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Locust Fork HS class of 2021 has 100% graduation rate

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 3:16 PM CDT
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BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Congratulations to Locust Fork High School! With all that’s going on with the pandemic, we just can’t let an amazing accomplishment get lost in the commotion.

The class of 2021 is passing the baton to the new class of students at a 100 percent graduation rate. That means 100 percent of the students who graduated this year also started at the school and stayed in school. It’s the first time in the school’s history.

I talked to principal Tommy Smitherman about his Blount County school of roughly 450 students, and before I knew it tears were coming down my cheeks. He says he has a special connection to this class of students. He says many of them had been with him since 7th grade when he became principal seven years ago.

“To have them come through from 9th grade to 12th grade, and not having a single one of them be a high school dropout, knowing some of the stories of our kids. Our kids have stories just like anyone black, white, green and yellow. They all have a story, and some of our kids’ home life break your heart. I thought I had a tough life growing up until I met some of these kids. I talk with them and worked with them,” Smitherman says. “We had a couple ladies that came in that wanted to graduate after Christmas or drop out after Christmas and we wouldn’t let them. That is not an option. We sat down with them and came up with a plan and we would not let them fail.”

“Math is great, English is great, but it’s the connections with students - giving them a shot at life. You spend 16, 17 years as a kid and you spend 60 to 70 as an adult.”

In other words, the ramifications from the mistakes we make as teenagers can last a lifetime. Smitherman says that’s why keeping these kids in school for four years straight, and with no drop outs means so much.

“We know so much of what you do as a kid dictates the rest of your life. So, it’s so cool because of what it meant for all those kids for all those years. Again, I know there are a lot of places that are probably 100 percent every year, and kudos to them. We know how much they put in to get them there too, but for our little school, which has all kinds of scenarios to get them there, it really meant a lot.”

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