At the White Hall Noon Lions Club meeting last week, White Hall School District Interim Superintendent Doug Dorris praised town residents, teachers, parents and students for making the district successful.
Dorris discussed the upcoming school year with about 16 people. He expects more students to enroll in the district in 2017-2018, with an influx in kindergarten and ninth grade.
“It is so assuring that growth in White Hall is coming,” he said. “People want to live in White Hall. They want to be a part of the community. You can go to the ball park and you’ll see all kinds of baseball games and softball games.”
A coach or administrator for 38 years in the White Hall School District, Dorris takes the reigns from Larry Smith, who retired June 30 after 10 years as superintendent. Dorris has been an educator overall for 43 years.
White Hall Middle School students scored in the top 50 among 350 schools on standardized tests in Arkansas in 2016-2017, Dorris said.
Dorris discussed his parents moving to White Hall when Dorris was two years of age and his father worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Dorris said White Hall is unique in that the school district and the city government work together.
“I can honestly say the majority of the community will help the school in any way they can,” Dorris said. “I remember when the west building at the middle school caught on fire. I remember coming up here on a Saturday and the community came here to help. And they had that place ready to go in no time.”
Dorris credited former White Hall Mayor Jitters Morgan and other White Hall aldermen and alderwomen for having the vision to build a community center that bears Morgan’s name.
“It is amazing when you go to the Jitters Morgan Community Center you see people of all ages there,” Dorris said. “Kids have a place to go now.”
In touting the White Hall School District, Dorris mentioned the Crenshaw Springs Water Park in White Hall. During a recent meeting he heard the water park attracted visitors from Osceola, Arkansas, which is 210 miles from White Hall.
Looking at Morgan, Dorris shared a story about his first job at the Boys Club as an official of a football game in Altheimer. Dorris said Morgan told him to put his penalty flag deep in his pocket, to not blow his whistle to avoid making a bad call, and to allow Morgan to handle an argumentative coach.
“That was before the rules of two penalties and you get kicked out of the game,” Dorris said of the coach. “Jitters got out there and the coach was raising sam about everything so Jitters threw his flag. I was standing next to Jitters and he took my flag and flew my flag. I turned back around and [Jitters] looked at me and the [coach] would not shut up. Jitters took my hat off my head and he threw my hat. I started backing up because the only thing I had left was my shirt and my pants.”
After his prepared comments, Dorris took questions.
White Hall High School needs a new athletic facility, Dorris said. The high school has four dressing rooms of which girls use three rooms and the boys use only one, Dorris said. This arrangement is a problem as the boys are crowded, he said.
Lions Club member Betsy Francis commended Dorris for his promotion and leadership in the district.
“I’ve watched you move up the ranks in the school district,” Francis said.
Other members clapped for Dorris at the conclusion of his lecture.