BY LEANN DILBECK & MEKINZIE KYLE –
Dedication ceremonies for Acorn’s gym and track were held in conjunction with Acorn’s Homecoming, on Friday, November 17. The event, honoring long-time Coach Keith Willsey and former educator/coach Mary Fryar-Davis, were hosted by Acorn High School as well as the Acorn School Reunion and Alumni Committee.
Coach Mary Davis, an Acorn alumni, “bled blue and gold”, according to Superintendent Jerry Strasner who spoke during the dedication. She held many positions within the Acorn schools, including being the Acorn Elementary Librarian, and Acorn Elementary Physical Education Coach. Through these roles, Davis inspired students until she was unable to continue teaching due to an illness, which eventually took her life. Even after it was determined that she would lose her battle to cancer, Davis continued to serve as an inspiration to her students, co-workers, family, and friends, and she also continued dutifully serving her Lord. Davis was posthumously dedicated the Acorn “old” gym, re-named the Mary Fryar-Davis Gymnasium, and was dedicated a plaque which is to be placed in the gym. Her family and friends present to accept on her behalf were emotional during the presentation but proud to accept the dedication honoring their loved one.
Strasner said the dedication was more than deserving, “because in her life, she was a true representative of the Acorn School Spirit… she had blue and gold flowing through her veins… visible to all those fortunate enough to be her student, co-worker, or friend. […] It didn’t matter what job she was doing, she did it to the best of her ability and she did it with commitment and devotion.”
Davis was a 1986 Acorn Alumnus and also retired from the Army National Guard as a Sergeant First Class, after 20 years of service to her country.
Coach Keith Willsey also received a dedication during the ceremony. Willsey, as his plaque reads, began building in 1991 the best Track, Field, and Cross Country record in the history of Acorn High School. His efforts and motivations for the program have led numerous students in continuing their passions for track and cross country in college levels, and he has inspired countless students both in athletics and in his classroom as a history teacher. Willsey has led his teams to victory at District, Regional, and State levels, and his ambitions show no sign of slowing down. His charisma and humor have lifted students, co-workers, friends and family up, and remind all who know him that he is a charitable and giving person at heart, even when he’s just giving a laugh. Willsey received a dedication of the Acorn Track and Field, which has been re-named the Keith Willsey Track and Field, and a plaque commemorating the dedication has been placed with it. Willsey was present during the dedication ceremony, alongside his family.
Acorn High School, Ouachita River School District, and the Acorn School Reunion and Alumni Committee are all extremely proud of both Coach Willsey and Coach Davis, and are pleased to re-announce both the Mary Fryar Davis Gymnasium and the Keith Willsey Track and Field.