From our files
Madison celebrates education with a bang
Madison now has its own school system and local politicians, city servants and citizens were beaming with pride and excitement at the July 1 kick-off party, appropriately named the Education Celebration.
A balmy summer evening with blue skies and a gentle breeze brought out more than 500 Madison residents to the Village Green for what turned out to be a perfect Hometown, USA street party.
Even Madison officials had a good time in their suits and ties, despite the summer heat and a bright and early start with an Education Celebration Breakfast at the Port of Madison restaurant in the Holiday Inn.
City Council President Marc Jacobson was breakfast master of ceremonies for local officials, Madison City School leaders and representatives from the Alabama Board of Education.
The breakfast crowd reconvened early in the evening to cut the ribbon at the Madison Board of Education building on Sullivan Street just around the corner from the Village Green and Main Street.
The ribbon was extra long to allow each of the gathered dignitaries room to get in their own official scissors snip.
After the ribbon cutting, the crowd walked across the street to the already busy Village Green to partake in the festivities.
Bob Jones cheerleaders Meredith Davidson, Lana Pruitt and Kristen Helms marched through the crowd behind a sign asking onlookers, kids and adults alike, to have their faces painted.
Liberty Middle cheerleaders, who were slightly less aggressive in their advertising methods, maintained and opposing table where they painted a smiley face on Julie Decarb's face.
Volunteers working the free popcorn stand had their hands full for the duration of the celebration filling bag after bag of salted kernels while nearby student volunteers filled red, white and blue helium balloons for passing kids.
After attending dignitaries found their seats in the flag strewn gazebo, the more orderly portion of the celebration began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. The national anthem was then performed by the Madison community.
Don Spencer, school board president, presided over the ceremonies.
Mayor Chuck Yancura took the podium to the sounds of a solitary tuba player tooting out the Scarecrow's theme song from the Wizard of Oz. The Mayor, true to form, took it all in stride.
Yancura received resounding applause when he announced the county had deeded each of the six schools in the new system to the city.
He pointed out the risks Madison leaders have taken in the hope of bettering the community and said that each of these ventures has ended fruitfully for the city as a whole.
"Most recently we took another risk," he said. "To form the new school system. I think it will prove to be one of the smartest things the city has done. This is a very significant day for the City of Madison."
Yancura ended his speech by holding up a 1996 copy of the Madison County record dated Dec. 12 with a headline that ran "Yancura announces city school system by 1998."
"My crystal ball was very clear that day," he said.
Finally, the much-awaited moment came and the crowd bent their collective neck to the sky to watch as red, white and blue pyrotechnics splashed across the sky, signaling in the hearts of onlookers the true beginning of a new era in Madison.