OTMJ 5.16.24

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Keep the Memories Alive

Vestavia Woman Shares Her Experience With Grief to Help Other Gold Star Families

When an M-60 helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea near Cyprus in November 2023, five members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as Night Stalkers, lost their lives.


Alabama Veterans Memorial Park, left, Alabama National Cemetery and American Village will hold commemorative events to mark Memorial Day. PAGE 6

No sooner had word reached their base at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, than the process of caring for their bereaved families was set in motion.

See MEMORIES, page 6

Each year in May, Anne Anderson returns to Ft. Campbell where a hanger is named in honor of her husband Michael Anderson.

Courtesy Anne Anderson


S’mores & Pours returns for 12th year as fundraiser for BridgeWays PAGE 4


Vestavia’s Ledbetter named Alternate State Teacher of the Year PAGE 9


WellHouse volunteer programs help victims of human trafficking heal PAGE 8

COLOR QUEEN Homewood librarian Aaliyah Taylor creates Bold designs in jewelry and fashion PAGE 10

With everything that’s happening “Over the Mountain,” it can be difficult to keep up. That’s why we have launched the OTMJ newsletter.

Published every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - we’ll give you a quick recap of the latest news, sports and social events as well as a heads up on upcoming events so you won’t miss any of the interesting and fun happenings in the Greater Birmingham metro area.

To sign up for our newsletter, visit otmj.com.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @overthemountainjournal, for daily updates on what’s going on around town, too.


Publisher & Editor: Maury Wald

Copy Editor: Virginia Martin

Features Writer: Donna Cornelius

Staff Writers: June Mathews, Anne Ruisi

Photographer: Jordan Wald

Sports Editor: Rubin E. Grant

Contributors: Evelyn Byrne, Solomon Crenshaw Jr., Madoline Markham Koonce, Susan Swagler

Advertising Sales: Julie Trammell Edwards, Gail Kidd

Vol. 34, No. 15

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A Time-Out for Mom

realized something this month, as I found myself facing all my kids’ culminating end-of-the-year events, including recitals, banquets, graduation, first communion and multiple motherdaughter trips.

Though some parents thrive around such busyness, I realized I am not one of them. In fact, it all makes me feel like I’m being buried alive. I therefore become snippy, hostile, whiny and generally a sour puss.

Given the month’s excessive demands, though, I had basically accepted my demeanor as understandable. After all, doesn’t a mom like me get a free pass on a tantrum or two when the world asks too much of us? I even considered making a T-shirt that would read, “It’s not you, it’s May.”

That is, until last Saturday.

I was feeling particularly grumpy and had retreated into my bedroom to sulk over the month’s overload when I overheard my husband stop my youngest from running into my room to show me a flower. “Shh, don’t go in there. Your mom needs to rest,” he said.

And finally, I thought about one more important event that happens this month: Memorial Day ...

Normally, I’d just thank God for a good man, but hearing it out loud and in that context struck me differently. I was embarrassed. I had let my emotions get the best of me and turn me into someone who needed to be tiptoed around, avoided. It was then I realized, maybe this mom didn’t need a T-shirt. Maybe she needed an attitude adjustment.

Just how to adjust my attitude I wasn’t sure. It felt firmly in place. But my years of teaching and parenting had taught me that sometimes the quickest way to end a bad attitude is simply with a “time-out,” a chance to reflect and gain perspective.

I decided to sentence myself to one.

Though I wasn’t exactly sure what my adult time-out would look like, I figured the upside of being 50 years old

Over the Mountain Views

is that I get to design it as I see fit. My husband suggested I take a beach trip, but that sounded too much like an excuse for “me time.” I needed perspective, not a reward.

After considering some options, I ultimately decided to simply block off one morning and take a drive – a long drive – with no agenda or direction other than to think. And think I did. I thought about my kids as well as their peers, who were excitedly getting ready to showcase and celebrate their hard work, and how I had let my own stress interfere with the good they wanted to share.

I thought about those old teacher posters I used to hang on my school walls, the ones that offer encouraging words like, “A good attitude starts with gratitude,” or “The only thing you can control is your attitude and effort.” I believed those words but somehow failed to embrace their wisdom when I needed it.

Then I thought about how this month would be easier to handle (and a good attitude easier to embrace) if I would just make more personal preparations, including getting enough sleep.

And finally, I thought about one more important event that happens this month: Memorial Day – the day we honor those men and women who have literally given their lives for our country to make it possible for common folks like me to live safe, ordinary and happily hectic lives.

By the time I got home from my time-out, I felt more like myself. I even felt that little emotion of gratitude creeping in again, turning all my “have to do’s” this month into “get to do’s.”

And thankfully, it came in the nick of time, as I am now hoping to finish this month strong. I might even make a T-shirt that reads, “It’s May, and I’m So OK.”

Vestavia Sunrise Rotary Celebrates First Responders

The men and women who answer the call in an emergency in Vestavia Hills were honored May 4 by the Vestavia Hills Sunrise Rotary Club. Firefighters, police officers and their families were treated to an afternoon on the grounds of Vestavia City Hall during the club’s 14th annual First Responders Celebration. Food, music, games and gifts were on hand for guests. The event not only honors the city’s first responders; it also acts as a fundraiser, with proceeds from sponsors and supporters generating funds to acquire state-of-the-art equipment for those first responders. A portion of the proceeds from the celebration will be used to upgrade to newer and safer helmets and headgear for the SWAT team.

Clockwise from left: Gina and Mariella Wilcox; Jennifer Madison, Madeline Hale and BJ Hale; Brenda and Mark Henry, Chuck King.

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Through Sept. 11

Vestavia Hills Farmers Market

Live music, fresh produce, jewelry, baked goods and many other items will be on hand every Wednesday at the Vestavia Hills Farmers Market. The market is a mission of Vestavia Hills Methodist Church, with funds from the market used to supply the church’s food pantry with fresh fruit and vegetables. When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Scout Square, 2061 Kentucky Avenue

May 17-18

Hoover Library Book Sale

The Friends of the Hoover Library will hold a book sale where you can find great deals on used books and media. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted. When: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on May 17, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on May 18.

Where: Hoover Library

Sat., May 18

Vestavia Hills Summer Reading Kickoff

Adventure Begins at the library this summer as we kick off the Summer Reading program with a party at Wald Park! A performer will be on the stage from 11 a.m.-Noon and Roger Day will perform from Noon-1 p.m. Bubble play, an adventure maze, donuts, hot dogs, balloon animals and more will be on hand. When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Wald Park

Father Goose Poetry Festival for Kids

Sponsored by the Alabama Writers Forum, this poetry festival will feature poetry readings by children who entered the poetry writing contest, fun activities and refreshments. Charles Ghigna, the renowned children’s author and poet known as “Father Goose,” will be master of ceremonies. When: 2 p.m. Where: Homewood Library

Easterseals Golf Tournament

Play a round of golf for a good cause at the Easterseals Golf Tournament. The event benefits Easterseals Alabama, which has led the way to full equity, inclusion and access by enriching education, enhancing health, expanding employment and elevating community. When: Check in at noon, shotgun start at 2 p.m. Where: Highland Park Golf Course

Do Dah Day

One of Birmingham’s most beloved events is a day to celebrate our best pals in the animal world. Since 1980 Do Dah Day has offered plenty of fun, with live music and plenty of activities. A Kid’s Area will include lots of things to keep the young ones busy, including craft making, bungee jumping and hair weaving. When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Where: Cahaba Brewing Company

Boho-Chic Festival S’mores

& Pours Returns for 12th Year as Fundraiser for BridgeWays

When Thomas Henry sought a meaningful way to serve his community, he discovered it in BridgeWays, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people learn how to “care, connect and contribute.”

Henry, who is serving his third year as president of the BridgeWays junior board, is a motivating force behind the junior board’s primary fundraiser, S’mores & Pours, which is set for May 30 at Avondale Brewing Company.

“We raise over $50,000 through this event each year,” Henry said. “I help ensure that all our board members have a role during the event and that guests are taken care of throughout.”

This is the 12th year for the event, which is being presented by The Thomas E. Jernigan Foundation.

A boho-chic wonderland of food, fun and fabulous people, the evening will include a feast from Taco Mama, raffles, vendors, pop-up shops from local businesses, local artists showcasing their talent, activities for kids, soft drinks and water, and two selections of Avondale brews.

T.U.B. The UnKnamed Band, a local psychedelic jam band, will appear onstage, bringing their own brand of music by the Grateful Dead, Phish and Widespread Panic.

And, in case your idea of a good time is something more along the lines of a rodeo, there’s more.

Sun., May 19

Shades Crest Baptist Church 70th Anniversary

The church will celebrate its 70th anniversary with a morning service, with music by a Reunion Choir made up of past and present choir members. A picnic-style lunch in the church’s Fellowship Hall will follow the service. To reserve a seat for lunch,

“We are also having a mechanical bull at the event this year,” Henry said, “which will be hilarious and help us raise even more money for the children of our community.”

The event will be 5-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for adults and include two beer vouchers, $10 for children ages 6-18 and free for children age 5 and under. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

“We’re looking forward to hosting a crowd of people interested in supporting a great cause,” Henry said.

call the church office at 205-8221360. When: Church service at 10:30 a.m. Where: Shades Crest Baptist Church, Bluff Park

Summer Reading Carnival Kickoff

Children and their grownups are invited to walk, run, bike, scoot, skate and stroll the 1-mile Thomas Hughes Brinkley Memorial Fun Run course that starts in front of the library and runs through

compete for the top taco crown, and there will be an art market, drinks, community arts activities, a farm stand, DJ and salsa dancing. All the fun will benefit Bare Hands Inc., an arts organization dedicated to creating immersive art experiences for artists and the community. When: 1-7 p.m. Where: Sloss Furnaces

Fri., May 24

Hoover Library Summer Reading Program

Kick off summer reading with carnival fun throughout the Hoover Library! There will be games, crafts and snacks to enjoy, plus special guest Doc Magic will perform a mini-show every 30 minutes. When: 1-4 p.m. Where: Hoover Library

May 24-26

Symphony in the Summer

“Supporting BridgeWays is a direct way to support children in the state of Alabama, especially those who may not have another way to support themselves.”

Founded as a local council of Camp Fire Girls in 1959, the organization transitioned to a coeducational program in the 1970s and later expanded its reach to school classrooms. More recently, BridgeWays disaffiliated from Camp Fire Girls.

BridgeWays now delivers programs to more than 60 schools and provides programs and services at the historic Camp Fletcher in southwest Jefferson County.

The BridgeWays mission is “to instill a genuine sense of hope, purpose, and self-worth by connecting young people to their peers, their schools, and their families — and ultimately, to their potential as responsible, contributing citizens of their communities,” according to its website.

“I became involved with BridgeWays because of the impact they have on the children in our state,” said Henry. “I have a passion for seeing our state succeed, and that starts with the youth in our community. The work BridgeWays does is truly amazing and touching. I am honored to be a small part of it.”

