The SCPS School Board voted to name Seminole High School’s ninth grade center after Edward Blacksheare, an influential member of SHS’s community.

Adrian De Guzman, Editor-in-Chief

This Tuesday, the school board for Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) voted to name Seminole High School’s Ninth Grade Center. It will now be called the Edward Blacksheare Campus in honor of longtime Sanford educator Edward Blacksheare.

Blacksheare, 92, received the award in honor of the work he has done and continues to do as an influential member of both the SCPS school system and Sanford’s local community. He began working for SCPS in 1959 — nearly 60 years ago — and continues to contribute to the community. His illustrious career includes serving as principal of Crooms Academy from 1964–1970, starting an adjunct campus for Bethune-Cookman University in Sanford, and participating in the Seminole County chapter of the NAACP.

“[Blacksheare]’s got scholarships set up in his name,” Kerry Wiggins said, who worked closely with Blacksheare on many projects. “One of our seniors who graduated last year doesn’t even have to pay for school at Seminole State College because of it.”

Blacksheare’s most notable legacy at SHS is to help found the Young Men of Excellence program. The Young Men of Excellence is a program in Seminole County intended to foster success among African American students. Blacksheare set the foundations for the program when he started a mentoring program for boys in the 1980s.

Wiggins, who now serves as head of the Young Men of Excellence at SHS, remarked on the enduring success of the club, starting in its early years.

“Mr. Blacksheare was doing something similar back in the late ’70s and early ’80s with a group of young men,” Wiggins said. “One of them is now a Tallahassee man, working for the government, [and] some of them are lawyers. That group of young men that he started off with showed [the schools that] they could have success out of [mentoring programs]. This is something they saw could possibly work with our young men as well.”

Even though Blacksheare is retired, he continues to advocate for the creation of the Young Men of Excellence program at SHS in 2012.

Dr. Walt Griffin worked with Blacksheare first as principal of SHS then as Executive Director of High Schools at the time that the program was first implemented at SHS. As the Superintendent of SCPS, Griffin announced the naming of the ninth grade center Tuesday night and recognized Blacksheare’s dedication to the school system.

“He [is] very caring and concerned about all children in Sanford and Seminole County,” Griffin said of Blacksheare. “[He] understand[s] where Seminole County was, where it is, and — what I’m working on — where it is moving to.”

The Young Men of Excellence program has since expanded to other schools in SCPS including Lake Howell, Lake Mary, Lyman, and Winter Springs High Schools; it has even branched out to include the Young Women of Excellence. The program has seen two graduating classes — the classes of ’16 and ’17 — with over 20 of its members graduating each year. A similar number of Young Men of Excellence will be graduating this year as well.

“For him to get his name on something that’s part of the high school is very powerful because there [are] probably more than hundreds or thousands of young men and women [whose] lives he has touched.”

— Kerry Wiggins

Those who know Blacksheare attest that he is a man of great virtue, well deserved of being honored with a building bearing his name that will stand for years to come. Kenneth Bentley, who worked alongside Blacksheare to establish Young Men of Excellence, believes the honor is long overdue.

“It should have happened a long time ago,” Bentley said. “He [is] a dreamer, just like Dr. King. He [is] a great man, a visionary. He [is] polite, [will] push you to your fullest, and [isn’t] scared of challenges. We’re glad that he’s living to see it.”

Wiggins adds, “For him to get his name on something that’s part of the high school is very powerful because there [are] probably more than hundreds or thousands of young men and women [whose] lives he has touched. For him to have that honor is wonderful.”

Blacksheare was at Tuesday’s school board meeting when the name for the ninth grade center was chosen. He delivered a small speech that served as a testament to his character.

Blacksheare said, “It has been a great experience, working here in education in Seminole County, one of the best experiences that anyone could have for development and education. Thank you a lot for your consideration.”

The Edward Blacksheare Campus will accommodate incoming freshmen in the former grounds of Millenium Middle School in the 2018–2019 school year. It aims to create and inspire successful students, just like Blacksheare did during his time as an employee of SCPS.