The first students to attend William G. Enloe High School were welcomed by Principal George Kahdy. The year was 1962, a time of great change when the brand-new school in Raleigh became the first in Wake County to integrate without quotas.
To this day, his former students still call him Mr. Kahdy. The graduates of the first five classes – 1964 through 1968 – went on to build families and careers, but they never forgot what they learned at Enloe High School and who inspired them. In 2007, the former students established a scholarship at the North Carolina Community Foundation to help future Enloe graduates attend college and to honor their beloved principal.
Bill Baxley, class of 1966, says Mr. Kahdy represented the model of what you want in a principal.
“I think he was successful because he treated everybody the same,” Baxley says. “... He looked through the lens of humanity and he cared for people. He cared for the teachers. He cared for the janitor. He cared for each one of us.”
Mr. Kahdy, now 100, thinks the credit for the successful beginning at Enloe High School belongs elsewhere.
“I think the main thing was that the teachers were wonderful,” he says. “They were so willing to give a lot of their time, extra time, for various extracurricular activities. They took a real interest in the students.”
Kelli Barham, class of 1968, came up with the idea to create a scholarship at Enloe.
“When the scholarship was established in 2007,” she says, “it was a way to honor Mr. Kahdy for his leadership in public education.” In addition to his time at Enloe, he worked as a special adviser to two North Carolina governors and helped launch the N.C. School of Science and Math.
The alumni group chose to name it the George A. Kahdy Scholarship, Barham says.
“He always said to me: ‘I do not want the scholarship to be about me.’ And when I called him to ask permission to use his name, he said, ‘I always want the focus to be on Enloe,’” she says. “Founding the scholarship established a means to honor a great school’s legacy, classmates, teachers and administration, and the entire extended Enloe family by way of memorials and honorariums for perpetuity.”
In 2012, the advisory committee changed the name of the scholarship to the George A. Kahdy Enloe High School Alumni Scholarship Endowment to emphasize its relationship with their alma mater, and Enloe High School took over the responsibility for the selecting committee.
Mr. Kahdy and the alumni who started the scholarship have kept in touch through the years. “I get cards from them, get telephone calls. I’ve even had some visits.”
On his 100th birthday in October 2021, the alumni held another fundraiser and some of them even joined their former principal’s birthday party by Zoom where it was announced they had raised $37,000 for the scholarship fund.
The scholarship has been going strong, awarding over $112,000 in scholarships since it began, Barham says.
And the scholars? They are amazing, says Barham, who served on the scholarship selecting committee until she moved to the N.C. coast two years ago. “Every one of them are absolutely incredible, just incredible.”
Enloe students who apply for the scholarship must demonstrate good character and integrity, academic achievement, financial need, service to their school and community, and involvement in school activities.
The first scholarship was given in 2008 and $4,000 was awarded, Barham says. As the endowment grew, the multi-year scholarship increased to $5,000 and has now grown to $12,000, Barham said.
Baxley, of Raleigh, said moving the scholarship fund to NCCF has allowed for a pool of money to be established that is invested and protected, allowing the fund to grow and support students in need at Enloe. The committee also utilizes class reunions and other alumni gatherings to fundraise for the scholarship.
The fund highlights the impact of making a long-term commitment in support of a scholarship fund.
“It is such a pleasure to work with an engaged alumni group committed to growing a four-year scholarship and maximizing their impact to support students seeking undergraduate education,” says Kathryn Holding, NCCF’s vice president of development & donor engagement.
Baxley emphasizes that the scholarship is awarded by people at Enloe High School. This year’s selection process “kind of brought home the importance of the Enloe people embracing, engaging and trying to figure out how they are going to continue that legacy into the future,” he says.
Today’s students don’t know Mr. Kahdy, and that’s why the alumni who established the scholarship decided to add Enloe in the name – “so that the younger generations will feel invested,” Barham says. “Everybody likes to give to their alma mater.”
Mr. Kahdy believes that his former students have created an impactful scholarship, but “it costs so much to go to college today that it’d be nice to have a little more value in the scholarship.”
His former students don’t intend to let him down. As the scholarship continues to grow, Barham says, “wouldn’t it be great for it to be $25,000 a year?”