ACCS headmaster retires

Published 12:01 am Thursday, December 20, 2007

NATCHEZ — For 40 years now John Gray has been in the educational field—now he’s ready to do some fishing.

On Wednesday, Gray and about 50 of his friends, family and co-workers gathered in the Adams County Christian School’s multi-use room to see him off into retirement.

For the last six years Gray has served as ACCS’s headmaster.

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Administrative assistant Marlene Southerland said Gray has been an asset to the school.

“He’s brought so much to us,” she said.

Southerland credits Gray for revamping the school’s library and getting more computers for the school.

But Southerland said some of the things Gray has brought to the school are not tangible.

“He has given the students so much encouragement,” she said. “He’s like their spiritual administrator.”

Gray however does not give himself so much credit.

“I’ve just done what I can for the school,” he said.

Gray said while his contract was not due to expire until June he decided to terminate it early in order to spend more time with his family, especially the grandkids.

“They get big so quick,” he said. “I want to be around for it,” he said.

Gray said he feels one of his biggest contributions to the school has been improvements to the school’s athletic department.

“It’s vitally important to have a good athletic program,” he said. “Schools with a strong athletic program just run better.”

But more importantly Gray is concerned with the moral aptitude of the school’s students.

“I hope they have all been given enough information on the Bible to make good choices,” he said. “In kindergarten through eighth grade they have a good program.”

But Gray also said the school will face some challenges.

One of the schools biggest problems is declining student enrollment.

Gray said since International Paper and other large companies have left, town enrollment has been down.

But what exactly can be done to bolster enrollment remains an unknown.

But that’s not Gray’s problem anymore, Buddy Wade has been named as the new headmaster of ACCS.

“We want to get those (enrollment) numbers up,” he said.

Wade said a few years ago the school’s enrollment around 700, today its under 400.

Wade said he is not exactly sure how to get enrollment back up.

But between then and now Wade has one simple plan.

“We’re going to keep offering the same quality education we always have.”