Outstanding Alumnus Award – Jay Bowen McCallum
The Cedar Creek School Outstanding Alumnus Award is designed to recognize and honor an alumnus who has distinguished themself by significant accomplishments since graduating from Cedar Creek School. We are honored to announce Jay Bowen McCallum, Class of 1978 as the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award.
Justice Jay Bowen McCallum lives in Farmerville and is a lifelong resident of Union Parish. Jay is the first in his family to receive a college education, having graduated from Northeast Louisiana University in 1982 and LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1985.
Upon admission to the Bar, he returned home to Union Parish to practice law. Deanna Dunham McCallum, his wife, subsequently joined Jay in his law practice after becoming a lawyer herself. Prior to serving as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for 11 years (1992-2002), Jay also worked as an Assistant District Attorney. He worked as a trial court judge for 15 years (2002-2018) on the bench of the Third Judicial District Court.
In 2018 Jay was elected to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal and on November 3, 2020, he was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court for District 4, which is the largest district in terms of geographic size and number of parishes. Jay took office as an Associate Justice on November 13, 2020.
The McCallum’s have two children, both Cedar Creek graduates: John McCallum - Class of 2012 and Sarah Katherine McCallum - Class of 2019. While a parent at Cedar Creek, Judge McCallum served on the Cedar Creek School Board of Directors and played a key role in the establishment of the Foundation Endowed Fund. Jay shared the following, “The rhetorical skills I learned on the speech and debate team at Cedar Creek School equipped me for my career and continue to serve me well to this day. As a matter of fact. I was so impressed with my education at Cedar Creek that I sent both of my children there. Both Jay and Deanna remain active members of the Cedar Creek community where they serve on the school’s Investment Committee and continue to volunteer for special events.
Jay is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for public service. Jay has served on the Louisiana State Law Institute, the Louisiana Sentencing Commission (by gubernatorial appointment) and sundry other commissions and boards. However, he is most proud of being the husband of Deanna, the father of John and Sarah Katherine, and the grandfather of Cato Theodore McCallum.
Outstanding Service Award – Bill Cox and Kelly Smith
From the beginning, service and volunteerism have been the building blocks for the school’s success. We are forever grateful for our founding families and all members of the community that made Cedar Creek School a reality in the fall of 1970. The Outstanding Service Award recognizes selfless service to our school community.
Bill Cox has been a member of the Cedar Creek community from the day the doors opened in the fall of 1970. Mr. Bill, as he is known by all, was and remains the go to for feeding a large crowd. From football banquets to alumni events and holiday luncheons he is always eager and available to serve. And, that service always comes with a smile, a few tall tales and an occasional magic trick.
Bill Cox’s awards and recognitions for service to Louisiana Tech, Cedar Creek School and the Ruston community include the Robert E. Russ Award in 2001 and the Bill Best Humanitarian Award in 2007 – two of Lincoln Parish’s highest distinctions. The city of Ruston honored him with a “Bill Cox Day” in 1996, which included a proclamation by then-Louisiana Governor Mike Foster and the Louisiana State Senate Award for dedicated service to the community, university and state. Cox, a member of the Rotary Club of Ruston since 1984 and a deacon at Temple Baptist Church, includes the Louisiana Tech University “Top Dog” Award among his many other honors.
Mr. Bill and his wife Minette are the parents of two Cedar Creek graduates: Cathi Cox Boniol - Class of 1977 and Billy Cox - Class of 1980. They are also, the proud grandparents of Emily Cox - Class of 2011, Wesley Cox - Class of 2014 and Ashley Cox - Class of 2016. It is not uncommon to find Bill sharing stories on Friday nights under the lights at Cougar Stadium or courtside in the Brick House. We are honored to present Bill Cox the Cedar Creek School Outstanding Service Award.
Kelly Rolf Smith has been a member of the Cedar Creek family since the mid-nineties when her eldest son Mike enrolled in first grade. Kelly and husband Dr. Billy Smith have four children, all Cedar Creek graduates: Mike Smith – Class of 2007, Dr. Andy Smith – Class of 2009, Tucker Smith – Class of 2013 and Grace Smith Crump – Class of 2015. Throughout her twenty years as a Cedar Creek parent, Kelly served in every volunteer capacity possible. From Straw Market to Cedartown to Celebration, Kelly was always on board to decorate, cook or give moral support. She served as Parent Club President and was a dedicated member of the Cedar Creek School Board of Directors.
