TJ High School honors distinguished alumni at ceremony

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The Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association recently honored distinguished alumni—including a published author, scientific scholar, and the daughter of a blues music legend—at a festive ceremony at the high school. 

TJ seniors were invited to the ceremony to see firsthand the great things the school’s graduates have gone on to accomplish. Missy Huber, president of the Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association, and Principal Sandi Massey urged the seniors to follow the distinguished alumni’s path and strive to reach their full potential after graduation.

Here are the distinguished alumni recognized at the ceremony:

Lisa Evans, President and CEO of The Meadows Foundation, serves on the executive board of the Meadows School of the Arts, the advisory board of the Meadows Museum, on the boards of the Philanthropic Collaborative, the Council on Foundations, Advocates for Community Transformation, Passion for Children’s, Inc. and on numerous advisory boards. Her awards include Women Leading Greater Good 2013 Award, Top 50 Power and Influence Leaders in the Nonprofit Community, and the TACA Silver Cup. A graduate of the University of Texas, she worked in the White House of President Ronald Reagan.

Wanda King, blues singer, bandleader, and daughter of blues legend Freddie King, is the president of the Freddie King Blues Foundation. She started singing professionally upon her graduation in 1973, stopping in 1976 to pursue a business career. In 2004 she resumed her career performing and recording again. She is now a professional singer with her own band, the Wanda King All-Stars Revue Band, and has recorded three CDs of the blues. Wanda uses the Foundation to support others with a passion for music.

David Ritz, award-winning biographer, novelist, lyricist, and essayist, has co-authored 36 autobiographies, including those for Willie Nelson, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson. He has written three biographies, four novels and numerous articles for national publications such as the New York Times and Rolling Stone. He is the four-time winner of the Ralph Gleason Award for the best music book of the year and the 2013 ASCAP Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography.

Cecil Schwalbe is a US Geological Survey ecologist emeritus, University of Arizona professor, and National Geographic expert lecturer. As Arizona’s fist State herpetologist, he pioneered Arizona’s bullfrog control program and led efforts to protect endangered species such as the desert tortoise. He is the author/co-author of more than 100 scientific and popular articles and book chapters, has served on more than 50 graduate research committees, and received numerous awards, including the 2015 Emil Haury Award for outstanding research in America’s national parks.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick J. Holland received the Distinguished Service Award at the event. Holland was named TJ’s “Teacher of the Year” in 2012 and served as TJ’s JROTC Senior Army Instructor for 10 years. He is currently the Dallas ISD Deputy Director of Army Instruction JROTC, assisting with the management and coordination of 21 high school JROTC and 30 middle school Leadership Cadet Corps programs. His 23 years of active military service included deployments in South Korea and Desert Storm/Desert Shield. His numerous military medals include the Bronze Star.

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