Family applauds Calera High School graduate

By GINNY COOPER MCCARLEY / Staff Writer

CALERA—For Madison Kemp, receiving her diploma from Calera High School was one of the greatest events in her life, grandmother Gail Kemp said.

“Of course, getting a diploma is special for anybody,” Gail Kemp said, but emphasized the extra effort it took her granddaughter, who has Asberger’s Syndrome, to graduate.

Asberger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, which causes Madison Kemp to have a “lot of anxiety” about school, a “lack of focus” and trouble with organizational skills, her grandmother said.

Madison Kemp was in foster care from second to seventh grade, attending a variety of schools including Calera Elementary School as well as Brewer-Porch Children’s Center and Lloyd Wood Middle School in Tuscaloosa. During the summer before she entered seventh grade, Gail and Bobby Kemp were awarded custody and Madison Kemp began attending Calera Middle School.

“She had a lot of help,” Gail Kemp said, citing teachers, counselors and administrators at the school with helping her granddaughter graduate. “Shelby County special education is awesome. They understood she needed a little more pushing, a little more encouragement.”

The day Madison Kemp graduated was very special for the family, her grandmother said.

“After she got her diploma, Madison said it was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever owned,” Gail Kemp said.

Next, Madison Kemp plans to attend Lawson State Community College where she will study cosmetology, with the hopes of one day owning her own boutique.

“She has lots of ambition,” Gail Kemp said.

For Gail Kemp, her granddaughter’s story is an inspiration for anyone who is finishing school despite obstacles and disabilities.

“I share this story so that others may see that it is possible to finish high school despite learning disabilities such as Asberger’s. Encouraging words, actions and dedication to the child are the best ways for parents, teachers and others who care to assist students along the way,” Gail Kemp said.