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In high school, they were derisively called pig farmers, but they clean up well.
Several graduates of the defunct West Hardin High School now roam the halls of state and local government or command attention in Hardin County’s judicial system. Some of those graduates reunited Tuesday to reacquaint with their roots and swap stories about the past.
“Those pig farmers now run this town,” said Lisa Williams, who graduated from West Hardin in 1975 and was elected in November to Hardin Fiscal Court.
The nickname “pig farmers” came from other Hardin County high schools as a form of ridicule, but the graduates expressed nothing but pride in the school.
Hardin County Sheriff Charlie Williams said the jokes about being from the backwoods and farming extended beyond the county, as he heard chants and songs while he played sports against opposing teams elsewhere, such as Louisville.
But all laughed it off and said they are proving the naysayers wrong in a large way.
All of those interviewed said they grew up on farms and their upbringing played a role in shaping their future. Most also were members of Future Farmers of America.
Dennis Parrett, who upended Republican incumbent Elizabeth Tori after more than a decade of representing the 10th District in the state Senate and graduated from West Hardin in 1977, said some from West Hardin say FFA was the secret to their success.
Danny Allen, who replaces retiring Louis Lawson as Hardin County jailer, said there is some truth in the claim. Allen also said he likely exceeded most of his former teachers’ expectations.
“They probably thought I’d be in jail rather than become a jailer,” Allen said.
Williams credited the urging of a teacher at West Hardin to pursue a job at Dow Corning as the moment that jump started her interest in the business world.
Parrett, meanwhile, said agriculture teacher Hezzie Williams was a critical player in his life during high school. When Parrett told Williams he planned to join the military, he bluntly told Parrett, “No, you’re not.”
Instead, Williams contacted the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and landed Parrett a job at the school farm, which afforded him an avenue to attend college. Since then, Parrett became an extension agent and later built a successful business and has continued farming.
Pamela Addington, Hardin Family Court judge, said she was inspired by more teachers than she could remember, from a business teacher who taught her female students to be professional and independent to others who showed her love and compassion.
To this day, many of their former teachers and mentors keep in touch with their former protégés. Most said they received several calls of congratulations within weeks of capturing their seats.
Hardin District Judge John David Simcoe, who graduated in 1983, said he never felt ill-equipped for college or the world after his time at West Hardin High School because his teachers cared about their education and properly prepared them.
Williams agreed and said their time at West Hardin was during a different era, when discipline was not ignored and students showed their teachers respect mixed with fear.
“They really cared for us, and they still do, even though it’s been 30 or 40 years since high school,” Williams said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 firstname.lastname@example.org.