Living Democracy

Handley High Serves Vital Role in Community

Entrance of Handley HighNamed after one of Alabama’s original movers and shakers, Captain William A. Handley, Handley High School is a vital part of Roanoke.

Handley High School consistently pumps out competitive and eager minds. The community rallies around high school events such as drama productions and sports. And it seems as if the school makes a great effort toward creating a greater Roanoke by producing citizens with initiative similar to that of the school’s namesake, Captain Handley.

These elements cement Handley High School’s central position in the community.

At the head of this pillar of the community sits Principal Gregory Foster, Handley High School’s leader for the past six years.

“I think that the friendships and the relationships I’ve built here in Roanoke have been the most rewarding part of working here,” Foster said.  “We are a school, but we are also a family. We believe and help one another. It’s almost like, when you hurt I hurt, when you cry I cry. That’s the students, the teachers, me, the administration, support staff, everyone. We’re family.”

Rising junior Malia Brown, who transferred from Randolph County schools to Handley two years ago, said, “I love Mr. Foster. He lets us have a lot of freedom. He’s not uptight, and he really tries to work with the kids.” 

Image of Handley High School sign Brown explained how Foster instills the value of school-pride within students, and specifically, how he teaches non-athletic students they have value too. “I don’t play sports at all, but I like drawing, taking pictures, and singing. But I don’t feel any less than the football or softball players because Mr. Foster makes us feel at home.”

Handley’s atmosphere of support and openness manifests partly in smaller details like its lunch schedule. Instead of sanctioning off different lunch times for different grade levels, Handley allows all students to attend a single lunch period so that they may eat with their friends in other grades.

Additionally, students are allowed to eat at several different spots across the school’s campus instead of being confined to a cafeteria. The school has “free-range” students, as Handley alumna Marian Royston puts it.

Students like Brown appreciate having a wider range of students to eat and chat with in the middle of the day, and Foster points out that if students have problems with each other, it’s easier for the problem to dissolve because students can relocate to many other places and associate with many other students.

Handley High School has been a point of pride and progress within Roanoke, and the citizens are unabashed when telling it. Parents and regular citizens alike enjoy going to watch their Handley Tigers compete athletically and artistically.

Outside area with flowers at Handley HighTeachers like Steve Murphy, the school’s Spanish and Drama instructor, enable this connection between Handley and the community by helping students discover and hone their artistic capabilities. Throughout the year, citizens of Roanoke are able to attend plays and chorus performances put on by Handley students.

As Roanoke continues to grow, its citizens look at Handley High School for the next generation of citizens who will continue the progress that has been incubated within their school’s halls.

Last Updated: May 17, 2016