‘Monumental achievement:’ Spain Park High School says goodbye to the class of 2024

Published 4:38 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor 

It was a triumphant moment of glee and bittersweet goodbyes as the Spain Park High School class of 2024 erupted into cheers at the close of graduation.

SPHS Principal Dr. Amanda Esslinger welcomed students, friends and faculty to the school’s 20th commencement exercise as they gathered together at Samford University’s Pete Hanna Center on Wednesday, March 22. During the ceremony, those in attendance celebrated the 401 graduates in this year’s class and its 11 valedictorians.

“Congratulations to everybody for this monumental achievement,” Valedictorian Dylan Morgan said. “This day is the culmination of thousands of hours spent over the last 12 years in order to be where each of you are today. At this moment, you are all standing at the most pivotal crossroads of your life. “

Morgan emphasized the lessons he and his class learned during their time at Spain Park High School and the opportunities they have had together.

“Spain Park does not just teach you the facts,’ He said. “It teaches you hard work, communication, perseverance and most importantly, character. These values have been instilled in each of you since the moment that you stepped through the gates of this school. And now, when you leave for the very last time, be thankful for the incredible opportunities you’ve been privileged to receive. I’m confident that everyone here will go on to do great things because you graduated from Spain Park and from here, anything’s possible.”

Valedictorian Andrew Phillips addressed his fellow students during the ceremony and discussed the challenges of moving from Australia to Spain Park halfway through sixth grade as well as the difficulties he faced during his education which were soon relieved by his classmates.

“I found myself surrounded by a supportive class which embraced me as one of their own and pushed me to succeed and that’s something for you all to be proud of,” he said. “Because of that, I was able to overcome a lot of those challenges and even do some pretty impressive things.”

Phillips closed out his speech with one of his favorite quotes by Martin Luther that helped him face the trials of transitioning to life in Birmingham.

“Whatever virtue tribulation finds us in, it develops more fully,” Phillips said. “In other words, if you approach adversity with negative traits such as pride, isolation or frustration, you’ll emerge from that adversity as more prideful, isolated and frustrated. However, if you approach adversity with virtues, such as humility, friendship and patience, you’ll emerge from it as more humble, friendly and patient. If we all can remember that during any trial we face in the fall and beyond, I think we’ll be a lot better off and that truly can make the world a better place.”

After having the opportunity to serve as class president for four years, Olivia Williams got teary-eyed while speaking to her fellow seniors and reminisced about the memories they shared together during their time at Spain Park High School as well as what may lie in the future.

“Our time here at Spain park will not be remembered by our grades, popularity or likes, but by our relationships,” she said. “This is the mark that you are leaving, so as you walk across the stage, take it all in. Enjoy your High School Musical moment because you only get one shot. Class of 2024, we made it. I’ll see you guys in 10 years at the class reunion. Congratulations.”