Final graduation at Jack Wood Stadium ‘a beautiful night’
By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — Mother Nature wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was a bit hot, but the skies were clear, the chance of rain impossible.
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill called Thursday “a beautiful night” for the last graduation in Jack Wood Stadium, a structure that has held most Hewitt-Trussville High School graduation ceremonies since 1949, when the stadium was built in the center of Trussville.
“The weather was clear, the crowd overflowed and it was a fitting sendoff to the Class of 2014,” Neill said.
By the end of the night, 367 Hewitt-Trussville High School seniors walked across a stage on the field. Total college scholarship money earned by the Class of 2014 is $8.62 million.
“Jack Wood Stadium has been the site for thousands of students’ graduations, with a rich history of families and students celebrating a milestone in life,” said Hewitt-Trussville High School Principal Tim Salem.
Bob Davis, who lives in the Cahaba Project and graduated from Hewitt-Trussville in 1968, estimated 95 percent of all Hewitt-Trussville graduation ceremonies have been held at the stadium since it opened. He’s attended many graduation ceremonies there, including 1966 for his brother, 1969 for his wife and sister, 1976 for another sister, 1988 for a son, 1992 for another son and 1998 for another son.
“I was born and lived most of my life a block down the street from the stadium,” Davis said. “I will miss those yearly graduations at the stadium, but realize that the school moved miles away several years ago. It is time for Hewitt to have new facilities.”
Other sites due to unfortunate weather have been school gymnasiums and First Baptist Church of Trussville.
“The stadium has served this community well during the last 65 years,” Neill said.
Graduating senior Riley Stokes said it was a great feeling last Thursday night.
“It was an honor to be the last class to go out of that stadium with all the memories that place holds,” he said.
Fellow graduating senior Jessica Lyster called the night “bittersweet.”
“It’s an honor to be the last class to graduate at Jack Wood,” Lyster said. “We will always remember the memories and friends we made these past four years and the teachers who were with us every step of the way.”
DeMarcus Kelly, who also graduated last week, said it felt great to graduate but it was also emotional. Will that be the last time Kelly steps onto the grass at Jack Wood Stadium?
“It definitely won’t be my last time there,” he said. “I have to come support my brothers on Friday night.”
The Class of 2015 will graduate at the new Hewitt-Trussville Stadium, which is under construction behind the Trussville Civic Center.
“A new era begins next year in Trussville with the Class of 2015 because they will have the first graduation ceremony at the new HTHS stadium next year,” Neill said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.