Congrats to Class of 2013

As we put together our graduation special section — which you can find in this issue of the Reporter — we knew we had something special.

But we know that every year.

It’s a privilege to be allowed to tell the stories of several exceptional Shelby County high school seniors every year.

This year, we had eight fine students, all of whom have gone above and beyond in some way during their high school careers. For each of them, high school was about more than grades and girlfriend-boyfriend drama — they discovered more about who they were meant to be.

Oak Mountain senior Ryan Hall found his passion — medicine. However, he’s looking at different paths in the medical field, such as research-based medicine, orthopedics or forensics. How did he find his passion? He participated in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine at Emory University, and learned about prosthetics and orthotics. A high school trip changed his life.

Meanwhile, for Pelham High senior Maddie Gathings, high school certainly had its ups and downs. She faced tragedy when her boyfriend, Carson Sumpter, died of cancer at 17. But instead of withdrawing into herself, she honored Carson’s memory by working with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life to help those battling cancer now, and she’s making plans to get an undergrad degree in nursing and a graduate degree in pediatric oncology. Perhaps one day, Maddie can help save lives of teenagers in Carson’s situation.

Our public school seniors are not the only ones making waves, though.

Charlie Bell of Evangel Classical School was a role model throughout school, acting as a House Leader for Evangel Classical, winning the title of valedictorian and being named a National Merit Finalist.

Lacey Entrekin, part of Evangel Christian School’s homeschool community, has hewed closely to the word of God, especially when it comes to offering herself and her talents to the community around her. Her life is about service — both to charitable organizations and to those around her who can use a smile and a friend.

We know every one of Shelby County’s high schools has countless students like these, and we’re proud of every one of them. Congratulations to the Class of 2013 — we can’t wait to see what the Class of 2014 will bring!

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.