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New alumni association to induct first class


A group of Tallassee High School graduates are about to see a dream come to fruition.

The Tallassee High School Alumni Association is being formed, and the group of alumni will see the fruits of their labor bloom with the induction of the first two members to the Tallassee High School Hall of Pride next week.

“Six or seven years ago, several of us began talking about forming an alumni association, but we were all busy and just couldn’t seem to get anything established,” said Suzannah Solomon Wilson, one of the organizers.  “But when Matt Coker became principal of Tallassee High School, he had some ideas about an alumni association that were right in line with our ideas, so we started to go to work.”

The two main goals of the association are to provide a scholarship each year to a THS senior and to establish a Hall of Pride to honor alumni who have contributed to Tallassee or to the community in which they live. 

“The Hall of Pride will not only let alumni know how much we appreciate and admire what they have done but let THS students know that the world is their oyster and anything is possible,” said Wilson.

A committee has been meeting for about two years to create the articles of incorporation and develop the bylaws. 

“We wanted to get the difficult tasks out of the way before we began taking memberships,” said committee member Lacey Brewer. “We wanted to make sure all our t’s are crossed and our i’s are dotted.”

Now that those tasks are completed, work has begun on getting a non-profit status.

Next Tuesday, Jan. 13, the committee will be inducting Mr. Bennie Little and Mrs. Vicki Oliver Baker into the first class of the Hall of Pride.

Little will be inducted posthumously. The 1936 Tallassee High School graduate served the Tallassee school system for 36 and a half years, first as a shop teacher and coach, and later as the high school principal.  He finished out his career as superintendent of the school system, retiring in 1983.

He graduated from Troy State Teacher’s College in 1941, having played college football there.  A World War II U.S. Navy veteran, Little earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Auburn University in 1952.

Principal Little

Like many children of his era, Little grew up poor.  After high school he worked for a roofer, but a high school teacher who left Tallassee for Troy remembered the good student he was and offered him a scholarship to play football at Troy.  He told his family that the scholarship was a “blessing” because it gave him a chance to make a better life for himself.  Little did he know that it also afforded him a chance to make many children’s lives better.

Little was very civic-minded and was a longtime member of the Tallassee Lions Club. He also served as president of the state’s high school athletic association.

His career must have impacted his family because son Ben was the computer electronics instructor at the Elmore County Technical Center, and Ben’s wife Peggy taught first grade for three years and then became a media specialist for Tallassee City Schools.  Little’s granddaughter, Brooke, is a gifted and talented teacher at Luella Elementary School in McDonough, Ga.

Mr. Little was married to Lorene Stalnaker for 47 years and to Ardell Adams Burton Little for 16 years.  He passed away Aug. 6, 2014, at the age of 97.

His daughter-in-law said that he told her he wanted her to write his obituary and to be “truthful and honest” but to not be fancy and boastful about his life.

Mr. Bennie Little will forever be linked to the Tallassee school system as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent.  His influence as a Tallassee citizen will be long remembered by those who knew him.

Miss Vicki's Dancers (1978)

Miss Vicki, as she is called, has taught thousands of dance students in  her 54 year career as a dance teacher.  A 1964 graduate of Tallassee High School, she began teaching dance at the age of 15. She went to summer school every year, so she could leave school at 2 p.m. to teach classes in Tallassee and Reeltown.  Miss Vicki also spent three summers in New York to become certified by the Dance Educators of America.

It was Vicki’s mother, Miss Irene, who saw talent in her three daughters and took them to dance class when they were very young.  Older sisters Loree and Julia began teaching dance at the ages of 12. Loree was an accomplished gymnast and Julia excelled in tap.  Vicki is known far and wide for her baton instruction, but says she also loves ballet.

Loree’s studio, Dance Generation in Montgomery, has been in existence for some 60-plus years. Daughter Janice Ransom and granddaughter Shawn Parker are the owners and instructors.  Julia’s children and grandchildren own and manage Mann Dance Studio in Prattville.  Vicki’s daughter Jennifer is her right hand at Heart of Dance, and Vicki’s son Art inherited his grandmother’s talent for design and sewing and works as a costume designer.

Vicki’s students have gone on to become majorettes at Auburn University, the University of Alabama and Troy University, and many have become dance teachers themselves.  

“I’m blessed to have lived and worked in this community and been able to do what I love and make a living for so many years.  I’m proudest of the fact that I have instilled a love of dance in my students and that so many have gone on to teach dance.  I thank the Lord for this community,” she said.  Approximately 20 of her former students are teaching dance or have taught in the past in some capacity.

In addition to teaching all these years, she was also the choreographer for Elmore County’s Jr. Miss and Alabama’s Jr. Miss program for four years. She has also choreographed for the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Chik-fil-A Bowl.  She has judged twirling competitions on a national level.

The alumni association committee is planning a meeting soon.  For more information about the Tallassee High School Alumni Association, contact Suzannah Solomon Wilson at 334-283-8172.

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