THS celebrates the graduation of the class of 2023

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM – Graduating seniors proudly marched across the stage to accept their diplomas during Thompson High School’s commencement ceremony for the class of 2023.

THS held a commencement ceremony for the class of 2023 at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham on Tuesday night, May 23.

“I proudly welcome you all as we celebrate this milestone in the lives of our seniors,” THS Principal Wesley Hester. “I extend my deepest gratitude to you all. To the class of 2023 parents and families, I appreciate you for allowing us at Thompson High School to teach, mentor and support your children. I admire the quality and character you have cultivated within children and our seniors. Your efforts directly correlate to our seniors’ success and their remarkable achievement.”

Hester emphasized that the class of 2023 has achieved notable academic success, including AP honors and achievements as well as the number of seniors who have earned dual enrollment high school and college credits.

Hester also shared that the graduating class has 163 valedictorians and salutatorians and has earned more than $28.9 million in scholarships which is an unprecedented amount at THS at the time of commencement.

“Seniors, as you move forward, please remember that you all have what it takes to conquer every challenge that will be set before you and to ultimately ascend to the top of the world in which you learn, work and serve,” Hester said. “Live with courage, confidence, compassion for others and a commitment to excellence. Don’t settle and always strive to be great, to be the true warriors you were destined to be.”

Alabaster Mayor Scott Brakefield, Board of Education President Adam Moseley and Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers delivered addresses to the class of 2023. They recognized the class’s achievements and encouraged them to be leaders and to have an impact on their communities.

“We will be excited to see where you go with what you’ve accomplished,” Vickers said. “You, Thompson High School class of 2023, will astonish everyone as productive leaders of our society. You will be ambassadors of Alabaster City Schools and the city of Alabaster, so go forth and make us proud. God bless each of you and your families, and congratulations on your academic success.”

Senior Class President Christopher Snow delivered an address to his fellow graduates and reminisced on the class’s time at THS. He expressed his gratitude to the ACS BOE and superintendent as well as Principal Hester and THS staff.

Snow discussed the challenges the class faced during their time at THS and during the pandemic.

“If I had one word to describe our class, it would be ‘resiliency,’” he said. “We never let it make us quit, we never bowed down to it. Because, as you can see, as we are gathered here tonight, ready to take on the new things coming our way in this life, we were able to adapt and overcome those difficult days. Look at us now.”

During his address, the class’s top valedictorian Ian Boackle expressed his gratitude for everyone that helped him get to where he is and discussed the impact of THS’s education.

“School is just a fraction of our lives, but it is a foundational pillar that we are going to remember forever,” Boackle said. “It may seem to be all about getting good grades and passing exams, which is probably what I focused on a little bit, but it’s also about making lasting memories and connections with people that we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives.”

The guest speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony was Josiah Bonner, the president of the University of South Alabama.

“It’s especially good to be with all of our guests as we’re here to honor the senior class of 2023,” Bonner said. “It’s to you, that I have this opportunity to say, ‘Congratulations.’ To add my congratulations to that you’ve already received on this milestone moment in your lives.”

During his speech, Bonner shared words of advice from three former THS graduates who attended the University of South Alabama.

“I asked them to share their advice to you about what the next step of your journey might look like,” Bonner said. “And here’s their message to you. First, ‘Get involved.’ That’s the message from Adrianna Caffey, a 2021 graduate of Thompson High School.”

Bonner also shared advice from THS class of 2016 graduate Jesse Puckett.

“Jessie’s advice is simply, ‘Try something new,’” Bonner said. “That’s a simple message. If you like football, why don’t go to a play? If you like steak why not the fish? You need to try things in order to go new places.”

The last piece of advice Bonner shared came from Carson Byers who graduated at Thompson High School in 2022.

“Carson said, ‘My advice to graduating seniors is to take it all in and enjoy it as much as possible,’” Bonner said.

After hearing the addresses and receiving their diplomas, the class of 2023 turned their tassels and threw their caps in the air celebrating the beginning of a new chapter.