Gulf Shores City School System celebrates class of 2020

By Melanie LeCroy
Posted 6/3/20

The Wharf Amphitheater was full of proud families and friends socially distanced and ready to celebrate the first graduating class of the Gulf Shores City School System on May 29.

The 204 seniors …

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Gulf Shores City School System celebrates class of 2020

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The Wharf Amphitheater was full of proud families and friends socially distanced and ready to celebrate the first graduating class of the Gulf Shores City School System on May 29.

The 204 seniors donned their caps and gowns and filled the lower section of The Wharf Amphitheater from three separate entry points. Students were spaced while walking and seated. Onstage, city officials, school administrators and teachers sat safely spaced. Graduation during a worldwide pandemic looks different but the celebration is the same.

In the stands, every other row was marked off with caution tape and families were asked to occupy one row. Only 12 tickets per graduate were available. Sanitation stations were placed throughout the venue and at the entrances. The whole evening was live streamed on Facebook for any family members unable to attend.

Gulf Shores City Schools superintendent, Dr. Matt Akin gave a warm welcome to all in attendance. “We are here to recognize the first graduating class of the Gulf Shores City school system. It’s been quite a year. A few years ago our citizens began the process of establishing a city school system. A school system that would meet the expectations we all have for our children.  A school system that would prepare our students to be successful in all walks of life and a school system that would impact the future of our community. I assure you the outcome was worth the effort. Tonight our graduates sit before you prepared to make waves. Congratulations to the class of 2020.”

Student Government Association president Lisa Patel and Senior Class President Molly Griffin took a selfie onstage with their class before they each gave their student address. Next, senior chorus members Tim Simmons, Garrett Ard, Cody Roberts, Aaron Linton and AJ Franklin entertained the crowd with a rendition of the Foo Fighters song “Learn to Fly”.

Cindy Veazey, Gulf Shores High School principal addressed those in attendance.

“I had the privilege of being the principal to this resilient class. I just have to take a minute to take this all in. We didn’t think we were going to get to do this did we guys? But the feeling I have standing here and hearing them play and seeing you all here in your caps and gowns makes me want to sing ‘looks like we made it.’ A pandemic couldn’t hold us back.”

The crowd applauded and Veazey continued.

“This is proof tonight guys that people love you. We pulled this off. Parents you don’t know what went on behind the scenes but the City of Gulf Shores and the City of Orange Beach both said whatever you need we want to make this happen. And I say that not to give anyone pride or anything. I say that to you to say you are in a community that is like no other. It really is a small-town big beach and life is really better here. Always remember where home is,” Veazey said.

As of graduation night, the class of 2020 has been awarded $4,374,860 million in scholarships, 83 percent plan to attend a two or four year college, several students have enlisted in the military and several student athletes plan to go on to play in college. 

Akin and Veazey were on stage to congratulate graduates but instead of the traditional handshake pompom shakes were exchanged.