Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, spoke to the student body at Southern Prep Academy in Camp Hill. Southern Prep changed its name from Lyman Ward in 2019. The ceremony was in honor of America’s first responders and was in remembrance of the 9/11 terror attacks.
McCutcheon said “while people were running from the danger the first responders were running into it.”
“Greater love hath no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” McCutcheon said, quoting John 15:13. “That is the heart of a first responder.”
McCutcheon served 25 years as a law enforcement officer, most of that time with the Huntsville Police Department. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Army. McCutcheon said that there were a couple of times where he put his life on the line; but fortunately was able to walk away from those experiences,
McCutcheon said that the U.S. is now seeing a lot of riots and violence, though not in Alabama because of our values. These are the values that the students at Southern Prep are learning. The U.S. is at a turning point in the history of the nation, McCutcheon said. Either Americans will embrace those values that made the nation great or they will abandon those values, and younger generations will suffer from that.
Southern Prep is the state of Alabama’s official military academy. The president of Southern Prep is Lt. Col. Jared Norrell. Norrell has been with Southern Prep for six years and has been the president for three years.
Norrell said they were honored to have McCutcheon there. Norrell said that Southern Prep enrolls 85 boarding students a year. Tuition is $25,000 a year. Norrell said that is one of the cheapest tuition for a boarding school in the country, but that they would lose students if they went up on tuition.
Norrell thanked legislators for attending the event and for the support that the state gives the 121-year-old institution. Norrell said that Southern Prep has not been at capacity in many years.
Norrell said that Southern Prep has a flight program. One of the student pilots was going to do a flyover of the parade, but that had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions. The students learn to fly drones and the school will soon get a flight simulator that will be co-owned by Central Alabama Community College.
The boarding school has students from grades 6 to 12. Norrell’s son Heath is the battalion commander of the Corps of Cadets.
In addition to McCutcheon, a number of members of law enforcement were at the military academy being honored for their service to our country.
This was the second annual First Responders Parade and 9/11 remembrance put on by Southern Prep Academy. The current student body is the first generation of Americans born after 9/11.