News Sports Opinion Photos Social Classified Obits Contact

Meet the new class


The Tallassee High School Alumni Association's 2023 Hall of Pride inductions will be on April 6 at First United Methodist Church. This year's class includes: Colonel (USAF, retired) Mary Stonaker Burrus (Class of 1982), Mrs. Cynthia Farrow Martin, retired educator (Class of 1972) and Mr. Arthur Oliver, internationally acclaimed costume designer (Class of 1989).

Established in  2012, the Hall of Pride induction ceremony was in 2015. For the Hall of Pride, there is a nomination process. Members of the association are welcome and encouraged to nominate. Nominations are turned over to a selection committee.


Colonel Mary Stonaker Burrus
Class of 1982
Inducted 2023

Colonel Mary Stonaker Burrus, USAF, retired, was born in Pensacola Naval Hospital to Daniel and Catherine Stonaker. Her family moved to her father’s hometown of Tallassee, Alabama, in 1978. She graduated from Tallassee High School in 1982.

During her high school years, she was active in the band, served as manager for the volleyball team, served on the yearbook staff and the Student Council, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She attended Alex City Jr. College after graduating from high school and joined the Alabama Air National Guard. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and her master’s degree in Mathematics Education at Auburn University Montgomery. She was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air National Guard in 1990.

After spending several years teaching, first in Birmingham City Schools and then in Gwinnet County Schools in Georgia, then-Captain Burrus joined the military full time in 1996 and retired in 2015 as a colonel.

Then-Major Burrus served as a Flight Commander at Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, from 2000 to 2002. She was ranked #1 of 12 flight commanders by her group commander and supervised nine officer instructors and a student squadron of over 90 officer trainees in a 12-week, 500-hour, 200-million-dollar Basic Officer Training commissioning program.

Between 2002 and 2010, she attended Air Command & Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, and worked recruiting and retention, personnel, and served as an executive officer for the Deputy Director of the Air National Guard in Arlington, Virginia.

She was a Mission Support Group Commander in Schenectady, New York, during 2010 and 2011, where she directed and coordinated activities of five departments concerned with facilities management, safety and security of the base, communications, personnel processes, distribution of products, and personnel transportation.

Colonel Burrus provided strategic vision for 330 personnel to manage over one hundred thousand airmen across the Air National Guard enterprise from 2011 to 2013 while assigned as the Director and Deputy Director for Manpower, Personnel & Services, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

She was a Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellow at Johnson and Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey, from 2013 to 2014, one of only 15 Fellows who developed and presented business improvement recommendations for senior Pentagon leadership.

As a civilian, she served as a performance coach in Bremerton, Washington, from 2017 to 2019, teaching and coaching executives, managers, and supervisors to accelerate development and improve individual and team performance. From 2017 to 2020, she was a leadership coach and facilitator for CACI and is now owner of The Burri Group, LLC, partnering with clients, the majority of whom are military officers.

Colonel Burrus and her husband, Troy, reside in Richmond, Virginia, but return to Tallassee as often as they can. They have established two scholarships at AUM: the Troy and Mary Stonaker Burrus Endowed Scholarship and the Robert H. and Helen E. Mueller Endowed Scholarship in honor of Troy’s grandparents. Colonel Burrus has volunteered as a reading partner in Seattle, Washington, and Washington, D.C. and is a volunteer with the Richmond Public Schools.


Mrs. Cynthia Farrow Martin
Class of 1972
Inducted 2023

Cynthia Farrow Martin is the daughter of the late Bettye Blalock Grant and the late Cellus Farrow, Sr.  She is the third of six children.

Mrs. Martin is a 1972 graduate of Tallassee High School, and was among the first eight African American students who integrated the Tallassee
City School system during 1965 and 1966.

During her years as a student at THS, she served in several areas including Student Council, Civic Squad, FHA, where she served as an officer, Pep Squad, volleyball team, and Talla-Hi News staff.  She was an office worker, library worker, homeroom officer, and gave the invocation for her graduating class on May 26, 1972.

