Nearly 300 graduate from Helena High School

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM – Helena High School Valedictorian Jessie Zou summed up the class of 2019 with a reassurance to her peers that this class “will accomplishment greatness” while giving her address to a crowded BJCC Concert Hall in downtown Birmingham on Tuesday, May 21.

Commencement exercises were held to celebrate the nearly 300 HHS graduates for the class of 2019, and there was plenty to celebrate, whether it be in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in fine arts and more.

Helena High School Senior Class President Nate Andrews opened the ceremony by giving a glimpse of what the class of 2019 has been able to accomplish in the last four years.

“The class of 2019 has achieved some remarkable accomplishments,” Andrews said. “Just this year alone, we’ve had 10 students place in the DECA, FBLA and HOSA state competitions. We’ve had four students win state trombone awards, seven students selected to the Alabama All-State Choir and Show Choirs, one student selected to the Alabama All-State Band, 31 students are participating in college athletics, cheer, choir, band, majorettes or dance team. In addition to this success in extracurricular activities, this graduating class has also been one of Helena High School’s strongest academically. Two students were named National Merit Scholars, 59 graduates maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 and the class of 2019 has been offered over $5.5 million in scholarships.”

Following the introduction, Helena High School Principal April Brand introduced other special guests in attendance at graduation including Helena Mayor Mark Hall, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks, Helena City Council Members and more.

Hall encouraged the class of 2019 to “celebrate accomplishments and never dwell on failures” and reminded the class “they will always have a home in Helena” no matter what they choose to do moving forward.

Class of 2019 graduate Erin Fuller then brought the audience to their feet with a powerful solo she sung which preceded the Valedictorian’s address by Zou.

“Fellow students of the class of 2019, we made it, we did it and we are graduating tonight,” Zou said. “Someone once said, ‘that the past cannot be changed but the future is yet in your power’ and the past four years have not treated all of us equally, but that does not define who we are and what comes after today. Some of us will attend a four-year university or a two-year college to pursue an advanced education, some of us will go into the military and proudly serve our country and some of us will take a gap year to travel or work on a mission team. Some of us will go into the workforce to try and earn a living. While I don’t know what the future will bring and how our choices will pan out, I do know that all of us will accomplish greatness. Everyone’s path will be different, but the thing that unites us is the promise of the future.”

Prior to the presentation of diplomas, Brand reminded the class of 2019 to go back to the talk that Mike Lutzenkirchen gave to students at an assembly earlier in the school year.

“I want to hit on three key points that he made and that’s decision making, friendships and leadership,” Brand said. “You will be faced with situations that require you to make tough choices and in those choices, I want you to make good, sound decisions and surround yourself with the right people to make those decisions. In the coming years, you’re going to have the opportunity to further develop as a leader and I hope you remember the importance of servant leadership and to make yourself available to others. Finally, I hope you all achieve much success.”

To view or purchase photos from Helena High School’s graduation, visit Shelbycountyphotos.com.