BHS’s new admin. building to be named after the late Donald Caldwell, Sr.
By Cassandra Favre
Oct 10, 2017, 18:32
The Bay-Waveland School District Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously voted to name Bay High School's new administrative building in honor of former Bay High School principal Donald McKay Caldwell,Sr.
Former student Delma Powell said a group of former students, coaches and teachers decided to approach the board with the request to name a building in Caldwell's honor.
Powell said he approached the board last November with the request, but said the board was "thoughtful" and didn't want to make a "hasty decision."
At that time, Powell said, the main struggle was deciding which building and whether there were others seeking the same honor.
"It's the right time with the completion of the administrative wing of the high school," Powell said.
Powell said Caldwell was instrumental in getting a bond issue passed in the late 1960s which paved the way for the construction of the new Bay High School.
According to his biography, Caldwell was born in Hickory, MS in 1928. After graduating from high school, Caldwell joined the U.S. Army and served 18 months in Korea and became a sergeant in the military police.
He obtained a Master of Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, his biography states.
Caldwell's first teaching job was at Rainey in Jones County, where he taught math and coached boys and girls basketball.
After that, Caldwell moved to Logtown and taught at Logtown School.
In the mid-1950s, Caldwell moved to Bay High School, where he coached boys basketball.
During the 1956-1957 school year, Caldwell led the boys basketball team to its first state tournament.
Caldwell was 29 years old when he was promoted to principal at Bay High School, then located on Ulman Avenue.
"Bay High has a reputation of being a 'tough' school with many challenges," Caldwell's biography states. "He would soon change this image. He felt that they needed a strong-but-fair discipline system and an improvement in instruction. He also thought it very important to upgrade the facilities."
In 1968, the Valena C. Jones School closed and many students enrolled in the Bay-Waveland School District.
Also during that time, NASA's new testing facility, the John C. Stennis Space Center, was built and brought more students into the district.
"Mr. Caldwell fought tirelessly for the passage of a bond issue to build a new high school," the biography states. "Many people were against it and gave it little chance of passing. Mr. Caldwell spent long hours in the community explaining why the new high school was needed."
The bond issued passed.
Caldwell remained principal until the 1970-1971 school year, when he became assistant superintendent.
According to his biography, Caldwell retired at the age of 54 and moved to Louisiana to be closer to his children, fish, hunt and farm.
Caldwell passed away on Sept. 3, 2003.
Powell shared a memory of Caldwell from a spring afternoon during his senior year in the late '60s, when seniors were allowed to "duck" out of study hall.
One afternoon, Powell and a friend were practicing half-court basketball shots. However, Powell's last shot "not only missed the backboard, the rim and the net, it squarely struck the clock that hung behind the goal," he said.
"The clock immediately shattered into a hundred pieces," Powell said. "My friend and I quickly swept up the broken glass, reassembled the face of the clock, reinserted the clock hands that now stuck straight out and rehung the clock in a cock-eyed position on the wall."
Minutes later, Powell said, he was asked to join Caldwell in the principal's office.
Caldwell asked Powell about the clock and Powell said he responded with, "Yes sir, I missed a shot and broke the clock."
Powell said that Caldwell looked at him and said, "that's all."
"As I reached for the doorknob, he said,' Delma, you'll be graduating soon, if you ever need a reference, let me know,''' Powell said. "In that moment, Mr. Caldwell taught me the value of the truth, humility in dealing with others and straightforward communication. He likely never thought about that moment again. I think about that moment every time one of my children takes a wrong turn, a coworker failed to meet expectations or a member of the community stumbled. Mr. Caldwell did not seek the spotlight. He made a lasting impression; one student, one faculty member and one administrator at a time. Doing so, he made a lasting impression on an entire generation of Bay High students and faculty. He is forever a part of the legacy of the Bay St. Louis School System."