Throughout the award’s history, it has been somewhat of a tradition for recipients to be unaware of their nomination until they are presented with the award at an ordinary meeting or event. Following this custom, Dr. Litton was surprised with the award at Cleveland County Schools’ May 2nd Senior Scholars Banquet.
Phillip Glover, chairman of the Cleveland County Board of Education who also received the award a few years ago, nominated Dr. Litton after deciding his years of service to Cleveland County deserved to be recognized. After discussing the idea with Dr. Fisher, Superintendent of Cleveland County Schools, Dr. Litton’s nomination was sent to Representative Tim Moore’s office. From there, it was passed on to Governor Pat McCrory, who is responsible for choosing the recipients.
“Dr. Litton is a true believer in public education,” said Glover. “With his many years of service in Cleveland County, he deserves to be recognized for this award. He’s been a big advocate for public education through working in the schools, working with the Board of Education, and now working with the Educational Foundation.”
Dr. Litton was the principal of Crest High School for 20 years. He served as a member and chairman of the CCS Board of Education, and he is now the president of the Cleveland County Educational Foundation. Glover said Dr. Litton always works hard to ensure the scholarships from the Foundation are given out to students.
Even though Dr. Litton knew about the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, he never expected to get one. His grandson was receiving a scholarship for his academic achievements at the Senior Scholars Banquet, so the surprise was even more special to Dr. Litton, who got to share the experience with his family members.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the award. I’ve spent my entire life working for young people, and the recognition was certainly very nice,” said Dr. Litton. “Some great and outstanding people have gotten this award in Cleveland County, and I’m just honored to be among them.”
He said the award meant even more to him because the nomination was made by members of the school board that he served on.
About the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award
The award was created in 1963 with the purpose of recognizing people who have brought service and achievement to North Carolina in some way, and it has since become one of the highest honors given in the state, following only after the North Carolina Award. Dr. Litton joined a group of over 15,000 recipients of the award, including prominent figures such as Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Andy Griffith, Dale Earnhardt, Dean Smith, and many others.
The recipients of the Order are decided upon solely by the governor of North Carolina. While it is clear that winners have all contributed to the betterment of the state, the rest of the qualifications are up to the governor. The award can be given to celebrities, businesses, employees of the state, private citizens, or anyone else who has gone “above and beyond the call of duty,” according to the nomination criteria.
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