THS honors graduates amid pandemic guidelines

ALABASTER – The Thompson High School Class of 2020 was robbed by the COVID-19 pandemic of its last days together, along with sports seasons and more, but in the end it was not denied the chance to gather together with family and friends and walk across the stage for graduation.

The commencement was held Tuesday, May 19, at Warrior Stadium instead of the originally planned venue. Other changes included the graduates sitting 6 feet apart in observance of guidelines to prevent the possible spread of the virus, and several of those in attendance wearing masks.

THS Principal Wesley Hester and Superintendent Wayne Vickers said school and school system officials were prepared and acted quickly once quarantine guidelines changed to arrange for an in-person ceremony.

“All along, you were our reason,” Vickers said. “This class has risen to the occasion and has put Thompson High School on the map like never before. We can’t wait to see what your future holds.”

“We are so fortunate to all be together here tonight to celebrate the amazing milestone of these young men and women,” Hester said and added that the class excelled academically and athletically. “Don’t forget ever what you have done in laying a foundation of excellence for those that come.”

State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey gave the commencement address and noted the $16 million in scholarships earned by the class.

“Many people think this is the worst of times, but I would challenge you as graduates, this is the best of times,” Mackey said. “We need people to change the world now.’

Valedictorian Madison McSweeney said struggles will only help mold her and the rest of the class.

“I am proud to say we have adapted to our circumstances, and we have adapted as Warriors,” McSweeney said. “I am confident the Class of 2020 will be successful and will conquer all that is thrown at us.”

Senior Class President Nick Lowery said the class “truly personified perseverance.”

“We never stopped moving forward,” Lowery said. “We had our sights set on this moment.”

In a class of 544 students, it could have been understandable to become lost in the mass, Lowery said, but they managed to maintain individuality.

“This class never stopped trying to make names for themselves,” Lowery said.

And ultimately it was a class that could not be stopped even by a global pandemic.

“We have all been through things much more scarring…But we are still here, and we are still fighting,” Lowery said. “Be a class of resilient risk-takers, and above all, be a class of Warriors.”

Visit ShelbyCountyPhotos.com to view and purchase photos from the event.