Seniors mark beginnings and endings

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

PHS Counselor Laura Cochran visits my classroom each spring to lead students in final ACT preparations. Alabama juniors take the test courtesy of the state in the spring of their junior year. The students look as if they’re about to go under the dentist’s drill.

“Y’all are going to knock the top off the ACT; you’re ready for this test!” I say.

“You’re such an optimist Mrs. Nolen,” Sydney Oyler says grinning at me.

“Teaching high school makes me an optimist,” I respond. “I see kids win the big scholarships, go to college and live their dreams. Now, it’s your turn to get ready for a stellar senior year.”

As my juniors begin their transition to seniors, I wonder how this year is quickly slipping by us. The Class of ’17 is a special group to me. With both my daughter and nephew in the class, our current seniors and their families are family. As their time at PHS comes to an end, I know I will miss them; however, their new lives beyond high school are rich with promise.

Excitement infuses the next senior class—the Class of ’18. Prom is more than a school dance for juniors and seniors. Only juniors serve on prom committee. Prom is planned by the juniors for the seniors. The juniors do the work, make the plans and enjoy the prom—along with the very able assistance of teachers Karen Varner and Jennifer Gonzalez.

Knowing the junior class’s attention to detail, I anticipated a well-planned prom; however, this celebration was beyond imagination. Beginning with the prom T-shirt and favors, the theme of Alice in Wonderland was an immediate success! Arriving at the prom meant being transported into Wonderland by a quirky clock, ambient lights, haunting quotes, greenery, backdrops, colorful table decorations and all items Alice.

Approaching prom committee juniors Luci Smitherman and Ryleigh Chambers, I share the seniors’ compliments. Delighted that their hard work has paid off, the girls pose for a photo.

Watching students delight in their accomplishments is the remarkable reward of teaching.  Letting go is the challenge.