By Jan Irons Harris
City schools superintendent
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. Helen Keller
We are Cullman. We are. Our buildings and churches and schools and homes are not Cullman. We are. We, the people of Cullman, are Cullman. We are Cullman! We determine what happens in our city with or without electricity, television, internet, trees, roofs, cars, gas, ice or grocery stores. We put on our work boots and gloves and seek to help others in any way we can. No effort is too small. We make our community strong and healthy.
We elect and select leaders who truly care about us. These leaders, such as our police and city workers, labor diligently through the night to provide stability and order. They keep us safe. They plan meals for us when we have none. They go to Montgomery and take care of our needs – such as getting the days we missed in school excused. They seek assistance from the federal government and work with agencies to provide financial relief for us. Our leaders work with other leaders collaboratively for the good of our city and county.
We are Cullman. We make our visitors feel welcome. National guardsmen and state troopers and officers from surrounding areas who came to help us noted that they have never felt so appreciated as when they were in Cullman. They were overwhelmed by people who stopped to thank them and bring them water and food as they stood guard over our shops and homes, and directed traffic through streets filled with debris and downed power lines.
Our children are Cullman, too. We teach our children to love and care about others in our City of Character. Our precious children do what they can to help, too. They help in myriad ways by volunteering or taking photographs, collecting relief funds or even establishing a book drive for the destroyed City of Hackleburg. East Elementary could not have reopened without the football and baseball team members’ strength along with other volunteers.
We are Cullman. We do whatever it takes to get the job done. We are loyal and goal-driven. Our Cullman High School Tennis Teams worked their way to the State Playoffs on the morning of the tornado. These outstanding young people exemplify the spirit of Cullman. Coach Nathan Bates told the team to focus and win the State Championship for Cullman to provide a shining light for the city in this time of darkness. And, they did! Our Girls Tennis Team won the State Championship along with Muscle Shoals! Mackenzie Bussman and Natalie Sharpton won the #3 State Doubles Championship and Mackenzie won the #6 State Singles Championship. For the second consecutive year, our Boys Tennis Team received the Class 5A Sportsmanship Award – voted by all participating players and coaches at the State Tournament. Allison Howell was #1 singles runner-up. Natalie Sharpton was #2 singles runner-up and Hannah Cornelius was #3 singles runner-up. Allison Howell and Hannah Cornelius were #1 doubles runner-up.
We are Cullman. We have visionary leaders and citizens who will work to make our city even better than it was before. We will plant new trees and build better houses and buildings. We will continue to worship God – perhaps in altered ways and places - while giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy each day. We will work together and plan for the future. We will. We are Cullman.