One would think, that when her last child graduated in 2015, Kelly would cut back on her volunteer hours at Cedar Creek. The exact opposite occurred, she immediately agreed to co-chair Holidays in Cedar Town, a commitment that has carried over for last four years. Kelly also serves on the Celebration committee. She and Billy continue to support the school with event sponsorships and campaign donations.
Kelly shared the following, “I have always felt that it is extremely important to give back to the school that prepared my children so well for their future. While my children were still in school, volunteering was challenging, as I was always stretched thin chasing after them and their various activities. Now that my children are grown, I get to truly enjoy volunteering. The love I have for Cedar Creek is what keeps me coming back year after year. What better way to give back to the school that has given and continues to give your children, grandchildren, and possibly even yourself, an exceptional educational foundation to lead them into the future.
Super Omnia Award
Over the years, there have been many generous donors that have and continue to provide financial support to Cedar Creek School. We would not be the outstanding school we are today without the financial support and sacrifice of each of you, thank you. We are honored to recognize two special families, for what could be described as visionary support, not just for today’s needs, but for future needs. The Super Omnia Award is given in recognition of overwhelming support of Cedar Creek School to The Maxwell Family and the O’Neal family.
Both the Maxwell and O’Neal Families have made significant contributions to the capital needs of the school allowing us to update existing facilities and construct new buildings when additional classrooms were needed, such as the Barmore Academic Center.
Perhaps their greatest contribution was is their investment in the Cedar Creek School Foundation Endowed Fund. The Cedar Creek Foundation was founded in 2001 with the mission of preserving excellence at Cedar Creek School. Both families were charter members and were passionate about securing long term financial security for Cedar Creek School.
Super Omnia Award – The Maxwell Family
Thank you to Cedar Creek School for honoring the Maxwell family with this award. We are proud of our long association with this school and its history of dedicated teachers and administrators. In my opinion, the Cedar Creek educators, past and present, are the heroes of the school.
The Founders were personal friends of ours; and I am thankful for their vision and their commitment so many years ago. They wanted and were successful in creating a learning institution with a commitment for excellence and principles to guide students for their future success. As a Cedar Creek parent and grandparent, we are proud of the environment and education that our children and grandchildren have received. It has and continues to provide a great foundation for them as they venture into the next chapter of their lives.
The Maxwell Family is proud to be a part of Cedar Creek School.
Super Omnia Award – The O’Neal Family
The O’Neal family is humbled and honored to be recognized for this year’s Cedar Creek Super Omnia Award. Education has been a generational passion in our family.
I am often asked as a businessperson why I am interested in educational issues. The answer is simple: every person who works for us is required to read, write, and do math. At an early age, our parents instilled in me and my sisters a love of reading and learning. It is a great gift. Likewise, we have been fortunate to have experienced the benefit of sitting under gifted educators. If I can write a legible sentence today, it is because of patient and talented teachers – many from Cedar Creek. I am eternally thankful.
Education is a competitive field. And as in most competitive endeavors, there is a desire to be the best, to excel above the rest. An important part of this competition is compensation. We see it in the business world every day, there is fierce competition for top talent. We believe that to attract the best we must compensate accordingly. That is why we endowed the fund, and we are very pleased that over the years the investment has grown, thanks to many other generous donors and the hard work of our Cedar Creek Staff.
Over the years I have heard numerous stories about how Cedar Creek has influenced individuals in a positive manner. The comments are across the board from recollections of a kind word spoken by a teacher to an encouragement to do your best, graduate, pursue college or a graduate degree. Cedar Creek is truly a place where lives are changed for the better. I personally encourage all of you to continue to support this most worthy cause: excellence in education.
Finally, as many of you know, I have four daughters, each graduates of Cedar Creek. As I proudly sat at their commencement ceremonies, I marveled at the plethora of scholarships awarded to our Cedar Creeks graduates each year. It is truly amazing and something we can all be proud of. Thank you again for this recognition. And thank you all for supporting Cedar Creek.
Thomas M. O’Neal