Gloria Compton was a teacher at Bryan Station High School for more than 30 years before retiring 21 years ago.
Throughout all those years, Bryan Station has been on the receiving end of negative comments and perceptions, she said. And in recent years, it has earned test scores that lag behind other public schools in the area.
"It's been that way since I started teaching there in 1962," she said. "Back then, they called it the farm school and made fun of the students because they drove tractors to school."
Still, Compton said, "I would not trade my life at Bryan Station for anything. God put me there."
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The school was named for a settlement of 40 log cabins just north of Lexington. In August 1782, the settlers knew they would soon be attacked by about 300 Shawnee Indians and British Canadians. They also knew they would need water to counter the burning arrows that were sure to come.
So the settlers agreed to send the women and children to the spring to retrieve water, knowing the Indians would not attack women. All of them returned safely.
In 1932, during the 150th anniversary of that act, the Fayette County Board of Education announced the new county school would be called Bryan Station. The athletic teams were later named "Defenders."
That sense of loyalty runs deep with many faculty and students who have since been associated with the school. It led Compton to follow through with the suggestion of another former teacher to start an alumni association that could help that school stand toe-to-toe with other public high schools in the city.
In 1990, Bryan Station alumni Doug Flynn, Vince Sayre and Compton solidified the idea during a basketball game.
Since then, the association has given more than $90,000 back to the school for academics and sports, and $30,000 in college scholarships to seniors.
The early members sold hamburgers and hot dogs in front of Krogers, she said. "We weren't making much, but we were doing what we could."
About 10 years ago they came up with the idea of a live and silent auction as a fundraiser as well as a golf scramble. About four years ago, a casino night was added to the auction event.
"We have been a blessing to the school," said Compton, who is a past president of the alumni association and a current board member.
In 2006, the association started a Financial Request Committee so that school organizations and programs could request funding for a variety of needs.
"If you need help with something, let us know how we can help," said the association's co-chair, Tina Payne. "We try to help the school as much as we can fill in for the shortfall that maybe our students and parents can't make up. We are trying to bring the school up to the level of other high schools wherever shortfalls are identified."
To do that, the association will host the silent and live auction and casino night on April 20. The money raised is strictly for scholarships or other academic programs.
Auction items will include four nights in a cabin just outside of Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; a flight around Lexington with pilot Mike Proctor; a box at Keeneland Racetrack; and an advance directive planning and will preparation, among other items. Donations of auction items are still being accepted.
The night's events, which will be held at the Oleika Shrine Center, 326 Southland Drive, will include appetizers, beverages and $500 casino start-up money.
Payne, who graduated in 1983, said that, as a student, she tired of having people sympathize when she told them she attended Bryan Station.
"They would say, 'Oh, I'm sorry,'" she said. "I never felt that way myself. I thought the school was great and I know I was getting a good education. But I do still hear that stigma attached to Bryan Station, undeservedly so. It has always been a good school."
Payne's son, Michael Payne, is the assistant band director at the school, so that sense of loyalty carries over to the next generation.
Compton wants all those people, those who graduated from Bryan Station and those who care about the school, to make room on their schedule for casino night.
If you don't want to attend, the association will accept donations.
"We will accept anything people want to give," she said. "It all is going to help the school."
Payne agreed, but added it will be a good night of entertainment.
"I can't guarantee you will win, but I can guarantee you will have a good time," she said.
IF YOU GO
What: A silent and live auction and casino night to benefit the Bryan Station High School Alumni Association.
When: 6-11 p.m. April 20.
Where: Oleika Shrine Center, 326 Southland Drive.
For information or to donate auction items: Call (859) 492-1439.