Funds raised will help sustain BridgeWays initiatives for 2024. For more information, visit bridgewaysal. org.

the adjacent neighborhood. Stay for the carnival, which will feature a train ride, face painting, game booths, a rock-climbing wall and a bouncy house. When: Fun Run at 3 p.m., carnival from 3:30-5 p.m. Where: O’Neal Library

Birmingham Taco Fest Who makes the top taco in Birmingham? Twenty-five taco vendors, including food trucks, will

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra will bring beautiful music to Railroad Park, including a variety of works by Sibelius, Verdi, Copland, Gershwin, John Williams and more over three evenings in Birmingham. When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Railroad Park

May 31-June 2

Alabama Ballet’s Bonnie & Clyde

The Alabama Ballet takes you on Bonnie and Clyde’s journey leading to their demise on May 23, 1934. Van Fleteren’s clever use of music, both classical and popular from the 1930s, brings a modern feel to the chronicled tale. When: Various showtimes Where: Alabama School of Fine Arts

May 30-June 9


This play is a howlingly funny romantic comedy about a marriage and the dog that comes into a couple’s life. Greg brings home a dog he found in the park - or that has found him - bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her name tag that becomes a major bone of contention between husband and wife. The show contains adult situations and strong language. When: Various showtimes Where: Homewood Theatre

May 31 - June 30

Mary Poppins

Gliding into the lives of the troubled Banks family, Mary Poppins uses a combination of magic and common sense to bring young Jane and Michael around. But even the grown-ups get a lesson or two in life, love, and oldfashioned manners from their new nanny. With all the unforgettable songs and dance numbers, plus astonishing stagecraft, it’s a theatrical event for the whole family. When: Various showtimes

Where: Red Mountain Theatre

Sat., June 1

Funky Food Truck Festival Keep on truckin’ with some of

4 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL ABOUT TOWN MAY 16 - MAY 30
Mary Ren Stevenson, Helen Steward, Mary Frances Brown and Frances Gaut hanging out at last year’s event.
Journal file photos by Jordan Wald

Birmingham’s best mobile meal makers! Relax on the patio enjoying your favorite Cahaba Brew or shop local artisans, vendors, and pop-up shops. When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Where: Cahaba Brewing Company

June 7- Aug. 6

West Homewood Farmer’s Market

Fresh farm produce and other goodies will be on hand every Tuesday as the West Homewood


Grab your party hats and celebrate the big guy’s 120th birthday! Vulcan, set in a beautiful park atop Red Mountain, is the largest cast iron statue in the world and is city symbol of Birmingham. When: Noon-4 p.m. Where: Vulcan Park and Museum

Farmer’s Market opens for another summer season. When: 5-8 p.m. Where: 160 Oxmoor Road

Fri. June 7

Art After 5 Wizard of Oz

Follow the yellow brick road to the Birmingham Museum of Art for an Art After 5 event that’s over the rainbow! This June, the art museum is celebrating Pride Month with the timeless charm of “The Wizard of Oz.” Dive into a night where art, music, and pop culture merge, featuring Oz-inspired art activities, a costume contest and more. When: 5-9 p.m. Where: Birmingham Museum of Art

Sat., June 8

Zoo Brews

Experience breweries from all over Alabama and the southeast while traveling through the Birmingham Zoo! This signature event for adults 21 and up operates via a “Penny-a-Pour” system, with each sample available for one cent. Food trucks will be on hand and the zoo’s Nourish 205 restaurant and the Flamingo Cart on Henley Lawn will offer full-size wine and beer for an additional charge. When: 6-9 p.m. Where: Birmingham Zoo


Is That True?

Discussion Will Help Voters Separate Fact From Fake News

Telling the difference between news and misinformation as the election nears is the topic of a public discussion sponsored by Alabama Media Professionals.

The meeting will take place May 30, 6-7:30 p.m. at Hoover Public Library.

Journalism and political-media scholars will give presentations, and a panel of local reporters and editors who cover government and elections will explain their processes, provide insight into ethical journalism practices and answer audience questions.

The event is free and open to the public. Other than AMP and the library, the event is supported by the Alabama Humanities Alliance, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Misinformation has always existed in political campaigns, but its power has grown exponentially in recent years, and experts in multiple fields are warning it poses an unprecedented threat to elections taking place in 2024, according to a statement from AMP.

Misinformation spreads rapidly through social media, being disseminated more quickly and reaching more people than factual news, according to research published in the journal Science. Artificial intelligence –

including video, photo and audio generators – allows quick development of false content by anyone these days, and it can be high-quality enough to fool voters. A World Economic Forum survey showed that AI is a top global threat over the next two years.

Media scholars will speak during the event. Dr. Bill Singleton, assistant professor of communication and media at Samford University, will give a presentation on journalism basics, including the importance of ethical standards and how journalists go about meeting those standards.

Dr. Matt Barnidge, associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama, will talk about the history of the media’s role in political campaigns in the U.S. and how that role has evolved. He also will discuss misinformation in historical and current contexts.

Journalists and editors who will be taking part in the panel discussion are Alander Rocha, government policy and health care reporter for Alabama Reflector; Andrew Yeager, managing editor of WBHM; Barnett Wright, executive editor of the Birmingham Times; Jon Anderson, editor of the Hoover Sun; and Virginia Martin, news editor for BirminghamWatch. Light snacks will be provided.

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Journal file photo by Jordan Wald

From Page One

Early on, the phone rang in the Vestavia Hills home of Anne Anderson. Five families of the 160th had lost loved ones in the line of duty. Could she be available to support the wives during the difficult days ahead?

Anderson didn’t hesitate.

“Absolutely,” she answered. She understood all too well what they were going through.

Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Anderson, also of

the 160th, served during Desert Storm. On Feb. 21, 1991, he responded to a request for medical evacuation of a badly wounded soldier from deep in enemy territory. He was headed back to the medical facility when he flew into a sandstorm and lost visual reference with the ground. The aircraft crashed, and Anderson died in service of his country.

“I was 32 years old, and I had a 9-month-old baby,” his widow recalled. “It was a very, very challenging time. But I discovered that Michael’s unit had made a promise that families would be taken care of.

They’ve kept that promise from day one, and I have no doubt that it will always be kept.”

But Anderson knew that moving forward wasn’t just a matter of being on the receiving end of care. To help herself, she needed to give back. So, when the next accident occurred, she made herself and the lessons she had learned from hard experience available to the grieving family.

“It was the best way I could honor Michael and the best way I could give back to the 160th for being so good to my child and me,” she said.

Anderson didn’t stop with that

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first family. To this day – 33 years after losing her husband – whenever she’s asked to encourage or somehow support another Gold Star wife, she always does.

“It’s painful because I live through losing Michael every time,” she said. “But the good part is I’ve made new friends, and we share a bond. We are each a member of a sorority that we never, ever wanted to belong to, but we’re there for each other, and the unit is there for us.”

Anderson works with the Families of Fallen Night Stalkers, a group in the Night Stalker Association that works to provide a network of support tailored to the families of the 160th’s fallen.

A proud mom moment came when Anderson realized her son, Kyle, felt a similar calling to help.

“He was only 9 months old when we lost his father; no recollection, no memories, except for me telling him things, but no true memories,” Anderson said. “After the accident in November, several very young children had lost their dads. So, Kyle wrote the mothers the most beautiful, supportive letter telling them that their children will be OK. He supported them in a way that only a child who had lost a parent can do.”

In his letter, Kyle expressed a wish to hear stories about his dad from someone other than his mother.

“After I read that,” Anderson said, “I wrote to some of Michael’s friends and asked them to reflect back on things that Kyle might like to know about his dad, maybe things he could pass along to his new son. The letters Kyle received were remarkable, and I learned a lot myself, things I had no idea about.”

Kyle now has a 4-month-old son of his own, named Michael for his grandfather.

Anderson encourages other soldiers to write down stories about the people they’ve served with who died so that those stories can be shared with the children who lost their fathers.

“And to do it as soon as possible,” she said. “It’s hard to remember specifics 10 years later. I’m encouraged to hear that this is happening for the children who lost their fathers in November. This is something they can treasure for the rest of their lives and maybe even share with their children.”

An Annual Tribute

Each year, during the last week in May, Anderson returns to Ft. Campbell for an annual event called The Week of the Night Stalker Association. A reunion of sorts, the gathering is a time of fun, celebration and remembering. Families and friends from their military days enjoy time together, recreational activities and events, including alumni dinners for each hangar. The dinner Anderson attends takes place in the Anderson Hangar, named in memory of her husband.

“I get to meet the people current-

Memorial Day Commemorations

Ceremonies and festivals will be happening across the country between now and May 27 to recognize America’s fallen military heroes.

Among those events are ones being offered at Alabama Veterans Memorial Park, Alabama National Cemetery and American Village will hold commemorative events to mark Memorial Day.

Alabama Veterans

Memorial Park

A step stone dedication ceremony and tribute to veterans will be held Sunday, May 19, at 1:30 p.m. The step stones – 4x8-inch pavers engraved with the honored veterans name, rank and branch of service – are installed twice a year beneath the 120-foot-high American flag in the American Flag Plaza at the end of the park’s Memorial Trail.

The memorial park is off Interstate 459 at Liberty Parkway

Alabama National Cemetery

The Veterans Administration will hold Memorial Day commemoration ceremonies May 27 at more than 130 national cemeteries, including the Alabama National Cemetery.

The 16th annual Memorial Day Observance at the national cemetery in Montevallo will begin at 9 a.m. The ceremony will remember and honor fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and will comfort and honor their families.

American Village

Admission to American Village will be free on May 27 in commemoration of Memorial Day.

Visitors can wander on the 188acre campus near Montevallo, visiting replicas of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the President’s Oval Office, Concord Bridge and the West Wing of Independence Hall, among other attractions. Military vehicles and reenactors will be onsite and familyfriendly activities will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The country’s fallen military members will be honored and remembered at an 11 a.m. service in the Colonial Chapel.

ly working in the Anderson Hangar,” she said. “Some of the people are in their 80s and long retired, but they still come back to see their brothers.”

The gathering also includes a memorial ceremony during which all the names of the unit’s fallen soldiers are read aloud.

“Every name is read, and everyone is remembered,” Anderson said. “It’s a difficult time for the families, but the other side of that coin is that somebody is still saying those names. When I’m long gone, somebody will still be saying Michael’s name and remembering him.

“He was my hero.”


Homewood’s Trolard Joins

Ranks of Eagle Scouts

Homewood High School junior Oliver Trolard earned the rank of Eagle Scout recently and was approved by the Vulcan District Eagle Board in February.

Oliver, a member of Boy Scout Troop 95 at Shades Valley Lutheran Church, led friends and relatives in the construction of a 10-foot miniature Chimney Swift Tower.

The tower is installed as an educational display at the Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park and will raise awareness about the conservation effects of chimney swifts. Components include a cutaway display panel to view inside the tower and reallife chirping baby bird chimney swift audio.

Oliver joined scouting as a first

grader in 2013 and earned his Arrow of Light award in Cub Scouts before crossing over to Troop 95. Since joining the troop, Oliver has held several leadership positions, including senior patrol leader. He participated in National Youth Leadership Training and was inducted into membership of the Order of the Arrow.

While a Boy Scout, Oliver has earned 36 merit badges, camped 57 nights and participated in more than 150 service hours. His most memorable scouting experience was camping overnight on an uninhabited island in the Florida Keys at the National High Adventure Sea Base, where he also served as crew leader and which he attended with his father and grandfather.

Oliver plays trumpet in the Homewood Patriot Marching Band and is a member of the Beta Club, Key Club, Latin Club and National Honor Society. He competes on the scholar’s bowl and math teams. He is the son of Megan and Ron Trolard and is a member of Southminster Presbyterian Church.

Homewood Author Continues Telling Stories of Alabama

Homewood author Shawn Wright has released a new book telling the stories of remarkable Alabamians.

“Alabama Short Stories, Volume 2,” tells 30 nonfiction tales, following up on his first volume and his podcast of the same name.

White calls his work “a celebration of our state’s culture, history, and the people who shape it,” in an announcement for the new book.

“It offers an engaging read for history enthusiasts, local lore lovers, and anyone who appreciates well-crafted narratives about real people and events,” he said in the statement. The book is available in hardcover,

paperback, Kindle and audiobook formats at major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and BooksA-Million.

