TIS recreating historic Thompson farmhouse as outdoor classroom

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – When Thompson Intermediate School teacher Amber Broadhead and the school’s student committee began brainstorming ideas for the school’s Alabama Bicentennial project, they didn’t have to look further than the name on the school building.

Earlier this year, TIS submitted a community project idea to the Alabama Bicentennial Commission in an attempt to be named an “Official Alabama Bicentennial School” and receive a $2,000 grant to implement their project.

In May, TIS was one if multiple local schools to be named to the list and receive the state grants. Now, Broadhead and her students are getting to work.

“The kids are so passionate about this project,” Broadhead said. “We wanted to do something that would involve the community as well as the school.”

Through their project, the students will be working to construct an outdoor classroom at the current Thompson Middle School – where TIS will move after renovations are completed to the city’s school buildings over the next several months – recreating the look of the since-demolished Thomas Carlyle Thompson farmhouse in Siluria.

In the early 20th century, Thompson donated the land to house Alabaster’s schools, and his family’s name has been attached to the schools ever since.

“Really, the only thing we have now is the picture of Thomas Carlyle Thompson hanging in City Hall. There isn’t much commemorating how important he was to the city’s history,” Broadhead said. “This project is devoted to allowing the students to learn more about their own community and the history of Alabama.”

Per the guidelines of the grant, the students will work over the next several months to complete the outdoor classroom and have it ready for use by May 2019. Broadhead said the outdoor classroom will also be accessible to the community after it opens.

On the morning of Sept. 19, several students on the TIS student committee and their teachers met with state Sen. Cam Ward, state Reps. April Weaver and Matt Fridy and Alabama Bicentennial Ambassador Bobby Joe Seales and his wife Diane to celebrate the school’s inclusion as a Bicentennial School.

The TIS bicentennial-themed float will also follow directly behind Seales’ grand marshal car in the Alabaster homecoming parade on Oct. 10.

“Thank you all so much for your support,” Broadhead told the group after it took a photo under the school’s “We are an official Bicentennial school” banner. “The kids are very familiar with the Alabama Bicentennial and how important it is to our school.”