Nearly 500 graduate from Thompson High
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER –Although the Thompson High School class of 2018 was preparing to walk across the stage at UAB’s Bartow Arena in downtown Birmingham to receive their diplomas on May 22, valedictorian Jeffrey Nichols encouraged his classmates to think back to their time in kindergarten.
“I encourage you to take advice from yourself 12 years ago. Take a moment and remember what you dreamed of as a child,” Nichols told his fellow graduates. “Back then, we thought if we dreamed it and worked hard, we would be able to accomplish it.
“How unrealistic a dream is, is not important. The intent behind it is,” Nichols added. “My hope is that we never leave dreams behind. What’s important is not what you will do for a living, but who you will be for a lifetime.”
Nichols and his 474 fellow classmates saw their high school journeys come to an end on May 22, as they sang the school’s alma mater as students there for the final time.
During the ceremony, the THS Junior ROTC presented the colors, Brandon Krutsch led the Pledge of Allegiance, Tanner Wiley led the invocation and the THS Madrigals sang “This is Me” and “Man in the Mirror.” Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon, Alabaster School Board President Adam Moseley and Alabaster City Schools superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers offered words of advice and congratulations for the graduates.
Before diplomas were handed out to the graduates, THS Principal Dr. Wesley Hester presented Camryn Callaway’s mother, Michelle Lunsford, with Callaway’s diploma as a seat at the front of the graduates was decorated in her memory. Callaway, a senior at THS, died earlier this year in a distracted driving accident on Interstate 65 in Pelham.
Class President Tyger Quarles encouraged the class to take what they’ve learned during their time at THS and apply it to their lives after high school.
“Our successes within the halls of Thompson High School cannot walk with us when we leave, but I am not afraid of the world ahead,” Quarles said. “It’s not about what we’ve done at Thompson High School, it’s about what we will do in our lives moving forward.”
In addition to Nichols, fellow valedictorian Luis Garcia-Barnett also addressed the class and urged his classmates to hold strong to their love of learning for the rest of their lives.
“No animal has ever asked a question, and that is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom,” Garcia-Burnett said. “It’s your duty as human beings to be curious. It’s your duty to be lifelong learners.”
Keynote speaker Elizabeth Huntley told the graduates how education helped her to become successful in her adult life despite facing significant hardships as a child.
“I am an example of the power of God. He used the greatest institution on the face of the earth, next to the church, to save me,” Huntley said. “When you use what you’ve been taught to the best of your ability, I’m telling you people will take notice.”