The Smith-Cotton Activities Hall of Fame grew by two members on Tuesday, May 7, with the inductions of speech and debate educator Wayne Brown and vocalist Brenton Ryan.

A member of Smith-Cotton’s Class of 1957, Brown devoted much of his life to the art of speech and debate, first as an S-C student and later as an educator and entrepreneur. He became a national influencer in the field, receiving four National Forensics League Diamond Key Awards and earning induction into the league’s Hall of Fame in 1994. Brown retired from teaching in 1993, and passed away in July 1995.

Ryan, a 2005 S-C graduate, has performed with the largest opera houses in the United States and is a two-time Grammy Award winner, for Best Opera Recording in 2016 and 2017. He also was the soloist in the 2012 film “In Our Nature.” In March 2019, he made his debut at Opera de Monte-Carlo in Monaco.

Accepting for Brown was his wife, Carla, who encouraged the crowd in the Heckart Performing Arts Center to find their true voice. “The No. 1 thing that employers are looking for is someone who can communicate clearly, and nothing can help you any more than speech and debate,” she said.

Ryan said he “found my voice” at age 9 performing in the Liberty Center for the Performing Arts production of “Oliver!”

“It was Sedalia’s support of the arts that gave me the opportunity to discover a part of myself that I had never known before,” he said. “I feel so incredibly lucky to have had such experiences and influences, especially in a smaller town in the Midwest, where the arts typically do not get as much attention as in the more urban parts of the country and Sedalia is very special in this regard.”

After his remarks, Ryan treated the crowd to his rendition of “O Sole Mio.”

The Smith-Cotton High School Hall of Fame was established to pay tribute to the outstanding scholars, athletes, performers, and teams that have walked the school’s halls. It also serves as a means to recognize the teachers, coaches, sponsors, and contributors who have supported S-C students and programs over the years.


In the photos: RYAN: Brenton Ryan sings "O Sole Mio" after he was inducted in to the Smith-Cotton High School Activities Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 7, in the Heckart Performing Arts Center. Ryan praised Sedalia's strong arts community for being a foundation for his success as an operatic tenor.

BROWN: With a portrait of Wayne Brown in the background, Carla Brown discusses the value of speech and debate education during her late husband’s induction into the Smith-Cotton Activities Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 7, in the Heckart Performing Arts Center.

Sedalia School District 200
Sedalia School District 200

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