March 27, 2023


 Gary Schools Lauds Accomplishments of Former Educator and Athletic Director, Earl Smith Jr. and Two WSLA Student-Athletes

Making and Breaking Records in the Gary Community School Corporation becoming the Norm


(Gary, IND) – The Gary Community School Corporation is celebrating the accomplishments of retired education and Athletic Director Earl Smith, Jr. on being awarded the IHSAA Ray Crowe Excellence in Leadership Award. A 1952 graduate of Gary Roosevelt High School, Smith has dedicated his life to education and athletics in the Gary Community School Corporation.

Smith began his career at the Gary Community School Corporation as a teacher and coach in track and field, football, golf, and basketball. During his tenure, Smith coached at Tolleston, Froebel, West Side, Emerson, and Lew Wallace high schools. In addition, he served as the City Athletic Director, retiring in 2013 after a 56-year career.

Meanwhile, several WSLA student-athletes are making great strides and breaking records as well. West Side Leadership Academy junior, Laya Lapri Ratney, finished fourth at the Hoosier State Relays with a Personal Record of 9.13 in the 60-meter hurdles, and will compete at the Indoor State Track Championships at Bloomington this weekend.
Jamari Jefferson, a four-year starter at defensive tackle for the WSLA Cougars, has made the Indiana North All-Star team. The last time a cougar made the all-star team was 2013. Jefferson also represents West Side on the Cougar Track and Field team throwing the Shot Put and in wrestling where he was one match away from qualifying for the State Finals.
“We continue to pass the baton and cheer our student-athletes to be their very best,” said Athletic Director Robert Lee. “Having amazing examples like my predecessor, Earl Smith, who are still being recognized and celebrated for his lifelong work is what we need to encourage the next generation to push forward.”
Gary Schools Manager Dr. Paige McNulty has watched the Athletic program exapnd rapidly under her leadership but is quick to give credit to her talented team of administrators, teachers and coaches.
“Our athletic program has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the dedication of our team to cultivate stand-out student athletes,” said McNulty. “I trust that the improvements we are making and the accomplishments of our scholars is making the entire community proud. The Gary Community School Corporation extends its congratulations to Earl Smith Jr., Laya Lapri Ratney, and Jamari Jefferson.”
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