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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Kathleen DuVal (from left), Laura Underwood and Martha McNair, all 2017 Fayetteville Schools Hall of Honor inductees visit Thursday at Fayetteville High School's Performing Arts Center. The three were on campus to speak with juniors and seniors. The Hall of Honor commemorates educators, alumni, and friends who have demonstrated extraordinary fidelity, honor, and service to Fayetteville Public Schools and community.

FAYETTEVILLE -- It's perseverance that's the key to success, not good grades, and it's lifelong learners that have the biggest impact on the communities they live in, the 2017 inductees to the Hall of Honor told students Thursday.

The advice for figuring out a desired profession and preparing for it is often given to high school students, but that's not always practical, Martha McNair told an auditorium full of Fayetteville High School juniors.

Hall of Honor purpose

The purpose of the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation is threefold:

• To provide role models for students by honoring former students who have distinguished themselves.

• Create excitement about education.

• Honor those educators and friends who have made extraordinary contributions to public education in Fayetteville.

Source: Fayetteville Public Education Foundation

"I think, practically, you should get as much education as you can manage or tolerate and then be as flexible as possible," she said.

Perseverance -- not grade point average, not test scores, not recommendation letters -- was the single quality contributing the most to success, she went on, citing a study the University of Arkansas did on indicators of academic success.

An education teaches students to think and prepares them for a career, but even though a student studies one subject matter doesn't mean he or she has to work in that field forever, McNair said, explaining "your education will enable you to enter into any number of professions."

McNair gave several examples of successful people she knows who studied one field and now work in another, and encouraged students to entertain the "inordinate amount of pressure" high school students often feel about the future.

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McNair, who taught at the high school from 1990 to 2012, was one of the three Hall of Honor inductees who addressed juniors and seniors in two presentations Thursday afternoon. The other honorees are philanthropist Laura Underwood and historian Kathleen DuVal.

McNair was also a lecturer for the University of Arkansas English Department from 1984 to 1990 and served as a part-time instructor at Northwest Arkansas Community College from 2012 to 2016. She received several honors and awards during her career.

Underwood also emphasized perseverance as a contributor to success, along with passion and supportive people. She told students she wasn't sure what she wanted to do after high school when she was their age, and that having an impact on a community didn't fall back on being an exceptional student but rather a lifelong learner.

The Texas native taught at Fayetteville High School from 1987 to 1996, then was elected to the School Board where she was re-elected twice and served until 2006.

She's also served on several boards including Washington Regional Medical Center's Friends of Hospice, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Fayetteville Junior Civic League, the Yvonne Richardson Community Center and Susan G. Komen Foundation of Northwest Arkansas.

"Find your passion, learn from your mistakes and your possibilities will be endless," Underwood said.

DuVal, a 1988 Fayetteville High School graduate, received tenure in 2009 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is a history professor.

She told students she wanted to be far way from Arkansas when she graduated, so she went to Stanford University in California. Moving away developed her love for Arkansas, she said, explaining her doctorate work was about relations between Indian tribes and European colonists in what is now Arkansas.

It's often said people should live in the moment, but those moments grow together into a larger story, DuVal said, encouraging students not to get tunnel-focused on issues that seem too big now.

"Remember it's a big world, and you have a lot of time to make your way through it," she told them, after mentioning Northwest Arkansas will always be a part of their larger story.

The inductees were also celebrated at the Hall of Honor Induction ceremony held at the public library Thursday evening.

The Fayetteville Public School Education Foundation has put money raised from the ceremony toward grants for teachers for 21 years. The Fayetteville High School Student Council co-sponsors the program.

"The ceremony gives us the opportunity to commemorate those who have helped make Fayetteville the thriving community and school district we have today," said Cambre Horne-Brooks, foundation executive director.

This year's three inductees' names will be added to the Hall of Honor wall in the high school's arena where the 72 other inductees since 1992 are listed, Horne-Brooks said.

Hall of Honor inductees are selected from three categories: FHS teachers and staff who have inspired and challenged students to succeed, FHS alumni who have contributed to humanitarian efforts or public service at the local, state or national level and have received success in leadership, character and service in their profession, and Friends of FPS who have contributed volunteerism or resources for the betterment of the school district, according to Horne-Brooks.

NW News on 10/06/2017

Print Headline: Honorees impart importance of perseverance

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