Greenville’s Thomas recognized as Young Hero

Published 3:24 pm Friday, April 24, 2015

When the Greenville High School Class of 2015 walks across the turf at Tiger Stadium few, if any, of the new graduates will be as excited to receive their diploma as Anna Thomas.

“I’m excited to graduate with my class,” Thomas said. “It took a lot of hard work.”

Like many, Thomas was raised in a single-parent home after she and her mother were forced to move to Ohio to escape an abusive situation caused by substance abuse.


Greenville High School’s Anna Thomas is one of five Alabama Public Television Young Heroes of Alabama honorees.

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In 2011, Thomas’ grandfather passed away, and she and her mother moved to Alabama to care for her grandmother. Thomas’ mother underwent knee replacement surgery that resulted in her being unable to work. This left Thomas to take on the responsibility of caring for her grandmother and her mother.

The transfers from school to school also left Thomas behind in credits.

When she arrived at Greenville High School, Thomas was determined to catch up and graduate with her class.

Thomas attends school during the day and has taken night classes four days a week to catch up on the credits needed to graduate.

“Coming to Greenville was the best thing for me,” Thomas said. “At the school I was at before they told me when I was in ninth grade that there was no way I’d be able to graduate eon time. When I got here, they worked with me and developed a plan so I could graduate with my class.”

Thomas’s determination earned her one of five Alabama Public Television Young Heroes of Alabama scholarships. The scholarship is worth $3,000. The Young Heroes board is looking for students who have excelled in academics, given of themselves through public service, overcome adversity, or inspired others through their deeds and strength of character.

Those who know Thomas best said there are none more deserving of the honor.

“Anna’s personal character and strong work ethics are evident in everything she does,” said GHS teacher Renee Goss.

“Anna has brilliant charisma and an imposing personality,” Media specialist Nancy Hartley said. “Full of enthusiasm, she has always been ready to put for the extra effort necessary to make excellent grades.”

Thomas is a member of the JROTC, Mu Alpha Theta and the Tri-M Honor Society. She has been honored with the John H. Lehman Award and the President’s Award for Educational Excellence. At GHS, she received the Personal Appearance Award, the Color Guard Team Award, and the Academic Achievement Award, among other honors. She is also a member of the Tiger Rep Club at Greenville High School.

Thomas said she plans to use the scholarship to attend Jacksonville State University and study nursing.

“I’ve always liked to help people,” Thomas said.

That’s not a surprise to the teachers at GHS.

“Though Anna is only in high school, I can already see the kind of woman she will become, and I know I will be proud to say that I had just a tiny part in shaping that person,” GHS teacher Marie McNeal said.

Thomas, along with Samson High School’s Sidney Mechelle Barlow, Hatton High School’s Alison Martin, Austin High School’s Semaj Johnson, and Demopolis High School’s Jaylon Beck, will be in Montgomery Wednesday through Friday to receive their awards.