CHULA -- Grandparents of Tiftarea Academy students joined faculty and staff Friday morning to pack the gymnasium for the annual Grandparents' Day programs.

The annual event, organized to honor grandparents who have positively influenced their grandchildren, was renamed Friday for the late John Hunt, a longtime supporter of the academy.

Friend Jimmy Allen said Hunt was a strong supporter of the school and was responsible for establishing programs to improve it. After years of less than successful football teams and a lower than desired enrollment number, Hunt found ways to improve both.

"He was instrumental in getting these sorts of things turned around," Allen said. "He said that if you don't have any boys in high school, you can't keep the girls here."

"He would say that nothing happens with just one person. He would say let's all get busy," Allen said.

Hunt's wife, Julie, son Dallas and daughter July V accepted a plaque and a proclamation naming the day "John Hunt Grandparents' Day" from Allen.

Dallas Hunt said as he spoke for his family that his chin was shaking like it did when he ran for a student council position when he was a ninth-grade student at the school.

"I can't remember a time he didn't go to something if it was happening out here," Hunt said of his father. "He would have been here (today) because he loved children and he loved his grandchildren."

Anthony Caucci, vice president of the senior class, welcomed visitors to the program and Ric Ellis, Beta Club treasurer, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Star-Spangled Banner was led by the middle school chorus and Megan Mann, senior class president, led the devotion.

Sixth grader Elizabeth Wilkes played "Black Pearl," a piano piece she wrote herself, to entertain the crowd. The middle school chorus sang "Heroes" and Marlissa Doss sang the country song "Grandpa."

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade who participate in the Spanish III program performed musical selections in Spanish. Eleventh and 12th-grade students teach the group Spanish during the week.

Additional performances by student quartets and choruses rounded out the event.

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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