By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
More than 90 seniors at A.H. Parker High School – double from last year’s class – signed to attend colleges and universities during a ceremony held Friday at the school.
In the fall, students will attend schools that include Miles College, Samford University, Birmingham Southern College, Lawson State Community College, Auburn University at Montgomery and the Air Force.
Parker High School principal Darrell Hudson said students proved that hard work pays off.
“There are a lot of myths out there of individuals making assessments of our schools that have not stepped foot in our school,” Hudson said. “And the [some in the] media has unfortunately painted [African American] youth in a very negative picture. We have some great students here like all schools do. We have students who come here every day and work hard to get better. I challenge them that I want them to not only go (to college) but finish as well.”
The “signing day” event was set up similar to way high school athletes sign for college. The students all signed documents of acceptance to the institutions they well attend this fall. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Dana “Lady Woo” Woodruff and DJ FunnyMaine, both of radio station 95.7 JAMZ, gave remarks.
Hudson said he’s not satisfied with just seeing the numbers double this year.
“My goal is to increase the number,” he said. “By 2020 we should have everyone (applying to college), but I have a goal myself to raise the number next year to where we have at least 90-95 percent of our students who not only applied to college but received an acceptance letter as well.”
“We want to get that out because it’s unfortunate that we have individuals who walk across the stage but don’t know what their next steps are,” he said.
Students were “ecstatic” about the Friday ceremony.
“A lot of people think that getting accepted into college is not a big deal (but) it is,” said Amauri Pettaway, 18, who will attend Samford University, where she plans to study pharmacy. “So, it’s good to be celebrated (for) being able to apply, getting accepted and knowing that you will be able to move on.”
The sense of independence will be different than high school, she said. “You have to be on your p’s and q’s, you have to be on time for class, being where you need to be on time. It’s different.”
Connesha Chambers, 18, will attend Birmingham Southern College and major in journalism.
“It just shows that when you’re working towards your academics they (the school) do notice,” she said. “College will be beneficial to me because regardless of what you go through in life, no one can take your knowledge away. There will be obstacles, but no one can take away what you know.”
Monae Rowser, who will attend Lawson State Community College, said she also looks forward to the independence. “College gives you a sense of maturity that you don’t get in high school … you’ll be by yourself and you’ll get to branch out and meet new people and see more diversity,” she said.
Hudson said Signing Day also provides incentive for the school’s underclassmen.
“That could be them on the stage one day,” the principal said. “I think it’s two-fold. We want them to become seniors and we want them to finish. If they see their classmates and people they know doing it, hopefully it will inspire them and not only finish high school but to go to the college university of their choice.”
There was a reason behind the signing day concept, he said.
“Not everybody’s an athlete. We just want [students] to aspire to be better,” he said. “I think programs like this and showing them that even though they might not be an athlete we want to honor them as well for doing something positive and going to college.”