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Made in Cherokee County: 2020 Alumni of the Year Reflections

As we look forward to the 2021 Gala, we wanted to take a peek at what school looked like in our county leading up to 1970, the year that both of our 2020 Alumni of the Year award winners graduated from Cherokee High School. Ms. Rebecca Johnston and Mr. Steve Stancil were chosen as the winners of this award for their outstanding contributions to the community. Both of our winners have had great success in their careers, and the cool thing is…it all started in a Cherokee County school. Ms. Johnston stated, "I appreciate that my education at CHS helped me to be able to achieve what I have in life. I have been able to do what I love most, which is to have a career as a writer and editor and have the opportunity to record our Cherokee County history through my writings. This award is a pinnacle of my life." 

Rebecca Johnston Found Inspiration Among the Halls of CHS 

Rebecca Johnston has been incredibly active in our community throughout her career whether it be serving as Managing Editor for the Cherokee Tribune, managing cable television and radio stations, or tirelessly working to build a museum of our county's history. Her career has been full of success and community-oriented in every way. You can learn more about her career and continuous service to Cherokee County here. 

Ms. Johnston recalls having many remarkable teachers, specifically in English and humanities, who encouraged Johnston to express herself through writing. She wasn't just taught to write, but she remembers being taught to be a good person, to have civic pride, and to practice good ethics and discipline. There was an incredible sense of school spirit, and Johnston's teachers reflected that spirit through their passion and dedication in the classroom. This passion and dedication echoed throughout Johnston's career as she pursued writing, local history, and community with the same fire shown by her teachers. 

Steve Stancil Found Purpose in Cherokee County 

Mr. Steve Stancil started his career in the U.S. Air Force and went on to be a public servant for over 28 years. Just a few of his positions include being elected to the State House of Representatives in 1988, and the Republican leader in 1992, as well as serving as the Executive Director of the Georgia Building Authority and State Properties Commission and the Director of the Georgia Financing and Investment Commission (appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue and Governor Nathan Deal). To learn more about his career, click here.

Mr. Stancil was a Cherokee County student starting in 1st grade and continuing through 12th grade. He remembers many outstanding teachers who taught him the value of hard work and the importance of having a good name and reputation by being a friend, serving others, and being honest in your dealings. He vividly remembers the tight-knit community he grew up in which was full of people who demonstrated goodness, honesty, hard work, and a willingness to invest time into a young person. He took each of these with him through his career and excelled in his field. 

Why Should You Nominate Candidates for Alumni of the Year? 

It's more than just an award. Mr. Stancil stated: "Nominating someone for the Alumni of the Year award is a tremendous way to let current students and all people in Cherokee County know the success stories of our graduates. It is a wonderful way to recognize individuals who have excelled in their chosen fields. These individuals can be examples of what students can achieve if they apply themselves and work hard. It is proof that Cherokee County provides a quality education which will be the foundation for success in whatever field the student chooses." 

Ms. Johnston went on to say, "The Alumni of the Year Award not only honors the individual and our school system, but it is also a way to encourage students and educators to strive to use their time in Cherokee County schools to its fullest and to work to be the best they can be." You could be part of inspiring the next generation when you nominate a candidate(s) for Alumni of the Year, so don't hesitate! 

What's Next? 

Though the Gala will look different this year, we're still just as excited to honor one alumna and one alumnus at our annual event. We're eager to see who you nominate, and who will win the 2021 Alumni of the Year award! 

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