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Seven to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Monday, September 17, 2001

SIKESTON - There are those rare individuals who do things not for fame or fortune, but simply because they believe in the cause. For them, recognition is unnecessary.

But the friends and colleagues of several of these people believe the community should know what was achieved for Sikeston Public Schools. So on Friday, Jeannie Williams, Larry Nickell, Bud Spears, Justin Towe, Marshaun West, Mike Chegwidden and Roger Bannister will be honored for their dedication at the Sikeston-Kennett football game where they will be inducted into either the Hall of Fame or Honor Wall.

"I learned a long time ago that if you develop the habit of giving yourself with no need of reward, your rewards will be more than you ever needed," said Williams, who will be honored as a new member of the Honor Wall, which recognizes those who have made outstanding efforts in academics or service to Sikeston Public Schools.

An author, lecturer and consultant in the field of education, Williams has more than 30 years' experience working with teachers and parents, encouraging them to find realistic ways to help children become motivated to learn. She is an accomplished magician who uses her talents as a teaching tool for children.

"I am deeply touched and will accept this honor with a great deal of pride," she said of being chosen as a new inductee. "But my greatest satisfaction has come from knowing that I have made a contribution to the lives of many children in our community. There is no greater reward than receiving a letter from a parent or teacher telling me that a student's life has been touched - or changed - as a result of one of my programs. There is no greater recognition than in the letters I receive from children telling me they have learned to believe in themselves as never before, simply because they have learned the real magic words in life are 'I can.'"

Williams served on Sikeston Public Schools' Board of Education from 1985-1997, serving two terms as school board president. From 1982-1985 she was a member of Sikeston Public Schools' Citizens Advisory Board and is president and founder of the "Make Way for Young Authors" creative writing program, which teaches students how to write and illustrate their own books.

A 1960 graduate of Sikeston High School, Larry Nickell also will be inducted into the Honor Wall. He became an industrial arts instructor and assistant basketball coach at Sikeston Middle School in 1968. He was hired as assistant principal at Middle School in 1973 and as principal in 1976.

"I think my greatest reward is when you see ex-students grow up, have a family and be a productive part of society," Nickell said. "They don't necessarily have to become a doctor or a lawyer, just be a part of the community."

He was a member of Sikeston Community Teacher's Association for 31 years, having served as both president and vice president, and has been an MSTA member for 33 years.

"This is a great honor to me," he said. "I think when you do a good job at something you don't have to tell people, they'll see it. That's just the way I've always been."

Nickell also served on the executive committee of the Southeast Missouri Principal's Association and was selected Administrator/Counselor Advocate of the Year in 1994-1995.

Chosen to become a member of the Hall of Fame, which was created to honor athletes, Clayton "Bud" Spears was head basketball coach in Morehouse from 1967-1968 and was assistant boy's basketball coach in Sikeston from 1968-1974. He was named head boy's basketball coach in 1974.

But Spears insists it is not he who deserves the recognition. "It's an honor to be named to the Hall of Fame, but it's the kind of kids that I've had here - and I guess I've just hung around long enough," he quipped. "I hope I'm not the kind of person to toot my own horn, I don't want to be that kind of person. I was just there, the kids are the ones who did it. They are the ones who have to go out and do it everyday and work hard. It's the kids who need to be recognized, not us."

After retiring as head boy's basketball coach in 1984, he became attendance officer for Sikeston Public Schools from 1988-1990. In 1990, he took on the responsibility of transportation director. Spears retired after 33 years in education and 31 years at Sikeston Public Schools.

"Coaching was something I loved to do and something I got a chance to do. My greatest reward is just having the kids come back and tell me how much it meant to them to be able to play for me, that's the reward right there," he said.

Also to be inducted into the Hall of Fame Friday is Mike Chegwidden, a 1982 graduate of Sikeston High School. He served Sikeston Public Schools as a two-time All-State athlete in cross-country. He is one of the few sophomores to become All-State in Sikeston's athletic history.

Chosen as a new inductee into the Hall of Fame, Roger Bannister graduated from Sikeston High School in 1988. He was awarded All-State cross-country and All-State track honors. He also held the school record for 3,200 meters.

A second-year letterman in basketball, Sikeston High School graduate Marshaun West competed in the state finals as a junior, placing fifth in both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash and first in long jump.

As a senior, West placed first in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, long jump and the 4X400 meter relay at district. He received state honors for coming in fifth in the long jump, seventh in the 200--meter and second in the 400-meter dash. He set the school record with a personal best of 24-2 1/3 in the long jump.

In college at Notre Dame, he was named 1999 Indoor All American in long jump, 1999 Big East Most Outstanding Track Performer and 1999 Big East Indoor and Outdoor Champion for the 200-meter dash.

Justin Towe was a 1992 graduate of Sikeston High School where he served as football captain. He was first team All-Conference as a wide receiver in football two years in a row and in his junior year was second team All-Conference as a linebacker and was the Gridiron Banquet Outstanding Offense Receiver.

He finished the season as a top 10 SEMO receiver who caught over 100 yards in multiple games.

Towe was named Missouri University Male Athlete of the Week in 1994.

The 2001 inductees, as well as past honorees and their families, are invited to a pregame tailgate barbecue at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the new pavilion at the football stadium.

To nominate someone for the next Hall of Fame/Honor Wall induction, applications are available at the Sikeston Public Schools Administration Building, 1002 Virginia St. For more information call 472-2581.

"We are fortunate to have so many special people in our community," Williams remarked. "That is why the SPS Honor Wall and Hall of Fame are filled with names. We have so many who have the ability and the willingness to share with others. I firmly believe that each of us has our own particular gift to bestow and that we have endless opportunities to make a difference in our community."