This page is the main news and information section of the Douglass High School website. Compared to the National and Metro sections of a standard newspaper, news pertaining to Douglass High Alumni and the Riverview-South Central Community will be listed here, with pictures where available. View older articles by clicking "Older Posts" at the bottom of this page.
"Jenny was always a fighter. But sometimes, you have to let the Lord win some of those fights for you."
The life of Virginia Hankins, affectionately known as "Jenny" is being celebrated.
Jenny Hankins lost her courageous battle with cancer Monday night, June 24, 2013, peacefully surrounded by family and friends. She was 63.
"The community will miss her willingness to help in a time of crisis," says longtime friend Roberta "Bert" Webb. "She was heavily involved in the American Red Cross, and was always being called to help somewhere. I was talking to her daughter Tiffany and I said 'if your mama wasn't in this bed sick, she'd be up in Calgary, Alberta helping those people with the flooding there. We started laughing, and wondering where the next catastrophe would be. Jenny went anywhere the Red Cross sent her, she would go. She just always wanted to help and comfort people."
"She might have retired from Eastman, but she didn't retire from life."
FRIENDS SINCE THE SECOND GRADE AT DOUGLASS
"I've known Jenny since the second grade," says Bert. "Since we were seven. We've been around each other almost 50 years. She has been a good friend over the years. I could just pick up the phone and call her, and we would sound just like school girls. There wasn't anything we wouldn't do for each other."
"You just couldn't ask for a better friend."
Webb said Jenny was also totally dedicated to her classmates, the Class of '68.
"That was her special bond," Bert says. "Even though we all went our separate ways after Douglass intergrated with some of us graduating from D-B and other schools, we all shared that bond of starting at Douglass and being part of the Douglass Class of '68. We always wondered out loud what things would have been like, had it been at 301 Louis Street."
In 2011, Jenny was elected president of the Douglass Alumni Association of Kingsport, and oversaw the renaming of the organization to the Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc., as it transitioned from just a neighborhood group, into a non-profit 501(c)3 charity.
"She was a dedicated alumni member to the Douglass Alumni," says past president Doug Releford. "She always had ideas for fundraisers, and was always willing to work on anything. She helped us get a grant from the Kohl's Department Store people, and organized pancake breakfasts to raise money for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass."
Ill health forced Jenny to resign from the presidency in February. Her resignation came as a shock to her fellow board members, as the cancer that racked her body eventually settled in her liver. Tears took over as news of her resignation settled over the board at its meeting that Saturday.
"She always wanted the alumni to work harder to strengthen the organization, and felt the Executive Board of which she was president, and the Working Board who carried out the policies, was the key to holding the group together," Releford says. "She wanted the organization to be a sounding board in the community, as Riverview moves forward in its relationship with Kingsport. We had never been a member of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and she pushed for that. It let people know that we as African-Americans are important members of the community as a whole."
"Her goal was to keep the history of Douglass School known in Kingsport, by passing it on down to our descendants like the Ebony Club," he says. "She always felt that they were Sons and Daughters of Douglass, too, and our history is part of their history, too. Hopefully, we can continue that dream."
Funeral services will be announced soon. Please check back at the PASSINGS AND OBITUARIES link for the homegoing of Virginia "Jenny" Hankins.
The first time sprinter Blake Leeper began training, he didn’t know how to use the starting blocks or how to line up on the track.
By the time he learned, Leeper quickly became the fastest Paralympian in the world, tying the 100-meter world record set by South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius at 10.91 seconds during a meet in Canada last July.
Leeper, who is from Kingsport, was born with a rare congenital birth defect where neither of his fibulae developed. He has no limbs below his knees. He learned to walk using prosthetic legs. Leeper grew up in a no-nonsense household, raised by Southern Baptist parents. His older brother, Christopher, played baseball and basketball growing up, and Blake followed. His prosthetics didn’t stop him.
“Sometimes people are dealt with difficult situations and people think, ‘Why me?’ ” said Blake’s mother, Edith Leeper.
“Instead of ‘Why me?’ people can pull up their pants, lace up their shoes and make the best of the situation.”
Leeper continued playing both sports and ran cross country throughout high school. “Sports let the community and people know that even though I’m different, I can still compete at a high level,” said Leeper, who is currently in Chula Vista, Calif., training for the July 14 International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Lyon, France.
After high school, Leeper thought his sports career was over. He enrolled at the University of Tennessee. But then his life changed during the summer of 2008.
While watching the Paralympic Games on television, Leeper saw Pistorius and others race with ease on their prosthetic blades. Leeper wanted to give it a try.
Immediately, Leeper began his pursuit of getting blades to run. Over the next several months and into the next year, Leeper applied for grants and contacted organizations to help him get the $15,000 legs that would make running track a reality.
“Blake never mentioned wanting to run track (in high school),” Edith said. “We had no idea he would pursue it like he did.”
Once Leeper got his blades, it took him three months to get used to running with them. He put off college and dedicated himself to running track.
In 2009, the Leeper family drove 14 hours to a track meet in Oklahoma to help Blake support his new dream. It was his first race on his new blades.
Leeper won the race to qualify for a spot on the U.S. Paralympic team. The next month, he was racing in Brazil and traveling the world with the team.
In 2012, he qualified for the Paralympic Games in London, where he raced in front of seven family members and 80,000 spectators. He won bronze in the 200 meters and silver in the 100 meters.
“The bronze medal is good and silver medal is good, but we want the gold,” Leeper said. “I don’t realize my full potential yet.”
Since returning from London, Leeper’s sights are set on Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
He will also attempt to become the first American Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied Olympics, something Pistorius did last summer in London.
