Putnam County School Board Member C.L. Overturf Jr. hugs PCSD Superintendent Phyllis Criswell late Wednesday afternoon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the C.L. Overturf Jr. Sixth Grade Center. The school opens this year for sixth graders only, seeking to increase academic focus and ease the middle school transition for younger students.
Next year when C.L. Overturf Jr. reaches 50 years of serving Putnam County students, some local sixth graders will learn in a school that bears his name.
Surrounded by friends, family and colleagues Wednesday, Mr. Overturf cut the ribbon on the C.L. Overturf Jr. Sixth Grade Center, formerly Beasley Middle School.
"I've been thankful for all the people I've been privileged to work with over these many years," Overturf said as a buffet prepared by the Center's cafeteria staff was served. "You never build anything by yourself. The accomplishments of anyone are at least in part built on the shoulders of others."
PCSD Superintendent Phyllis Criswell highlighted Mr. Overturf's educational career spanning his 1953 start as a teacher, his move to Putnam County and what is now St. Johns River State College, then his time with Putnam Schools including 12 years as superintendent. During those 12 years, Criswell pointed out PCSD had all its schools accredited, as they remain today, established the E.H. Miller School and the new Browning-Pearce Elementary School.
PCSD School Board Vice Chairman Nikki Cummings spoke, saying attending school while Mr. Overturf led the district helped mold her.
Cummings said when she was elected to the board in 2010, one of the first things she thought of was the pleasure of sitting on the same dais as Mr. Overturf.
"He's been an example to me," Cummings said. "I was so honored when I was elected so I could sit beside him. I look to him as such a role model."
School Board Attorney Jim Padgett spoke emotionally to Mr. Overturf.
Padgett, who served as a board member when Mr. Overturf was superintendent, said it is an honor to have worked for years with "my mentor, my boss at times, and, most of all, my good friend."
Criswell said there is no one in Putnam County more deserving of the recognition.
"It's truly an honor and a pleasure to work with such a fine man."