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Sellers presented FHS Fleet Award

Farragut High School’s Parent Teacher Student Organization has bestowed its highest honor, the Fleet Award, upon E. Brian Sellers, president of FHS Education Foundation.

“Considering all that the P-T-S-O does and has done for Farragut High School, its students, faculty, administration and the community in general, I am humbled and deeply grateful for your recognition of me with this award, and I pray that I am worthy of your esteem,” Sellers said.

Ann Slagle, PTSO president, presented the award to Sellers at the FHS open house Thursday, Jan. 24.

“The Fleet Award was established to honor an individual or group for unparalleled support or service to the school, its students, staff and families,” Slagle said,

“Any individual or group who has given its time, talent, resources or services unselfishly, in good faith and without thought of restitution is eligible for this award.

“Any individual or group who has provided leadership by example to [FHS] in order to meet its goals or has assisted [FHS] in becoming an internationally competitive school is eligible for this award.

“This is the highest honor bestowed upon a friend of [FHS],” she added.

Sellers met this criterion through his work on the FHS Education Foundation.

“After a photo of his daughter carrying her desk from one classroom to another because there were not enough desks for all FHS students made the front page of a local newpaper in 2003, Sellers responded to a plea from then FHS principal Edwin Hedgepeth to revive the Foundation.

“I [went] up to him and said ‘I read the article in the PTSO newsletter about the foundation, how is that coming?’ And the next thing I know, I am in charge of it,” Sellers said.

Regardless of how his presidency in the organization came to be, the EF his thrived under Sellers’ leadership.

Slagel said, “In his first year he recruited members and established a direction the Foundation would take.

“In the first step of this new vision, this dad took a hard look at the deplorable conditions in the [FHS] commons with students sitting and eating on the floor and decided to make new cafeteria furniture a priority. Working with [FHS principal Michael] Reynolds, Knox County, PTSO and the wonderful parents of this community he was able to [achieve this goal].

“Then, after that, there was the science lab,” she added. “His daughter came home and, at the dinner table, was talking about a Bunsen burner that had backfired in her chemistry lab and shot flames out the bottom of it.

“He began investigating and what started out to be a $10,000 renovation turned into a $250,000 science lab renovation project,” she said.

“Obviously when we heard about the science lab that floored us because it was bigger than anything we had ever raised money for before,” Sellers said.

“Luckily, one of the first things that happened was [Knox County] Mayor [Mike] Ragsdale heard about the situation and [got involved] by appropriating a portion of the budget that was going to the county School Board to go toward our science lab.

“He said they would put $250,000 toward it if we could raise another $100,000.

“We were able to raise that money and provide for equipment and lab tables, while the Cou-nty’s money went for the infrastructure,” he added.

Sellers credits all those involved with the Foundation for its success.

“I feel so bad sometimes about being the one to receive [the award] because there are a lot of people who have worked a lot of hours to do the things the foundation, and maybe myself, get credit for,” he said.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Mr. Reynolds on having the strength of purpose and the focus and the vision of what he wants [FHS] to be. He came in and hit the ground running. He met with us right away and already had a vision and an idea of what he wanted to do at [FHS], and it kind of set all of us on fire as to what was possible.

“I am so grateful to the P-T-S-O for all they have done. When-ever the Foundation needs support or has a project that we just need people to help with, they have always been there for us,” he added.

Perhaps the greatest testament to Sellers dedication to FHS and the Foundation is the fact that all the Foundation’s successes have been achieved with an understaffed Board of Directors.

“I think we are supposed to have 17 and we are not quite there. We have about a dozen active members right now. And we could always use people in other capacities as well. I think the more people you have the more ideas and connections you have,” he added


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