Any visitor entering the Stephenville High School foyer is bound to be impressed by the host of plaques and trophies commemorating Yellow Jacket athletic success. Less conspicuous is the Academic Wall of Fame that decorates the southwest wall of the foyer.

Of more recent vintage, this particular display case honors both students and faculty who have contributed to SHS academic success as the decades have rolled successively by. One plaque in particular-that for Annette Pierce Sherrod-documents the success that Yellow Jacket students have achieved in recent years at the Texas State 4A Academic Meet held annually in Austin the first week of every May.

The back wall of Sherrod’s classroom likewise dramatically testifies to a remarkable run, particularly by the UIL Literary Criticism team that she has coached since 1995. No less than 46 team championship plaques are displayed above the bookcases found in her immaculately maintained room. Two are for the State 4A first place team finishes of 2001 and 2003. Also prominently displayed is a photo of Catherine Atkinson wearing her 1998 individual 4A Lit-Crit State Champion gold medal.

Sherrod’s Literary Criticism team will return to Austin in one week to bid for a third championship as the eagles gather for 2007 team titles. The “Lit Critters,” as coach Sherrod affectionately calls them, are a powerful combination of two veterans-seniors Aaron Schwartz and Jeff Goodwin-and two newcomers-Anne-Marie Stanphill and Layne Cassidy, also seniors. In fact, it was the newcomers, Stanphill and Cassidy, who placed first and second at this year’s 4A regional contest. The foursome will bid to extend the successful Yellow Jacket Lit-Crit tradition when the bus rolls on May 3rd for the University of Texas campus.

Bringing home a third team championship trophy will be no mean task. Going into the competition, Stephenville sits third based on the team’s 271 score at the April

14th Region 1 Meet in San Angelo. The team from Friendswood scored 277 at the Region 3 contest, and Paris North Lamar posted a 272 to win Region 2. Wild card team Denton Ryan (268) will also be competitive while Region 4’s Dripping Springs (250) is the dark horse. This year’s winner will most likely be the team that studied hardest during the weeks separating the regional and state competitions.

Friendswood’s Andrea Lloyd comes to State with the highest individual score (97). SHS’s two top scorers, Anne-Marie Stanphill and Layne Cassidy, sit 4th (94) and 5th (93) respectively. It will, however, be crowded at the top. Thirteen of those competing in this year’s competition come to the final contest with a score of 90 or better.

As for team titles, the SHS foursome is certainly capable of rising to the occasion. Individually, each team member has enjoyed a long and successful career in UIL academics. Sherrod’s 2007 Lit-Critters have made it to “The Show” on hard work and effective coaching. Senior Layne Cassidy reflects, “Ms. Sherrod gave us plenty of study materials and showed her enthusiasm for working hard and winning. She knows what it takes to be successful and gave us the ability to do so as well.”

Teammate Aaron Schwartz added, “My coach’s dedication and passion inspires the team to succeed.” About Coach Sherrod, Anne-Marie Stanphill declares: “She always goes out of her way to help and give us all the information and is always willing to get us ready.” Not surprisingly, teammate Jeff Goodwin concluded that Ms. Sherrod helped the most “by being brilliant in what she teaches and making us study, study, study!”

All of that studying could well pay off soon when the team and its respective members will once again find themselves in Austin competing for both a third team title as well as individual honors.