Many prominent Birmingham women trace their early education to classrooms at Brooke Hill School for girls. Founded in 1940, it merged with Birmingham University School in 1975 to create The Altamont School. Some of those prominent ladies received the Brook Hill Cup, highest student honor for being selected The Brooke Hill Girl. This honored tradition dates back to the first class in1941. Since 1995 The Altamont School annually recognizes a Distinguished Alumna for her outstanding service to school and community. Other alumnae are recognized for achievements in college, business, or civic service.
Kacy Ireland Mitchell, the first of three daughters of Mallie and Glenn Ireland, relished her years at Brooke Hill. She recalled, “The teachers and environment of Brooke Hill nourished me and built a love of learning as well as comfort in art, music, dance, and sports. I guess I blossomed in the family environment and the competitive nature provided there.”
Coming from an athletic family with William Moughon and Bill Ireland as accomplished golfers and Glenn excelling on the diving board and tennis courts, Kacy naturally played every sport and was on varsity teams. Her sister Nonie became a state tennis champion, and the family enjoys tournament golf. At Brooke Hill, “Go Greens” was the cheer for half the school while the other half pulled for the White Team. Students competed in sports, scholarship points for the “A” and “B” honor rolls, and for service project points at the Red Cross or at after school activities. Kacy remembered “the wild roar at my graduation in 1969 when my Green Team won the Team Cup, an accomplishment we worked on all year!”
Kacy attributes her love of music to membership in the Glee Club, practicing with Choral Director Andrew Gainey, and being selected into the Concert Choir. Limited in number, the Concert Choir sang throughout the city and state, wore uniforms, and was under the tutelage of Mrs. George Lynch. Kacy summarized, “My younger sister Mallie is known today for her beautiful voice and music ministry. For a number of years, my husband and I were part of a contemporary church music service. We grew up in a musical family at home which was reinforced at school.”
According to Kacy, her parents’ positive Christian philosophy of service and philanthropy was a learned behavior for each of the siblings. “They were fine role models, and we still value their ideas and continue our closeness. We have all been active with our Christian faith wherever we lived,” she confirmed.
Just as the Irelands opened their homes to friends for celebrations and for family functions, Kacy has utilized her grandmother Kitty’s “glass house” for entertaining in a grand manner. For an Altamont Distinguished Alumni dinner, she transformed the wide foyer where her dinning room table was the focal point into a rustic Country French setting with large cheese wheels, burlap sacks of nuts, fresh bread in long baguettes tied together with bunches of grapes and colorful fruits and vegetables. The edible and inviting entry centerpiece contrasted with the formal French living room where family portraits and silver framed pictures caught the eye amidst the sparkle of Steuben, tasseled satin, and textured brocade in vibrant colors.
Glass and mirrors reflect the inter courtyard, rose garden and pool. For the wedding reception of daughter Mallie, the pool featured colored lights and a Plexiglas covering and became a stunning dance floor. The courtyard lawn was filled with beautifully draped and decorated dinner tables.
When Kacy’s home was on the Independent Presbyterian Christmas Tour, uniquely fashioned Christmas trees and angels were central to the rooms. She acknowledges, “I learned from my mother how to arrange flowers. She has always had wonderful cutting gardens, and we arrange flowers together for functions, for demonstrations, and for fun. She has shared with me her eye for color, contrast, and drama.” Kacy brought the process to fruition with her sisters Nonie and Mallie when they were ball chairwomen for the Birmingham Museum of Art. Their salute to Brazil was vibrant in color and taste!
The Birmingham community has benefitted from Kacy’s tireless work. As first Brooke Hill board chair of The Altamont School, she took the reins during a transitional time. The death of the much loved and long tenured headmaster Martin Hames called for a search committee, evaluation of school programs and practices, and change. During that same board chairmanship, she also chaired the board at Glenwood, an autistic and behavioral health center in Birmingham. She continues as a life board member reflecting her father’s service in State mental health.
A tireless worker with the Alabama Ballet, Kacy has been board chairman twice. She is most proud of their educational outreach, and the Alabama Ballet’s annual performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ . Her successful efforts helped connect the public with the dancers at the barre, in classical works, and in contemporary pieces.
Foremost with the Irelands and Brooke Hill alumnae are family and maintaining friendships. Both are genuinely hospitable, caring, and nourishing. Kacy benefitted from those relationships, which she has built upon and expanded. Her husband Guy Mitchell, whom she met in class at the University of Alabama and calls “Mister”, is the ultimate supporter. At this point their children have returned to Birmingham. Guy III, father of three, is president of DeShazo Crane Company and vice president of Mitchell Industries, Inc. Their two daughters attended Altamont. Mallie is a mother of three, and Dottie heads Mitchell Community Consulting and is a new member of the Altamont Alumni Board.
The circle and celebration continue. We salute those Brooke Hill Girls, like Kacy Mitchell, who have become prominent women through service to school, community, and family.