When Carrollton High School’s Homecoming Week arrived the last week of September, the Carrollton City Schools campus, like always, was abuzz with activity – spirit days, a charity donation drive, and preparations for the big day – Oct. 1. When it arrived a pep rally and parade set the stage for the Trojans to face off with region rival South Paulding that night and for a homecoming queen to be announced. It made long-time Trojan Lisa Fowlkes pause to think.
The Carrollton Elementary School first-grade teacher, who posed with a few of her students to accommodate a photographer at the Friday afternoon parade, said, “You know, I just realized this morning this is my 50th consecutive Trojan homecoming.”
Fowlkes said she has been a Trojan since she was a first grader herself and never looked back. The Trojan golden-ager said it all started at Maple Street School.
“That Christmas Santa brought me my first Trojan jacket,” recalled Fowlkes, whose father’s family has deep roots in Carrollton. “My first Trojan memories stemmed from (sister Rae’s) involvement with the marching band. I remember sitting on the hill watching the band practice, riding to football games early to take band students and, of course, the mum corsages that all of the cheerleaders and twirlers wore every Friday night.”
The band so impressed Fowlkes that when she was finally a student at Carrollton High School, she joined, too, as a majorette. Her younger sister Lori also was a member of the band, following their older sister Rae’s legacy as a “tall flag,” which today is called the color guard.
“High school was magic with homecoming dances, summer band camp and girlfriends that became sisters to me,” said Fowlkes.
Even after high school graduation, Fowlkes stayed in Carrollton, attending West Georgia College, now the University of West Georgia, where she met her husband, David.
“He was from Atlanta but we knew neither of us wanted to leave Carrollton,” said Fowlkes. “I was an education major and when I graduated he had been hired by the college to coach basketball and baseball so that sealed the deal for us to stay.”
There was no question in Fowlkes’ mind that she would be a teacher at Carrollton. She has been a first grade teacher almost exclusively, and has enjoyed every minute. And though she’s long been eligible to retire, it is not on her radar at this point.
“I keep teaching because I love it,” said Fowlkes. “I love seeing children’s eyes light up when they discover the magic of reading. I love working with all of the young teachers who have such enthusiastic and fresh ideas. I love meeting people who haven’t lived in Carrollton every second of their lives. I enjoy learning what brought them here and what makes it special to them.
“And Carrollton is special,” she continued. “There is no doubt. Carrollton is a place where people love other people. Young people may leave but they come back for that love and that sense of belonging. Trojans are always taught to give back so each generation wants to touch the next. They are smart enough to see that Carrollton is a special place and they want that sense of community to continue.”
Her own boys are following in their parents’ footsteps. Her older son, Drew, a first responder for DeKalb County Fire Rescue, commutes to the metro Atlanta area to stay home. Her other son, Ty, is currently pursuing a teaching degree himself and lives in Carrollton.
Fowlkes said as her sons grew the family transitioned from band to a football/baseball family.
“And honestly, those were some of the best memories,” she said. “Football games, pregame meals, the Dome, baseball playoffs, senior nights. Being a Trojan mom was the best. I am still so grateful to all of the Trojans who cheered on my boys and their teammates when they were on the playing field.”
Fowlkes said what makes her particularly proud about her hometown is a person doesn’t have to be born here to belong.
“What really makes it special is that if you possess that love for people you are graciously loved and accepted, too,” said Fowlkes. “You don’t have to be born a Trojan like my boys were. You just have to love others and give to others to bleed black and gold.”