Mrs. Martin graduated from Auburn University Montgomery with B.S. degrees in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and certification as a reading specialist.  She served the Tallassee City School system for 24 years and 9 months, teaching academically disadvantaged students for 14 years and serving as a reading coach for the remainder of her career.  Her students achieved an 85 percent graduation rate.

She is a graduate of the Elmore County Education Leadership Academy Cohort II.

Mrs. Martin has 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren who are offspring of her first marriage to a deceased spouse. 

Currently, she is married to retired United Methodist minister, Rev. Bernard Martin.  In this union, they have one daughter, Zadie, who has a master’s degree in social work from Alabama State University.  Also, this marriage includes 8 children, 17 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.  To put this in perspective, Mrs. Martin’s immediate family consists of 12 children, 27 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Martin is a community activist who, along with her husband, encourages the social, physical, spiritual, political, economic and educational growth of the children as well as adults in the Tallassee vicinity.  She is a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Tallassee where she loves to sing and serves as church historian and has served as Sunday School superintendent and teacher.

Mrs. Martin has received several Community Service Awards and says all glory goes to God for blessing her with a God-fearing husband and loving large family as well as helping her to strive daily to serve a risen Savior.

In her letter of recommendation for Cynthia’s nomination, Dr. Tessie Williams, deputy superintendent of Tallassee City Schools, wrote,“An admirable quality of Mrs. Martin remains her perseverance to improve the overall social well-being of all citizens in the Tallassee community.
Over the course of years that I worked with Mrs. Martin, she consistently shared opportunities for faculty members to become active in a civic manner by volunteering and or donating resources for worthy causes in the community.  She has continued such efforts while facing major health challenges.  To date, it is quite common to receive an email or phone call from Mrs. Martin advocating for the needs (academic, civic, and/or economic) of school age children and or other citizens.”


Arthur Ted Oliver
Class of 1989
Inducted 2023

Arthur Ted Oliver is a native of Tallassee and a 1989 graduate of Tallassee High School.

Mr. Oliver is an internationally-recognized costume designer whose career has presented his design work to the world via international television and designs for theatre, film, dance and opera on four major continents.

While still a student at Tallassee High School, he embarked upon an internship at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, studying under renowned UCLA professor emeritus Alan Armstrong.  Just two years later, Mr. Oliver had his professional debut at the acclaimed Shakespeare & Company under the artistic direction of founder Tina Packer.

He has designed for the Moscow Ballet, American Repertory Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Theatre Group, At Last Theatre of San Francisco, 59E59 Theatres, The New Victory Theatre, The Laurie Beechman, Roseland Ballroom, and numerous regional theatre and opera companies in the United States.  His work has been praised by critics Ben Brantley of the New York Times and Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal as well as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Boston Herald.

Mr. Oliver’s freelance career features work for Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis, Karen Allen, John Douglas Thompson, Debra Jo Rupp, Grammy Award winner James Taylor, two-time Tony nominee Alison Fraser and many others.  The late Ms. Dukakis had high praise after working with him, saying, “Arthur Oliver is refreshingly easy to work with.  He is a highly collaborative designer with a unique style and ability to provide costumes which support the story, as well as the performer.”

Mr. Oliver has taught at Harvard University, The Boston Conservatory, Trinity College, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Emerson College and many flagship universities including Louisiana State University.  He has been published seven times, most notably in Imagining Shakespeare, Backstage Pass:  18 Years of Broadway Bares, Shakespeare Festivals around the World and Shakespeare: The Seven Major Tragedies by Harold Bloom.  His production of Giselle was performed in repertory for the National Opera and Ballet of Kyiv, Ukraine.  His 10th year of the North American tour of the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker (now renamed Nutcracker, the Magic of Christmas) tours with three companies comprised of dancers from all over the world.

Mr. Oliver’s involvement with the Ukrainian community has resulted in his raising and donating significant monies to those fleeing the war there and to those unable to leave the country.  Nearer home, he donates time and energy to his church, where he serves as a deacon, and to locals struggling with poverty.  He donates his talents to assist with costuming for fundraising events that support local charities and non-profits.

Mr. Oliver’s home and studio are in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Each year the THS Alumni Association seeks to honor THS alumni who have achieved remarkable success in their field of endeavor at local, state and national levels and positively impacted the communities in which they have lived.