Until we meet again

Published 4:36 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Lara McCauley Alvis and Pelham High School Principal Bob Lavett attend the PHS Academic Banquet on May 12. (Special/Connie Nolen)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

The week that the Class of 2011 thought would never come has finally arrived. As teachers, we release our seniors this week. We say, “You’re ready,” “We’ll be thinking of you,” and “You know where we are if you need us.”

We avoid goodbye. Goodbye feels permanent. As a veteran teacher, I always hope that graduation separation is only temporary.

Our PHS Academic Banquet honors students who excel. Last week, one of my former students, Lara McCauley, returned to speak at the Academic Banquet. Working to assist Academic Banquet Coordinator and PHS teacher Misty Sandlin as students arrived; I missed my former student. Now she is Lara McCauley Alvis, a prominent attorney — and a beautiful, refined young woman. Perhaps I was looking for the animated 16-year-old redhead I once taught when the young woman that Alvis has become appeared.

Always willing to give back to her school, Alvis has returned to PHS several times.

She spoke in my classroom during one of our career days — and she did a wonderful job with the kids. On that career day, Alvis was serving as assistant Shelby County district attorney.

Currently, Alvis is an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama Law School, an attorney practicing criminal and domestic law and a woman with wisdom to share.

Alvis advised these honor students to be involved. She reminded the students that involvement matters as much as grades, not only for resumes, but also because giving back is important.

Alvis reminded the students that, “Life as you know it can permanently change with one bad decision.”

Calling on her experiences in both prosecution and defense, Alvis cautioned the students that drinking and drug use precede most bad decisions.

Alvis said, “You shouldn’t drink. If you do drink, do not drive.” Alvis advised the students to guard their reputations and to remember that money is not the ultimate goal of work. Alvis shared with the students that she was able to experience her dream of working as a prosecutor.

Seeing Alvis again was inspirational. Often, I don’t know how life unfolds for our PHS grads. Knowing that a bit of happily ever after has come true for Lara McCauley Alvis reminds me that graduation propels our students toward their dreams.

We’re wishing the PHS Class of 2011 happiness and dreams come true-and hoping that we’ll see these amazing graduates again soon.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.