Former CCHS principal speaks to Rotary clubBy Stephen Dawkins Published 10:44pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
As one of the first black students at Chilton County High School before Alabama schools were officially integrated, Larry Mahaffey has a unique perspective on Black History Month, which is celebrated each February.
Mahaffey spoke to the Rotary Club of Chilton County about that perspective at the group’s meeting Wednesday, but the man who served as principal of the school he helped integrate spoke more about his faith.
“It’s impossible for me to get up and talk to you without talking about the role God has played in my life,” Mahaffey said to club members at their regular meeting at Clara’s Country Cafe. “My environment didn’t limit God’s plan for me and my mindset. I had to learn how to forgive, and that’s when the blessings started.”
Mahaffey told a story about when he was first named CCHS principal. He worked so hard before the first day of school that he made himself sick.
He woke up on a Sunday morning not wanting to leave the bed. Even a friend told him he should stay home and get some rest. But Mahaffey remembered his mother’s weekly insistence that he attend church, so he got up and went.
Mahaffey awoke in a hospital, not knowing how he had gotten there. A doctor told him that going to church had saved his life because had he stayed in bed he could have died from severe dehydration.
Mahaffey said he approached his job as principal with wisdom imparted by Frederick Douglas: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Mahaffey left CCHS in 2008 and now helps with admissions and other areas at the local Jefferson State Community College campus, which started in an old car dealership building with about 60 students and now has more than 600 students in a state-of-the-art facility.
“I’m the happiest person in the world,” he said. “I have a lot to be thankful for.”