Helen C. Cannon's Philosophy
“You get out of something what you put in it.” These are the words that Helen C. Cannon lived by. Helen Cannon put a lot into America, and Las Vegas in particular. Cannon decided to run for the Clark County Board of Education because she found the “See Jane Run” books as an insult to a child’s intelligence. “I wanted to make a difference,” she said.
After serving on the District Board as a member, clerk, vice president, and then president, Cannon Junior High School was named after her in 1976. I was flabbergasted and deeply honored, she said. “I feel a responsibility to the students, faculty, parents, and the school district to be worthy of such an honor,” she went on to say. Cannon has seen many changes in education, some of them good and some not so good. She mentioned the changes in the courses that are offered now, and the changing attitudes towards education.
If she could change anything in today’s educational system it would be the redefinition of “No Child Left Behind.” She believes that Washington should “butt out,” because every child is a unique creation and no across- the- board Washington program can possibly service all children. Cannon began her own education in the small Midwestern town of Cameron, Wisconsin. There was no such thing as kindergarten, so she began in a first and second grade room. She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and went on to River Falls Teaching College for a year, until transferring to the University of Wisconsin. She worked her way through school and graduated in 1938.
Her love for flying began back when she saw a low-winged monoplane make a forced landing in a neighbor’s field. “From that time on I knew I wanted to fly,” she said. She soloed in Madison, Wisconsin in 1941. She kept a meticulous logbook and had her commercial rating in small aircraft when World War II began. Cannon served as a Womens’ Air Force Service pilot during World War II, and looks at it as a marvelous experience. “How could I be so lucky?” She added, “It was camaraderie at its finest. It’s still there after 60 years.”
She came to Las Vegas with her husband at the end of the war and settled down to raise her son and daughter. But Cannon was not just a quiet stay-at-home mom. She became very active in women’s amateur golf. “Golf is a great game; you can play with the best or the worst.
You can have goals,” she added. And as usual with Cannon, “one thing lead to another,” and she was active in that as well. Cannon chronicled the changes she has seen in Las Vegas. The population and traffic have gone up, and the air and water quality have gone down. “It used to cool off at sundown,” she said. But Las Vegas still has the best food and entertainment.
Cannon offered this advice to young people today. “Ask questions, have an abundance of self worth, take advantage of school courses, be there, be on time, GET INVOLVED, PARTICIPATE.” She certainly followed her own advice. The legacy she would like to leave behind is to “never forget the Clark County School District exists for one purpose only – the fostering of learning, thinking, honesty, sportsmanship, accomplishments and hopefully, happiness, in the children of this area. That is obvious when one sees the two showcases of memorabilia and awards dedicated to Helen C. Cannon just inside the front doors of Cannon Junior High. Students often stop by one their way to class and look at the legacy left by a great woman of Nevada.
Helen C. Cannon