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Watertown Defeats Tigers to Claim District Baseball Tournament Title

May 13, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Tigers got behind and couldn’t catch up losing 8 to 3 to the Watertown Purple Tigers in the District 8AA Baseball Tournament Championship Game Wednesday evening in Smithville.

The Tigers will travel for the first round of the Region baseball tournament. The time and location TBA.

Watertown took a 2 to 0 lead in the 3rd inning and led 6 to 1 after the 4th inning. The Tigers scored 2 runs in the 5th to cut the Watertown lead to 6 to 3 but the Purple Tigers added 2 insurance runs in the 7th and won 8 to 3.

DeKalb County is 15-11-2 on the season including a regular season 8-2 district record. Watertown is 24-5

DCHS Principal Randy Jennings Stepping Down At End of School Year

May 12, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

“I think it’s time”

After serving four years as principal at DeKalb County High School, Randy Jennings will be stepping down at the close of this school year.

Jennings, a veteran educator of 26 years, said while he has enjoyed his years as head of the high school, the time has come to turn the reigns over to someone else.

“I have prayed a lot about it and the Lord has given me a lot of indication that its time for me to move on and do something a little different. DCHS needs somebody who can go forward and be 100% invested in DCHS. I don’t think I am the right person for the job any longer,” said Jennings.

Although he is leaving DCHS, Jennings is not retiring and will continue in some role, somewhere in education.

Jennings, a 1989 graduate of DCHS, was a gifted high school baseball player and furthered his talents and education at Motlow State Community College where he earned an Associate’s Degree. From there he attended and played baseball at Cumberland University before transferring to MTSU for his Bachelors Degree. Jennings then went to Tennessee Tech where he earned his Masters and Education Specialist Degree.

DeKalb West School was where Jennings landed his first teaching job in 1995, taking over from eighth grade educator and boys and girls basketball Coach Danny Parkerson, who had been promoted to principal. After a couple of years there, Jennings moved to Watertown High School where he taught and coached baseball and girls basketball for three years. In 2000, Jennings returned to the DeKalb County School District to take on his first principal assignment at Smithville Elementary School. Five years later, Jennings made the move to DeKalb Middle School where he served as principal for twelve years before succeeding Dr. Kathy Bryant as principal at DCHS in 2017 after she joined the central office staff.

While Jennings plans to continue his education career, not having the demanding responsibilities that come with being a high school principal, will give him more time to spend with his family.

“This job can consume your life. You are principal 24/7. You don’t ever stop. If something goes on in this building Saturday or Sunday or 10 at night, you are still the principal and still must deal with it,” said Jennings.

Randy and his wife Jill are the parents of grown children Steven and Cori.

Steven, a former DeKalb County High School football star quarterback and baseball pitcher, was the 42nd overall pick of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, and is currently assigned to the Bradenton, Florida Marauders of the Southeast League, a Low-A Ball affiliate of the Pittsburg Pirates. Cori, was a star high school softball pitcher at Gordonsville High School and went on to play two years at UT Chattanooga followed by two years at MTSU. Cori is now married and a teacher at Siegel Elementary School in Murfreesboro. She and her husband are expecting their first child in October.

“Jill and I are looking forward to the arrival of our granddaughter,” said Jennings. “We want to be able to spend more time with our daughter and son-in-law and maybe go see Steven play more,”

Jennings said he is thankful to his superiors, fellow administrators, teachers, students, and the community for their support.

“I have been really blessed to have worked with some really fine directors of schools. They are all fine men. I will always be grateful to the late Aubrey Turner, Jr. who gave me my first principal’s job at the ripe age of 29. I didn’t know what I was doing then and some people probably think I still don’t know what I am doing. I also enjoyed working under former Directors Jim McCormick and Mark Willoughby, and our current Director Patrick Cripps. They always gave me and my staff the freedom to run the schools like we felt was best for kids. I appreciate the trust they had in me to be able to do that,” said Jennings.

“I have also been blessed to work with a lot of great teachers over the years. That list is very long after 21 years and three schools. I am thankful for them and I hope I have helped them along the way as much as they have helped me. The assistants I have worked with over the years. I appreciate their loyalty and support when they were in those positions” he continued.

