Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 5/22/2020

by Juan Thomas
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According to the May 22 entry into Triumphs & Tribulations III, I graduated high school on this very day in 2003. I remember sitting in the East Exhibition Hall of the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, wearing my green cap and gown, as my family and my then-girlfriend watched me walk across the stage to accept my high school diploma from the principal. It was what I would later call, in a Triumphs & Tribulations XII entry, “a seminal moment”. Walking across that stage was the cherry on top for me. And if I’m being real with myself, it would have never happened without my classmates. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the 2003 Huffman High graduating class.

How I first came across this moment? My introduction to—or inclusion into, depending on how you want to term it—the 2003 Huffman High graduating class started with my ugly departure from Parker High amidst the LaToya Watson controversy. A day after withdrawing from Parker, I was in the main office at Huffman High, finishing up my transfer and getting my class schedule. February 23, 2001 was my first official day. I had traded the purple and white of Parker for the orange and green of Huffman. I was no longer part of the Parker Thundering Herd…I was a Huffman Viking.

What it meant to me then? From Day 1, I felt comfortable at Huffman. From my session room teacher—Miss Scott—introducing herself and my de facto sponsor—a classmate named Erica—showing me around the school. Three things factored into me becoming somewhat known amongst certain pockets of the 2003 class early on at Huffman: (1) knowing Jeremie Mason, who is probably the best go-between in the game; (2) having the unique penmanship; and (3) my 1st 2 weeks in Mrs. Harris’ Honors U.S. History 10 class. I became known to a good many of the 2003 class when I pursued arguably the finest chick in the class…not knowing that she was already somebody else’s girl. Even though I was known to many, I still retained much of the “lone wolf” persona that defined my time at Parker. I enjoyed those last 3 months of my sophomore year after the transfer. I gained a new friend in Shermika Dunner and I earned the respect of my classmates in the Honors program. Both would be crucial for me when we returned from summer break as juniors. My last 2 years at Huffman saw me transform from the quiet guy in the orange windbreaker who posted up along the cafeteria wall as a sophomore to cracking jokes, showing personality, and flexing the Domino’s money on occasion. I dropped in on parties, attended games to support the football and basketball teams, and tried to fit in as much as I could on field trips. It was cool…all the way up and through graduation.

What it means to me now? The last time I was with the 2003 Huffman High graduating class was on this very day in 2003. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve had a very close relationship with Jeremie and Shermika in the years since and I’m really social with a number of my classmates from Huffman on social media. But I haven’t really been around the class, at large, since I was last in the BJCC. I had planned to attend the 10-year class reunion but things never really materialized with that event. I wasn’t really feeling the series of events that made up the 15-year reunion a couple of years back so I passed on attending…though I did contribute money to the cause. Lord willin’, however, I’ll be there for the 20th year reunion in 2023. Still, I enjoyed my time at Huffman and I enjoyed my experience as a part of the 2003 graduating class. I see a lot of the successes of the class online and I think back to something Jeremie once told me: “the 2003 class is literally the best class to ever come out of Huffman”. I don’t disagree.

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