Heart on our sleeves

Pelham High School seniors, from left, Elizabeth Ross, Christina Rodriguez, Erin Whitman, Samantha Beasley, Courtney Nicholson and Katie Scott show off their homecoming shirts in memory of Carson Sumpter. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Is that your Powder Puff T-shirt?” I asked the pretty girl waiting for the school bus.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m not sure if I like the color of the letters on front. Do you think this color is OK?”

Studying the gold lettering, I saw that the letters were an old gold sporting only a splash of sparkle. They were not as glitzy as this high school senior might like.

“They’re a very classic gold,” I said. “I like them on the shirt’s black background. They’re really the gold that is our school color — old gold.”

“True,” she said. “This is my favorite part of the shirt anyway.” The dark-haired beauty grinned at me over the short sleeve which sported a white heart with the initials CJS. I caught my breath for a moment.

“Carson James Sumpter — I didn’t know the seniors were putting Carson’s initials on their shirts,” I thought to myself.

“Sure we are,” another girl said. “Carson’s our boy. Of course, we’re remembering him.”

“Carson’s been on my heart so much this week,” I said. “I guess it’s the Thompson game. He won the spirit stick at the pep rally before the Thompson game, right?”

“Yes, Carson won the spirit stick at the Thompson pep rally,” she said.

The PHS SGA announced that Carson Sumpter would keep the spirit stick for this year. Hopefully, PHS hangs on to a bit of Sumpter’s gracious, unifying spirit.

Arriving in the company of these girls for my after-school supervisory duty, I was frustrated to leave my classroom. With grades due, a new grading program with lots of kinks slowing me down, open house looming ahead and homecoming week at hand, how could I possibly complete every task? Teamwork helps. Assistant Principal Larry Giangrosso assisted with my afterschool duty. Literary Magazine staffers prepped my room and posted signs for our open house book fair. Sophomore Literary Magazine staffer Madison Smith came an hour early for open house because she thought I might need help. Senior staffers Tracy Kimbrell and Lele Willis stayed late to put everything away following our Literary Magazine and book fair sale. And a sweet young woman, with a heart on her sleeve, reminded me that homecoming week is not about accomplishing everything.

Homecoming week is about taking the time to unite, reflect and remember those people who have brought us together and changed our hearts forever.

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