The celebration began as the Class of 2012 marched into the school auditorium to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance.” It continued as the student body witnessed individual seniors being awarded the scholarships they’d earned.
Collectively the class received more than $200,000 in scholarships from colleges, foundations, organizations, churches and the military; more may be coming, school officials said.
For some seniors this day had been on their minds for a long time.
Eighteen-year-old Rodney Fomby-McKinney said he and twins Amesha and Vanesha Crawford started thinking about the senior awards day while they were still in middle school.
“We wanted to be the ones who had our name called out a bunch,” Fomby-McKinney said. It was a plan that the trio stuck to and achieved.
By the ceremony’s end, 21 of the scholarship awards had been presented to the Crawford sisters and Fomby-McKinney.
“We started looking early” Amesha said. After seeing the senior awards day last year as juniors, “we said to each other ‘That’s going be us next year.’”
They began checking deadlines, volunteering more hours of their time for community service and doing anything they could to build their resumes
Vanesha said that she “applied for every scholarship” she found, even if she didn’t meet all the criteria.
The reason that Amesha and Vanesha were so motivated to find scholarship money for college has a lot to do with their home life, they said.
“Growing up my mother was in and out of our life,” Amesha said.
The twins lived in public housing with their aunt who is also their guardian. Amesha said that they were basically at the poverty level, so they took it upon themselves to find money.
“We both want to be teachers,” Amesha said. “We looked at each other and said we have to find a way to get enough money to go to Jacksonville State University.”
When their aunt, Sonja Redwine, heard about the awards the pair had won, she said she was very happy and excited.
“They did it all on their own,” she said.
“(People) say so many negative things about Anniston,” Vanesha said, “but today we showed them that we have academics.”
Sherry Baxter, the counselor for 11th and 12th grades, is passionate about finding scholarships for the students.
“I’ve been in their shoes and I know they can do it,” she said.
She also noted that not everyone who applied for scholarships got one Thursday.
Fomby-McKinney said he had applied for scholarships because of “great financial need ... I wanted to take (some of the) pressure off” my family.
His mother died when he was 9 years old, and he has 18 other brothers and sisters.
“I have big dreams,” Fomby-McKinney said, “and Ms. Baxter made sure that we were in the best possible standing.”
Senior day was also a day of reflection. Fomby-McKinney said that when he sees kids from his class who dropped out or didn’t finish as strong as they could have, he thinks, “that could have been me,” but said that God is the one who kept him on track.
Fomby-McKinney will graduate third in his class and plans to attend Alabama State University to pursue a double major in theater and psychology.