Birmingham awards diplomas to students who died before graduation

 1561905765 
1654256338
Graduates of the A.H. Parker High School Class of 2022 walked the stage on Thursday, June 2.

Graduates of the A.H. Parker High School Class of 2022 walked the stage on Thursday, June 2.

Kyra Miles, WBHM

Students from all seven of the Birmingham City Schools’ high schools walked the stage at Bill Harris Arena this week and received their diplomas.

The graduates of A.H. Parker High School filed in Thursday wearing the school’s colors of purple and white. In the audience, families wore T-shirts with their graduates’ faces on them, and cheers filled the arena as Pomp and Circumstance began to play.

Graduation is a rite of passage many families and students look forward to their whole lives. But in the rows where the graduates sat three seats were left open.

Families wore t-shirts with their graduates' face on them and cheered when their name was called.
Families wore T-shirts with their graduates’ faces on them and cheered when their names were called.

On top of those seats were wrapped cap and gowns with a big bow on top and three large signs with the names of Parker students who lost their lives before graduation: Kaleb Tucker, James Looney and De’Undray Haggard.

After all the graduates walked across the stage, Principal Darrel Hudson asked for the families of the students who died to come to the stage to accept their diplomas.

“These seniors are not here with us physically, but they are here with us spiritually. And they will always be part of A.H. Parker High School, Class of 2022,” Hudson said.

When Kaleb’s name was called, his mom accepted his diploma along with his cousin Kendarius Tucker.

“It was unfortunate what had happened to him. But we still congratulated him,” Tucker said. “We’re still, you know, living for him because I know that’s the way he would want instead of just us constantly grieving all the time. He was a really good person.”

Kaleb died from medical complications in 2019. James and De’Undray died in shootings in 2019 and 2022 respectively. Since the beginning of this school year seven students in Birmingham City Schools have been shot and killed.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence estimated nearly 2,000 children and teens die from gun violence every year in the United States. City leaders in Birmingham launched a series of listening sessions for teens in city high schools as part of an effort to reduce gun violence in the community. In May, they held the first listening session at Parker High School. The city-funded effort will put new counselors in schools, train students on how to de-escalate tense situations and is asking students for solutions.

Kyra Miles is a Report for America corps member at WBHM. 

 

Jefferson County health providers ‘well equipped’ for The World Games

Officials plan to treat as many people as possible at on site medical tents. They say the biggest concern is heat-related illness.

Birmingham City Council passes Woodfin’s budget untouched

Police, public works and youth programs were the biggest winners in the $517 million budget, the largest ever for the city.

Woodfin says people without homes won’t be moved from public spaces for The World Games

World Games officials clarified that anyone will be able to walk through and access public areas around venues like Railroad Park, Linn Park, Protective Stadium and the new City Walk, despite those sites being behind security parameters.

Groups oppose $725 million Alabama bond sale for building prisons

The state is expected to go to the bond market on Tuesday, to provide financing for the construction plan. That money will be added to $135 million in state funds and $400 million in pandemic relief dollars that the state already agreed to put toward the construction project.

“Expect us,” reproductive rights supporters rally across Alabama after federal abortion ruling

Alabamians took to the streets this weekend after elective abortions became a felony in the state on Friday.

More Education Coverage