Cullman High School’s Claude Thomas named Will Fowler Fine Arts Student of the Year

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CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman High school senior Claude Thomas was recently recognized for being named the Will Fowler Fine Arts Student of the Year at Cullman High School. The Fine Arts Student of the Year award has been in existence for a few years, only recently being changed to the Will Fowler Fine Arts Award as a memorial to Fowler who passed away in August of last year.

Will was a valued member of the Cullman marching band. He excelled in academics and was a friend to the whole school. Assistant Principal Aaron Sparks said, “Will was a fine young man who had many challenges most kids his age take for granted.  Despite his medical challenges, he maintained perfect attendance and always had a positive attitude.”

About the creation of the award, Assistant Principal Aaron Sparks said, “A few years back, I was looking for ways to recognize a larger portion of our students… students that may not get recognition in the paper for sports accomplishments, etc.  So, we started several incentive programs that recognize students on our campus—Student of the Month, Student Athlete of the Month, CTE Student of the Month, Good Citizen of the Month, and Fine Arts Student of the Month. While the Fine Arts award was in existence, when Will passed away, and with his parents blessing, I approached the Fine Arts department about naming the award after Will. They were all in agreement.”

Each month, a Fine Arts Student of the Month Award is given to one student based on nominations from the teachers in the department. At the end of the year, all the names of the monthly winners are sent out to the faculty, and they vote for one student they feel is deserving. Claude Thomas also was chosen to receive the first monthly award after it was named after Will. Monthly winners receive an engraved acrylic award, and the yearly winner receives a $500 scholarship to the school of their choice. 

Sparks said that Shirley Quattlebaum with State Farm is a huge supporter of the Arts and has been sponsoring this award since its creation. 

When Thomas was chosen to represent CHS for the Service Above Self award given by the Rotary Club, Sparks gave the following description:

“Claude is a special student, positive role model and sets the example for how a servant leader should act. At Cullman High School, he is well respected by his peers and the faculty and is a friend to many. Despite his own hardships, he always has a positive attitude, is prepared and willing to lend a hand to others.

 As a member of the CHS Band, Claude helps coordinate and assist with the loading and unloading of equipment for shows. He often volunteers to help Mrs. Bean, band director, at the middle school by mentoring younger band students, setting up equipment… really anything he can do to help. 

As a member of the CHS Theatre department, Claude quickly learned how to run everything and has become quite proficient as a sound engineer. According to Mr. Cook, theatre director, he’s the best he’s ever had. Claude is a hard worker and there is never a job that he won’t take on and complete to the best of his ability. He is also not afraid of the less glamorous work and often provides extra help during school and public events held in the auditorium. He has worked closely with Mr. Cook on several shows assisting with sound and other tasks, even volunteering his truck, and himself, to assist with moving items for a show.

Probably the best example of a servant’s heart I can think of is Claude’s involvement with former CHS student Will Fowler. Will was a young man who had health challenges that suddenly passed away last year. From their days at CMS, Claude immediately befriended Will and made it a point to involve him in discussions and activities in band and other activities. We have several monthly awards at CHS, and Claude was the first recipient of the Will Fowler Fine Arts Student of the Month award. I can’t think of a better recipient for this award than Mr. Thomas… and I refer to him as Mr. because even at his young age, I believe he has earned that respect.  He truly is a special young man with a servant’s heart.”

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