White’s first book, “Shades Cahaba: The First 100 Years,” marked the centennial of the Shades Cahaba School in Homewood.

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Oliver Trolard
Courtesy Courtesy
Shawn Wright

Restoring Hope for a Bright Future

WellHouse Volunteer Programs Help Victims of Human Trafficking Heal

In a cheerful kitchen, a group of women laugh, talk and ask questions. Some are giving instructions, while others try their hands at peeling potatoes or mixing a salad dressing.

It’s a scene that could play out in any cooking class, but this one’s a little different. The enthusiastic teachers are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Birmingham chapter, and the eager students are residents of The WellHouse, a Birmingham-area facility for female victims of human trafficking.

LDEI Birmingham – whose members are women leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality industries –is just one of the organizations offering educational, inspirational or just plain fun programs for WellHouse residents.


Brianna Pierce, The WellHouse’s volunteer coordinator, said that the support of groups, churches, businesses and individuals is essential to the WellHouse mission, which is: “We exist to honor God by rescuing and providing opportunities for restoration to female victims of human trafficking who have been sexually exploited.”

“We have regular volunteers who teach classes, like LDEI,” Pierce said. “Some come weekly for things like art therapy or sewing. There are Bible studies. Some do a one-time event, such as dinner and a game. Other organizations do a ‘serve day’ and take on a special project on the campus.”

The WellHouse started in 2010 in Woodlawn and welcomed its first resident the following year. Pierce, who has a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry, came on board in September to oversee volunteers, mentors and interns.

“We don’t actually rescue these women,” she said. “We partner with groups that do.”

Now there are five homes on The WellHouse campus, a sprawling property in a rural setting.

“The first place they land is the Stabilization Center,” Pierce said. “It’s a smaller home – it’s just one resident and a staff member or two. There’s an evaluation and, in some cases, detoxing.”

Next is the Immediate Shelter, which houses up to 10 women.

“This step is about helping them get back to a routine, helping them get a form of their identity back.” Pierce said. “That’s something traffickers often take from them. We build a plan – what are their goals while they’re here? We start them on

therapy and recovery programs.”

She said this part of the program usually lasts three to five months and is “a very individualized thing.”

Next Steps to Freedom follows, and it’s where residents begin to take part in volunteer classes and activities.

“It’s a nine- to 12-month program,” Pierce said. “Some of these ladies are starting to work. ShopWell is our social enterprise with jewelry, candles and more. We help them with education – getting their GED or taking college courses.”

Finally comes Next Steps to Independence.

“They graduate and have the option to live in our apartments,” Pierce said. “It’s a good buffer between our program and being completely on their own.”

There’s also another home and program: WellHouse Child for ages 11-17.

Cooking and Companionship

Sonthe Burge, a registered dietitian nutritionist, is one of the LDEI members who coordinates the group’s WellHouse committee. Members of the committee sign up to take turns teaching or helping to lead the cooking classes. The philanthropic organization also funds scholarships and grants for Alabama women pursuing careers in food.

The association between Les Dames and The WellHouse was formed when a former LDEI member now involved with The WellHouse’s women’s auxiliary approached LDEI past presidents Kathy G. Mezrano and Susan Swagler to suggest a connec-


“The WellHouse staff felt the residents would enjoy and benefit from cooking classes,” Burge said. “Susan and Kathy agreed this would be a wonderful relationship and reached out to LDEI member Pat Terry.” Like Burge, Terry is a registered dietitian nutritionist with experience in teaching healthy cooking.

“Pat really got the ball rolling by including other like-minded Dames and forming an LDEI Wellhouse Committee, which has provided monthly cooking classes since 2021,” Burge said.

Burge said she wanted to get involved with the cooking classes because “I have a heart for service and wanted to do something that was a little under the radar.”

“This is a very subtle, private way to serve,” she said. “It has been very rewarding to meet the ladies, have conversations and encourage them to continue their path to healing. I hope we can help make them realize they’re exactly where they need to be.”

Burge also has a very personal and poignant reason for supporting The WellHouse.

“About 12 years ago, when I had a nutrition counseling practice, I had a patient – a young girl – who came to me about weight loss,” she said. “There was a man with her who said he was her father, but he very clearly was not.

“I was worried about her and tried to get in touch with her after her visit, but I never could. This is a way of providing the help for these ladies that I wasn’t able to provide for her.”

meals during the summer.

Turkey burgers, Greek salad, a salmon-edamame rice bowl and smoothies are among the healthy and yummy foods that have been produced in the classes. LDEI members always try to involve their WellHouse students in the food plans.

“The last time I went, several ladies had said they wanted to make moussaka, a Greek dish traditionally made with eggplant,” Burge said.

When she and the other volunteers arrived, however, they learned that the moussaka fans weren’t in class that day – and that the ladies who were didn’t care for eggplant.

“We had these beautiful eggplants that I hated not to use, so we made two versions of moussaka – one with eggplant and one with potatoes,” Burge said. “The ones who tried the eggplant version said they actually liked it. Taking their requests into consideration helps us build trust; it shows that we’re listening.”

Sometimes, the class leaders don’t even use a recipe.

Burge said the best part of being a volunteer is getting to know The WellHouse residents and “having fun together in the kitchen.”

“We want to show that you don’t have to be a talented chef to create a delicious, nutritious and affordable meal,” she said.

The LDEI WellHouse committee has about 21 active members. One of them is Kate Nicholson, former food, cookbook and recipe editor for publications such as Southern Living and Food & Wine.

“I’m not sure how or when I was made aware of The WellHouse and its purpose, but I’m glad I was,” she said. “And knowing that the Birmingham Les Dames includes The WellHouse in their volunteer and contribution efforts, I wanted to be a part of that group.”

Nicholson said every time she leaves The WellHouse after a cooking class or meeting, she’s “just a bit changed.”

“It’s, as they say, all about perspective, and The WellHouse ladies are a great reminder,” she said. “Their positive attitude and determined will is nothing short of inspiring. And in addition to a revised perspective, I am always humbled, very humbled.”

LDEI recently hosted a kitchen shower for the facility to help supply needed utensils and did a “spring clean” kitchen makeover. The Auburn University culinary science program, on which LDEI member Ana Plana is a faculty member, donated several boxes of utensils to the WellHouse kitchen.

In addition to the classes, LDEI provides casseroles for the residents’

“We show them how to ‘shop your pantry,’” Burge said. “We let them know that it’s OK to use frozen or canned foods for convenience.”

The residents who sign up for the classes have a range of culinary experience.

“Some of the ladies have a background in food service, while some have never even sliced an onion,” Burge said. “We tell them our classes are not cooking shows – they’re hands-on experiences. We ask, ‘Who will brown the meat?’ ‘Who wants to crack the eggs?’”

A few of the Dames who volunteer have food businesses and have inspired the residents to follow their own career dreams.

“Some of the ladies are eager to learn more about that, and one has already started writing a business plan for her own restaurant,” Burge said.

Kate Nicholson also appreciates the way the participants approach the culinary learning experience.

“The WellHouse ladies really do seem to love the cooking classes, especially participating in them,” she said. “Who knows, maybe we are inspiring some future chefs, because it really is about their positive future.”

Like other LDEI committee members, Burge is always happy to join The WellHouse women in the kitchen.

“When we show up with fresh fruits, vegetables and smiles, they have been very grateful,” Burge said. “It’s wonderful to hear them say, ‘We’ve been looking forward to this all week.’”

A Growing Concern

Human trafficking is about a

$150 8 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL LIFE
Members of the Les Dames WellHouse committee met recently to sort and wrap gifts for a kitchen shower for the facility. From left: Clara Darling, Carey Thomasson, Pat Terry, Maureen Holt, Sonthe Burge, Nancey Legg, Kate Nicholson, Charbett Cauthen, Stefanie Maloney and Joy Smith.

billion-a-year industry. The State Department estimates 27.6 million people worldwide currently are victims of human trafficking, which is the fastest-growing criminal activity behind narcotics.

On a bright note, Pierce said 81% of The WellHouse’s graduates have not gone back to the trafficking industry.

LDEI is just one of several community-spirited organizations that supports The WellHouse through volunteering. Pierce said those who want to help can do so in several ways.

“If you have resources, share them,” she said. “You can lead classes, take on projects, do an activity.

“For individuals, you can volunteer to be a mentor. That’s in the Next Steps to Freedom program. This is someone who leads by example, and they are very influential with our mentees.”

She said men don’t interact with the residents, but they can support The WellHouse by working around the facility or taking on a specific project.

Volunteers must successfully complete an application and security process before they can begin participating in a program.

For more information, visit the WellHouse website at the-wellhouse. org, get volunteer applications at thewellhouse.org/volunteer or browse ShopWell at shopwell-wellhouse.org.

Vestavia Teacher Named Alternate State Teacher of the Year

Vestavia Hills High teacher Kira Ledbetter Aaron recently was named Alabama’s Alternate State Teacher of the Year.

Aaron, a teacher on the high school’s freshman campus, was named to the second spot in the Teacher of the Year award competition by the Alabama State Board of Education.

Deborah Stringfellow, who teaches at Airport Road Intermediate School in Elmore County, was selected for the top state award.

Aaron said in a statement from the Vestavia school system that, as the daughter of teachers, she always knew she wanted to enter the family business.

She believes everyone should have rewarding experiences throughout life and encourages great conversations regarding literature and the selfexpression brought through the English language arts.

Book talks are one of Aaron’s favorite methods to build creativity and positive relationships with students, and she started a monthly reading enrichment program to promote additional reading among students in her area.

Aaron earned a bachelor’s degree

from Auburn University, a master’s from Troy University and an education specialist degree in leadership from the University of Alabama. She also earned national board certification and is a doctoral candidate.

A top administrator in her local school system was quoted in the statement as saying, “I am thankful for Mrs. Aaron’s leadership. She works tirelessly to make sure our school provides the best experience for students, and this commitment does not end at her classroom door.”

Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Wins Awards for OTMJ Stories

Over The Mountain Journal contributing writer Solomon Crenshaw Jr. swept multiple honors in a statewide press contest, including top honors for two stories in the newspaper.

Crenshaw took first place for “Uncharacteristic Mistakes Costly in Mountain Brook’s Loss to Parker” in the Writing – Specialty Article – Sports Category of the Alabama Media Professionals’ 2024 Communications Contest.

“Excellent lede. Great job moving the story forward in a personality-driven way … It’s tough to capture the spirit of

a loss, but it was very well done here,” a contest judge commented.

His second top honor for work in OTMJ was for the story “Every Picture Tells a Story” in the Print-Based Newspaper and Single Photograph –News or Feature Photo categories.

“Excellent quotes and anecdotes that make this a really fun read. The piece is well-organized too,” a judge said of the story.

Crenshaw also won firstplace awards for stories in BirminghamWatch, Birmingham Times and the Bending the Arc Project He was named the contest’s sweepstakes winner for his cumulative performance in the 2024 contest. Crenshaw, a Hoover resident, is a Birmingham-Southern College graduate and a former sports reporter for The Birmingham News.

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Aaliyah Taylor’s style is vibrant. It’s eclectic. It’s quirky. And each day, she looks like a walking piece of art she’s created by drawing inspiration from the styles of the 1960s and ‘70s.

By day, you can find the jewelry and fashion designer talking with kids about books as a librarian at the Homewood Public Library, where she sees children’s imaginations come alive and inspire her own.

Earlier this year, for example, Taylor was wearing one of her own designs, an outfit with a floral fabric, when a girl at the library came up to her and was enthralled by what she was wearing.

