Helena Magazine

HHS grad Tanner James shares what makes Helena a special home

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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Tanner James

Helena High School graduate and Youth Leadership Shelby County graduate

As a member of the class of 2023, what would you say was your biggest accomplishment during your time at Helena High School?

I would say every year I spent on the Student Government Association was an accomplishment. I was blessed to be elected as class president freshman-senior year and every year we did better things than the previous year. This year, we put on the first sponsored “Field Day” mixing fall homecoming activities with spring.

What makes being a student in Helena so enjoyable?

Having a team of administrators that support us. Students and admin are generally at odds when you look at most cases, but Helena is blessed to have a team of individuals that value what best fits the students. With the death of a fellow senior, Khalia Smith, admin did everything in their power to give students the space they needed to properly process the situation.

What is next for you after high school?

I will be attending Auburn University on an Army ROTC scholarship where I will study criminal justice and Spanish. God willing, I will make my way into as many clubs and activities as I can get my hands on only further developing myself as an individual.

What are you looking forward to most going into this next stage of your life?

It would be easier to list the things I am not excited about. If I had to pick a broad topic it would be the fact that I will be doing work that directly affects what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. My classes will be more tailored to me and I will be learning things that will actually be practical one day.

What career goals do you have in mind?

I hope to make a career out of the required service from my ROTC scholarship. My definition of success revolves around mastering my leadership skills and putting them to use anywhere in the Army that I find an opportunity. Within the Army, I hope to one day join the ranks of the world-renowned 75th Ranger Regiment. My motivation to study Spanish in college is the idea that someday it will make me more of a vital contributor to wherever I find myself in the military. 

What would you say is your biggest piece of advice for someone just starting high school?

Almost everyone will say it, but it’s true. GET INVOLVED! Try new things and new people. Most of my accolades are derived from extra-curricular programs not sponsored by my school. For example, the Helena Teen Council is something I devote my own personal time to yet it has yielded some of the most critical volunteer experience I will ever take part in.