‘It is okay to take your own path in life’: Vinemont’s Lawson Whaley recaps Eagle years

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Vinemont’s Lawson Whaley. (Courtesy of Lawson Whaley)

VINEMONT, Ala. — In this interview, I talked to Vinemont senior band member Lawson Whaley. She was a part of some great clubs during her time as an Eagle and talked about that experience, plus what she learned.

“I was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the National Association of High School Scholars, the National Honor Society, and I was the Girls’ State representative. Being a part of those different clubs was a great opportunity, because it allowed me to participate in several service projects, which was a great learning opportunity. We were able to donate to the animal shelter, the sheriff’s department, and the local nursing homes. We were also able to spend a lot of time with the kids that attend school at the Child Development Center. The kids at the CDC had the kindest hearts and were so excited just to spend time with us. No matter the challenges they faced every day, they had a smile on their face and were happy to be at school with the other kids. I think we could all learn to appreciate our lives and those around us more.”

Lawson got a chance to be around some great people in those clubs and made a lot of friendships in the process. She fast-tracked at Wallace her final two years of high school, and it really helped her out in the end. She still really appreciated everything that Vinemont did for her.

“I was able to meet my best friend in Phi Theta Kappa. Most of the people in these clubs are like-minded and like-focused, so it was easy for us to get along and make lasting friendships. Our sponsors for both the high school and college clubs were great. They were very supportive and encouraging,” Whaley said. “I graduated from Wallace earlier this month with my associates degree. Next semester, I’ll be transferring to UAB to study psychology. Fast-tracking helped me even more than anyone will ever know. I love Vinemont and will forever be grateful for the education I received there, but going to Fast-Track at Wallace was the best decision I could’ve made for myself. The students in Cullman County are very lucky to have so many opportunities to choose from that fit their goals, focus, and learning styles from traditional high school: Dual Enrollment and Career Center Fast-Track.”

She added,

“Being able to choose the path that best fits me has helped me be able to achieve so many goals. It helped me to be more independent and taught me to have a work ethic that has benefited my future career goals. It also helped me to achieve another goal I had, which was becoming the Valedictorian at Vinemont. Achieving that goal was very exciting and fulfilling. We worked so hard to be able to graduate, so it fills me with gratitude to all the teachers and mentors who helped me throughout the years.”

Lawson was also on the Vinemont color guard for four years and was captain for two years. She talked about what she learned from being a part of the band and she learned a very important lesson from her band director, Skylar King.

“Being in the band taught me how to be a part of a team and how to lead others. Being in the band requires commitment and dedication. It is late nights and early mornings, but when you win Best in Class or have a great performance, all of that time is worth it. One thing that I found to be different than from other sports is how much support is shown between schools. At competitions and exhibitions, the bands were always supporting and encouraging each other, and it taught me to always support each other, even if we’re competing for the same goal,” Whaley said. “Mr. King is passionate about music and instills that in his band members. The biggest life lesson he tries to teach is punctuality. ‘Early is on time, on time is late.'”

Lawson talked about her favorite band and high school memories, plus what made Vinemont a special place to go to, what she’ll miss the most and what she’ll remember the most.

“One of my favorite band memories was winning the color guard state championship in 2021. Competitions have always been my favorite part of band,” she said. “All of the band competitions and exhibitions were great memories with some great friends. One of my favorite activities was attending Girls’ State last summer. I met so many people from around the state that I have become close friends with, and I learned so much about leadership and government. Probably one of the best memories from Girls’ State was sitting around with our feet in Governor Ivey’s pool.”

She added,

“What made Vinemont a special place to go to is the people. We have great teachers and staff who are very supportive. Several of the teachers are alumni, so they feel a sense of responsibility in making the school great. I’ll miss the Friday night football games, getting ready together as a team, performing at halftime and the band dances in the stands. I’ll always remember the friendships that we formed in high school.”

Lawson took away some things during her time at Vinemont and gave some advice to the upcoming freshman. She also talked about some of her role models growing up and the best advice that she was ever given.

“It’s okay to take your own path in life. Stay focused on your goals and work your hardest to achieve them,” she said. “Don’t be scared. We have all been there and we have all survived. You will learn your way around, just like you did going into middle school, and by the end of the year, you’ll be thriving. My parents have always been my role models. They have always supported me and my sister, but with expectations for us to do the best that we can when it comes to any task. The best advice that I was ever given was to support yourself with genuine people who have your best interest at heart. Find your tribe that will be there to support you, no matter what.”

Lawson received some scholarships at Vinemont and talked about what that experience was like.

“I received the Provost scholarship, the Tennant and Susan McWilliams scholarship to UAB, and the Cullman Electric Cooperative scholarship. I was honored and humbled to have so many great opportunities to choose from.”

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