STEUBENVILLE - Lester Hicks was unable to attend the 2014 Pathfinders assembly Friday at Steubenville High School so he asked his friend Nate Freeman Sr. to accept the award for him.
Freeman, a member of the 1995 Pathfinders class, walked slowly to the podium and leaned over the microphone.
"Roll Red," Freeman stated and then walked away - the perfect closing to the 22nd-annual event where past Steubenville High School graduates as well as area residents are recognized and honored during Black History Month.
NEW PATHFINDERS — The 22nd-annual Pathfinders Assembly held Friday at Steubenville High School recognized, from left, Thomas A. Gaines, Helen L. Jackson-Gillison and Claudia Holmes, as well as Lester Hicks. Hicks could not attend the event and was represented by Nate Freeman, right, who was named a Pathfinder in 1995. -- Dave Gossett
This year the student organized assembly recognized Claudia Holmes, Thomas Gaines, Helen L. Jackson-Gillison and Hicks during the hour-long event in the high school auditorium.
"I come from a very supportive family where education and our faith has been at the forefront. My journey has been rewarding and challenging. You must believe in yourself. The best way to predict the future is to improve it," Holmes told the audience of Steubenville High School and Harding Middle School pupils as well as family and friends.
Holmes currently serves as a social educator in the Steubenville City School District.
Gaines, a 1969 Steubenville High School graduate, currently serves as an associate professor of English at John Hazen White School of Arts and Sciences at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. He is also the co-owner of Great Gaines Foods.
"The roots I formed in Garfield and Grant and later Big Red High School helped me become who I am today. I also followed the teaching from my school teachers and my family. I know you can be what you would like to be in life," said Gaines.
Jackson-Gillison used the occasion to present two books from the West Virginia Black School Hall of Fame to the Steubenville High School library.
Gillison was the first black female to establish a private law practice in Weirton and was later joined by her son, Edward L. Gillison.
The assembly featured essays read by Emily Allen of Harding Middle School and Kandisi Anyabwile of Steubenville High School. Aicha Pame of Garfield East, Drake Ziarko of Wells Academy and Mackenzie Palma of Pugliese West also received awards for their essays.
The event included several performances by the Steubenville jazz bands, vocal performances and a presentation by the Steubenville Dance Group as well as the World Rhythm under the direction of Lester Hicks.
The honorees and guests attended a luncheon following the assembly.