• April 2019 - Tricia Clinton Dunne

    Tricia Clinton Dunne 


    Year Graduated from FPHS: 1999

    Colleges (s) attended: Northeast Alabama Community College/Jacksonville State University 

    Where did you graduate? Year? Graduated from JSU in 2005

    Degree(s): Bachelors Degree in Business Management 

    What is your current occupation? Publisher of the Times-Journal 


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    FPHS taught me to have pride in my community. I have continued that through my years at the Times-Journal. I enjoy writing stories about current students and teachers. I want everyone in the community to know about the great things that are taking place in Fort Payne City Schools. Things have changed so much since I was there but that wildcat pride continues to shine through. 


    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    Shop with Mr. Blanton and Coach Colburn 


    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why?

    There are so many I can not choose just one. Jeff Boatwright, Angie Mitchell Shankles, Gwen Mitchell, Paul Crawford, Janet Hartline, Joanne Bazemore. I can not leave out secretary Gail Johnson and then SRO Randy Bynum.  


    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    Our senior year, our class decorated the lunch room for homecoming as the Wizard of Oz. Our theme was send them over the rainbow. We had to make all the decorations by hand and our class spent many hours working on this. It brought our class so close together and we remain that close today. 


    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers?

    Enjoy every minute of it. Take advantage of the programs and dual enrollment classed they now offer. 

  • March 2019 - Laverquista Steele

    Distinguished Alumnus - Laverquista Steele


    Name:  Laverquista Steele

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 

    Graduated in 2003

    College Attended: 

    University of Montevallo 

    What is your degree in? 

    Emergency Medical Technician

    What is your current occupation? New York City Department of Correction Officer

    Who was your favorite teacher and why? 

    Mr. Crawford was my favorite teacher he made history interesting and exciting.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? 

    My favorite memory in high school was being a lady wildcat for the varsity basketball team. I learned self-confidence discipline & leadership skills all of which I use daily in my career.


    What advise would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their careers? 

    I advise everyone to develop a passion for learning. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. 

  • January 2019 - Robert "Boo" Smith

    Featured Alumnus - January

    NAME: Robert "Boo" Smith

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 2009


    Graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences in Sociology


    What is your current occupation? 

    I’m currently the Offensive Analyst for UAB Football.


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    I learned that failing at something can teach you more than succeeding. It’s perfectly fine to fail throughout life. It’s not fine to fail and not try again.

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    My favorite class at FPHS was Mrs. Byrd’s 9th grade English class.

    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    I had several favorite teachers at FPHS. When you play three sports you end up having most of your coaches for at least one class or club sponsors. I wasn’t very good at Math but Mrs. Sayre always challenged me and motivated me to do well.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    Some of the best memories I have from high school are from having class with the people I grew up with in Fort Payne. I can remember having debates in Coach Boatwright’s class, dressing up to read in Mrs. Byrd’s class, Mrs. Barnes 10th grade history class, Mrs. Simpson’s science classes, and the locker rooms with brothers after difficult practices or games.


    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers? 


    Slow down and enjoy your time at Fort Payne. I know that some days are difficult and you think everything will get better once you’re out of high school but that’s not exactly the case. Life will give you adversity and it’s all about how you handle it. Whenever I see friends from FPHS we still talk about our best times at Fort Payne and that will never change. Enjoy your time with friends and family because one day you’ll wish you had it back!


  • December 2018 - Liz Jordan Tedder


    Liz Jordan Tedder

    Year Graduated from FPHS: 


    Colleges (s) attended: 

    Auburn University

    Where did you graduate? Year?

     Auburn University, 2012


    Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology 

    What is your current occupation? 

    I work as a law enforcement ranger for the National Park Service. I currently live and work in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.  


    What are some cool things or events associated with your career?

    This career has afforded me the opportunity to live all over the country in some of our nations most beautiful places.  I have lived in 7 states since I graduated and worked in 5 different National Park Service areas, including Fort Payne's very own Little River Canyon National Preserve, Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and all the way down to the Everglades of Florida. 

    I feel incredibly lucky to be able to walk out of my door to work every morning in one of the most incredible places on earth, Yellowstone National Park. I get to share my backyard with elk, grizzly bears, bison, thermal features, and all sorts of other creatures including the visitors.  The work I do is incredibly rewarding in so many different ways. In the park, I am responsible for law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services, search and rescue, and a number of other things. From November to April my primary mode of transportation is on a snowmobile.  My job is never boring and I feel very lucky to be able to help people every day. Mostly I feel lucky to be protecting our public lands which I believe are the greatest gift we have been given as Americans.  