Jennings singled out praise for assistant DCHS Principal David Gash, who is retiring after this school year.

“Mr. Gash has been the backbone of DCHS for a long time. It will be harder to replace him than me. He has been the glue that holds this place together. DCHS and the people here will miss Mr. Gash,” said Jennings.

Finally, Jennings said he will perhaps miss the students most of all and hopes he has been a good role model for them.

“ I love kids and being able to work with them everyday. The senior class this year, I have been with them for seven years (DCHS and DMS). I have seen them grow from sixth graders to young men and women. It is special to be going out with a class that I spent that much time with. Over 21 years I hope I have been a good role model for them all. I hope they understand that some of the things we had to deal with as administrators, even if they didn’t agree, was for their good. I hope they know I love and care about them, not only as students, but what they will do in the future. I hope I made an impact on them. I know they have on me”.

Jennings’ successor as DCHS Principal has not yet been named.

Assistant DCHS Principal David Gash Announces His Retirement

May 12, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

For the last seventeen years, David Gash has devoted his career to working with youth in the DeKalb County School System. First as guidance counselor and in more recent years as assistant high school principal.

Its been a great experience but nothing lasts forever and Gash will be closing the book on his tenure at DCHS to begin retirement when school ends this month.

“Its time to move on and let someone else come in who may be younger with a little more energy,” he said.

Gash began his county public service in 1988 with the sheriff’s department.

“Kenneth Pack was Sheriff at that time and he hired me as a lake site patrol officer. Later I became a third shift deputy and after a while moved to day shift. Over time I was promoted to Sergeant and then Lieutenant during which time I took on the role of DARE officer working with kids in the schools. That was one of the most rewarding times of my career. In 1999-20 we started the School Resource Officer (SRO) program after getting a grant and Sheriff Pack promoted me to Captain working with the entire school system as the county’s first SRO officer,” said Gash.

“As an SRO, I considered myself to be sort of a teacher-counselor-cop. I did a lot of counseling with the kids at school. Of course, if someone violated the law there, I had to make arrests. I served as SRO officer through the 2003-04 school year,” he continued.

Gash said he probably would have stayed in law enforcement had the pay been better at that time. Instead he opted to go back to college.

“When I saw I could further my education and become a counselor for the school and get a sizeable raise and still get to do what I love, working with and counseling kids, I made the change. I went back to school at Tennessee Tech to get my Master’s Degree and EdS. I already had a Bachelor’s Degree from there in Sociology and Criminal Justice”.

After completing his college education, Gash was hired by the school system starting with the 2004-05 year.

“The first year I was counselor at the middle school. The following year I moved to the high school to fill a counselor vacancy. Kathy Hendrix became principal at the high school that year and Patrick Cripps moved from counselor to administration creating an opening for me. I served in that role for two years until before being named assistant high school principal starting with the 2007-08 school year,” Gash said.

As one of the two assistant principals at DCHS, Gash has been primarily responsible for dealing with discipline issues while the other assistant principal, Jenny Norris has overseen academic matters.

“I am over discipline at the school. If a student violates a rule I meet and talk with them, find out why they did it, and try to counsel and help them understand why they don’t need to do it again. We also issue punishment. It could be from calling the parent to after school detention, suspension, or alternative school. Some things have a harsher punishment especially if its violence or drug related”.

Altogether between the sheriff’s department and school system Gash has put in 33 years working for the county and he is looking forward to retirement .

“I have worked with a lot of great people. I will miss them and especially the kids,” he said.

Gash and his wife Tina have two grown children Caleb Gash and Callie Cantrell and two grandchildren, Oliver Cantrell and Britton Gash and they plan to visit them more in their spare time.

Caleb works for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and his wife MaKenzy is employed at Kilgore’s Restaurant. Callie is a teacher in Memphis while her husband Caleb has been in Med School. They are relocating soon to Mobile, Alabama where he will be doing his residency and Callie will be taking a teaching position.

Although retired, Gash will still be active. He was recently appointed by the county commission to serve as a county judicial commissioner rotating his time with two others in issuing warrants as needed while his wife Tina will continue working as an RTI teacher at Smithville Elementary School.

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