Jana McCranie is a Buford High School graduate of 1986. She was born in Buford and raised by her loving parents, Bill and Jalaine Smith. Bill graduated from Dacula High School in 1956 and Jalaine graduated from Buford in 1959. Like Jana, Jalaine was also born and raised in Buford, where she has lived for 78 years. Jana has an older sister, Jill Smith Talley. Jill graduated from Buford in 1982, and she now lives in Gainesville with her husband of 35 years.
Jana first started at Buford in first grade in 1974. She completed all 12 years of school at Buford. Jana was at Buford High School from eighth grade to her senior year. While at the high school, she was a member of Beta Club, FBLA, Drama Club and Bel Canto Choral under the leadership of Bill Davis. She remembers having the honor of being a part of the Girls’ Trio with Kecia Reed Wilson and Heather Beard. The trio were back-to-back Girls’ Trio State Champions in 1985 and 1986. Jana had the honor of being nominated for class representative in eighth through 11th grades. She was also crowned Miss Football Homecoming in her senior year in 1985. Jana was in the band from eighth grade to her sophomore year. She was a varsity football and basketball cheerleader during her junior year and cheerleading captain in her senior year. Jana also played varsity tennis and varsity softball during her high school years. In her senior year, she was very humbled to be awarded senior superlatives “most popular” and “most athletic.”
In addition to her abundant extracurriculars, Jana was also an excellent student. She graduated third in her class with a GPA of 3.980. She enjoyed every subject in high school, saying, “I enjoyed every single minute of high school, and I will always cherish the fond memories.”
Jana said Bill Davis had the biggest impact on her high school career, as he was her director for the Girls’ Trio and drama. His wife, Gloria Davis, was her voice teacher before high school. Mr. Davis was also the minister of music and youth leader at First Baptist Church, which Jana regularly attended growing up, and she had the opportunity to sing for him in the youth choir and attend youth events during high school. Mr. Davis and his wife were always a very important part of Jana’s life both inside and outside of school. The couple sang at Jana’s wedding in 1999.
Debbie Hall was also a very influential person in high school for Jana. Mrs. Hall was her language arts teacher who tremendously helped her, teaching lessons in English, as well as life. Jana always enjoyed the stories she shared with her class.
After graduating from BHS, Jana graduated cum laude from the University of North Georgia in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in education. She later graduated from Piedmont College in 2010 with a Master of Arts in education and received her education specialist teacher leadership in 2012.
Jana still lives in Buford with her husband, Karl McCranie, and her two sons, Austin and Mason. Austin graduated BHS in 2014, and Mason will graduate in 2021. Jana has taught at Buford Elementary on Sawnee Avenue for all of its 26 years, citing her love of children as her inspiration. She volunteers at First Baptist Church as director of Vacation Bible School.
Jana’s family and her Buford community are two major parts of her life. Growing up in Buford, the community always played an important part of Jana’s life. She loves her hometown.
“Buford is like a family,” she said. “We have always had a sense of unity.”
Jana is very honored and humbled to be recognized as a Buford High School alumni.
Once a Wolf, always a Wolf!
— Torin Smith for the North Gwinnett Voice