Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, the city's first magnet school, celebrated its 25th anniversary Friday night with a dinner-dance at The Mill.
The school's alumni association chose the occasion to launch two awards, according to Dennis Clark, alumnus and event chairman.
The school's first Alumni Achievement Award was presented to actress Montego Glover, who was a 2010 Tony Award nominee for her leading role in "Memphis."
She did not attend the anniversary party due to a prior television commitment as well as the demands of "Memphis," which just began its third year on Broadway.
"WHAT? OMG! were my thoughts exactly when I learned of this award," said the actress in an email interview.
"I was so moved by the idea that the community of CSAS would think of such a wonderful way to honor its alumni, and even more touched that of all the amazing young men and women I went to school with, they chose me as its first recipient. What a privilege," she said.
Glover, a member of the CSAS class of 1992, was nicknamed Tego during her time at the school.
She credits former music and theater teacher Stella Duffy with "literally giving me the keys to the kingdom. I owe my foundation as an actress to her magnificent gifts."
"I learned how to learn at CSAS," she said. "The Socratic Method made me so adaptable and skilled in my methods for gathering, comprehending and applying information that to this day I use those varied skills in all aspects of my life. And as I grow in the personal, creative and business areas, these skills not only stand up but grow with me."
The Paideia Legacy Award was presented to Jack E. Murrah.
"It recognizes the highest achievement by a recipient to the school and community. It was Jack Murrah's vision 25 years ago that led to the opening of CSAS," Clark said.
Murrah, former president of the Lyndhurst Foundation, was inspired after reading "The Paideia Proposal" to bring the liberal arts education plan to Chattanooga. He led the foundation's effort in 1983 that brought parents, business and civic leaders together to discuss the idea.
One year later, about 150 friends of public education lobbied the Board of Education to establish a Paideia school in Chattanooga. CSAS opened in 1986.
During the dinner, all past principals were recognized, said Clark, beginning with the school's planner/educator Steve Prigohzy.
Education: Bachelor's degree in music theater from Florida State University
Early career: Singer/dancer/actress in Japan then Walt Disney World
Broadway debut: "The Color Purple" in roles of Celie and Nettie
Currently: Originated the role of Felicia Farrell in "Memphis," for which she earned a 2010 Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Lead Actress. The show began its third season this week.
Awards: Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League nomination, all for her work in "Memphis."
Studio recordings: Original cast recording of "Memphis," "Dreamgirls 20th Anniversary," the Arlen/Gershwin collaboration "Life Begins at 8:40" for the Library of Congress
Commercial voiceovers: Verizon, Nickelodeon, Charmin Ultra Soft Bath Tissue, Wishbone Salad Spritzers, McDonald's, Chase Slate Bank Card.
Guest artist: She has sung with New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, The Chicago Humanities Festival, Tulsa Signature Orchestra, Broadway Inspirational Voices, Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Watch for her: She was in the season premiere of "The Good Wife." She just wrapped the season finale of USA Network's "White Collar," and is preparing to shoot "The 2-2," a new series on CBS.