June 28, 2017 Edition

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Claude Smith ends
esteemed career in Searcy

John Bland

Claude Smith, a 1972 graduate of Walnut Ridge High School, is retiring after a 41-year career in education, all of which was spent with the Searcy School District. He has been the Searcy High School principal for the past 11 years. He began at Searcy as junior high band director for four years and was then high school band director for 24 years and junior high assistant principal for two years.

Under the direction of Arlin Jones at WRHS, Claude played trumpet and French horn and was one of several All-State band members in the early 1970s.

Claude was featured in a story titled "'Right' time to retire" by Sherry Snow recently in the Searcy Daily Citizen.

"Through his 41 years of service to this district, Claude Smith has had a positive impact on thousands of lives from students to teachers to parents to community members," Superintendent Diane Barrett says.

For the first couple months, he plans to relax, play golf and enjoy a lot more time with his four-year-old granddaughter. He will continue playing the French horn with the North Little Rock Community Band, too, "as long as my lip holds out!"

Claude said music has been a part of his life since he was five years old, when his parents had him taking accordion lessons. He noted that Arlin Jones was influential in his continuing love of music at the Walnut Ridge Schools as was his college instructor, Gene Witherspoon, whom Smith says "is a legend, and the fine arts building at Arkansas Tech is named after him."

"For me, there was no other choice. Teaching is not a job, it is a calling," he said.


KARK/ArkansasMatters.com reports that the Little Rock Zoo has announced the passing of two bald eagles this month.

One of them, a male named Leucas, came to the Zoo in 1996 from Walnut Ridge. Leucas was found on the side of the road with a gunshot wound that required the amputation of his right wing. He was transported to a veterinary clinic in Walnut Ridge before making his home at the Zoo. A female eagle, Hillary, died at the age of 42.


The Pine Bluff Commercial reports that the Lakeside United Methodist Church at Pine Bluff has taken a group of youth and other volunteers to the Lawrence County/Walnut Ridge areas to assist families affected by the spring flooding. The group is spending Sunday through Thursday at Wayland Springs Camp, near Imboden, while doing carpentry work and painting, in the area.

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