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    I was pretty heavily involved in sports when I was in high school. I ran cross country and played on both the soccer and the basketball teams. I learned an awful lot about perseverance, discipline, and commitment by participating on sports teams in high school.  Those principles have carried over into my career in a big way.


    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS? 

    Mr. Guice's Anatomy class!  


    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    Mrs. Crum, she gave me confidence in math and made me realize that I was actually really good at it. She really invested time into her students, she wanted them to succeed and was always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that we were confident and successful. I have never forgotten the time she spent with me helping me to become a better student.

    Turns out being a park ranger doesn't require a whole lot of math but at least I have the skill just in case...  


    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    I have so many! Most of my favorite memories revolve around my time playing sports. The early Saturday morning bus rides to cross-country meets. The pre-season basketball practices (I hated them at the time), soccer practice, all the bus rides to soccer games and basketball games. Basketball team camp in Florida. Playing for State in soccer. The best friends I have from high school and still have to this day are the ones I grew up with playing on these teams, those relationships you form never leave. 


    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers? 

    Live in the moment, soak up this time in your life because it will be gone in the blink of an eye. Be yourself, don't feel like you need to be anyone but who you are.  You don't have to decide what you want to do with your life right now, it will all work out. I had no idea what my life was going to be when I started college. I think I started in the pre-veterinarian program when I got to Auburn. Now I am in law enforcement.  When you do figure out what you want, pursue it with passion and never let anyone tell you that you can't. I promise you can.  Push yourself to be the best in whatever you do, complacency kills.  Know that you will have failures but it is how you rise from those failures that shape you and your course.  

    Get out and see the world or at least the country we live in!  There is a big, wide world out there full of amazing people and places.  If you get the opportunity to travel, take it. 

  • November 2018 - SSG Benjamin Barrontine

    November Alumnus of the Month is SSG Benjamin Barrontine



    SSG Benjamin Brian Barrontine


    Year Graduated from FPHS:


     Military Background:

    U.S. Army Infantry Basic Course

    U.S. Army Air Assault Course

    U.S. Army National Guard Sniper School Phase 1

    U.S. Army Airborne School

    U.S. Army Combat Engineer Basic Course

    Defense Language Institute - Foreign Language Center

    US Army Cryptologic Linguist Basic Course

    U.S. Army SERE School – C (Full Spectrum)

    3x Special Operations Forces (SOF) Deployments

    2x Joint Service Overseas Training Rotations


    Defense Language Institute: Associate of Arts – Spanish

    Cochise College: Associate of Applied Science – Intelligence Operations


    What is your current occupation? 

    35P – Cryptologic Linguist

    20th Special Forces Group (Airborne)


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    Wrestling for FPHS taught me determination and perseverance. There have been many times throughout my career that I have looked back and leaned on the lessons taught by Coaches Colburn, Camp and Barrontine. Whether it was during training or a deployment, I could always relate a tough situation to a practice or match. Without those mentors I wouldn’t be the man nor the NCO that I am today.


    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    Chemistry with Mrs. Dawkins


    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? 

    Ms. Gwen Mitchell (now Mrs. Gwen Brandt).  She taught me how to play Rook as a child on church mission trips and inspired me to be better than I ever thought I could be in mathematics and my education overall.


    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    2006; Starting my Junior year, I won the 160lbs State Championship in wrestling that Spring, over the Summer the football team started the “Gone to Win 10” campaign in football camp at Camp Toknowhim, and the following Fall we went on to FPHS’s first 10-0 regular season record. The accolades were only a small part of why that year will forever be my favorite high school memory. Seeing the city of Fort Payne come together and support the team and the students was truly inspiring. It’s the people that make Fort Payne special. It’s unlike anything I have seen in my travels and I will always hold it close.


    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers? 

    Use this time to get a good foundation for your future. Whether that may be a trade, military, or college, find out what will set you up for success later and focus on that. Have fun but always have your focus on the future.




    “We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus

  • October 2018 Alumnus of the Month - Adan Vazquez

    October 2018 Featured Alumnus: Adan Vazquez


    Year Graduated from FPHS:

    Class of 2004


    Colleges (s) attended:

    Northeast Alabama Community College, Rainsville, AL

    Auburn University, Auburn, AL

    Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL

    Where did you graduate? Year?

