The Amphitheater at The Wharf was buzzing with activity May 17 as the Gulf Shores High School class of 2021 prepared to graduate. The 208 students walked into a full amphitheater which was a welcome change from last year’s socially distanced ceremony.
Superintendent Dr. Matt Akin opened the evening by welcoming guests and introducing the evening’s speaker, School Board President Kevin Corcoran. His amusing speech had the crowd laughing but his message to the class of 2021 was important.
“Never stop questioning, never stop dreaming, never stop exploring and never stop learning. And whatever you do, make waves,” Corcoran said.
Next to the podium was class president, Nic Posey who recapped the trying year, the lack of lunch passes, but also, how they will endure.
“Our trademark slogan is Make Waves. About waves, I only know a couple of things to be true. Number one the gravitational pull of the moon controls them. Isn’t that neat? And number two, waves endure. Sometimes they might crash into the rocks, sometimes they just slowly dissolve into the shore, but they always develop again. We have already made it this far through the pandemic. One might say we too, like waves, can and will endure,” Posey said.
Principal Cindy Veazey took to the podium last and recognized the class of 2021’s many accomplishments. The second class to graduate from Gulf Shores City Schools was awarded over $5.5 million in scholarships.
Some of those achievements are:
* Nine students achieved an ACT score of 30 or above
* 75% of the class plans to move on to a two- or four-year college and 40% have already started that journey with dual enrollment or early college classes
* Several student athletes have signed to play sports at the collegiate level
* Two medical students graduate as certified patient care technicians
* Two engineering students graduate as licensed drone pilots
* Two students earned the seal of biliteracy
* Several students plan to or have already enlisted in the armed forces
* A large portion of the class graduated with an Academic Distinction
* One student received a Seal of Excellence in Sustainability
Veazey also spoke to the class about being confident and the importance of building true relationships.
“Be confident. Move on with confidence and courage. My hope now, and my challenge to you tonight is to remember what is important. I ask you along this journey to seek, build and maintain true relationships in your families, in your careers and in your communities. The most important things ahead of you are the people you connect with and the relationships you build. It is within relationships that you will grow as a person, you will influence and be influenced and have opportunities to impact people and the whole world through your relationships,” Veazey said.
The past year and a half has been one of social distance and Veazey made a heartfelt plea to her students.
“Don’t make social distancing a way of life. You need people and you need relationships. Your small town, big beach community made it through a hurricane because people connected, and people cared for other people. Learn from that example and take it with you. Relationships will be with you until the end so take time to value the people around you,” she said.
At the end of her speech, just as she did last year, Veazey sang a few lines from a song that she felt related to the graduating class and tied up her message in a melodic bow, “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”