Knowing Taylor made earrings, the girl pronounced, “You should make flower earrings.”

And that’s just what Taylor did, creating a large, bold design for Margaret’s Funky Flower earrings with Perler Beads to sell on her website, exaltinginbeauty.com.

“The whole goal of my brand is creating wearable art to exalt and enhance the beauty of God’s creation,” Taylor said. “When I dress the way I dress, it’s a beautiful gift because it creates conversation. People say, ‘Look at your glasses! I could never wear glasses like that.’ I hear ‘I can’t,’ so my goal is to shift and say, ‘No, you can!’”

Taylor’s greatest style inspirations have always been the women in her family, particularly her mom. Her great aunt was a seamstress who made wedding dresses for clients, and her mom, a social worker by trade, has always been a “style queen,” Taylor said. Her mom dresses in earth tones with her arms filled with bracelets, giant glasses near her copper mohawk, and large leather earrings she makes reaching down to her chest.

“Her style is very eclectic, natural and warm,” Taylor said. “She knows sneakers more than I know sneakers, and she doesn’t know age.”

Taylor also said her parents instilled the selfconfidence in her that she exudes today.

“My parents are plus sized, and they taught me how to love myself at my size,” she said. “I love being healthy and working out, but my goal is to make sure that’s not just who I am. I don’t want to limit myself because of my size.”

Art From Child’s Play

Taylor got her start in jewelry design when she was studying fashion at The Art Institute of Atlanta in 2012 and looking to earn extra money. One day she found herself going through the aisles at Hobby Lobby and stumbling upon colorful plastic Perler beads. Like many kids, she’d used them to create designs on pegboards and then iron them out to melt and fuse them together. It was a fun throwback, but she also found herself wondering what else she might be able to make with them.

A bucket of beads in hand, she started creating Pacman and other designs and making them into earrings she sold to friends; her designs have evolved and grown ever since then.

“I work in color combinations and I love patterns,” she said. “Last year I started experimenting with resin where it looks more like acrylic.”

Then in 2020, Taylor won a grant through Joann Fabric and Crafts that helped her connect with the company behind Perler Beads and eventually led to them offering to partner with her in a bead kit collaboration. Perler chose some of Taylor’s earring designs and then


Color Queen

Homewood Librarian Aaliyah Taylor Creates Bold Designs in Jewelry and Fashion

worked with her to design instructional kits for customers.

Today her name and face are on the Perler Bead jewelry kits, which are sold at Joann as well as on Amazon, Perler’s websites and Walmart’s website through a third party – and she gets a royalty from every one sold. Her best-selling kit is her signature exclamation point earring created with black and white beads, but she also encourages kit users to try other colors.

In fact, when she teaches art classes with Perler Beads at the O’Neal and other libraries, she likes to encourage students to do one design following her template closely but after that to get creative with their own variations in design and colors.

“Because now they have the juice

‘The whole goal of my brand is creating wearable art to exalt and enhance the beauty of God’s creation.’

and see they are now a jewelry designer, they start seeing what else they can do,” she said. “It creates a spark. You hear more giggling and there’s lots of dancing and grooving. You see it evokes them to become a child again.”

Plus-Sized Fashion

While she continues to design Perler Bead jewelry and to work at the library, Taylor also is pursuing another related dream in fashion design, with a goal to create made-to-order slow fashion with a focus on plus sizes under her brand Exalting in Beauty.

Looking at the industry, she’s seen that there is a lack of high fashion and sculptural editorial pieces in plus sizes, and that’s a niche she wants to fill with her

artistic expression.

“My vision is to create wearable art: a sculpted jacket for a plus-sized woman so she can stand up and take up space, dresses with unique textiles and color combinations,” she said.

Right now, that looks like dreaming and sewing from her dining room table on weekends.

“Even though I look like a free spirit, I look at things in patterns and geometry,” she said, noting how she uses the technical skills she learned in art school to translate her sketches of designs into patterns to sew.

Taylor credits Magic City Fashion Week for opening her eyes to see that her dreams in fashion were achievable. In 2022, she created five sculptural, and of course colorful, designs for the Season 4 competition. She didn’t set out to win the competition per se.

“My goal was to defeat the voice in my head that always wants me to quit before I even start and that says you can’t do that,” she said.

But win she did, which helped her connect with Co.Starters, a program for entrepreneurs through Create Birmingham that taught her more about the business side of her dreams. It has helped her take big steps toward creating her own fashion line.

“I realized I built my own lane (with Perler Beads), I can build my own lane in fashion, too,” she said.

To learn more about Taylor’s designs, visit exaltinginbeauty.com or follow @exaltinginbeauty on Instagram.

10 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL
Photo by Isaac Nunn of SubUrban Creative Photo by Ambre Amari of Amari Editorial

Summer Fashion

Over The Mountain Fashion Pros Share Their Thoughts on Trends; Staying Cool; the Perfect Summer Dress and More



In the dance community, summer fashion is focused on breathable fabrics, high waisted paneled shorts, and crop tops in bright colors.


We have seen a huge upswing in water color patterns, bright animal prints, and pinks of every shade.


TO STAY COOL AT DANCE We always recommend layering at dance. Cover-ups remain important in summer to keep muscles warm in air conditioned studios. Layering moisture wicking fabrics is the best way to keep dancers dry, cool, and comfortable.


Summer is the season of dance intensives. It’s the best time to play with fun colors and patterns, and find your own style, without the constraints of studio uniform requirements.

Applause Dancewear, 1629 Oxmoor Rd., Homewood, 205-871-7837



Lots of white—tops, dresses, etc. Boho linen dresses, à la 1970’s looks,

graphic t-shirts.


Micro floral prints; color— sky blue, lavendar, yellow white and neutrals

WHAT TO WEAR TO STAY COOL AT WORK Linen—strong resurgence in linen shirts, dresses, pants and vests


FINAL THOUGHTS Our team can help you look cool and feel cool!

B. Prince, 271 Rele St., Lane Parke, 205-871-1965


The 90s aesthetic is going strong this year as well as more 3D-embellishments.


Although red still remains a strong color trend (and a favorite at Frances Valentine) we’re loving the new focus on yellow and light blue.

WHAT TO WEAR TO STAY COOL Cotton poplin dresses are an easy way to look crisp and put together while not breaking a sweat at play.

WHAT IS THE PERFECT SUMMER DRESS We love a good caftan for the summertime. They’re easy to style, breezy, and all around elegant.


Whatever is trending, the most important thing is to stay true to your personal style and find joy in what you decide to wear.

Frances Valentine,

The Summit, 225 Summit Blvd Suite 97, 205-5385276


We’re seeing a lot of elevated activewear pieces like tennis dresses and rompers for going out and about. Some of our favorites are from Varley, Splits 59 and FP Movement.

Dressy, tailored shorts are taking the place of frayed, distressed denim shorts.

The criss-cross / halter neckline is one of our top silhouettes this summer.

We still love investment basics, like a good pair of jeans and basic tees and tanks to mix and match all summer!


The color of the season is STRIPES! Everything has stripes this season, from a classic blue and white stripe to colorful stripes you can’t go wrong with stripes this season.

Some other colors we are loving are lilac, blues, white and using orange for a bold statement piece.


If your office allows it, opt for a short suit set. We’re loving the tailored options from Veronica Beard – their short suit sets are very interchangeable and can be mixed and matched all year.

Linen is one of the most popular materials this summer. Go for a chic, breezy look and incorporate some linen into your workwear. We find that a pair of linen pants can be a very elevated look! AT PLAY Back to the activewear! There are so many great options meant

for hot temperatures and being outside in the active category.

Linen can be dressed up or down – it’s a great material to keep cool whether you’re on vacation or around town.

If you love pants over shorts, flowy / voluminous pants are a great option this summer. Look for both utility-inspired pants and flowy silky pants to keep you cool!


SUMMER DRESS I love something more simple. We’ve really moved back to basics in this category – patterns and shapes are much more simple than they have been in the past couple of years – and we think this results in a very chic timeless look. Keep an eye out for basic slip dress silhouettes.

For length, we’ve seen much more maxi dresses over midi length. Don’t be afraid of a long sundress!

FINAL THOUGHTS Linen, Linen, Linen! Incorporate some linen into your summer wardrobe. It’s easy to wear and easy to care for and will keep you cool this summer!

One of our sayings about linen is: “The more it wrinkles, the better linen it is!”

Gus Mayer, The Summit, 225 Summit Blvd, #700, 205-870-3300



Dresses and maxi skirts in fun colors and patterns. Cropped wide leg pants in cool fabrics with finished or unfinished hems.


Bright colors and vibrant patterns are everywhere!

Hot pink is a forever favorite, while navy is a strong alternative for basic black.

WHAT TO WEAR TO STAY COOL Fine pima cottons and linens are great, classic options for work and keep a fabulous cardigan or silk wrap on hand for a heavy AC workplace!

AT PLAY Gauze fabrics offer a lightweight, breathable option for outdoor activities. One can find gauze tops, pants, shorts, dresses, and skirts in an array of colors, prints and silhouettes this year.

THE PERFECT SUMMER DRESS For the Ryan Reeve customer, we find that a great shirt dress or “Poppy” dress is always effortless and chic. Three elements are most important for finding the perfect dress. 1) The perfect length—fun and chic but not overwhelming. 2) The perfect fabric—cool cottons or linens. 3) The perfect patern—fun and chic burt not overwhelming.


Identify colors and silhouettes that are most flattering to you, and tailor trends accordingly. Do not be afraid to wear a color or pattern. Slipping out of a comfort zone can be fun and rewarding!

Ryan Reeve Boutique, 3920 Crosshaven Drive, Cahaba Heights, 205-5185010


SUMMER TRENDS Long flowy dresses and short flowy dresses are very versatile


Florals, prints, color


Cute summery dresses but stay professional AT PLAY Shorts or rompers or a dress

WHAT IS THE PERFECT SUMMER DRESS It feels good and breezy!


whay you feel good in—if you feel good in your outfit you have a great day!

Second Hand Rose, 4200 Oakview Lane, Cahaba Heights, 205-970-7997



Matching workout sets in bright colors for women and striped, solid and patterned polos topped off with fun hats for men


Bright colors like oour “Punch”, “Capri”, and “Aloe Heather”. Fun patterns like stripes, droplet , and even Happy Hour prints!


For men, our “motion pants” and Cloud Polos” are the perfect duo for staying cool and comfortable at work or on the golf course. For women, the “Weekender Pant”, “Nola Long Sleeve”, and “Recess Quarter Zip” are perfect for the workplace. AT PLAY For men, the “Carrollton Fitness T-Shirt” and the “Recess Shorts” are perfect for working out, lounging, and any summer activity. For women, anything from our “Sculptive” collection is perfect for anything summer may throw at you.


FINAL THOUGHTS Tasc has many different styles, colors and looks for all your summer activities. While staying comfortable and looking stylish our clothing also provides sun protection with our bamboo material.

Tasc, 370 Rele St., Lane Parke, 659-599-9240


SUMMER TRENDS Cool summer dresses with boho details like embroidery and retro florals

COLORS AND PATTERNS 70s color combos like hot pink and orange or turquoise and lime


Dresses can keep you looking professional AT PLAY Lightweight crop pants and tops in natural fibers like linen and cotton


SUMMER DRESS Easy fit, lightweights and washable, preferably with at least a little bit of a sleeve

FINAL THOUGHTS Summer sandals from Vaneli and summer dresses from Uncle Frank are hot sellers. So come in quickly if you want to get some!

Town & Country Clothes, 74 Church St., Crestline Village, 205 871-7909

The color of the season is STRIPES!

