Thompson seniors reflect on being part of 100th graduating class

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Jamya Gilleylen has experienced firsthand what it means to be a Thompson Warrior at heart.

“I consider it an honor and a privilege to be a part of such an amazing program,” Gilleylen said, “Especially since I have been a Warrior since kindergarten.”

Gilleylen, along with the other 539 seniors at Thompson High School, will prepare to graduate as the 100th graduating class on May 24 at 6 p.m. at Bartow Arena.

For Gilleylen and her classmates, being a part of something like a 100th graduating class is something to appreciate.

“One thing I have loved about high school is the Friday night lights,” Gilleylen said. “As a varsity cheerleader throughout high school and captain my senior year, it has truly been an unmatched experience. Being able to cheer on our football team to all four state championships, cheering on the sidelines and experiencing every game leading up to all of our state titles has been one of my favorite parts about high school.”

Over the last 100 years, Thompson High School has educated thousands of students. The school first opened its doors on Oct. 3, 1921 as part of the Shelby County School System.

Educating students that were part of the mill community of Siluria, Thompson High School was named for Thomas Carlyle (T.C.) Thompson, who owned a textile mill in the area and donated land and some funds for the building of the original high school.

The first graduating class was during the spring of 1922.

Senior Ryan Furlong said having the opportunity to graduate with the 100th graduating class is something he is thankful for.

“I feel like I have been given some amazing opportunities at Thompson,” Furlong said. “It means a lot to me to be able to participate in this class, especially as we are also in our new high school building.”

Furlong received a perfect score on the ACT this year, an accomplishment he hopes will continue with future students who walk the halls at THS.

“I want everyone to succeed, and it would be awesome if more students could receive a perfect score at our school,” Furlong said. “I want more people to achieve this.”

Senior Lauren Gregory said senior year is always a special time for those graduating, but having such a significant year for the school makes it that much more special.

“I was actually crowned homecoming queen this year, which was such an honor already, but having it during the centennial celebration with such a big year for our community made it even better,” Gregory said. “I love the amazing staff that Thompson has. All the way from the elementary schools to the high school and our central offices. Every single staff member cares so much about the students and the future of our school. It truly feels like a big family, and it is something I think I will miss the most about our schools.”

Addison Lusco said being a part of the 100th graduating class is a feeling that is surreal.

“Knowing that we are part of this lineage and tradition of Thompson is really incredible, especially when you realize there has been a whole century of students before you,” Lusco said.

James Spann, chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in the Birmingham area, will serve as a special keynote speaker for the class of 2022 commencement ceremony.