Bittersweet goodbyes: THS holds annual Parade of Graduates

Published 2:57 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – More than 500 Thompson High School seniors recently walked down the hallways of Alabaster City Schools and met their kindergarten counterparts during the class of 2023 Parade of Graduates.

The Parade of Graduates was held on Friday, April 28. During the event, a majority of THS’s 558 graduating seniors traveled through all of the ACS schools with their cap and gowns and visited with former teachers and staff members.

“This event is always an emotional and exciting time for everyone,” Counselor Pam Vickers said. “We had hundreds of family members join us to view the Parade and seeing the pride and joy on faces was extremely gratifying.”

The Parade of Teams is a historic tradition for the ACS school system and has been held every year since 2016, with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic. Vickers said THS was one of the first high school in the Birmingham metro area to have an event like this.

This year was the very first time THS seniors met with kindergarteners at Meadow View and Creek View Elementary schools during their parade.

“This year’s addition of kindergarteners to the parade was sentimental for parents and was a surprise for our seniors who were told of the special addition the morning of the parade,” Vickers said. “Participating in the parade certainly encourages and motivates our youngest Warriors to keep learning for years to come.”

THS senior Chloe Patrick shared her thoughts on the experience.

“The Parade of Graduates is one of many traditions that I enjoy celebrating at Thompson High School,” Patrick said. “I’ve attended Alabaster City Schools since I was in kindergarten, and I’m so grateful that I got the chance to form unbreakable bonds with such amazing staff and peers. Walking through the halls that I was once a student in, while wearing my cap and gown, was a memorable and sentimental experience that I’ll cherish forever.

“Not only was I grateful to walk the halls with my friends, but I’m also grateful that I got to visit former teachers and see new upcoming students. Watching proud teachers and young, smiling faces cheer us on was a one-of-a-kind experience that I’ll always remember. I hope that Thompson High School will continue this tradition in hopes that it’ll impact someone’s life the same way that it did mine.”

THS senior Austin Whitworth also shared his perspective on the parade.

“”If I could describe the Parade of Graduates in one word, I’d call it ‘bittersweet,’” he said. “Parade of Graduates is essentially a sign that you’re on the home-stretch of high school, and you’ve almost finished it. It’s amazing walking through the schools with little kids looking up to you, as I can remember once doing in previous years. I enjoyed catching up and taking pictures with my old teachers, but it’s a little sad seeing all of my friends in caps and gowns, knowing that we’ll soon be embarking on different journeys for our futures.”

Vickers expressed her gratitude to those who assisted her in making this year’s Parade of Graduates a success.

“I’d like to thank Dr. Wesley Hester, principal of Thompson High School, for his support in making the Parade a reality each year,” she said. “Mr. Samuel Thigpen, THS Assistant Principal, is instrumental in helping to coordinate the many logistical facets of the day. Our bus drivers and THS teachers are always eager and excited to take part in this annual event. Mr. Jason Gaston, ACS Coordinator of Public Relations, was a tremendous help in documenting our day through photographs and videography, as well as communicating this event through our social media platforms and via local media outlets.

“I also appreciate the cooperation of our feeder school principals, particularly Mrs. Michelle Brakefield and Mrs. Charissa Cole. From the moment I proposed the addition of kindergarteners to this year’s Parade, they immediately stepped into action, coordinated cap and gown fittings for their students and worked with kindergarten teachers to quickly make these plans a reality on their campuses. I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.”