Cleveland High Seeks To Honor Its Past And Inspire Its Future

Using two sheets of paper as pompoms, Ret. National Guard Inspector General and Cleveland School alum Cronin Byrd roused spirits with his enthusiastic rendition of his favorite cheer from his high school days, “Watermelon, watermelon, growing on the vine…Cleveland! Cleveland, lead the line! Benson, Benson, way behind!”  His performance was met with shouts of encouragement, booming applause, a flash of nostalgia for some, and the birth of new memories for others.

This past May, the Cleveland High School Student Council honored four of its alumni as they inducted Cronin Byrd, Juanita Hudson, J.H. Langdon, and H.L. Sorrell into the Hall of Fame.

In between jokes about the Carolina-shade of Cleveland’s blue and memories shared among one another, the alumni imparted wisdom gained from their years to the school’s current student leaders. J.H. Langdon, a lifelong educator and Retired NC House Representative, stressed, “All the variety of things that you have the opportunity to do, you need to seize those…get your education squared away, and it will take you where you need to go.  By the way, that lifelong learning, it will never stop.”

Another career educator and community leader, HL Sorrell, told students, “I encourage you to aim high…Get involved in your community and leave something to better the lives of future generations. Plant a tree that you might never get to see grow to maturity because you will plant that tree for someone else to sit under the shade.  All of us being honored tonight are sitting under the shade of a  tree that someone else planning before us.”

And before treating everyone to some true blue school spirit, Cronin Byrd, shared a story about the moment his 12 year old self was cropping tobacco and he found inspiration when a plane flew over his field. That moment led him to tell students, “Some kid raised on a tobacco farm can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it, work hard, study, and set some goals for yourself.” He then described the “awesomeness” of the moment when 18 years after the plane first flew overhead that he flew his own jet over that same tobacco farm.

After the induction ceremony, plaques honoring the 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees were placed in Cleveland High School’s front lobby along with the 2016 Inaugural Hall of Fame Inductees.  Cleveland welcomes visitors to view memorabilia on display from its most recent induction of alumni as well as past inductees including local sport and community legend Bruce Coats,  Retired US House of Representative Bob Etheridge, famed novelist Margaret Maron, and NC Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson.
Recognizing that Cleveland has a rich history dating back to the school first opening its doors in 1926 and then again in 2010, the Cleveland High Hall of Fame was created to honor the past and inspire the future.  These graduates exhibit the same integrity and excellence in their professional careers that they demonstrated in high school, and the inductees’ contributions make them role models for their communities and current students.

The Cleveland High School Hall of Fame was developed by student leaders in the Student Council during the spring of 2015, and the Student Council continues to manage the Hall of Fame as it aligns with their mission to promote scholastic achievement, develop ideals of citizenship, inspire and encourage school spirit, strengthen standards of loyalty and service, and advance the physical and moral prosperity of the school.

“‘Cause we are willing and determined to

Do the things our dear old school would have us do.

We’re gonna fight, fight, fight with all our might!

We’re gonna put them in the Hall of Fame!”

– from the Cleveland High School Fight Song

If you would like to know more about the Cleveland High Hall of Fame, watch videos of the induction ceremonies, or nominate a Cleveland graduate to be considered for this year’s induction class, please visit the Student Council’s website:  or contact Student Council Advisers Melissa Pearce and Allison Matthews.