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McCracken yearbook offers look back

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

Alumni of the three high schools that came together to form the nearly one-year old McCracken County High School will get a final chance to relive their memories through print.

In commemoration of the history of Heath, Lone Oak and Reidland high schools, Acclaim Press, an independent publisher formed in 2005, is sponsoring a final, collaborative yearbook. The three schools consolidated into McCracken County High School last summer.

"This one-of-a-kind book will give alumni and students the opportunity to record their thumbprint in time, while sparking the memories of our friends and activities," said Duane Sikes, Acclaim Press publishing consultant and Reidland High School graduate.

The publication will feature personal biographies with memories and achievements from alumni. The histories of all three schools, along with notable alumni, a sports section with past championship teams and a chapter on the new McCracken County High School will also be included.

Sikes said the project, which began more than two years ago, will be several hundred pages of a hardback, hand-stitched "coffee-table" style book.

"There needs to be an exhaustive history of all three schools," he said. "We are all one big entwined community, so we thought it made sense to put everything into one book."

Dave Osborne, Lone Oak alumnus and book committee member, said the publication will fill an essential need to document the history of McCracken County schools from the perspective of their living alumni and families.

"We have to provide the history while those with the memories are still alive," he said. "It similar to interest in genealogy; we want to understand where we came from and have a dialogue about the past."

Osborne said each of the three schools, which opened between 1910-1920, will bring about a century of unique and important historical context to the book.

Judith Wasko, a five-generation Heath alumna and book committee member, said the book will be critical to carry on the stories for multi-generational families at Heath. She said the publication will include a mixture of sincere stories, humorous memories and school pride.

"It's a great way to honor the school and what it meant for the community," Wasko said. "We have to tell those stories of parents and grandparents."

Emma Lou Wells, Reidland High School alumna and secretary of its alumni association, said the yearbook provides insight into the long history of the schools and the surrounding community.

"It's important for the current generations to learn about the school and to embrace the fellowship and closeness that we all felt during the years we attended," she said.

Alumni as well as teachers, staff and members of administration are asked to send a personal biography of up to 150 words, with background information, memories from high school years, and reflections on their personal past and future. Publishers also ask alumni to include two then-and-now photographs, one from high school and one current photo.

Graduates can also send brief stories of 500 words or less with high school memories and other nostalgic photos. Widows, friends and family members are encouraged to send in photos and materials on behalf of alumni who have died. When sending photos, include your name, address and a caption on the back.

The deadline to submit materials is July 31. All documents and photographs can be submitted at no cost to Acclaim Press, P.O. Box 238, Morley, MO 63767. The book, whose price has not been finalized, is slated to be published sometime next year, according to Sikes.

For more information, call Acclaim Press at 877-427-2665 to request a brochure or download it from its website at www.acclaimpress.com and click on the Heath, Lone Oak, and Reidland high schools option on the home page.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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