AHS Val: Hard work helps you reach for the stars

Published 1:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2019

Anna Brady paid homage to the traditions of Andalusia High School, and encouraged her classmates to follow their dreams in her valedictory address.

“Tradition can be found everywhere we look and the last week is no exception. Awards day, baccalaureate and commencement exercises are also based on the same principle,” she said. “Established many generations ago, it is just different if you are at Andalusia High School. We carry a different respect and a different initiative here. Our faculty and staff have done an outstanding job of showing what tradition looks like and why it is important.”

She went on to say that people who follow their dreams can achieve happiness.

“Throughout history, great people have found inspiration in the stars,” Brady said. “People dream about what could be. It doesn’t matter what we dream. The people that follow their dreams can achieve happiness. As the Class of 2019, we now have the courage and knowledge and obligation to go out and turn our dreams into actions.”

Brady named several outstanding graduates from Andalusia High School including Charles Brooks, Robert Horry and her own grandmother.

“I could stand up here to talk about these accomplishments made by these graduates of Andalusia High School, but we would be here all night,” Brady said. “Andalusia High School has seen its fair share of talent and hard work. Each of these graduates were able to accomplish what they did because of the dedication and drive the school built in them. This school has continued to inspire students to chase their dreams and to not give up, even when the going gets tough. The Class of 2019 will face some challenges and disappointments, but we are ready to face whatever is thrown at us. There is no telling which path each of us will take, but I guarantee you that these past 13 years will be put to great use.”

For salutatorian Emory Garner, the reoccurring theme for her high school career was how many “firsts” she and her classmates encountered.

“As I reflected on our four years of high school, I noticed how many “firsts” we encountered and how many times we were among the “first” students to do something,” Garner said. “However, I soon realized what this common theme really meant: while our school and city was growing and some situations seemed to be chaotic and not ideal, we clung to the Andalusia standard and pressed on. As changes and transitions arise in life, many people choose to shy away from them. However, with these and many other unmentioned obstacles, I am proud to say that my class chose to see the glass half full and push to be their absolute best.”

With construction going on for most of her time at AHS, Garner chose to look at the positives.

“Along with the new journey of high school, we had a new football coach and a new Andalusia “A,” which changed again our junior year. Our class of athletes excelled,” Garner said. “We were the first in a long time, despite many hurdles, to persist and play 15 post-season games in football over the course of four years. During our junior year, our basketball players pressed their way into the final four and our baseball players showed out in Montgomery, where they earned their state championship rings. At about the same time, the most drastic changes arose. Demolition on our beloved auditorium and football field began. Much of our parking space was taken away due to the construction zone, and we spent a year holding assemblies and other events typically held in the auditorium in the gym. We were among the first group of students to have pride day on the front lawn, and we were not necessarily happy about it in the beginning. However, I think we can all agree that there is something so special about spending time with our Bulldog family under the columns and cupola of Our Dear Mother, and I think it might just be a new tradition.”

Garner believes that the best years of her classmates’ lives are yet to come.

“We often hear that high school holds the best years of our lives; however, I believe our greatest days are yet to come as we continue on with the fiery ambition that has been instilled in us,” Garner said. “Andalusia High School has given us an exceptional foundation of excellence, but just like a mother, she has prepared us for the rest of our lives beyond her care. When hurdles arise, press on. Henry Ford once said, ‘Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right,’ Class of 2019, we can. Let us not forget from whence we came. Thanks to our ever-growing foundation, we have the ambition and power within us to persist.”