A year in review for county high schools

Daily Mountain Eagle More than 500 students graduated from Walker County high schools this year. Here is a review of student accomplishments at each high school for the 2016-17 school year. Oakman High School Oakman Principal Patrick Gann said their school has excelled in academics this school year. Their graduation rate is 92 percent, and the school has a college and career readiness rate of 84 percent — the highest in the county. Thirteen of this year’s seniors will graduate with college credit through Bevill State Community College’s dual enrollment program. Students took their volunteer efforts to new heights during the school year. Oakman’s Anchor Club assisted with the county’s special olympics, and Beta Club students volunteered at Mission of Hope. The school’s EHK group organized and participated in an Easter egg hunt for Oakman Middle School students, while the LTC group orchestrated a trick or treat for their younger peers. Library Media Specialist Monica Brown said the yearbook staff received their second honorable mention from Balfour yearbooks. Tyler Morrow of Oakman’s Spanish Club won first place in a T-shirt design contest at state convention, and Oakman’s SGA held a student auction for charity. Gann said the school’s football team made great strides in the fall. “Our football team made it to the third round of the state playoffs for the third time in school history. We have the longest streak in the area at six straight years going to the playoffs,” Gann said. Senior football players Adam Ingram and Garrett Martin both signed football scholarships to the University of North Alabama and Birmingham-Southern College, respectively. Oakman’s volleyball team made it to regionals, and senior Madeline Custred signed a volleyball scholarship with BSCC. The school’s baseball team had a strong season, as well, finishing first in the area, and hosted the first round of the state playoffs. The softball team played at regionals. The Oakman band received a number of honors during the school year. When students return in the fall, they will be able to enjoy a new lunchroom. A new athletic facility will also be built on campus in the coming months. Dora High School Dora began the year with one of the largest homecoming parades in school history. “The SGA organized the homecoming parade, which included Sumiton Elementary and Sumiton Middle schools, local fire and police departments and various other community organizations,” Dora High Principal Paige Abner said. “We had over 42 entries.” The school maintained a strong offering of extracurricular activities, including their theatre program, which continues to grow in popularity. Activities during the year included a hike along Mulberry River, a cleanup of the school’s patio area (organized by the SGA) and a kayaking trip of the Lower Sipsey Fork. Abner said the school’s paw print project and Bull Dog Day were popular activities. “SGA sold paw prints along the school’s drive. Alumni, current students and local businesses could purchase prints and have names or slogans painted in the center. This process lasted throughout the summer and into the beginning of the school year,” Abner said. Dora also held a Christmas parade, Black History Month celebration and Powder Puff Game, which featured an all-female football game between juniors and freshman and seniors and sophomores. Students maintained a strong level of community service by participating in the county Special Needs Prom and helping area organizations, including Mission of Hope and Backyard Blessings. Dora’s Beta Club finished strong at the state’s Beta Club Convention, placing third in a banner competition. Dora student Catherine Pender placed first in digital and recyclable art, and Kensley Sandlin placed second in the special talent competition. Toward the end of the school year, students made a bold statement with their “13 Reasons Why Not” campaign, in response to the Netflix series “13 Reason Why,” that tells the story of a student who ended her life. Dora students chose to inspire their peers to see their self-worth, instead of making an irreversible choice. Dora High School students will soon be able to enjoy a new athletic facility. Curry High School Curry’s seniors are on track to successful careers after high school.

Of 125 seniors, all but seven have earned credentials, and the graduating class has earned over $1.5 million in scholarships. Their graduation rate is roughly 90 percent. Curry High Principal Rod Aaron said the school continues to make great strides in extracurricular offerings, as well. “Curry High School’s Anchor Club is one of the most active clubs in the county and was recently recognized as the Alabama District Anchor Club of the Year, for the fourth year in a row, and received awards for school service, community service, safety and security, scrapbooking and brain-related services,” Aaron said. “The Anchor Club will compete again this summer for International Anchor Club of the Year, after placing third last summer. Anchor Club Advisor Jennifer Nichols received second place as International Anchor Advisor of the Year.” Curry High School’s Beta Club began the year with one member and grew to 86. Aaron said the club received a number of awards, including being named a National School of Merit and a National School of Distinction. They also received a Gold Key Award, and Beta Club members also won individual awards in sculpture, scrapbooking and jewelry. Aaron said many improvements at the school have enhanced the student experience. “With help from Dr. Atkins and the board, we’ve completed over $100,000 worth of improvements to our athletic facilities,” Aaron said. “More improvements are scheduled for Curry High, with $20,000 being dedicated to a new computer lab. Improvements have also been made to the restrooms on the senior hallway.” The school will soon receive a new roof. Graduating seniors Mckinlee Gillespie and Gage Lynn both signed baseball scholarships with Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn. Cordova High School Cordova’s seniors have made their mark in the classroom and on the field this year. The senior class earned $4.3 million in scholarships, and 40 students have earned a college and career ready credential. Cordova’s graduation rate is 92 percent. Cordova High was named to the Niche 2017 Best Public High Schools in Alabama list, and students have had a 14 percent increase in WorkKeys assessments. The school also added AP Physics during the 2016-17 school year, that made a combined total of seven AP courses offered to students. Many students took advantage of the dual enrollment option with BSCC. Eight seniors signed athletic scholarships this year. The school’s football team made second round playoffs, and the girls volleyball team was named area champs. The boys basketball team was named county, area and regional champs, and made the final four. Cordova’s baseball team made the first round playoffs. The softball team was named area and regional champions, and competed in the state tournament. Varsity cheerleaders won the county championship and placed second in cheer and third in half-time dance at state competition. Seven track athletes made a trip to the state’s track meet, and the golf team had an individual sub-state qualifier. In addition, the school’s band received all superior scores on their music performance assessment. Cordova’s journalism students have been practicing their wring writing skills, and some of their stories have been published in the Daily Mountain Eagle. Cordova Principal Kathy Vintson told the Eagle in early May that the school’s number one goal is to provide a loving atmosphere for every student. “One of our biggest jobs is to give all the students hope,” she said. Carbon Hill High School Carbon Hill High School is continuing to implement a number of activities for students. The school’s new theatre program, CHAOS (Carbon Hill Artists on Stage) has grown in popularity over the school year. The group most recently performed the Greek tragedy, “Antigone.” Principal Jody Claborn said students have enjoyed having more extracurricular options. “We’re trying to come up with programs and activities, clubs and organizations that are meaningful to them, that the kids enjoy and they get connected to,” Claborn recently told the Eagle. “Of course, academics are the first priority, but it takes more than academics to keep kids engaged and connected. ... The sooner you can get them involved and connected, usually they enjoy school a lot more.” Carbon Hill’s FFA students participated in a land judging district competition during the school year, and they finished second in Walker County’s competition. Carbon Hill’s baseball and softball teams performed strong this season, with the Lady Bulldogs advancing to regionals, and the school’s basketball team competed in the sub-regionals tournament. Carbon Hill’s cheerleaders competed in the state championships. Saige Beaty, Carbon Hill’s head volleyball coach, was named the Daily Mountain Eagle Volleyball Coach of the Year. A number of this year’s seniors were awarded scholarships, and Jake Windham of Carbon Hill’s football team signed a letter of intent to play for the University of West Alabama. Holly Trawick, the executive director of the Walker College Foundation, said she recently presented scholarships to Carbon Hill seniors.