Saronya Kennedy, left, was chosen by her classmates to be a sophomore Homecoming representative at Chilton County High School. She is pictured with her father, Terrance Kennedy, who escorted her across the football field Sept. 27.
Saronya Kennedy, left, was chosen by her classmates to be a sophomore Homecoming representative at Chilton County High School. She is pictured with her father, Terrance Kennedy, who escorted her across the football field Sept. 27.

Archived Story

Student’s family deems Homecoming a ‘full-circle moment’

Published 1:25pm Thursday, October 24, 2013

Homecoming is typically a special time for a school and its students, with spirit-filled festivities that culminate in a football game and the announcement of a new homecoming queen and representatives.

For Chilton County High School sophomore Saronya Kennedy and her family, Homecoming at CCHS this year was particularly meaningful.

Kennedy, 16 of Clanton, was among her school’s Homecoming representatives who took the field before the CCHS Tigers’ football game against Marbury on Sept. 27.

Not only was this Kennedy’s first time as a Homecoming representative, but it was also a chance for her family to reflect on progress made in race relations in their hometown.

“It means a lot because it was my first time,” Kennedy said. “To represent my class, for one, was a great thing. I knew I had students that volunteered me … that I was a good representative for my class.”

In 1965, Kennedy’s grandmother, Queenie Speigner Vianen, was one of the first two black students to attend Chilton County High School as desegregation was implemented in the county.

“Progress has been made,” Vianen said. “That’s been over 40 years.”

Vianen and her friend Cathy Wilson were the only two black students that decided to transfer from Chilton County Training School, an all-black school, to CCHS that year.

“It was a challenge,” Vianen said. “I wanted to do it, but at the same time was frightened to because that was the time when things were really rough, but now things have totally changed and hopefully for the better.”

Vianen’s daughters, Sonya Nix (Kennedy’s mother) and LaDonna Childress, also attended CCHS.

Childress graduated as salutatorian of her class in 1986.

“I think it was the first time two black female students occupied the valedictorian and salutatorian positions at CCHS,” Childress said.

Kennedy said she plans to join the Air Force after graduation and work on computers and electronics.

From the stands at Tiger Stadium, Kennedy’s family watched her walk across the football field with her father, Terrance Kennedy, as her escort Sept. 27.

“I felt very proud that she was even elected,” Vianen said.

Childress described Kennedy’s inclusion in this year’s group of Homecoming representatives as “a full-circle moment” for their family.

“I did not want the moment to pass without acknowledging the significance of it,” Childress said. “Progress happens slowly, but surely. I also wanted my mother to know we appreciate the challenges she went through years ago, so that we could have a better and brighter future.”

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