In July, the Carrollton Board of Education took formal action to name the new multi-purpose facility on campus after two long-serving Carrollton Board of Education members. Today, completing this tribute is closer to reality as the complex officially opens its doors later this month to hundreds of Trojan athletes and fans who all will benefit from this legacy.
The Pope-McGinnis Student Activity Center honors current board chair, Dr. James C. Pope, and the late Joe McGinnis, who not only served on the board for three decades but also had an impressive tenure as Carrollton’s mayor.
Bronze plaques placed at the facility pay tribute to the contributions of these two men who are both products of the Carrollton City School System. McGinnis is a 1955 Carrollton High School graduate and Pope is a 1962 alum. Both student-athletes, for decades they served as official boosters of their alma mater as members of the Carrollton Board of Education, providing the leadership and guidance to carry forth the tradition of excellence established more than 100 years ago.
After high school, Pope went on to get a degree in mathematics from then-West Georgia College before heading to the Medical College of Georgia with the goal of becoming a general surgeon. Following graduation, years of internship and residency training, and a stint in the U.S. Army, he returned to Carrollton to join the Carrollton Surgical Group practice and for the next 36 years, Dr. Pope operated on thousands of Carroll County residents. Yet he still found time to serve in leadership roles in organizations important to his practice, including serving as president of the Georgia Surgical Society and as chief of staff of Tanner Medical Center. He also holds the distinction as the surgeon to perform the first elective vascular surgery in this community. Dr. Pope retired from practice in 2014.
Pope put service above self in the public sector as well. He served even longer on the school board – 37 years – including nine consecutive terms, and holds the distinction as the longest-serving member in the board’s history, leading as its chairman for more than two decades. Pope also served at the state level for the Georgia School Boards Association as a director and president. In 2018, Pope was inducted as a CHS Distinguished Alumni award recipient, and is also enshrined in the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
McGinnis, also an Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, was just as dedicated to his community and its schools. A graduate of Georgia State University, for years a successful career in sales took him away from his hometown. But when he returned, he returned with a passion for giving back. His service, as Carrollton’s mayor and a long-time school board member, spanned more than three decades. He served on the school board for a total of 28 years, holding the office of board chairman for six of those years.
After 16 years in this role, Mr. McGinnis was elected mayor of Carrollton. As mayor, he was instrumental in making Carrollton the city it is today. He laid the foundation for the development of the Main Street program, the procurement and renovation of the historic train depot, the development of East Carrollton Recreation Center, and the purchase of two important properties, one which is now the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center and the other, the popular AMP. Following his time as mayor he returned to the school board to finish out his career in public service, retiring at the end of 2013.
In July, members of the current Board of Education, without Pope’s knowledge, voted to name the complex after him and McGinnis. Under the guise of a scheduled “tour” of the construction site, family members of both honorees were invited to witness the unveiling of the naming at the board’s July 8 work session, surprising Pope and members of both families.
“I have a personal connection to both Dr. Pope and Mr. McGinnis, as I have had the honor of serving under their leadership when I came to Carrollton as the new principal of Carrollton High School more than a decade ago,” said Dr. Mark Albertus, now superintendent of the school system. “They both have been important mentors to me, sharing institutional knowledge, giving hard advice when necessary, while demonstrating their support of the school system at all costs. It is truly an honor to name this facility as a tribute to them.”