    Northeast Alabama Community College 2007

    Auburn University 2009

    Auburn University 2010

    Northwestern University 2012


    Northeast Alabama Community College 2007 A.S. (Biology)

    Auburn University 2009 B.S in Exercise Science

    Auburn University 2010 M.Ed. (Biomechanics)

    Northwestern University 2012 Post Graduate Certificate in Prosthetics

    What is your current occupation?

    I am currently an Assistant Professor of Prosthetics and Orthotics, Master of Science Graduate Program at Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. However, this is not where it all began.

    While attending Auburn University, as an undergrad student, we were required to complete a capstone project and ours consisted of a research proposal on Trans-Femoral Amputees (Above Knee Amputees). I knew nothing about prosthetics at this time so all the articles and research we did was foreign language to me at that time.

    When I was in graduate school, I was club treasurer for the Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Club (PTOTC). My original plan was to finish up at Auburn and begin applying to Physical Therapy (PT) programs. After shadowing PT’s, I realized that PT just wasn’t for me. Our PTOTC club had monthly meetings and during one of those meetings, we had a Trans-tibial (Below the Knee) amputee. I recall being amazed and so interested at how his prosthesis allowed him to do all the things he wanted to do! During my graduate year, I also worked for a Podiatrist who was also a Pedorthist. Little did I know; all these puzzle pieces would eventually come together for me to pursue a career in Prosthetics.


    After graduating from Auburn, I moved to Huntsville, AL and took an intern position with a Prosthetic Company and immediately fell in love with the field. I then attended Prosthetics School at Northwestern University, completed my residency, and achieved a total of 7 years in the clinical setting. All my clinical experiences prepared me for what is now a new chapter in my life at Alabama State University as an educator.


    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey?

    I was involved with Track and Field and Cross Country. My involvement in sports taught me a few things that became clear with age. Being part of a team meant that you shared the responsibility of winning and losing. These lessons came in handy as I began to develop in my professional career. In any work environment, you and your team must all be on the same page in order to achieve your goals and make sure everyone understands their role. Those years of winning and losing as a team allowed me to apply those skills as a foundation for my professional career.

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    I took Art with Nancy Cope 3 years in a row, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed it, but more importantly, how much I would use Art as a tool in the field of designing Prosthetic Legs for patients. Every person is unique, and every person wants their own style and socket design, so thinking back, I never knew that I would come to appreciate all the drawing lessons and instructions from Ms. Cope. She also gave me one of her college portraits she drew in college. It is a special piece of art from someone who I admired dearly, and it reminds me of what an impact teachers can have on students.

    wall of hands

    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why?

    Coach Shaddix, Mr. Byrd, Ms. Totten, Mr. Guice, Ms. Cope, Coach Boatwright, Mr. Cunningham Ms. Ables, Mr. Crawford, and the list goes on (may be best for me to just say ALL teachers) – Every single teacher taught me lessons about life, believed in me, and kept encouraging me to pursue better and higher things. They weren’t always education related, some were about appreciation, hard work, dedication, teamwork, and studying! Those life lessons and experiences shared with me were little pieces of wisdom that became a foundation for my character. One of my favorite pieces of advice was given to me by Dr. Chuck Isbell, “just pay it forward.” I try my best to do that each day.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    Summer cross country practices were my favorite! This is where lifelong relationships were built over some long and peaceful practice runs that allowed us to get away from all the chaos. I also enjoyed going for a swim at Little River Canyon with my teammates after a long practice run.


    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers?

    As young adults, there is so much wisdom and knowledge that can be gained from coaches, faculty, and staff. When any school member gives you some life lessons, write them down and record them as soon as possible! You will run into situational scenarios where those little golden nuggets will come in handy. Throughout my clinical career, I also dove in and learned to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable became my new norm, and because of that, I was able to learn from others which allowed me to then help so many people in need of prosthetic care. Also, don’t be afraid of failure, you will fail, there is no doubt about it, just learn from your failures and mistakes, then try something different, never give up! Enjoy life, get out and travel, even if it’s just driving for a couple of hours!

    So, to recap my advice:

    Value your coaches, faculty, and staff and treat them with respect, REGARDLESS.