SUMMER DRESS Our new “Summer Tank Dress”. You can run errands in it, dress it up, or even use it as a cover up!

Bezshan Dolatabadi, B. Prince Cami Krablin, Gus Mayer Katie Wade Faught, Applause Dancewear Gina Saab, Second Hand Rose Beth Kazinec, Frances Valentine Beth Keplinger, Ryan-Reeve Boutique Mary Glen Carlton, Tasc Laurel Bassett, Town & Country Clothes


Black-Tie Museum Ball Raises Funds for BMA

It was “A Night of Enchantment” at the 67th annual Museum Ball, the Birmingham Museum of Art’s largest fundraiser of the year, on May 4.

The festive black-tie event, planned by ball co-chairs Chinelo DikéMinor and Randall Minor, along with Stephanie and Houston Smith, was inspired by the museum’s “Heroes and Villains: The Art of Disney Costume” exhibition.

The ball began with a cocktail party, followed by a seated dinner prepared by chef Rob McDaniel of Helen restaurant. Guests danced the night away to the music of To The 9s.

The Museum Ball not only showcases the museum’s world-class collection of 27,000 artworks from across the globe, it highlights the programs and exhibitions brought to Birmingham each year. ❖

12 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
Journal photo by Jordan Wald
Sarah Wallerstein, Margaret Moore Porter, Bridget Drennen Randall Minor and Chinelo Diké-Minor, Stephanie and Houston Smith Arnab Ghosal, Liz Young Sue and Nick Willis Chris Daniel, Ally Timm Liz and Jason Ogletree Courtney and Charlie Baxley Ronan and Rosie O’Beirne Bronwyne Chapman, Bridget Drennen, Lucia Tabb, Carmen Echols

Summer Fun!




Guin Robinson wants to make an investment in the future of Birmingham that also pays tribute to the influence of earlier generations. That's why he has specified in his will that a legacy gift be made to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

"My family has always had a deep-rooted belief in giving back to the community, and I want to honor their values," says Guin. "As an only child with no children of my own, leaving a gift to the Community Foundation ensures that my family's legacy will be honored for years to come."

Guin trusts the Foundation to manage his gift and honor his family's legacy based on our history, transformational work, and proactive approach to community challenges and crises. Visit cfbham.org/legacy and learn how you can join Guin in creating your legacy.

Jonathan and Lauren Murphy, Dora and Sanjay Singh Lee and Candice McKinney Guin Robinson, Tim Parker Terri Denard, Steve Reider With Our Cloud Polo "Cheers" and Summer Tank Dress

Ball of Roses 2024

Ballet Guild Kicks Off Summer Social Season With Presentation of 60 Young Women

The Ballet Guild of Birmingham will present 60 young women during the 64th annual Ball of Roses at the Country Club of Birmingham on June 1.

The Club will be filled with pastel-colored flowers, including corals, pinks, whites and greens, which will complement the pastel gowns worn by the evening’s honorees.

Ballet Guild President Brooke Drinkard Whatley, Executive Vice President Carolyne Smith Lacy, ball chairman Elizabeth Ann Williams Sparks and co-chairman Rebecca Crowther Stump will preside over the event, which benefits the Alabama Ballet.

The evening will begin with a seated dinner for Men’s Committee members and their guests, which was planned by dinner chairman Callen Clyce Whatley and co-chairman Patricia Stutts Harper.

The presentation of honorees will begin at 9 p.m. against a floral backdrop designed by Carole Sullivan. Following the presentation, guests will be treated to an evening of dancing with music by Loose Chain.

Since its inception, the Ball of Roses has raised more than $1 million for the Alabama Ballet and has provided a festive beginning to the summer social season.

14 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
Photos courtesy Ball of Roses Committee From left: Patricia Harper, Men’s Committee Dinner Chairman; Callen Whatley, Men’s Committee Dinner Chairman; Elizabeth Ann Sparks, Ball Chairman; Rebecca Stump, Ball Co-Chairman. Campbell Alice Anderson, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Brian Hunter Anderson Margaret Armstrong Belden, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Haring Belden III Claire Elizabeth Buha, daughter of Mr. Jason Paul Buha and Dr. & Mrs. Farrel Owen Mendelsohn Sally Patton Bussian, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. James Robert Bussian Sarah Patton Butler, daughter of Mrs. Julie Payne Butler and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Julian Butler Dorothy Jane Christian, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Edward Rosamond Christian Mary Evelyn Coleman, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Nelson Coleman Mary McLemore Coppedge, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Louis Coppedge Elizabeth Anne Wilkinson Crommelin, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. William David Sellers Crommelin Jane Ryland Elliott, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Scott Elliott Mary Winston Parker Hendry, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey Parker Hendry Helen Kathryn Dorough, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Edward Dorough Margaret Foley Doyle, daughter of Dr. & Mrs. John Scott Doyle Mary Douglass Evans, daughter of Mrs. Mary Simmons Evans and Mr. Jonathan Scott Evans Celie Cross Field, daughter of Mrs. Tracy Cross Field and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Colden Field Lilla Caldwell Flake, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Jared Grey Flake Francis Eleanor Hagan, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Willis Cobb Hagan, III Leila Stafford Horsley, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Colden Field Ella Freeman Horsley, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Colden Field Katherine Allan Howell, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Donald Allan Howell Sarah McCarty Huddle, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Clark Christian Huddle Mary McFadden Illges, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Michael Paul Illges Frances Lanier Isom, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Hewlett Chervis Isom, III Katherine Tracy Jeffcoat, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Robert Jeffcoat

Ella Elizabeth Kampakis, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Harry Nestor Kampakis

Fagan Wetherbee Leitner, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. William Aull Leitner III

Leah Adeline Mancuso, daughter of Mrs. Alfred Michael Mancuso and the late Mr. Mancuso

Emma McRae Karcher, daughter of Dr. & Mrs. Gerald David Karcher Jr.

Elizabeth Laurie Frances Mandell, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Joshua Francis Mandell



Anna Raines Manley, daughter of Mr. Reid Stephens Manley & Ms. Alison Raines Manley

Abigail Stewart Maziarz, daughter of Mrs. Amy Maziarz and Mr. James Edward Maziarz, Jr.

Bibb Petznick,

of Dr. & Mrs. Paul

Thursday, May 16, 2024 • 15 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
Mary Carlisle Jones, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Haskins Williams Jones Ann Keller, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Carlton Keller Mary Kracke, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Lee Kracke, Jr. Elizabeth Linton Lambert, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Reynolds Lambert Anna Walker Langley, daughter of Mrs. Charlotte Walker Renneker and Mr. Stanton Ayers Langley Anne Pearce LaRussa, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Gregory LaRussa Sarah daughter Gaston Petznick Elizabeth Robbins Price, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. David Taylor Price Margaret McPhearson Reaves, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Kendrick Wayne Reaves Mary Carolyn Sink, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Lee Sink Marechal Elizabeth Sledge, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Edward Simmons Sledge, IV Katherine Lindsey Smith T, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Winston Smith T Olivia Ann Sproule, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Gordon Sproule, Jr. Evelyn Frances Stutts, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Britton Stutts Lydia Catherine Styslinger, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Mark Joseph Styslinger Isabel Ray Swoger, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Scott Dempsey Swoger Catherine Sinclair Turner, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Hightower Turner Forrest Raines Watson, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Terrell Draper Watson, Jr. Julia Inzer Weingarten, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Evan Weingarten Emma Kathryn Williams, daughter of Mrs. Melanie B Williams and Mr. Thomas Craig Williams Isabelle Clayton Yates, daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth Clayton Yates and Mr. Dustin Blake Yates Olivia Burke Richie, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Steven Todd Richie Lelia Stokes Ritter, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. William Dowd Ritter Summer Jane Robinett, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Whittle Robinett Olivia Kerr Robinson, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Lee Robinson, Jr. Margaret Addison Ross, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Michael Dale Ross Sarah Kathryn Sanders, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Jason Hunt Sanders Caroline Ellen Savage, daughter of Dr. & Mrs. Shannon Hunter Savage Grayson Elizabeth Scott, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Lee Scott

Blue for the Abused

Prescott House Gala Marks Child Abuse Awareness Month

Guests wore blue in recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month for the Prescott House Blue Door Gala at the Grand Bohemian Hotel on April 26.

The event was a fundraiser for Prescott House, a child advocacy center in Jefferson County.

Gala participants were treated to a champagne reception in a garden setting, seated dinner and silent and live auctions. ❖

Day Into Evening

We Love Homewood Day Started With Race, Ended With Street Dance


16 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
photos by Jordan Wald Katherine Kohl, Emily Mathis Kristen Rockett, Katy Stanford, Danielle Gambino Tree Gentle Davidson, Brian Jones Shena Brown, Lorin Kraeling, Kat Lankford Evan and Lauren Chickvara Lawson Barber, Rachel Armstrong Nickie and Gabe Willis Lillian Hill, Ellie Wood, Annie Wearren, back, Elsie Larson, Claire Blascyk Kristen Vandrell, Corinn Patrick Walker Mizerany, Jeremiah Malki Homewood Central Park was the center of activity when city residents celebrated We Love Homewood Day on May 4. day included a festival, 5K race, chalk art festival and parade. A street dance in Edgewood rounded out the day’s events. ❖ Journal photos by Jordan Wald Leslie, Edie and Vivi Evans
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Flamingo Fling

18 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
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Gaieties Dance Club Welcomes Spring With Dinner and Dance
Helen Pardun, Hannon Davidson, Carolyn Reed Gary and Terri Archer Lee and Susan Hammontree Elizabeth and James Outland Tommy and Virginia Tucker Jimmy Ard, Constance Ladd, Jack Mathieson Brownie Evans, Dan Allison The Gaieties Dance Club held its spring party at the Mountain Brook Club on May 3.
by dinner and dancing
Club President Hannon Davidson welcomed more than 80 members and guests to the “Gaieties Flamingo Fling,” a themed evening of dinner and dancing.
A cocktail hour
off the party, followed
to music by Just Friends. ❖ Marjorie Forney, Ginny Farley Andrea Carmichael, Brownie Evans, Lucy Allison Mark and Elizabeth Ezell

Cha Cha to Spring

Members of the Cha Cha Dance Club and their guests marked the beginning of the season with a Spring Soiree on the evening of April 9. The event was held at Porch in Crestline, where a casual supper and libations were served.

Outgoing officers (right) from 2023-24 attending the party were:

Front: Second Vice President Carla Kent, Secretary and yearbook chairman Connie Porter and membership chairman Koko Mackin. Back: President Margaret Murdock, President-Elect Celia Stradtman, First Vice President Diane Waud and Treasurer Sally Yeilding. Not pictured are Parliamentarian Vickie Rader and publicity chairman Nancy Mason.

Thursday, May 16, 2024 • 19 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
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Koko Mackin, Lisa Nesbitt, Ruthie Nesbitt

Shannon Wadlington, Anne Warren, Valerie Boyd, Celia Smyly, Cleo Kathryn Gorman, Jennifer Dunn, Heather Gantt

Front, Lane Estes, Rachel Estes Back, Andrea McCaskey, Isabel Estes, Lydia Estes, Jinx Watson, Christina Johnson, Emily Shuford, Shaun Gray

Oasis Counseling hosted its 19th Annual Oasis of Hope luncheon April 2 at the Vestavia Country Club to raise money for its mental health services for vulnerable women and children.

This year’s event drew more than 340 business and community leaders and raised more than $150,000, according to a statement from Oasis. The group increased services for adolescent girls by 32% in 2023, compared to 2022, according to the statement.

