Straughn family All-in

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 18, 2015


For the past month, has been running a polling contest to determine the best high school stadium in Alabama, and the Straughn Tiger community has shown their tenacity and determination by giving Straughn a commanding 16,663-13,326 lead over Enterprise in the South region semi-finals as the polls closed on Friday.


To put the Straughn family’s tenacity into perspective, Straughn’s 16,663 votes topped the entire board. Enteprise was second, and the third most votes was Opelika with 5,509.


As long as the unofficial tally wasn’t incredible off, Straughn will face Opelika next week in the South finals.


The poll and results can be found on


Even though the poll is for best stadium, to the top-voting Straughn faithful, it’s more about the heartbeat that fuels Tiger Stadium on Friday nights in the tight-knit south Alabama community. The Straughn family is at the center of the heartbeat.


“Straughn is way more than four walls and a roof where students learn and teachers teach,” Lee Lumpkin said. “Straughn is even more than the athletes that play sports, or the band members that march or the countless students that participate in other clubs or groups. Straughn School and the community that support it are indeed a family. It is something that cannot be bought, and it cannot be picked up and taken to another location. Straughn is family. We support each other through all aspects of life, not just school or athletics. When a family struggles with illness or a loss, it affects all of the Straughn community. I can personally attest to this during and after our loss of our Kirsten (Dean). I could not have imagined having to go through what we did, losing a daughter, without the overwhelming support from my school.”


Dean tragically lost her life in an automobile accident, and Straughn High School now holds an annual softball tournament in her memory.


Other members of the Tiger faithful expressed similar feelings about Straughn.


“One word that describes Straughn is family,” Carla Rogers said.


“Family,” Christy Turner said. “We always have each other’s back, and have proved it time and time again.”


While there are a good number of families that have spent generations at the school and in the community, the Straughn family is welcoming of newcomers.


“My children started elementary school at my alma mater, then later transferred to Straughn in the fifth grade,” Rogers said. “They have loved it and were welcomed in immediately. It’s great to see the crowds of parents and grandparents at athletic events, and other activities the children are involved in. It’s a family that reaches out to help others in need. It’s giving time to clean and mend our facilities, it’s moms and dads cleaning locker rooms, cooking hamburgers and sausage dogs for the home games and making sure concessions are covered so senior parents get to watch their babies their last year. It’s family; the good kind that has your back.”


Deidra Tucker Burleson is another who moved into the Straughn community.


“I moved from Mobile County to Andalusia 10 years ago,” Burleson said. “As an educator, schools were important to me not only for my children, but for my calling as a teacher as well. I had no idea that actual gift God gave me by placing me at Straughn until I became involved at the school. Straughn isn’t perfect by any means, because no place is. But I have never seen a community any more supportive of their students than this school. It truly is not a school, it is indeed a family. I wouldn’t want my children to attend anywhere else, and I surely wouldn’t teach anywhere else. I love Straughn.”


Marci Farley echoed the sentiment of the welcoming Straughn family.


“When my family moved here in 2003, every person in the Straughn community made us feel welcomed. They were always helping out, encouraging and loving us,” Farley said. “I’ll never forget when I got my first teaching job in Greenville, I had been substituting at Straughn Elementary for a few years, and Jan Kinsaul had tears in her eyes when she would told me she would take care of Marshall for me while I was in Greenville. It’s like that all the time at Straughn. Our school nurse, Michelle Armstrong treats each and every child there as her own baby, which always makes us feel so grateful. I love this place.”


Tabitha Wiggins was another who didn’t attend Straughn, but has children attending the school now.


“My husband nor I graduated from Straughn,” Wiggins said. “We both came from different schools but we knew we wanted our children to attend Straughn because of all the good things we had heard. From day one, we’ve been family. You would think we both went to Straughn our entire life. Football games and any other activities feel like one big family reunion. I love it and would never want to have our children anywhere else. The closeness is indescribable. I love our whole family.”


Others, like Clayton Wood have been around the Straughn community his entire life.


“I grew up a mile from the school,” Wood said. “And remember how close the school was then. Almost 30 years later, everything at the school has changed. The one thing that has never changed is the closeness.”


The Tigers will get a chance to show off their community spirit and pride when Straughn opens the 2015 football season on Aug.  28 at home against Opp.