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I don't know where to start when you talk about Mr. (Merrol) Hyde. Those who really know me will tell you I'm not a big fan of Beech High School. When Beech first opened in 1980 there wasn't but a handful of Black students or Black athletes from that area.

This is a true story about one of the greatest men or person I know. Just about every Black student that was there came from different schools and different backgrounds.

I watched this man on a daily basis have group sessions with Black students and individual Blacks; talking to us making sure we felt comfortable in our new environment.

He fought to get more Black Athletes on teams. Example: You probably didn't notice but the basketball team didn't have any Black players my junior and Senior Year. The Booster Club pretty much hand-picked the team for Coach Scott but there was plenty of really good Black basketball players at the school.

Mr. Hyde started an Intermural Basketball League and helped assemble an All Black Basketball Team and we destroyed everyone in the school. After school one day we played the second team off the Varsity and blew them away. Coach Scott never said a word as he watched.

When you're young and in school there are small things you don't notice, like kids at school not having supplies, or not having food for lunch every day, or kids without clothing. You didn't notice it because Mr. Hyde didn't want you to notice it. Every student blended in together, he took everyone under his wings as one.

One more story before I go that made me look up to my mentor. From 1980 to 1983 he cared so much about not only his students but every student in the county. This man would take time out of his busy life away from his family every weekend to babysit his students.

He would open up the school so students could play basketball or watch games. Some just hung out. It started off about 15 people the first night, but by the 10th night it was between 50 to a 100 showing up.

He told us he would rather be here with us than watch us get in trouble on the streets trying to find something to do.

The reason why no one knew about those stories is because he didn't go around bragging look at what he was doing. He is a man of God doing God's work. He changed so many lives that he touched. He protected the prey from the predator, he saved so many students from embarrassing moments, took students born without a future and paved roads to a successful life. My Prayers go out to this family.

Sammy Branum,

Hendersonville

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