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Mixed emotions flow as old murals go

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By Chris Cannon

ccannon@lafollettepress.com

 

JACKSBORO-As the cougar murals in John R.W. Brown Gymnasium were covered up, many Campbell County High School alumni had mixed emotions about the subject.

The murals, which have been inside the gym for more than 30 years, were covered up last Monday to make way for a new mural to be painted by Lance Albright.

One thing everyone could agree on: Albright is the man for the job.

“They could not have picked a better artist to paint the new murals than Lance Albright,” Rikkina Rains, class of 2010, said. “I currently work at LaFollette Middle, and he just finished a mural outside of the gym and one inside the gym. Both look absolutely fantastic, and I have great confidence that he will do the wall at CCHS more than justice.”

Darrick Honeycutt, class of 2001, said he knew Albright in school.

During those times, he saw some of Albright’s work.

“I got to know Lance, so if anybody’s going to do it, he’s definitely a talented artist,” Honeycutt said. “It should definitely be him.”

Campbell County High School art students painted the original murals.

For many, it was an easy choice to choose a current student or an alumni to paint the new work.

“I am extremely proud that a CCHS alumni has been chosen to complete the project,” Lisa Smith Kelly, class of 1984, said. “Not only is he a gifted artist, he is a ‘home-grown son,’ which makes him – and the fact that he is the one to paint it – even more special.”

Georgea Green, who was the art teacher during the time the original pieces were painted, said she’s sad to see them go, though.

“I hate to see them covered up, because the kids did it,” she said. “I guess what makes me happy is that one of my kids is going to do it again. If it was going to be covered up and they’re going to redo it, I’m glad it’s one of my kids that’s redoing it.

“I’ve seen some of his work down at Grace Rehab, and he did a beautiful job. I think it’s a good thing that they have (an alumnus) coming. I’m glad he gets to do it.”

While no anger was presented, Kelly said some of the former students may be mad.

For the graduate of 1984, however, it was more about the alumni not having a say.

“It is very much a possibility (some people may be mad),” Kelly said. “People as a whole are very emotional beings and as such, I can totally see that some would be upset. I myself am not mad, per se – just very sad that the alumni was not given the opportunity to voice our opinions in the matter.”

Not having that voice, some of the alumni say it was a hard thing to see the old ones go.

As memories of past games and good times flooded back, sadness had taken some of them.

“I immediately felt a lot of memories come rushing back to me of my years there – a lot of sadness that by removing the murals I had grown up with, it was like a part of my life was being removed,” Kelly said. “Sounds silly to some, but that's exactly the way I feel.”

For many sports fans, it’s the memories of those big games that were held alongside the two Cougars that adorned the walls of the gymnasium.

Preston Huckaby, class of 1997, said he and his father followed the Cougars the entire time he was growing up.

“I remember seeing Paul Provins, Joe Carroll and Sammy and Kermit Marlow play,” Huckaby said. “As a freshman, I remember seeing Ben Berry, David Friend, Cory Overton and Matt Henegar. This would be the tradition that I would associate with that cougar. I would assume that not many current or future students would have the same association.”

While those current and future students don’t have the same associations, they will have a chance to make new ones with the design that Albright has already presented.

Although those memories were held with the murals, Huckaby said it’s not a bad thing they painted over the murals.

“I thought painting over the old mural was a good thing,” he said. “The cougar was classic, but way out of date. I think the new murals will give the future generations something to take pride in.”

“I do think it was needed,” Rains added. “Everyone hates to see old things go, but the new murals will give the renovated gym and gym floor what it needs to look complete.”

For Kelly, it’s a matter of tradition.

She says she still displays a Campbell County High School beach towel and wears her Cougar attire.

“I'm not an artist by any means, but I feel that they could have possibly been side-by-side and dated as such,” she said. “It's very important to me that we keep as much of our history alive as possible. I believe in moving on with the times and all, but I also believe without our past – our history – the future doesn't have much of a foundation for those to come.”

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