Rachel Bohstedt Estes was honoree, recognized for her dedication to Birmingham communities and continued support of Oasis. Lou Lacey, LPC and director of emotional wellness at Children’s of Alabama, was highlighted speaker for the event.

Oasis board member Barvette


Patterson was chair of this year’s event, and corporate sponsors included

20 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
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A Cool Half Mil

ROAR Presents $500,000 Check for Radiation Oncology Research

Radiation Oncology Accelerated Research presented a $500,000 check to UAB’s Department of Radiation Oncology’s cancer research programs at a special dinner at Greystone Golf and Country Club on April 4. The programs are crucial for advancing cancer care and benefiting patients in Alabama and beyond.

Mona Stephens, ROAR president,

presented the check to Dr. James Bonner, chairman of the department. ROAR raised the money at the 13th annual James Bond Gala in January.

Dr. Neil Pfister, a physician-scientist from the department, was the guest speaker at the dinner. His topic was “Shining a Light on Cancer Metabolism.” ❖

Members of the Muses Dance Club and their spouses spent time on the terrace at the Country Club of Birmingham before being served a buffet lunch. The April Spring Brunch event celebrated the Muses club’s more than 55 years in operation. ❖

Thursday, May 16, 2024 • 21 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL 271 Rele Street • Lane Parke Mountain Brook • 205-871-1965 www.shopbprince.com Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry Member, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Looking for Inspiration
John and Judy Feagin Journal photos by Jordan Wald Clark and Emily Hubbard Peggy and Buck Barnhart David and Mary Margaret Phillips Kimberly and Michael Reynolds Journal photos by Jordan Wald Greg and Ann Giles, Deane Giles, Ann and Ken Horne Pat Lynch, Jimmie Stephens Marilyn Waggoner, Julie Kim, Mona Stephens, Jabo Waggoner

An evening of music and recognition marked Samford University’s 15th annual Legacy League Scholarship Celebration, held April 18 at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

The evening is the league’s culminating event each year. It includes a sponsor reception, a seated dinner and entertainment. This year, internationally acclaimed acappella singing ensemble Cantus performed.

The Legacy League is an 800-member philanthropic organization that strives to provide scholarships to students with significant financial needs and challenging circumstances. ❖

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JOURNAL for the 824-1246.

correct, date,


Mary Charles' Doll House Dolls, Doll Houses and Minatures

Mary Charles’ Doll House


New, Collectible Antique Dolls

1901 Oxmoor Rd. 205-870-5544

2820 Petticoat Lane Mtn. Brook Village 870-5544

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To: Mary Charles Robbins

From: Over The Mountain Journal, 205-823-9646 ph., 205-824-1246, fax

Date: May 2010

A Fantasy Garden

146 Sophomore Girls Presented During Annual Moonlight Ball

This is your AD PROOF from the OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL for the June 3, 2010 issue. Please fax approval or changes to 824-1246.

Mountain Brook’s annual Moonlight Ball was held on the evening of April 20 at the Country Club of Birmingham. The event featured 146 sophomore girls who were presented with their escorts.

Please make sure all information is correct, including address and phone number!


Please initial and fax back within 24 hours. If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the Friday before the press date, your ad will run as is. We print the paper Monday.

The evening – which included the presentation, dinner and dancing – was coordinated by ball co-chairs Betsy Byars and Elizabeth Yeilding, Treasurer Jana Rome and Secretary Jackie Woodall.

Thank you for your prompt attention.

If we have not heard from you by 5 pm of the friday before the press date, your ad will run as is. Thank you for your prompt attention.

Design and production of the elegant evening was led by Lisa Costanzo, Jessica Roussel and Mimi Warnock, who created a moonlight-inthe-garden theme, incorporating natural elements like moss and greenery and beautiful flowers. The presentation and seating were coordinated by Shannon Spotswood and Richelle Simmons.

Additional committee chairs included Rhea Pelekis, Stacy Townsend, Mary Glenn Carlton, Christina Powell, Amy Adams, Mary Beyer Lell, Stacy Freeman, Shauna Hard, Kelli Rucker, Caroline Reynolds, Burgin Franks, Meredith Robbins, Sidney Clapp, Mdeg Krawczyk, Annie Butrus and Tiffany Polmatier.

Young women presented were Mary Hadley Adams, Polly Jane Allbritton, Jordan Grae Askenazi, Annabelle Lynn Avery, Marianna Cooper Wales Averyt, Emily Biggs Baird, Addison Shae Bazemore, Mia Juliana Bernal, Margaret Haygood Bittick, Caroline Reagan Black, Ava Ruth Borland, Paula Marques Branch, Caroline Buchanan Brand, Anna Catherine Brown, Caroline Abigail Bruner, Hayden Cottle Bruser, Ella Ryan Burke, Kathryn

Lamar Burns, Julia Hamilton Butrus and Virginia Katherine Byars.

Also presented were Abby Marie Canterbury, Mary Grace Carlton, Olivia Faye Carns, Alice Martin

Clapp, Lexi Anne Cohn, Leyden

Elizabeth Comer, Julia Linden

Costanzo, Eleanor Lyons Couch, Caroline Marie Courtenay, Emma

Ann Craig, Allison Marie

Creutzmnann, Adelaide Helen

Dapkus, Katherine Elizabeth Dean, Sarah Neal DePiano, Mary Clayton

Dixon, Noelle Amelie Dupont, Lia Duvdevani, Eleanor Elizabeth Bagby, Grace McCray Faust and Mary

Carlon Feagin.

Other presentees included Elizabeth Burgin Franks, Kinleigh Byars Freeman, Josephine Dean Gagliano, Reese Clare Gardner, Sarah Jane Garner, Cecelia Kathleen Gee, Lola Jayne Ginham, Graham Jackson Glaze, Sara McGee Green, Elizabeth Tracy Halpern, Mildred Martin-Marshall Hard, Lauren Ann Hassig, Olivia Leigh Hazelrig, Sarah Elizabeth Henderson, Madelyn Grace Herrera, Sophie Ann Hicks, Merrill Wilkes Hines, Mary Evelyn Hitch, Heidi Dale Hollingsworth and Mary Grace Hubbard.

Also presented were Audrey Rose Irby, Caroline Laine Kelley, Juliette Flowers Kendrick, Emily Virginia Krawczyk, Mary Florence Lacy, Eleanor Frances Lassiter, Isabelle Montgomery Lawrence, Evelyn Genevieve Lee, Elizabeth Davis Lell, Isabel Grace Lessa, Isabella Grace Lessa, Rebecca Grace Lewis, Adeline Marie Little, Caroline Elizabeth Lobdell, Katelyn Noelle Long, Mary Margaret Malatesta, Kate Bradley Martin, Sadie Laurel Martin, Marcelle Megan Medo and Kelsey McCarley Moorer.

Other presentees were Marcella Grace Morgan, Charlotte Katherine Morrow, Marianna Jaye Murray, Julia Ruen Naftel, Gwendolyn Grace Newell, Abigail Alston Norris, Elizabeth Daria Ortis, Katherine Alina Ortis, Piper Mitchell Pate, Samantha Bevin Payne, Lalah Ann Peagler, Lillian Sarah Pelekis, Anne Mae Peterson, Alexandra Holland

Phillips, Madeline Camille Plowden, Claudia Paige Polmatier, Barrett Emory Poole, Mary Harbin Porter and Elizabeth Ann Powell.

Also presented were Sara Clark Powell, Graham Leigh Prater, Reagan Rebecca Rape, Mary Bains Reynolds, Camden Piper Rhodes, Adeline James Rice, Anna Blair Richards, Ava Sophia Robbins, Elizabeth Ann Roberson, Claire Catherine Robicheaux, Macey McMillan Robinson, Lauren Glover Roche, Nicole Paola Rodriguez Barrantes, Kathryn Lucille Rome, Anna Mardre Rucker, Anna Katherine Russom, Baillie Caroline Scott, Frances Charlton Scott, Samantha Mallory Settle and Anna Katherine Shea.

Other presentees were Leighton Brooke Siegel, Margaret Ruth Simmons, Lexi Elaine Smith, Georgia Mercer Spotswood, Caroline Allison Springer, Georgia Jayne Stuckey, Avery Joyce Suess, Janie Kate Thomas, Hollis DeLany Thomasson, Frances McGlasson Townsend, Ella Caroline Trotter, Anna Burch Seibels Vaughn, Mallory Anne Walker, Haydin Perry Walters, Emily Kathryn Wedell, Mary Catherine Widener, Bergen Parker Wilkinson, Clark Irene Wilkinson, Madeline Ellis Williams, Anne Hardy Wilson, Lilly Christine Witcher, Elizabeth Oliver Wood, Isla Elizabeth Wood, Tessa Lance Woodall, Eva Jane Worthen, Evelyn Paylor Yeilding and Bethany Li Yin. ❖

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From: Over the Mountain Journal 823-9646 ph, 824-1246 fax Date:
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Denim & Dining

Barbecue Event Raises Money for Hoover Schools

Aldridge Gardens provided the setting for the Hoover City Schools Foundation’s annual Denim and Dining event on April 19.

The fundraiser featured a catered barbecue dinner from Jim ‘N Nick’s, music by Jenna and Ben Kuykendall and live and silent auctions. Proceeds go to fund innovative projects led by teachers in Hoover public schools. ❖

Thursday, May 16, 2024 • 25 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SOCIAL
Ann Marie Harvey, Erin Colbaugh, Sara Franklin Journal photos by Jordan Wald Pat and Tynette Lynch Shelley and Mike Shaw Above, Ann Welborn, Brant Simmons. Right, Ann Marie Harvey, Paul Dangel, Bevin Tomlin, April Lawrence, Shilpa Gaggar and Jason Deluca Travis and Debbie Rutherford

‘Team Effort’

Mountain Brook Girls Repeat Triple Crown Feat With Outdoor Track Title

The Mountain Brook girls track team didn’t rack up a bunch of individual gold medals, but it still won the Class 6A state championship for the third consecutive year.

The Spartans amassed 114 points to claim the title comfortably in the 100th AHSAA State Track and Field Championships May 2-4 at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. Fort Payne was a distant second with 63.5 points.

Homewood finished fifth with 45 points and Briarwood sixth with 42.

“I could not be prouder of the girls’ performance,” Mountain Brook coach Michael McGovern said. “It was a true team effort. We scored in 13 different events, so everyone contributed.”

Senior Lucy Benton and junior Annie Kerr were the only two individual gold medalists for the Spartans. Benton won the 800 meters with a time of 2:13.29. Kerr set a state record while winning the pole vault, clearing 13 feet, 4 inches.

Benton, who is headed to Baylor, was second in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:59.44 and ran the anchor leg of the winning 4x400 relay team that clocked 4:02.17. The Spartans also won gold in the 4x800 with a time of 9:25.51

Kerr finished third in the triple jump with a distance of 37-01.25, a personal record.

Mountain Brook had several other athletes who captured silver and bronze medals. Senior Mary Katherine Malone was second in the 3,200 with a time of 10:57.81. Senior Callie Kent was third in the 800 meters with a time of 2:18.32.

Junior Kennedy Hamilton finished third in the 1,600 with a time of 5:00.97 and senior Sophie Grace Rhodes was third in the javelin with a throw of 12004.

Mountain Brook has won 13 overall state outdoor championships, and this is the second consecutive year the Spartans have captured the track triple crown, winning the cross-country state title in the fall and the indoor state title in the winter.

“Winning back-to-back triple crowns has never been done at the 6A level, so more than anything it shows the consistency and willingness to work hard that these young ladies display on a daily basis,” McGovern said.

