Liberty Learning Foundation holds Thursday kickoff rally at CHS

(Ashlyn Grey for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Liberty Learning Foundation hosted their official kickoff rally for Cullman High School’s ninth grade class Thursday. With several programs already established in Cullman City Schools, the program being implemented with this year’s freshman is the Citizen Promise Program. Cullman is the second pilot school for this program in the state. 

The Citizen Promise Program assists students with more in-depth lessons on civics, character education, financial literacy and developing personal accountability when it comes to their futures. The program is cumulative and will develop each year until graduation. The Citizen Promise Program also offers opportunities for students to work with community mentors and develop their resumes.  

Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall began the rally by welcoming all in attendance and the most honored guests, Cullman’s ninth grade class. She asked the students, “How many of you have heard your teachers talking about a hard reset?”  

As hands lifted across the room, Principal Hall continued, “After our pandemic education for the past year and a half, we decided that we needed to really reinforce what it means to be a Cullman High School student and a citizen in our community, and we are doing that by putting in levels of support for you that will reestablish this hard reset. And part of that is the Liberty Learning Foundation’s Citizen Promise.” 

Executive Director of Liberty Learning Foundation Brett Johnson took the time to recognize Liberty Learning’s Cullman County Community Alliance members and addressed the students, saying, “I want you to know that those partners in this crowd are here today because they came together with us to select Cullman High School, to select the ninth-grade class and to select every single one of you sitting in those chairs out there in that crowd today, to be the first students in North Alabama to take advantage of the Citizen Promise Program.”  

The Community Alliance members are: 

  • Alfa 
  • AlaTrade Foods Inc. 
  • Alabama Department of Education 
  • Regions Bank 
  • Alabama Power 
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama 
  • City of Cullman 
  • Senator Garlan Gudger 
  • Cullman County Community Development Commission 
  • Merchants Bank of Cullman 
  • Freedom Insurance Agency 
  • Cullman City Board of Education 
  • The Cullman Tribune 
  • Cullman Cabinet 
  • Chick-fil-A 
  • Lazarus LLC. 
  • First Community Bank 
  • Apel Steel 
  • People’s Bank 
  • Representative Randall Shedd 

Senator Garlan Gudger was recognized for his outstanding support of the Citizen Promise Program in this district and also spoke, sharing “You all are the future of the city of Cullman and of the state of Alabama. We are excited to see you get all of the experiences through this program that no other students in North Alabama will be able to experience. That is something to be proud of. — This whole program is because of people that love America. They are patriotic, and they want you to understand the history of the Red, White and Blue. Ladies and gentlemen, I am excited that you get to go through this program.”   

Director Johnson returned to the stage to express his amazement with the Cullman community, saying, “We traveled the entire state of Alabama. We do all of these programs, especially at the elementary and middle school level, in all the school systems across the state, and I can honestly say that there is no community that has jumped out so quickly and wrapped its arms around this program and what we are about to experience with Citizen Promise like Cullman, Alabama. I just want you to know, when you go home to talk to your friends and family, I want you to know these are special individuals and you live in a special community.” 

Guest speaker David Page addressed the students the importance of what it means to be a part of a community, and how our choices impact students and those around them. He asked the students to consider the two coins they had received upon entering the auditorium, one labeled, “Yes” and one labeled, “No.” 

“Graduation seems like it’s a lifetime away, but I am here to tell you that four years is nothing compared to the 30+ years that you have to think about, even now, moving into your life after graduation. And whether you are starting this journey just because you are wanting to continue to be great, the reality of the matter is that the greatest thing that you can do is graduate high school.” 

Page continued, “Here with the Liberty Learning Foundation, the City of Cullman and Cullman City Schools, we want to make a promise to you. That if you say, “Yes,” and you choose the coin that says, “Yes,” if you say, “Yes” to the workforce, if you say, “Yes” to the military, if you say, “Yes” to college, if you say, “Yes” to technical school – all that we are asking is that you say, “Yes”— And if you say, “Yes,” we promise you that we will do our best to help you achieve that goal.” 

At the end of the rally, the students were asked to hold one coin in each hand and told to think about making the personal choice to decide “Yes” and commit to the program and graduation. 

As students exited, the buckets of “No” coins began to fill as the Class of 2024 made their silent promises, tucking “Yes” coins safely into their pockets and bookbags as they went. 

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