Alumni donate scholarship, further legacy of their class

Class of 1970 is still helping out, more than 50 years later
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 8:02 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - On Monday, Jan. 25, the Jonesboro Class of 1970 made a donation to the NEA Career and Technical Center to establish a new scholarship, but it isn’t the first time they’ve made a lasting impact on their school

The idea was hatched in the wake of their 50-year class reunion. They decided to create a scholarship for students who are often overlooked: Technical students.

At the reunion, they set up a silent auction featuring items from albums to hand-crafted baskets.

Some of the albums were original copies of the works of Black Oak Arkansas, a band that performed with bands such as Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Eagles, and Black Sabbath.

They were donated by Brenda Knight, whose late husband was one of the original members.

Four women from the class presented a check for $4,600 to set up that scholarship for the NEA Career and Technical Center.

NEACTC Director Eddie Crain said the scholarship will have a huge impact on students.

“This will change lives,” Crain said. “It does change lives when someone invests in the life of a youngster and helps them gain the skills to lead a successful life and to grow a great family right here in northeast Arkansas, especially Jonesboro.”

It isn’t the first time the class has made a lasting change for the school.

Countless athletes have suited up to play at Cooksey-Johns field whether they’re for or against the Jonesboro Hurricanes. However, it’s likely that very few of them have ever given thought to the stadium’s name.

“Two of our (class) members were killed senior year, and Cooksey-Johns field is named after them. We started there. We hope this isn’t finished,” Carola Clayton, a member of the class of 1970, said.

In December 1969, while on their way to the Sugar Bowl, Rickey Cooksey and Danny Johns were killed in a head-on collision. Both young men were being recruited by Louisiana State University to play football for the Tigers after graduation.

Instead, their names now live on with every JHS home football game.

Their class moved to name the stadium after the late students. More than 50 years later, they’re still doing what they can to leave an impact on their school.

Thanks to their contributions, students from across schools ten programs have a chance to further their education.

“Some of those kids sometimes don’t get the scholarships that the other kids do. They’re hard workers. Maybe they just don’t make the top grades for a scholarship so we decided to benefit somebody that way and hopefully this will go a long way. We have a very generous class,” Knight said.

Though students walking through the halls might not know about the class of 1970, their legacy lives on behind the scenes

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