By Amanda McBride
The Webster Progress-Times
ACKERMAN — Highway 9 between Choctaw and Webster Counties will now be known as the “Phyllis A. Graham-Steven B. Moss Memorial Highway.”
A highway dedication ceremony was held Nov. 14 at the Choctaw County High School gymnasium to unveil the sign and dedicate the highway.
During the ceremony, CCHS Principal Shane Burton reminded everyone “it’s a great day” to honor the late Phyllis Graham and Steven Moss.
“It’s fitting to name the highway between Phyllis Graham’s home (in Eupora) and Steven Moss’ home (in Ackerman) some 18 miles,” said Burton.
He remembered both of his coworkers during the ceremony, calling Graham “a special lady” that took care of the staff at then-Ackerman High School.
He also said that on Friday mornings she would bring biscuits to the coaches.
Burton called Coach Moss “a great guy” recalling that he, like many others, had spent hours and hours with Moss on the football field and golf course.
“He would be excited today. He would be excited because it’s Friday and we’re still playing football,” said Burton with a smile on his face.
Also during the ceremony, Burton recognized members of the Class of 2011.
“On Feb. 8, 2011, I saw heroic efforts that day,” said Burton about the senior class.
Graham, 53, and Moss, 37, were killed during a collision involving two Choctaw County school buses and an 18-wheeler in Calhoun County that day. The senior class was on their way home from visiting a college campus. Students were injured in the collision but none seriously.
Highway 9 was named in memory of these two remarkable teachers after the Student Government Council wrote a letter to District 35 Rep. Joey Hood asking for his help to honor their teachers.
“Their request is an impact of their lives on Choctaw County,” said Hood, describing how Graham and Moss left an impact on the lives of the students at Ackerman High, now Choctaw County High School.
Hood and Sen. Gary Jackson worked together to have the 2014 Legislature pass House Bill 615 designating the “Phyllis A. Graham-Steven B. Moss Memorial Highway.”
Part of the bill states, “That segment of Mississippi Highway 9 in Choctaw County, Mississippi, beginning at the Choctaw-Webster County Line and extending southerly to the corporate limits of the Town of Ackerman is designated and shall he known as the “Phyllis A. Graham-Steven B. Moss Memorial Highway.”
Northern District Commissioner Mike Tagert of the Mississippi Transportation Commission was on hand for the dedication and sign unveiling.
“It’s an honor to name a public asset after true public servants,” said Tagert.
Also during the ceremony, the Choctaw County High School chorus sang the national anthem and performed special music.
The MDOT Law Enforcement Honor Guard presented the colors, and Pastor Danny Irvin of Ackerman Baptist Church gave the invocation and prayer.
Some of the honored guests for the dedication ceremony included members of the Graham and Moss families, Class of 2011 and Calhoun County rescue workers.
At the end of the program, Burton and Marilyn Ramirez, Student Body president, unveiled the “Phyllis A. Graham-Steven B. Moss Memorial Highway” sign.
Remembering Graham and Moss
Phyllis Andrews Graham was born in Hattiesburg, and graduated from Purvis High School in 1975. She attended Pearl River Community College, the University of Southern Mississippi and Wood Junior College before graduating from the University of Mississippi, where she was also employed.
She served three terms on the Webster County Board of Education. Upon achieving her degree, she taught at Montgomery County High School then North Mississippi Regional Center.
Graham began her teaching tenure at Ackerman High School in 2006. During this time she also served as Athletic Booster Club president for Eupora High School.
She was preceded in death by a son, Joseph. She is survived by her husband, Kenneth Allen Graham; a daughter, Hannah; and a son, David.
Steven Britt Moss was born and reared in Ethel. While at AHS he taught history and driver’s education, and coached football and golf. Survivors include his wife, Abigail, and daughter, Lily Katherine.