President and Mrs. Carter welcome his "favorite high school in America," St. Genevieve High School, and actress Shirley Jones, to their hometown of Plains Georgia

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When President Carter visited St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, CA, he proclaimed it to be his, "favorite high school in America. In February of 2012, his favorite high school traveled 3,000 miles to Plains Georgia to perform his favorite broadway show of all-time, Carousel. To add icing on the cake for the former president, the school invited the star of the movie,Carousel, Shirley Jones to accompany them. To their surprise and delight, Ms. Jones accepted. On opening night, Miss jones opened the show by presenting the school's principal with two original movie posters autographed by her saying, "tonight's show will take me back 58 years! She then sang "If I Loved You," one of the most well known songs from the show. With President and Mrs. Carter in the front row, Shirley sang that night for her 7th American president.

Carousel Cast Photo with President Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter and Academy Award Winner Shirley Jones

Carousel Cast Photo with President Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter and Academy Award Winner Shirley Jones

St. Genevieve High School provides a foundation for unlimited capability! I hope they come back year after year.

--President Jimmy Carter

The relationship between former president and Mrs. Carter is a unique one. Never has it been documented for a former first couple to have such a lasting and endearing relationship with a high school community. For the last six years, students from the school in southern California have been traveling to Plains for events ranging from a video production class creating a documentary on the people of Plains to the school's being invited to sing for the former president's 85th birthday party. In Spring of 2009, the faculty and staff of the school held their annual retreat in Plains. Rosalynn Carter was the opening and keynote speaker for their retreat as well as the Carter's former pastor, Dan Ariale. Rosalynn recounted to the staff members her personal spiritual journey from childhood to present day. The staff also had the honor of being taught Sunday school by the former president. For fun, the staff played a game of kickball on the field often used by Carter during his presidency when members of his administration would challenge the press to softball.

This highly unusual relationship began in 1986 when current high school principal, Dan Horn wrote a letter expressing his admiration to the former first lady. She reciprocated by inviting him to lunch. A lasting friendship was formed and lasted for more than two decades. When the high school was named a National School of Character in 2003, Horn and his students began accepting invitations to speak around the nation about the school's cutting-edge program in character education. One such trip in 2006 took them to Atlanta. Horn extended the trip and took students to Plains to meet the Carters. During that trip friendships were formed with other townspeople including Boze and Betty Godwin, the mayor and first lady of Plains for more than 30 years. Since then, several townspeople from Plains have visited the high school and students from the high school have gone back to Plains annually. In March of 2008, President and Mrs. Carter along with Mayor Boze Godwin and wife Betty presented Horn with a Key to the City, and honor bestowed to the likes of Anwar Sadat, Menachim Begin and this year, Miss Shirley Jones. Horn has since used the key on numerous occasions taking students back for various occasions. In October of 2010, President Carter honored the Panorama City school with a personal visit in order to meet all of the schools 600 plus student body. On this recent trip to Plains, as Carter spoke to the theater audience he referred to his trip to St. Genevieve High School as "one of the highlights of my post-presidency years." He continued by saying, "I look forward to going back again, only the next time I'll take my wife."

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DANIEL HORN

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