The Altamont School’s girls, above, won their second straight Class 3A state title, edging Houston Academy 85-80. The Spartan girls, top, amassed 114 points to claim the 6A title comfortably.

The Mountain Brook boys won only one event, claiming gold in the 4x800 relay with a time of 7:52.73.

Altamont Girls Repeat

The Altamont School’s girls won their second straight Class 3A state title, edging Houston Academy 85-80 on May 3-4 at Cullman High School’s Oliver Woodard Stadium track.

The Knights also earned their third title in the past four years.

“It was a full-team effort to bring home the blue map, with points coming from many events, athletes and relays,” Altamont coach Jamie Rediker said.

Senior Merritt Fulmer won the pole vault, clearing 10-03.00. It was her second title in a row in outdoor track and fifth overall.

Junior Talia Floyd was third in the long jump with a leap of 16:02.25 and junior Laura Spann finished third in 3,200 with a time of 12:07.16.

The Knights’ 4x800 relay team –made up of Mary Spann, Frances Overton, Claire Nichols and Laura Spann – was second with a time of 10:28.91. The 4x400 – with Nichols, Elle Sellers, Overton and Abbey Sellers running – was third, clocking 4:21.24.

In the boys competition, Altamont junior Raju Sudarshan finished second in the 1,600 with a time of 4:35.96.

Homewood Medalists

Homewood junior Emma Brook

Levering earned two gold medals in the Class 6A girls meet. She won the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:57.803, edging Malone, who finished second with a photo finish time of 10:57.806. Levering also won the 1,600 with a time of 4:59.19.

The Patriots were third in the 4x800


Contributed’ Hoover Sweeps Outdoor Track State Championships

Hoover track coach Chris Schmidt believes it wasn’t just the way his athletes performed but also how they cheered that enabled the Bucs to sweep the Class 7A boys and girls state titles in the 100th AHSAA State Track and Field Championships May 2-4 at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.

Hoover dominated the boys competition, scoring 156.5 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Vestavia Hills with 73 points and third-place James Clemens with 71.

The Hoover girls didn’t run away from the competition. They came out on top with 90.5 points. HewittTrussville was second with 71 points.

“Obviously, I was very pleased with the way we performed,” Schmidt said. “But it was good to see them supporting their teammates, which means a lot. We had 30-40 kids at just about every event encouraging their teammates. I feel as if everybody contributed to our state championships in one way or another.”

girls relay race with a time of 9:45.34.

The Homewood boys finished third in the Class 6A team standings with 48.25 points. Northridge won with 62.5 points and UMS-Wright was second with 57.25 points.

Patriots junior Colvin Bussey was second in the 800 meters with a time of 1:53.88 and senior Elliott Allen was second in pole vault, clearing 14-06.00.

Sophomore Davis Griffin was third in javelin with a throw of 163-04 and the Patriots’ 4x800 relay team also was third, clocking 8:06.00.


John Carroll senior Arthur Langley claimed two gold medals while leading the Cavaliers to a second-place finish in the boys Class 5A meet at Gulf Shores.

Langley clocked 9:24.80 to win the 3,200-meter race and won the 1,600 with a time of 4:18.68.

Cavaliers’ senior Aden Malpass won 300-meter hurdles with a time of 38.90 and senior Ryan Redmond was third in the javelin with a throw of 15908.

The John Carroll boys also won the 4x400 with a time of 3:25.68 and the 4x800 with a time of 8:14.17 The boys were second in the 4x100 with a time of 42.98.

Scottsboro won the team title with 141 points. John Carroll had 71 points.

The Cavs girls won the 4x400 relay with a time of 4:02.54.

Westminster-Oak Mountain freshman Pippa Hussar won the girls 800 meters with a time of 2:22.39 and the 1,600 with a time of 5:25.16. Teammate Weaver Caldwell, a sophomore, won the 3,200 meters, clocking 9:57.91 as Westminster finished third in Class 3A with 60 points.

Luna claimed silver in the 400 meters with a time of 57.15 and junior Isabella Maple was second in pole vault, clearing 11.00.00. Canada finished third in the 200 meters, clocking 24.71, and sophomore Dasya Harold was third in triple jump with a distance of 37-11.75.

“The girls did a fantastic job of picking up points where we needed them,” Schmidt said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

It’s the third consecutive year the Bucs have won both the outdoor and indoor Class 7A state championships in the same year.

The girls win was their 14th overall outdoor title, and the boys won their 13th overall outdoor crown.

“I’m blessed to be here at Hoover High School,” Schmidt said. “We have great kids who believe in their coaches and each other. We also have fantastic support from the school administration and the parents.

“At the end of the day, all 56 kids had the opportunity to hold two blue map (championship) trophies.”

Vestavia Hills Medalists

The Bucs had a plethora of boys reach the podium. “They were unstoppable,” Schmidt said.

Junior Grant Weighall won gold medals in the discus with a throw of 166-07 and the javelin with a throw of 197.09.

Senior Bradley Shaw was first in shot put with a toss of 55-10.75. Freshman Nigel Thomas was second with a toss of 53-07.25.

Senior Collin Pate won the pole vault, clearing 15-00.00, and sophomore Norman Settles was second, also clearing 15-00.00.

Senior Jordan Woolen was second in the 200 meters with a time of 21.17, third in 100 meters with a time of 10.73, and second in high jump with a leap of 6-06.00. Senior R.J. Torbor was second in 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.44. Senior Denver Cash was second in the 300meter hurdles with a time of 38.18.

Senior Charles Crowder was second in long jump with a leap of 23-04.75 and third in the triple jump with a distance of 46-04.25.

As expected, the Bucs boys had the best 4x100 relay time of the state meet, winning in 41.58 seconds. They were second in the 4x400, clocking 3:17.67.

The Hoover girls won only two gold medals but had a number of athletes who reached the podium and several others who scored valuable points.

Sophomore Nyel Settles won the high jump with a leap of 5-06.00, and freshman Lila Discua was second with a leap of 5-04.00.

The Bucs’ 4x400 relay team of sophomore Grier Jones, sophomore Daisy Luna, junior Taylor Canada and senior McKenzie Blackledge earned gold with a time of 3:53.38.

Vestavia Hills senior Max Armstrong earned a gold medal and a silver medal to help the Rebels finish second in the Class 7A boys meet.

Armstrong clocked 1:53.62 to win the 800-meters run and was second in 400 meters with a time of 48.19.

Rebels junior Jack Stubbs won the long jump with a leap of 23-07.25.

The Rebels’ boys relay teams both reached the podium, finishing second in the 4x800 with a time of 7:50.96 and third in the 4x400 with a time of 3:19.79.

In the girls competition, Vestavia Hills junior Kennedy Malone won the pole vault, clearing 11-06.00 and senior Christiana Belcher took gold in the javelin with a throw of 133-02. Sophomore Molly Mac Sharp was second in javelin with a throw of 125-03.

As a team, the Rebels girls finished with 54.5 points.


Oak Mountain junior John Shoemaker set a new record in the Class 7A 3,200-meter run with a winning time of 9:09.68, breaking the previous record (9:11.55) set by Maxwell Hardin of Auburn in 2023. Shoemaker was third in 1,600 with a time of 4:13.09.

Oak Mountain freshman Chase Lovell swept the boys ambulatory races, finishing first in the 100 meters with a time of 19.93, first in the 200 with a time of 43.50 and first in the 400 with a time of 1:39.89.

Spain Park senior Delaney Vickers won the Class 7A girls 3,200 meters with a time of 11:00.42 and finished second in both the 800 (2:10.37) and 1,600 (4:54.25).

26 • Thursday, May 16, 2024 OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL SPORTS Courtesy


From page 28

Homewood goalkeeper Jacob Hill had four saves.

The Patriots avenged their 2023 loss to Fort Payne in the semifinals, shutting out the Wildcats 2-0. Fort Payne was the 2023 champion.

Jackson scored the first goal on an assist from senior Charlie Herring at 39:31 in the first half. Homewood’s other goal came with just 1:55 remaining when junior midfielder Haines Durkin entered the game and immediately fired a pass to teammate Charley Chewning, who scored the goal on a breakaway.

“The one on Thursday was never about revenge or anything,” said Kersh. “We had a mission to complete. Fort Payne was brilliant last year and we knew they were going to test us again this year.”

Spanish Fort defeated Northridge 4-2 in its semifinal but was no match for the ultrafocused Patriots in the final.

“It was a quick turnaround, about 48 hours, after we beat Fort Payne, so we celebrated it a little and then changed our mindset to get focused on the championship game,” Jackson said. “We were prepared properly. And we got the result we deserved.”

Homewood’s previous state championships came in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2014, 2018 and 2021.

“I walked them by the trophy case before we left school to come up here,” Kersh said. “I walked them by all the championships we have on the wall, and I went ahead and put a 24 up there for them.

“And I said, ‘Boys, I’m not counting this one in the bag, but I’m putting the 24 up there so you can see your legacy. That every year when students walk by, when you’re long graduated, they’ll know you guys won the State Championship that year.’”

Oak Mountain Caps Undefeated Season

After two disappointing outcomes in the Class 7A state soccer tournament the past two years – a loss in the final in 2022 and a loss in the semifinals in 2023 – the Oak Mountain Eagles weren’t about to leave Huntsville without a title this time around.

Oak Mountain put together two


From page 28

runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2010 and led the Patriots to 13 area titles while sending 28 players to the college ranks.

This year, he was voted 2024 OTM Boys Basketball Coach of the Year after leading the Patriots to a 24-9 record and their first regional final appearance since 2016.

“When I arrived at Homewood High 29 years ago, it did not take long to realize this was a special

dominant performances, including a 3-0 victory against Auburn in the Class 7A final to complete an undefeated championship season with a 29-0-1 record.

“It’s incredible,” Oak Mountain coach David DiPiazza said. “This is the greatest group of kids I’ve ever coached. You know, just, they come from incredible families. They’re incredible people and really darn good soccer players and it’s just such an honor to be their coach and to get him to this goal that they’ve had to be state champions.”

The state title was the eighth in school history but the first since 2017.

Oak Mountain took a 1-0 lead at 50:35 when junior midfielder Gabe Capocci scored an unassisted goal. Senior Aidan Riley followed 11 minutes later with a goal set up by an outstanding assist from senior Nate Joiner. Gerardo Rodriguez scored the final goal on an assist from junior Luke Jovanovich with 70:27 to play.

Jovanovich earned MVP honors for the state tournament, finishing with two goals and two assists in the semifinals and finals.

The Eagles’ defense did not allow a single shot on goal in the championship game.

Oak Mountain, which entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the nation for high school soccer teams that compete in the spring, defeated Huntsville 3-0 in the semifinals. The Crimson Panthers knocked off the Eagles 1-0 in the semifinals last year.

Jovanovich and Joiner played leading roles in the victory over Huntsville. Joiner scored the first goal of the semifinal match at 18:42 in the first half and assisted Jovanovich, who scored the first of two goals in the second half with a deep service in the box at 45:45. His second goal came with just over 10 minutes remaining in the match on a takeaway steal and shot.

Auburn defeated Fairhope 2-0 in the other semifinal.

The season featured multiple milestones for DiPiazza, who earned his 500th career coaching victory earlier in the season.

The only blemish on Oak Mountain’s record was a 1-1 tie with Oconee County, Georgia. The Eagles won each of their 29 games against in-state opponents.

“Obviously winning this has been our goal the whole time,” DiPiazza said. “The rankings that come with

place,” Shepler said. “In this school system, you are surrounded by excellence at every turn. You can’t help but to strive to get better while living and working in this environment. Greatness is all around you.

