Baker Intermediate School recognizes namesake

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Kindness Week was celebrated by Clark County Public Schools from Monday, Feb. 12 through Friday, Feb. 16. 

During that time, Baker Intermediate School took time to recognize its namesake. 

Reverend Henry E. Baker, who had the school on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive dedicated in his name in 2014, had his memory honored by both students and faculty during the school’s tenth year. 

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“I want to make it a tradition that we embed [Reverend Baker’s] story into our school year each year,” said Baker Intermediate School Principal Josh Mounts. “I want the kids to know  who he was, all the great things that he did, how he helped others, and just his overall legacy.” 

Baker spent 38 years as the pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Winchester, and also was President of the Winchester Human Rights Commission. 

In 1979, he made history as the first African American to serve as city commissioner in town, and was vice mayor from 1980-1984. 

Also a World War II veteran and inductee into the Kentucky Human Rights Commission Civil Rights Hall of Fame, Baker’s most significant connection to public education was helping to integrate Winchester schools in 1956. 

Nearly sixty years later, when the school was named in his honor in the summer of 2014, Baker himself was present to mark the occasion. 

He passed away a short time later in September 2014 at the age of 92. 

“He worked with school leaders…He wanted it to go off smoothly and he wanted to help his community,” added Mounts. “They integrated the schools in Clark County flawlessly.” 

During the course of the week, the school found ways to honor Reverend Baker. 

Specifically, they looked toward the late leader’s most honored traditions. 

“He always wore a flower on his lapel, and he felt [that] it’s important for folks to enjoy the flowers while they’re alive [and] to see the flowers, to smell the flowers. His son, William, came in and kind of told us that,” Mounts said.

Smoke Signals Student Media from George Rogers Clark High School even came to film a six-to-seven minute mini-documentary about Baker. 

Yet, that’s not all. 

“We gave every kind in the building a flower, [an] artificially carnation…We consider the kids our flowers. We want to see them grow and bloom and thrive,” Mounts added. “We encouraged them to keep it or they can give it to someone who they respected or admired whether it be a friend here at school, or a family member, [or] a neighbor.” 

Mrs. Lisa Antoniou, a sixth grade science teacher at Baker since its inception, spoke about Baker.

“I did get to meet him…it was so neat to get him to come to the building and see his namesake,” she said. “One of my students in my first block brought me a white rose [on Valentine’s Day]…I’ve taught twenty years [and] never had a kid bring me a flower on Valentine’s Day like that…it just touched my heart.” 

Cindy Craig, a fifth grade language arts teacher, has also been teaching at Baker Intermediate School since its opening. 

“[Reverend Baker] believed in his children, and his children believed in these kids here,” she said. 

Asked what he hoped Reverend Baker might think if he was alive today, Mounts responded. 

“I would hope that he would be pleased,” he said. “Our teachers and staff work very hard, and I think over the course of the last 10 years this school has worked hard to get the respect from our community and support of our community.”