GREENE COUNTY, Miss. — Two dozen teachers, coaches and administrators from schools in Greene Co. were recognized at the district’s first-ever alumni weekend.

The event included a basketball game against George Co. alumni, banquet, cookout, dance and awards to recognize former educators that had a special impact on many alumni’s lives.

“We lived in Perry County, but my mother wanted me to come to Greene County to have a better education. It was the rock, the best education to have,” said organizer Recco Bolton.

The awards included a keynote speech by two-time Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton. She graduated from McLain High School before leading her team at Auburn to two national championship games and having her jersey retired after eight seasons with the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs.

She and one of 19 siblings, Mary, honored their high school basketball coach Ronald Byrd and shared a memory with him from when they were losing a state championship game.

“I told them that we need to get back out there and win and I didn’t want them to win it for me, McLain Schools, or Greene County,” said Byrd. “I wanted them to win for themselves and 40 years down the road to make them remember they did that for themselves and pulled themselves back out.”

They came back and won by a single point, an accomplishment and lesson Bolton said she used through the rest of her playing career.

“Coach Byrd- thank you for not letting us take a shortcut. Sometimes we would’ve just played like ‘okay we can get second, that’s good enough,’ but thank you for reminding us that second wasn’t good enough for us and we needed to dig deeper,” said Bolton.

Other former school staff recognized ranged from high school science teachers to cafeteria cooks and former superintendents.

“I had all 500 students every day. It was like running chaos scheduled solid other than those 15-20 minutes for lunch. But I loved every minute of it. We were like a family,” said Debbie McLeod. She spent most of her career teaching physical education before becoming principal at Leakesville Elementary School.

The alumni capped off the evening by presenting a $1,000 check to Greene County High School.