session Price shared that six community members have come forward to serve on the committee. They include Yvonne Farrell, Clarence Hall, Diane Lucette, Sandra Mallory, Susie Marshall and Dee Tighe.
“The committee will come together and make a recommendation and I will bring that to the board,” she said. “We hope to bring it to the board in October, but if not, definitely by November. So that’s where we are with the naming facilities.”
Naming the Baldwin High School gymnasium after Lunsford is the only nomination that has been made up to this point, and it’s one with a solid amount of backing as seven individuals spoke in favor at that September 2018 meeting. Baldwin High alum James Hartry, who played under Lunsford and has gone on to become a high school basketball coach himself, was one of those who spoke.
“Coach Lunsford wasn’t just a coach,” said Hartry. “We’re talking about small stuff when we talk about coaching. He was a dad. He was a friend. He was a colleague and he was a mentor. He taught us about life and gave us life skills and confidence.”
The agenda for the BOE’s Oct. 15 meeting has not been set.
Strides have also been made with another Baldwin County School District recognition initiative. The local public school system has been seeking nominations for its “Distinguished Alumni” program to be featured within the halls of Baldwin High School to recognize their accomplishments and also give current students some examples of successful people that came from their hometown. Like with the facilities naming, a separate committee will be created to weigh nominations. Price said more than 50 nominees have already been identified, and the inaugural class will total 25. Those not part of the inaugural class are eligible to be named down the road.
“We were hoping to have this done by homecoming,” Price said of naming the inaugural class. “That is not going to happen, but we will be recognizing the alumni in some type of celebration this school year. We will let the committee decide on that recognition. I’m very excited that we have received 50 names of people that should be recognized as distinguished alumni.”