CONYERS -- Rockdale County High School's new gym will be named after a famed former teacher and coach, Cleveland Stroud.
The Rockdale County Board of Education recently approved a request by the Citizens Progressive Club and a group of former players to name the gym, which is expected to be completed by December, after Stroud: The Cleveland Stroud Gymnasium. It was a unanimous decision.
The board said the honor will express their "sincere appreciation for Coach Stroud by recognizing his dedicated service and the positive influence he has had upon the children of Rockdale County."
Stroud is a native of Rockdale County and was graduated from Bryant Street School, which was later named J.P. Carr.
He began working with Rockdale County Public Schools as a custodian and bus driver in 1957 and continued through 1969. In 1970, after completing his student teaching with RCHS, Stroud was hired as a teacher at the school and worked there until 1998.
The board said that Stroud successfully coached numerous students and served as head coach of the boys baseball and basketball teams and as head coach of the girls track and softball teams.
Some of his accomplishments in the school system include: being selected as the first black coach and department chair; serving as chair of the health and physical education departments; finishing second in the region in 1975 and 1976 as head baseball coach; winning 393 varsity games, which was seven short of automatic induction into the Georgia Athletics Coaching Association Hall of Fame, and 62 junior varsity games as boys basketball coach in 1976; being recognized as region champions three out of four years as head coach of girls softball; being named as State Coach of the Year in 1987 and Region Coach of the Year seven times; and being honored as the Rockdale County Teacher of the Year in 1988.
Additionally, his public service to Rockdale County and the state of Georgia earned him numerous recognitions: being recognized as Citizen of the Year three times in Rockdale County and once by the state of Georgia; receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce; receiving the Jack Fischer Fair Play Award from the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1988; garnering the Pierre D. Coubertain Fair Play Award from the International Olympic Committee in 1988; and receiving the Golden Clipboard Award from the U.S. High School Federation of Sports. He's also served on the Conyers City Council, the Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission, the Rockdale Recreation Commission and the Georgia Hall of Fame selection committee.
Stroud has been married to his high school sweetheart, Helen Flanigan Stroud, for more than 55 years. They have three children -- Gregory, Anthony and Karen -- five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He currently serves on the Conyers City Council.
Representatives of The Progressive Club soon will meet with the superintendent or his designee to determine the appropriate signage reflecting the naming of The Cleveland Stroud Gymnasium. That signage will not be paid for with public funds but will be paid for with funds raised by entities such as The Progressive Club and other community organizations or individuals, according to the board's resolution.
Bowen & Watson of Toccoa is working on a $10 million construction project that will replace part of the athletic facility at RCHS and add on to the campus.
The project will include the construction of a new gymnasium and renovation of the existing gymnasium into classrooms, administrative space, locker rooms and training rooms.
The existing gym was part of the original construction of the school in 1962.
The upper floor in the old gym will be converted to classroom space with 17 rooms, including two science areas, and an administrative space.
The project also will include a new parking lot, four replacement tennis courts, stormwater retention areas, water quality improvements, a small two-story building adjacent to the track for stadium locker and weight rooms and a JROTC space, new stadium lighting and a new roof on the old gym.
The project is funded through SPLOST II and III funds, which are revenues from a special tax that can be used only for specific projects as previously approved by voters in a referendum.
The project is expected to be completed by Dec. 31.