“You know, (Pistorius) kind of paved the way for me,” Leeper said. “He opened the door, and now I want to walk through it.”
Getting a lot of questions in the office on whether there will be a reunion of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass this year?
The answer is a resounding YES!
Although not called a "Reunion," essentially we will be having a "get-together" to be held on Friday July 5th, Saturday July 6th, and Sunday July 7th, because folks in Riverview want to see their friends and relatives out-of-town.
Friday's major festivities will feature the familiar "meet-and-greet" ... Saturday's main events are the Field Day in the afternoon, and the Ebony Club's Black-and-White event on Saturday night... and Sunday's main event will be the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Memorial Program right after church.
VERY IMPORTANT: There will also be a Douglass Alumni Business Meeting, to be held Saturday afternoon around 3 PM. That short meeting will last about an hour, and all alumni, including Ebony Club descendants, are asked to be present to nominate and vote for new Sons and Daughters Executive Board officers for 2014-2015.
A more detailed "Get Together" schedule will be forthcoming, next weekend.
Everyone who has paid annual dues will receive their membership cards during this meeting, and those who have not paid their dues can do, at this time and get their cards. Remember.... yearly membership dues in the Sons and Daughters Alumni Association is needed to balance the books of our non-profit organization, and pay one of the two bills we regularly have.
Please plan to come home to Kingsport and be with loved ones in the homeplace: our beloved Riverview neighborhood!
From Tennessee to Michigan.. it's been a long journey for Monica Lewis-Patrick.
Now, the Douglass descendant is taking a giant, bold step to make a difference in the world of politics.
As the daughter of Riverview's Sinora Horton Lewis, and the great-niece of civil rights activist and Motown P.R. director Dr. Junius "Toby" Griffin, Monica is running for the city council at-large seat in Detroit.
For years, Monica Lewis-Patrick has been very active in the public and cultural affairs of the Motor City, and her name is well-known among political and motivational circles.
Please keep Monica in your thoughts and prayers, as one of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass takes a giant leap forward in the world of politics, in one of America's largest cities!
Members in Attendance: Wallace W. Ross, Jr, Andra Watterson, Louetta Hall, Linda Blye, Sandra Wilmer, Ozine Bly, Calvin Sneed and Vicki Smith
Meeting was called to order by Andra Watterson, President
Prayer by Louetta Hall, Chaplain
Minutes were read by Vicki Smith, Recording Secretary and motion made by Ozine to accept minutes as read. Sandra seconded the motion and motion carried.
Ozine Bly, Treasurer gave the financial report for the checking/savings account.
Sandra made a motion to accept the Treasurer's report as read, and Louetta seconded the motion.
Mishaps occured in generating the forms for Scholarship/Field Usage
Calvin will scan both forms and send to Linda to re-create so farms are available for scholarship
applicants and vendors.
Calvin stated he has been paying for usage of website.
Douglass on-line website for T-shirts, bugs, etc. is not generating any funds.
All in agreement for only approved minutes to be viewed on website.
Completed forms (scholarship/vendor) will be given to Andra and she will pass out to designated
members, churches, etc. so they will be accessible for pickup.
Reminder to check with Lillian regarding socializing for Alumni on Friday in the Douglass Room
Letter of resignation from Lillian Leeper, Financial Secretary
Ozine Bly, Treasurer will need an Interim Assistant. Vicki Smith volunteered to fill this position until
next election. Calvin made a motion to accept Vicki as Interim Assistant and Linda seconded the
motion. Motion carried.
Paperwork at Capital Bank to be completed on Monday by Vicki for bank signature as Interim
Assistant, since Lillian has resigned.
The next meeting will be on Saturday, June 15th, 2013 at 1:30 PM. Calvin made a motion to adjourn the
meeting. Sandra seconded the motion. Meeting was adjourned.
Minutes recorded and submitted by: Vicki Smith, Recording Secretary
KINGSPORT — Tennessee Titans football player Coty Sensabaugh held a football camp at D-B's J. Fred Johnson Football Stadium on Saturday, June 15, 2013.
Sensabaugh played at D-B, then went on to Clemson University and then to the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
We don't know how many kids took part in the drills (your Douglass website was unable to speak with Sensabaugh about the camp and about being home in Kingsport), but the kids seemed to enjoy the participation.
• New Vision Youth, in partnership with the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department and South Central Kingsport Development, will present their annual Youth Prom, beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium on Fort Henry Drive.
This year’s theme is Mardi Gras.
A prince and princess will be crowned in the elementary and middle school youth category, while a king and queen will be crowned in the high school youth category.
All youth are welcome to attend this free event. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by DJ Groove.
The youth who bring the most old or not used cell phones will win a prize. The cell phones will be donated to the Kingsport Diabetes Association.
Attire should be “Sunday best” or appropriate clothing. For more information, contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty (423) 429-7553
"Seize the moment," 2013 African-American graduates of Dobyns-Bennett High School were told by several inspirational speakers the weekend of May 11th.
The event was a party given for the graduates by Johnnie Mae Swagerty with New Vision Youth; Jill Ellis, former teacher at Douglass Elementary/High School and former guidance counselor at D-B; Dawnella Ellis, former D-B teacher; Olivia Swafford, parent; and Calvin Sneed, interim Vice President for Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc, and webmaster for the Douglass Alumni/Riverview Community website.
Speaking to the group was D-B Assistant Principal Eric Lyons, and Teddy Gaines, former D-B, U-T and NFL football standout and current assistant football coach at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN.
This year's graduate list was one of the highest ever for African-American graduates at D-B. 21 seniors officially graduated on Saturday, May 25th. The diplomas themselves can be picked up in the D-B Counseling Office starting June 10, 2013 for those seniors who meet all graduation requirements.