North Johnston High School recognized dozens of former graduates who all reached high levels of success, including NFL free agent Willie Smith, at the school’s first “This is My North Johnston Day.”
School officials organized the ceremony on Wednesday to inspire current North Johnston High students to reach their greatest potential.
“We want to give an idea of what success is and what goals students should be setting for themselves,” said North Johnston Principal David West. “What better way to do it than right here at home, because there are many successful people that are right inside of North Johnston.”
Those recognized for their personal achievements were Willie Smith, the North Johnston 1981 Baseball State 2A Champions, Johnston County Board of Education Chairman Larry Strickland, West Clayton Elementary Principal Kristina Benson, River Dell Elementary Principal Ben Williams, Johnston County Athletic Hall of Fame member Twana Johnson, Dr. Renee Watson, MD, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Bengie Gaddis, Pine Level Mayor Jeff Holt, Dr. William Barnes, and Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow.
Those honored were former graduates of North Johnston High School and had a special biography read about them by current students.
“Dream big and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” said Smith. “Set goals and go after it with everything you’ve got. Don’t hold anything back.”
Smith also had the number he wore during his time playing football at North Johnston, 82, retired at the ceremony.
“It goes to show that all of the hard work I put in really paid off,” said Smith. “North Johnston was always here for me, and they’ve got one of the top education programs in the state I believe. Dr. Ross Renfrow was here when I was here, and he did a great job leading us.”
In addition to honoring past graduates, school officials used the ceremony as a time to recognize former North Johnston graduates who now teach at the school as well as the accomplishments of all of the spring athletes and seniors who are attending college in the fall.