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Three receive honorary Gainesville High diplomas
Gnann, Shumake, Smith honored at baccalaureate ceremony
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Heyward Gnann, J.D. Smith and David Shumake pose for a photo Friday in front of Gainesville High School. Gnann, Smith and Shumake received honorary diplomas from Gainesville High on Saturday morning. - photo by Erin O. Smith

In the past, Heyward Gnann, David Shumake and J.D. Smith each served Gainesville High School as a teacher, principal and parent.

Now they hold Gainesville High School diplomas.

The three men were presented honorary diplomas Saturday before the school’s baccalaureate ceremony at First Baptist Church.

This is the ninth year Gainesville High has recognized people for their contributions to the school with the honorary diplomas. This year’s class brings the total recipients to 30.

Principal Tom Smith said the selections were made by the School Governance Council with the help of some former recipients.

“It’s an opportunity for somebody in our community to nominate somebody who is not a graduate of Gainesville High School, but has made a significant contribution to the students of Gainesville High,” Smith said. “That could be in any capacity.”

Gnann, who taught history and political science at Gainesville High from 1960-66, received a lot of support from members of the GHS classes of 1965 and 1967, according to Smith.

“I’m quite honored to be selected and pleased to join many who have been chosen before me,” Gnann said.

Gnann filmed high school football games for 22 years after leaving to teach at then-Gainesville State College. He still attends many sporting events and theatrical plays at the school.

“It was a great environment to teach in,” he said.

Shumake served as Gainesville High principal from 1999 to 2007 when a major construction project was going on at the campus. He also worked in the school district’s central office.

“I am very honored, humbled and very blessed to have served in Gainesville City Schools,” Shumake said. “It was always a joy. We had great students and parents and a supportive community. At Gainesville High School, the expectation is for excellence in academics, athletics, and fine arts. I was honored to maintain that legacy.”

J.D. Smith is a former Superior Court and Appeals Court judge who retired in 2011. His son, Brian, graduated from Gainesville High in 1997 and his daughter, Joanna Nijem, graduated from the school in 1999.

“I’m especially proud to join my two adult children, both of whom have GHS diplomas that they earned the hard way,” he said. “Because of the role it’s played in this community for well over 100 years, providing so much talent and leadership to the community, it’s special for me to be named.”

While he said he believes he was an involved parent when his children were in school, Judge Smith said his wife, Flo, was more involved in the school.

“My wife deserves this award more than I do,” he said.

Judge Smith graduated from South Hall High, now Johnson High. One of his school’s rivals was Gainesville.

“I promise not to wear blue at any of the ceremonies,” he said last week.

To be eligible for an honorary diploma, a candidate was still be living, demonstrate support for the  mission of school, nominated with supporting documentation, and not be a graduate of a Gainesville city school, according to information provided by school board member Sammy Smith.

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