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PJC 90th Homecoming enjoyed by all

Published or Revised November 18, 2014

PJC homecoming 2014

PJC’s 90th Homecoming. Top left: PJC 2014 Distinguished Alumni awards went to Dr. Michael McFrazier (left) and Jay Hunter Morris whose award was accepted by his mother, Carolyn Beckett (right). Top right: Homecoming King & Queen Keith Shivers and Demi Sheppard. Middle: two of the four Academic Hall of Honor inductees were present at the ceremony (from left), Ray Moran stands with PJC President Dr. Pam Anglin, past PJC president Bobby Walters, and fellow honoree Don Haley. Bottom: PJC Director of Choirs/music instructor Philip Briggs welcomes the audience to the Alumni Reunion Choir Concert, which was headlined by Dr. McFrazier.

A busy 90th Homecoming weekend at Paris Junior College entertained many with a birthday party, parade, pep rally and President’s Reception, but the main events were all held on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Six former students of Paris Junior College were honored with either the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards at Saturday’s annual luncheon at the Love Civic Center or at induction into PJC’s Academic Hall of Honor and Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony held later in the PJC Student Center ballroom.

PJC President Dr. Pam Anglin touched on the commonalities of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni. Both were local young men who started their education at PJC, both continued their music education at Baylor University, both were already inductees into PJC’s Academic Hall of Honor, and both have performed around the world.

Though he could not be present, Jay Hunter Morris sent a special video message to the audience, who were also treated to a short sample of his performance from Siegfried at the Metropolitan Opera. Carolyn Beckett, Morris’ mother, accepted on his behalf.

In the video, Morris discussed his strong connection to PJC: the many years his mother worked in the Learning Resources Center, his father’s days as a student editor of The Bat, and how both he and his father attended PJC on a music scholarship.

“I had my first voice lessons there [at PJC],” said Morris in the video. “My curiosity was born there and I’m still trying to figure it out to this day… I wish I could be there with you.”

“Thank you so much, I am certainly deeply touched to receive such an honor,” said Dr. Michael McFrazier as he accepted his award. “I am certainly happy to have my family here. I stand as the fulfillment of dreams – dreams my grandparents had, and my parents.”

McFrazier congratulated fellow honoree Morris, then thanked family members and former teachers who helped him to see that he could have a career in music. He said after receiving the call about the award, he pondered on life and the success that has come his way. He said he was a first generation college student who had a speech impediment and dyslexia and wondered, “why – why me?”

“I think some the reasons why are,” McFrazier said, “I was willing to do the work, I was willing to make sacrifices, and I denied myself often of instant gratification. I took responsibility and was accountable for the things that were given me. I was willing to try something different, something beyond my comprehension and comfort zone.”

McFrazier cited Philippians 1:6, and encouraged the students present to reach for their dreams, despite those who say their dreams can’t be accomplished.

“But, with a chuckle you must reply, ‘maybe it couldn’t’, but you won’t say so unless at least you have tried, so you’ve got to take off your coat, you’ve got to take off your hat, lift up your chin and have a bit of a grin without doubting or quitting start to sing as you tackle the thing that some people tell you can’t be done. Guess what, you can do it,” McFrazier said.

Later that day four former PJC students were inducted into PJC’s Academic Hall of Honor: Ray Moran, Don Haley, Camillia St. John and Perry Hill, who was also inducted into the PJC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Dean of Communications and Fine Arts Dr. Ken Haley introduced Moran, telling of his media holdings and the good works he has accomplished, then quipped that Moran had once served as a weatherman and at the time probably received more blame and more credit than deserved.

Moran, born in Paris and now a resident of Lubbock, said, “This is unbelievable, I certainly thank you so much and I will treasure this. It’s more than I could ever have expected.”

Industrial Technologies Division Director Charlie Hodgkiss introduced Don Haley, “I’ve learned that Mr. Haley is a very humble man of good character. In preparing for today, I’ve given him a couple of opportunities to brag on himself and he’s declined to do so.”

Following his introduction Haley affirmed that as he reminisced of the 1948 ball team and friends from Paris and said: “The reason I came here today was to tell you that when I’m gone, I don’t want to be remembered for all the things going on with my company and being a successful businessman. I want to be remembered as a faithful steward of our Lord, being an obedient follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, just like my friend and fellow teammate Calvin Thielman.”

PJC Science Division Director Jack Brown introduced Camellia St. John, who could not attend due to health issues. When he mentioned her to colleagues in the Houston and Galveston area, “everyone down there knew her, she is absolutely famous in her field.” Brown praised her numerous contributions to scientific research. Her cousin Travis Jackson accepted the award on her behalf and read a statement from her.

“PJC was one of those turns in the road that we all experience,” St. John said. “With each turn we are introduced to individuals who can open new roles for us. I was fortunate to encounter such an individual named Frank Grimes. I have chased the dream of emulating his work for 40 years, and though I never attained his level of teaching, it has been a fascinating and fun journey to pursue. PJC gave me this opportunity and for that I am grateful.”

PJC Athletic Director and Kinesiology Division Director Deron Clark introduced Perry Hill, who was inducted into both the Hall of Honor and the Athletic Hall of Fame. Though not present, the first base coach with the Miami Marlins sent a statement of thanks.

“PJC’s small school atmosphere gave me the opportunity to learn more directly and get individual help from an outstanding faculty,” he said. “The baseball program was a springboard to my career of 35 plus years in professional baseball; the past 22 at the Major League level.  PJC and Coach Whitworth provided me the opportunity to be seen by college and professional scouts and realistically start my pathway to my dream! It was a special time where not only goals were met, but lasting relationships and memories were formed. Again, thank you for this honor and recognition. PJC has made an everlasting impact on my life with great memories.”

Saturday evening music lovers were treated to PJC’s Alumni Reunion Choir Concert featuring several solos by McFrazier, who was accompanied by Dr. Danny Kelley, Dean of the Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences at Prairie View A&M University. PJC director of choirs Philip Briggs led off the concert then handed off direction to retired PJC music instructor Pat Fowzer for two songs.

McFrazier enlivened his opening with three renditions of “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know;” he sang it as he did when he was a child, as a music student at Baylor University, and as a gospel singer, to the great enjoyment of the audience.

Proceeds of the concert will fund an endowed scholarship in McFrazier’s honor, and donations are still being accepted. For more information contact Derald Bulls, Institutional Advancement/Alumni Affairs, at 903-782-0276 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Finally, no Homecoming is complete without a King and Queen, and during halftime of the men’s basketball game, a vote of the PJC student body crowned Keith Shivers and Demi Sheppard.

Sheppard, a 2013 graduate of Little Cypress High School, attends PJC on a volleyball scholarship and is a two-year member of that team. The daughter of Todd and Laurie Sheppard of Orange, Texas, she is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and plans to continue playing volleyball while pursuing her education at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Shivers is a 2012 graduate of Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School and the son of Brian and Veronica Shivers of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He attends PJC on a basketball scholarship and is a second year member of that team. After PJC he plans to continue playing basketball at a four-year university while pursuing a degree to become a teacher and play professional basketball.

Both have been nominated to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

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