“Over the years, we have had dedicated and hardworking kids, incredible assistant coaches, a dynamic faculty and great administrative support. It has been a blessing for Lisa (his wife) and I to be here and to raise our family in Homewood.”

Homewood Principal Joel Henneke said Shepler’s influence extends far beyond the basketball


From page 28

thing about high school is you lose so many players every single year, but we have this opportunity to be even better.”

Lilly added to the advantage not five minutes into the second half, scoring on a penalty kick, and pushed the Spartans to a 2-0 lead that seemed insurmountable when considering the intense defense of Mountain Brook.

“PK’s are always a little nerveracking even though it’s just you and the keeper,” Lilly said. “I knew I was going to make it, that’s my mindset. Through it all, I’ve had a positive mindset and never doubted that we would not win this.”

Briarwood Christian (15-5-4) enjoyed an impressive postseason as well, grabbing an 11-1 first-round victory over Hueytown, shutting out Helena and Northridge and then powering to a 5-2 win over Madison Academy in the semifinals.

“We didn’t play our best and in a game like this, you’ve got to play your best,” Briarwood coach Ryan Leib said. “We weren’t quite as sharp as I hoped we’d be.”

Although winning one title is

MaxPreps and all that stuff, that’s awesome. But if we knew if we were going to be a nationally ranked team, we had to win a state championship.”

Hoover Denied 7A Girls Crown

The Hoover girls soccer team put up a valiant fight while playing in their first championship game since finishing as runners-up in 1999, but the Bucs were denied a title.

Hoover (21-5-2) outshot Auburn 12-5 but couldn’t find the net, falling 1-0 to Auburn in the Class 7A girls championship game.

Auburn’s Peyton Bishop scored the game’s only goal in the 26th minute of the first half, after a ball got away from the Hoover defense.

“All credit to Auburn, their back line was incredible,” second-year Hoover head coach Nick Smith said. “Our girls left it all out there. We outshot them, we just couldn’t get one to go.”

Auburn junior defender Laila Simmons was named MVP. The Tigers (20-3-1) also shut out McGill-


“Coach Shepler has made a difference in the lives of many students, motivating them to pursue their goals with determination,” Henneke said. “I appreciate his guidance and the invaluable contributions he’s made to our basketball program.”

Shepler plans to remain at Homewood and teach for at least another year, but beyond that, he said doesn’t know what lies ahead.

Shepler believes assistant coach Elijah Garrison should receive strong consideration to be his successor. Garrison came to Homewood two

Mountain Brook’s

enough to supplant a personal legacy, Mountain Brook is set up for an unprecedented run and likely will be a favorite to repeat the next two seasons with its entire team returning next season and Lilly, Minich and Virginia Poe as the only upperclassmen on deck to graduate next year.

“We’re so excited because this is

Toolen Catholic 3-0 en route to capturing he first girls soccer championship in school history.

Hoover defeated Huntsville 3-0 in the semifinals, which was the defensive-minded Bucs third straight shutout in the playoffs.

The Bucs took charge early, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the match. Junior midfield Elise Marquardt scored the first goal on a penalty kick at 4:06. A minute and a half later, junior Dee Udeh nailed the second goal with a take-away at the offensive end of the field. Nneka Udeh managed the final goal at 58:36 in the second half.

Huntsville managed only two shots on goal, both turned away by Hoover goalkeeper Lane Morton.

Westminster-Oak Mountain Comes Up Short

The Westminster-Oak Mountain boys came up short in their bid to win their first state championship since 2018.

The Knights (19-5-4) took an early 1-0 lead on junior midfielder Aiden

years ago after serving as head coach at New Hope in Madison County.

the same team we’re going to have next year,” Lilly said. “We’re trying to build a legacy here. Not just winning a state championship but the atmosphere we have here. Yes, we’re young, but we’ve become a family and sisters. This starts a new legacy at Mountain Brook and we’re building something awesome.”

Gamble’s goal just 3:11 into Class 1A/3A championship game, but St. Luke’s Episcopal from Mobile rallied for a 3-2 victory to claim its first boys state soccer title.

Following Gamble’s goal, St. Luke’s scored the next three goals to take a 3-1 lead. Junior Mason Brown tied the match for the Wildcats (20-73) at 31:42 in the first half with a goal, set up by an assist from Jamison Bryant. Seven minutes later, Ryan Knotts scored to put the Wildcats ahead 2-1.

Knotts, who earned Class 1A/3A state tourney MVP honors, made it 3-1 with a goal early in the second half.

Westminster-Oak Mountain added a late goal at 67:07 with sophomore David Bean scoring with an assist from Walter Moore.

The Knights defeated Tanner 4-1 in the semifinals as junior midfielder Charlie Krulak scored two goals, and Gamble and Bean one each. St. Luke’s advanced with a 6-1 victory against Tuscaloosa Academy in the other semifinal.

“I hope he gets the job,” Shepler said. “He will be a great head coach, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

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Anne Parrish Tucker and Briarwood’s Payton Casey fight to control the ball in the Spartan’s 2-0 win over the Lions to claime the 6A title. Journal photo by Jordan Wald

Outside and inside, it’s all part of the same ride for Laine Minich.

An impenetrable force, a brick wall built around a net, Minich is not perfect, but the junior goalkeeper pitched a shutout in every playoff match in leading the Mountain Brook girls soccer team back to the promised land.

“Every goal is something I learn from and I have so much to learn,” Minich said. “Every game that there’s no goal, I’ve done my job.”

The top-ranked Spartans capped one of the most impressive postseasons in recent memory as they captured the 2024 Class 6A girls title with a 2-0 victory over No. 5 Briarwood Christian last Saturday at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.

“It took all of us buying in and we knew it was going to take the full 80 minutes and it did,” Mountain Brook coach Adam Johnson said. “Briarwood was the real test for us. They were the real challenge.

“It’s cliché to say it was a team effort, but it took all 24 of us, trusting in each other and playing for each other. We tell the girls you don’t play for yourself, you play for your sisters.”

Mountain Brook (15-3-4) secured its fifth state title in program history and its first championship in more than a decade. The Spartans won titles in 1994, 1995, 2008 and 2013 and were runner-up to Oak Mountain in 2014.

“I’m in teacher/coach heaven,” Johnson said. “I have every resource and every support available to be successful. To be able to show the community that this is a program you can believe in and be proud of, it means a lot.”

Minich was named MVP for an impressive two-game performance in


Total Buy-In

Young Spartan Players Work Together to Capture First Girls Soccer Crown Since 2013

the state tournament, notching six saves while not allowing a single goal. The junior goalkeeper gave up eight goals all season with four coming in play, three on penalty kicks and one on a free kick.

“We’ve worked for this so hard and we really harped on defense,” Minich said. “We made sure we were tight and connected.”

as Briarwood took 15 total shots, four on goal, but did not come close to finding the back of the net.

‘It’s cliché to say it was a team effort, but it took all 24 of us, trusting in each other and playing for each other.’

Mountain Brook’s defensive acumen was on display in the title match

Of their 22 matches played, the Spartans earned a shutout in 15, including two scoreless ties, and did not allow a goal in their fivegame playoff run, shutting out Parker, two-time defending champion Homewood, Mortimer Jordan and Athens (3-0) and Briarwood in the state tournament.

“For a majority of the game, it was all freshmen on defense,” junior midfielder Langston Lilly said. “That shows how strong our team is. It was a dogfight, trying to win every single tackle and trying to win every goal, but it’s easy to do because you’re doing it for all of your teammates.”

Young Team Means Experience in the Future

As one of the youngest rosters in the state, Lilly’s teammates include two other juniors, seven sophomores and 14 freshmen.

“It’s incredible knowing that next year we’re only going to get even better,” Minich said. “Being a leader on this team with only three juniors is something all three of us had to step up to and it’s really important that we understood and took the leadership responsibility.”

Johnson saw the potential of such a young team long before the season started and attributes the success to community support and the relationship between teammates.

“You’re not going to believe me, but I knew in August,” Johnson said. “I knew it was a special group just seeing them be together and hang out together. They cared about each other. It was clear they enjoyed doing the work and enjoyed doing it together.”

Mountain Brook scored both goals on penalty kicks. Sophomore Sophie Hicks put the Spartans on top in the 11th minute of the match. The Spartans took seven shots in the first half and four on goal, and they carried the 1-0 advantage into halftime.

“Being with this team and knowing that we have the opportunity to be together next year, that’s what I’m most excited about,” Hicks said. “The bad

See SPARTANS, page 27

Homewood, Oak Mountain Claim

Boys State Soccer Titles

Will Jackson wasn’t a part of Homewood’s 2021 state championship soccer team as he spent his freshman season training in the MLS Next youth soccer program in Nashville.

He was on the team in 2023 when the Patriots suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Fort Payne in the Class 6A semifinals.

Last Saturday, Jackson made sure the Patriots wouldn’t come away without a blue map championship trophy in the AHSAA 2024 State Soccer Championships at Loretto P. Spencer Sports Complex at John Hunt Park in Huntsville.

The senior midfielder scored an unassisted goal just 77 seconds into the game and added a second goal in the second half on a penalty kick, leading Homewood to a 3-1 victory against Spanish Fort in the Class 6A boys championship game.

“This really means a lot,” Jackson said. “Ever since I’ve been on the team, winning a state championship is all I wanted to do. It’s a super relief

because of all the work we put into it.”

Jackson, who is headed to Wake Forest to play in college, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as the Patriots claimed their seventh boys state title.

“I tried not to let nerves get the best of me and just play freely,” Jackson said. “Being MVP is a great honor, but I’m more proud of the way our team performed than any individual award.”

Homewood (24-3-4) controlled the tempo from start to finish.

“I’m so proud of the grit, the determination, the work all year long,” Homewood coach Julian Kersh said. “We fell short in the semifinals last year, so we knew we had a job to do. They came out and delivered.”

Senior forward Charlie Herring scored Homewood’s final goal, blasting a shot into the net on an assist from Drew Giardina.

Spanish Fort (12-10-2) averted a shutout with a goal by Dylan Gaynor at 69:20 in the second half.

See SOCCER, page 27

‘It’s Time’ Shepler Retires as Homewood Boys Basketball Coach

Tim Shepler took note of Nick Saban’s facial expression when the famed Alabama football coach announced his retirement in January and figured he probably should follow suit.

Shepler announced on May 1 that he was stepping down as the Patriots’ boys head basketball coach after 29 years.

Moreover, after Christmas last year, Shepler, the Homewood basketball coach, already had alerted high school administrators that they probably should start thinking about his replacement.

“When Saban retired a week or two later, I thought maybe it was a sign,” Shepler said.

“Looking at Saban, I could see the fatigue on his face and thought that’s not where I wanted to be, fatigued and trying to keep going.”

After praying all spring about whether he should retire, Shepler decided it was time. He announced on May 1 that he was stepping down as the Patriots’ boys head basketball coach after 29 years.

A Bible study about God’s timing gave Shepler the clarity he needed.

“It was a hard decision, something I labored about all spring,” Shepler said. “I started getting information about Medicare, so I’m not as young as I used to be. This is my 40th year in education. It was time to retire.”

Shepler, who will turn 65 in September, came to Homewood after being a head coach for five years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has 662 career wins and led the Patriots to the 2016 Class 6A state championship. He also guided Homewood to state See SHEPLER, page 27

Feat With Outdoor Track Title Page 26
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Mountain Brook Girls
Triple Crown
Hoover Sweeps Outdoor Track State Championships Page 26 Journal photo by Jordan Wald Journal photo by Jordan Wald
Journal photo by Jordan Wald
Sam Collins controls the ball in Oak Mountain’s 3-0 win over Auburn to claim the Class 7A title.

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