‘We can truly do anything:’ Oak Mountain class of 2022 graduates

Published 3:54 pm Thursday, May 26, 2022

By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM – As Oak Mountain High School valedictorian William Stone reflected on the experiences he and his classmates have shared over the years, he noted moments that have marked their journey from childhood to adulthood.

“I remember sitting next to Lewis on the bus the first day of kindergarten,” Stone said of salutatorian Lewis Fuller, who delivered his address just before Stone. “It is so cool that I get to sit next to him on the last day of high school. I’ve been privileged to see how all of us in this class have grown over the years, and how we have matured and become the talented and independent young men and women that I see sitting in front of me today.”

Stone spoke of the hard work and determination the class of 2022 has displayed, no more evident than in the students’ personal and collective accomplishments in academics, athletics and the arts.

“One of the things that makes this class so special is how we challenge each other to be our very best,” he said. “The pandemic cut our sophomore year short and greatly affected our junior year. Having to go through high school with a pandemic made us a uniquely resilient group, and as a result, we responded with a determination to move forward. We had a fantastic senior year.”

Stone said he knows his classmates are ready for whatever the future holds for them.

“Oak Mountain has prepared us to keep walking even when we stumble, and now that we’ve reached the finish line of this part of our lives, we have learned the race is not over,” Stone said. “I’ve seen the passion and determination that we have, and I know that if each of us puts those skills that we learned these four years into action, that we can truly do anything. We are ready for whatever comes next, and now it is time to go out into the world and seize it.”

Fuller also encouraged the class of 2022 to seize the opportunities they encounter, and made reference to “memento mori,” a reminder of mortality.

“Keeping in mind that you have a limited time on this earth, you have to make the most of it and seize every opportunity you have,” Fuller said. “Seizing the time I have on this earth has driven me to earn the honor and privilege of representing this great class. When I have felt lost, this phrase has wrapped me and tethered me to a buoy in the restless sea of life.”

Fuller said the class of 2022 endured various trials and tribulations, many of which stemmed from the pandemic.

“Graduating from high school has made me realize just how precious life is,” Fuller said. “Let us all make the most of our time on this earth by seizing the opportunities we are given every single day. My hope for you, my classmates, is that you reach your goals and achieve your dreams.”

Kasey Hollington, 11th grade assistant principal at OMHS, also spoke to the 386 graduates, one of whom was her daughter.

Hollington said she has had the joy of watching the students grow up through the lenses of a parent, a teacher, a coach and an administrator.

“I would like to point out that the class of 2022 had more of their high school experience interrupted than any previous class,” she said. “Times are not always easy, but I genuinely believe that our graduating seniors made the best out of a tough situation.”

Hollington described the class as strong, and one that learned how to persevere through challenges.

“Your lives were put on hold several times, but it did not stop you,” she said. “Inevitably, life will continue to throw you curveballs, but don’t forget the strength you have acquired. You did not take any high school activity or time together for granted. The enthusiasm and support that you showed for one another was nothing short of amazing.”

OMHS Principal Andrew Gunn shared the following statistics for the OMHS class of 2022: 2 percent will join the military, 16 percent will enter the workforce or take a gap year, 10 percent will attend two-year colleges or technical schools and 72 percent will be attending a four-year college.

In addition, 219 students have reported receiving scholarship offers, and the class has been offered scholarships and awards totaling $16,143,249.