    1. Seek wisdom and write it down!
    2. It is ok to be uncomfortable in regards to tasks, jobs, or goals.
    3. Lose your fear of failure, it will happen.
    4. Never give up!
    5. Get out and travel!

  • September 2018 - Sheena Quizon Gregg


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    Name: Sheena Quizon Gregg
    Year Graduated from FPHS: 2003  
    Colleges (s) attended: The University of Alabama
    A graduate of the University of Alabama in 2007 and again in 2008
    Degree:  Bachelors of Science in Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management (2007), Masters of Science in Human Nutrition (2008)

    Interview Responses

    What is your current occupation?

    I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and Assistant Director of the Dept. of Health Promotion and Wellness at The University of Alabama. In my job I do a variety of things including providing one-on-one medical nutrition therapy counseling for students regarding sports nutrition, eating disorders, weight management, and chronic diseases at our on-campus health clinic. I also do many outreach events on campus including doing cooking demos, group nutrition presentations, and working as the team dietitian for groups such as our wheelchair tennis and basketball teams, UA Dance Team, and our Crimsonettes and Color Guard that perform during UA football games (ROLL TIDE!). I co-host a weekly health-related radio show called Fit2BeTide with one of our exercise physiologists on campus, and it has become one of my favorite activities!
    I love my job because it has provided me with leadership opportunities across Alabama such as serving as a spokesperson for the state’s Scale Back Alabama weight loss program, chair of the state’s obesity task force, and now more recently serving as President-Elect of the Alabama Dietetic Association that represents dietitians across the state of Alabama. I have been quoted in publications such as USA Today College, Shape Magazine, and Women’s Health Magazine on the topics of fad diets, weight management, and eating disorders – I would have never imagined in high school that I would have these opportunities in my career.
    How has something you learned at FPHS helped you in your career or life journey? Being involved in Student Council as both a class president for several years and then transitioning to Student Council President was extremely helpful for me. These leadership opportunities in high school prepared me for being involved in organizations at the college level. Student Council also created opportunities for learning the art of planning and executing large scale events and coordinating with different organizations/businesses for a common goal – all of these are things that I have to do daily in my job. Being involved in various student organizations also allowed me to get to know all of my classmates in some capacity. My life goal has been to be a friend to as many as I can meet. I do get shy at times but I found joy in getting to know my classmates that I would not have normally gotten to interact with if I hadn’t been involved in such a diverse set of student organizations at FPHS.

    What was your favorite high school class at FPHS?

    Though I loved most all of my classes, I really found value in my French classes with Christy Brandon. I think this was due to the challenge involved in learning a foreign language and working towards something that did not come natural to me.
    Who was your favorite teacher at FPHS and why? I truly loved my time with both Sharon Totten and Rodney Land. As an advisor for Student Council, Dr. Totten was instrumental in helping build my confidence as a leader and in many ways I considered her to be a second mom to me. Mr. Land was a wonderful science teacher, and I valued him as my coach while playing as captain of the women’s tennis team during my years at FPHS… he was especially graceful to me when I would do things like forgetting to bring my tennis racquet to an away match!
    Other teachers that I adored at FPHS include Christy Brandon, Paul Crawford, and Katherine Ables due to their unique abilities at bringing out the best in me. To be honest, I would not trade any class experience during my time at FPHS because each teacher has shaped my character in some form or another.

    What is your favorite memory from high school? Or a special story you would like to share?

    One of my favorite memories at FPHS involves being in our senior play, Aladdin. There was just something about working hard on a project with my fellow classmates outside of the classroom that brought us closer together. We also got to have the cast party at my parents’ house to watch our performance, and it was so much fun getting to watch our hard work come together.

    What advice would you give to current high school students about education and pursuing their future careers?

    It can be easy to get pressured into immediately picking the “perfect major” once you reach college; however, I think that it is of value to take your time your freshman year to evaluate what you’re passionate about the most. When you find a major that you truly love, it won’t feel like work. I also strongly recommend taking advantage of high school opportunities that expose you to different work environments or hobbies you might be interested in as a career. Though high school will definitely not define your entire life, having an attitude of understanding how it can shape your immediate next steps with your education and career is extremely helpful and can motivate you to work hard. No matter where you end up, if you try your best, you will be satisfied at the end of the day.

    Sheena Q. Gregg, MS,RDN,LD | Assistant Director / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

    Dept of Health Promotion and Wellness 
    The University of Alabama
    Phone 205-348-0205 | Fax 205-348-8611