Thompson High graduates nearly 500 seniors

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Thompson High School’s Warrior Stadium was packed on May 25 as the school celebrated the incredible accomplishments of all 471 members in the graduating class of 2021.

The school boasts the county’s largest number of graduating seniors this year which was apparent by the sea of supporters cheering on the young adults that have successfully finished their high school journey.

As expected, many of the night’s featured speakers focused on the persistence and determination of the students to overcome the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the top, THS Principal Dr. Wesley Hester expressed his gratefulness and pride in the students as they moved with purpose and hope through a time of challenges.

“I am so very proud of you and what you have accomplished. You are truly championing your future and our future,” Hester said. “I believe the experiences that you have endured provided the opportunities for you to grow as students, citizens and leaders. You have accomplished so much this year despite the obstacles that have existed. You have stared down the fear of the unknown and uncertainties that have surrounded you. You have pushed forward and have been able to achieve the highest levels.”

Hester continued, “We are excited about what the future holds for you and your families. You are all strong—warrior strong.”

Hester went on to note some of the incredible accomplishments of the class of 2021. These included a graduation rate of 97 percent, a college and career readiness rate pushing 96 percent, an overall ACT score average of 21, nearly $22 million in scholarship monies and an astounding 184 valedictorians and salutatorians. Not to forget the achievements of the school’s athletics, arts and academic programs in competitions.

The school’s top valedictorian, Emaline Morris, used her remarks to encourage her fellow classmates to not be discouraged by the things they cannot do, but to focus on their talents and use those to improve the world around them.

“I see you all not as you are today, but as you will be tomorrow,” Morris said. “I can’t help but be excited for our future. When I look at you, my friends, I see the difference you will make in the lives of others. You each have something that only you can give to the world and I mean it when I say I am excited to see what you can become. The world needs you and that one thing that only you can give it.”

Echoing these sentiments, Senior Class President Lindsey Cook reminding her fellow graduates that there is no changing the past and to focus on making the future a better world.

“We cannot relive our past,” Cook said. “So we must act in the present to not have any regrets in our futures. Despite these challenges the class of 2021 did what we do best, we kept hope, faith and optimism. From this day forward, I encourage you to remember the optimistic attitude we have embraced throughout this year. Remember the good times and remember how you overcame the bad.”

During the ceremony, other leaders such as Alabaster Mayor Scott Brakefield and ACS Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers offered words of advice and other warm remarks for the graduating class.

“I encourage you to go forward and spread your wings and learn what all this world has to offer,” Brakefield said. “I encourage you to come home and invest in your community. We will be waiting for you, should you choose to come home.”

“I believe the past year can be summed as challenging and difficult, but also as satisfying and joyful,” Vickers said. “May the memories of your days between the hills inspire you, but your best days be yet to come.”

The featured speaker during the commencement ceremony was Troy Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., who offered advice to students as they move forward into the next phase of their lives. He focused on the attributes that he says makes a good leader: integrity, ability and vision.

“If you are like me—and I suspect you are—that is why the good Lord gave you the conscience to serve as your moral compass,” Hawkins said. “That is the basic tenant of leadership; integrity. I am proud to say that it continues to be the most widely respected leadership quality. We need leaders and you are going to fill rolls that are unbelievably important as you leave this place. I think the underpinning meaning of ability is found through attitude and persistence. Ability is so important. Finally, there’s vision. In the book of Proverbs, it says without vision people perish. No doubt, we need leaders in this country with integrity, ability and vision.

Finally, Hawkins offered one last piece of advice. He said that the graduating seniors should not forget what the late Billy Graham said were the two most important words in any language, that are not used often enough. He demonstrated the importance of these two words by asking each of the seniors to rise and tell their parents and loved ones thank you.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.