GALENA PARK ISD DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI BANQUET
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Friends, family and community members packed the halls of North Shore Senior High School on Tuesday, Sept. 19 to help Galena Park ISD celebrate its rich history by honoring six alumni during the district’s first Distinguished Alumni Banquet.
An overflow crowd showed its appreciation as each of the six honorees were recognized by a special person in their lives. Dr. Gerald Cobb, community activist and former Superintendent of Schools, served as the master of ceremonies for the evening.
The nationally renowned Fish Drill Team from Texas A&M University entertained those in attendance with their precision rifle drills.
The evening began with a rousing rendition of “America the Beautiful” performed by the combined chorale from Galena Park High School and North Shore Senior High School.
Ellie Cleveland, former band director of North Shore Senior High School, presented Wayne Oquin, a 1996 graduate of North Shore.
Oquin earned his Master of Music from The Juilliard School of Music and is currently serving as a Teaching Fellow while nearing the completion of his Doctorate of Musical Arts. He earned his Bachelor of Music from Texas State University. His music has been performed on three continents and his original compositions have been premiered throughout the U.S. as well as in London, Paris, Prague, Moscow, Tokyo, Vienna and Warsaw. Oquin entertained the crowd with a moving piano instrumental following his introduction.
Deborah Eaton, math teacher and department chair at Galena Park High School, honored Dr. Daniel Garcia, a 1989 graduate of Galena Park.
Dr. Garcia spent his entire educational career in Galena Park as he attended MacArthur Elementary, Galena Park Middle School and then Galena Park High School. His lifelong dream was to practice medicine in the community in which he grew up. He pursued that dream by earning his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch and then opening his family practice in Galena Park. He has since treated many of the teachers he had while in high school along with other classmates and even Galena Park ISD trustees.
Dr. Cobb, who was also a football coach at Galena Park High School before moving into the district’s administration, then introduced the Commissioner of Education – Dr. Shirley J. Neeley.
Dr. Neeley, a 1966 graduate of Galena Park High School, began her career in the district as an elementary school teacher and then became an assistant principal and then principal before moving into administration. She called herself the “head cheerleader of Galena Park ISD” while serving as Superintendent from 1994-2004 and her contagious energy and enthusiasm combined with an unrelenting desire to ensure that every student in Galena Park ISD achieved their highest potential led the district to unprecedented academic achievement. The district earned an Exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency – the largest district in the state to earn that honor – from 2002-2004.
Dr. Neeley, was also named the Texas Association of School Boards’ Superintendent of the Year in 2003, and was appointed as Commissioner of Education by Governor Rick Perry in January 2004.
David Aymond, head football coach at North Shore Senior High School, introduced Cory Redding, a 1999 North Shore graduate who is currently a starting defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League.
Redding was named the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and was also named to the All-American and All-State teams. After leaving North Shore, Redding enjoyed a successful career as a four-year starter on the defensive line at the University of Texas. He was named to All-Big XII and All-American teams and was then selected by the Detroit Lions in the 2003 NFL Draft. He has started at defensive end for the Lions the past three seasons.
Galena Park ISD Trustee and North Channel Chamber of Commerce President Wayne Oquin introduced Dr. Charles Grant, president of San Jacinto College North.
Dr. Grant, a 1965 graduate of North Shore High School, has been an educator for more than 30 years and is currently in his ninth year serving as president of San Jacinto College North. He has held many positions throughout his 23 years with San Jacinto College and he spent 10 years in Galena Park ISD – six of those years as a teacher and four years as an assistant principal.
Dr. Cobb introduced Howard Twilley - the final honoree of the evening - and shared stories about how a second-string offensive lineman evolved into one of the greatest pass catchers in college football at the time.
Twilley, a 1962 graduate of Galena Park High School, became a split end out of necessity during a 1961 scrimmage as injuries took their toll on the Yellowjackets and there weren’t enough healthy bodies to finish the scrimmage. Twilley volunteered to move to split end and performed well enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Tulsa.
Twilley enjoyed a record-setting career as a wide receiver at Tulsa by catching 261 passes for 3,343 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. He led the Golden Hurricane to two Bluebonnet Bowl appearances as well. Twilley was almost unstoppable during his senior year when he had 134 receptions for 1,779 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. His senior year performance opened the eyes of football experts around the country as Twilley finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1965. He then enjoyed a successful career for Coach Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins in the NFL. Twilley played for 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL and played in three Super Bowls. During his career with the Dolphins he caught 212 passes for 3,064 yards and 23 touchdowns. Twilley scored the first touchdown of Super Bowl VII on a 28-yard pass from Bob Griese. The Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins 14-7 in that Super Bowl to cap the NFL’s only perfect season.
Galena Park ISD Distinguished Alumni are shown with their awards. In the front row (l-r) are: Howard Twilley, Wayne Oquin, Dr. Shirley J. Neeley and Dr. Charles Grant. In the back row (l-r) are: Cory Redding and Dr. Daniel Garcia.