Although they never attended Gainesville High School, Betty Livingston, John Lilly and Scott McGarity know what it means to be a Red Elephant.
The three adults were recently named Gainesville High’s 2020-2021 honorary diploma recipients for their longstanding efforts at the high school.
“The day that the principal (Jamie Green) called and told me that I had been selected, I said, ‘Well, you made my day,’” Livingston recounted. “It was very gratifying.”
Livingston said she worked as an English teacher for five years at North Augusta High School in South Carolina before moving to Gainesville to raise her family. Living in the area, she remembers receiving many requests to help as a substitute teacher in the district. Eventually, Livingston said she gave in and served at Gainesville Middle School for around two years. She then spent the next 40 years working as a long-term substitute teacher at Gainesville High School.
“I’ve enjoyed the students, I really have,” she said. “I just love teenagers. Most people don’t, but I do. I was more comfortable with high school students because that’s what I had taught before.”
Lilly said he considers becoming an honorary diploma recipient an “honor of a lifetime.” For the past 30 years he has served in various membership roles in the district, including the Parent Teacher Association and Governance Council of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, Gainesville Middle and Gainesville High. He has also been a board member of the Gainesville Athletic Club and president of the Gainesville Tipoff Club.
“This means a lot to me on two fronts,” he said. “I’ve always secretly wanted this, but it’s not something you can campaign for. And, to happen this year when my daughter is a senior (at Gainesville High), we graduate at the same time. It’s fantastic.”
McGarity said he was excited to be named an honorary diploma recipient, especially since both his daughters graduated from Gainesville High. Since graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he has devoted himself to working and serving in the Gainesville community, including volunteering as a youth coach through the city’s parks and recreation department and working on Gainesville High football’s chain gang for 20 years.
“I was honored,” McGarity said. “It’s a great system. They (two daughters) came through first through 12th grade. They both went on to college from there and now work in a professional manner here (in Gainesville).”