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Reynolds inducts 13 into Arts Hall of Fame

Reynolds inducts 13 into Arts Hall of Fame
September 21
05:30 2017

By Ashlea Howard Jones
For The Chronicle

The architecture of the Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium validates the history of R.J. Reynolds High School as 13 former students and teachers were inducted into the Arts Hall of Fame during the “Arts Always” celebration on Saturday, Sept. 16.

R. J. Reynolds High School, now Richard J. Reynolds Magnet School for the Visual and Performing Arts, used the ceremony to also commemorate its 95 years of existence, 60 years of integration and 10 years as an arts and magnet school.

“I know my father is weeping,” says Musician Leonard Foy, class of ’78 and 2017 arts hall of fame inductee. “This was his dream, especially during the time I came here. I went to Wiley and Brunson around the time of desegregation and to be at Reynolds, which was society hill and not for us, and now to see that it is an arts magnet. Arts is for all. It’s the one thing that has always brought our cultures together, and I’m so proud to be able to be a part of it.”

The inaugural class Arts Hall of Fame inductees includes people who impacted R.J. Reynolds High’s Arts program. The youngest inductee honored during the ceremony was visual artist Endia Beal, a 2003 graduate, who currently serves as the director of Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University.

“When I was at Reynolds, I really found my voice as an artist,” says Beal. “In high school, you don’t really know what that means, but I found my purpose. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing as an artist, but I’m grateful for the time that I had here to figure out what my purpose is, my why.”

The first class also includes novelist Wilton Barnhardt; Howell Binkley, Tony Award winning lighting designer; Ben Brantley, drama critic for the New York Times; Songwriter Ben Folds; Singer George Hamilton IV; Lindsay Jones, award-winning composer and sound designer; sculptor Earline Heath King; Painter Joe Wallace King; film director Phil Morrison; Minnie Lou Raper, orchestra teacher; and theatre director Michael Wilson.

“The best thing about being here and being amongst these amazing artists is that you realize that the journey is never ending for all of us. It continues,” says Beal.

“It’s so hard for me to take all of this in for myself,” says Foy. I want to be here to celebrate the community, its continued success, and what these kids are going to embark on.”

This year, R.J. Reynolds was one of only 55 schools in the nation to become certified by Magnet Schools of America, the national association of magnet and theme-based schools. At the ceremony, student groups performed in celebration of the school’s accomplishments.

“When I think about all the instructors and all the individuals at R.J. Reynolds that really shaped and molded me as a student and a person, it’s just really wonderful to think about how it has transitioned into this amazing arts and magnet program,” Beal said.

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