Conway Public Schools Foundation Announces 2023 Hall of Honor Inductees

CPSF to honor Distinguished Alumna, Educator, and Friend of the District

CONWAY, Ark. (January 9, 2023) ⎯ Conway Public Schools Foundation (CPSF) will honor Crystal Kemp, Leona Walton, and the late Jim Owen for their contributions to Conway Public Schools at the foundation’s 2023 Hall of Honor Gala on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at 7 p.m., in the Conway High School Cafeteria. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 

For ticket information or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Marti Jones, CPSF Executive Director, at [email protected]

Former Conway High School history teacher Jim Owen (1947-2013) will be honored posthumously as the 2023 Distinguished Educator. Owen inspired students of all ability levels for 28 years and famously greeted students in his classes with, “Greetings my wards, my lambs.” Owen influenced thousands of students over his career, many of whom became teachers. His impact was felt outside of the school, too. In 1989, he was awarded Civil Libertarian of the Year by the Arkansas ACLU. A former student writes, “Mr. Owen transformed history from a laundry list of facts into a vibrant narrative. In his classroom, we were willful captives. Though our bodies were bound to desks, our imaginations were freed by Mr. Owen’s stories. Under his leadership, we pushed back the boundaries of what we had formerly considered to be our intellectual limits. Mr. Owen is without a doubt the most inspirational teacher that I ever had. I am proud to forever be a ward and lamb.” 

Leona Walton, a member of the Conway High School Class of 1974, will be honored as the 2023 Distinguished Alumna. Walton was among the first group of students to integrate into the Conway Public School system. In 1968, she left her Pine Street School and began 7th grade at the newly integrated Conway Junior High. At Conway High School, she participated in and led many student organizations responsible for understanding and maintaining relationships between black and white students on campus. She was Treasurer of the American Black Culture Club and served on the Black-White Human Relations Committee. Since leaving Conway Public Schools, Leona has continued to be a voice for the Pine Street Community. She co-founded the 15-year-old Pine Street Backpack Program and serves as the board president of the Pine Street Community Museum. Her friends say she is the “go-to person when someone in the area needs help.” 

Conway Corporation Chief Marketing Officer Crystal Kemp will be honored as the 2023 Friend of the District. Kemp has been involved with leadership programs for Conway students for nearly three decades. She believes that introducing ways for students to connect at an early age makes all the difference in their lives and the vibrancy of our community. In 1996, she created the Faulkner County Youth Leadership Institute (now the Conway Area Youth Leadership Institute, or CAYLI), which she continues to serve. A proud band mom, she was actively involved with Conway Bands for 12 years, serving on the Conway Band Booster Board for four years. During her tenure, she led the fundraising effort to replace the 20-year-old band uniforms. As a Girl Scouts leader for 18 years, she has worked with over 100 K-12 students. Through her work with Conway Corporation, presenting sponsor of the Conway Public Schools Teacher Fair, she has been involved with the Energy Smart Essay contest and STEM Nights. Her peers say, “Crystal believes that teenagers are not the problem, they are the solution.” 

For more information about Conway Public Schools Foundation, visit www.cpsfoundation.com/about

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