Words by Terrell Manasco | Images by Al Blanton
It’s early afternoon at Carbon Hill High School. The calendar says February, but it feels like May, with temperatures hovering in the low 70s, garnished with a robin’s-egg-blue sky.
Inside a conference room, senior Allie Parr sits quietly with hands folded on the table. Dressed in trendy, distressed jeans, her long, curly coffee-colored hair draped over her sweater, she speaks in a soft voice, and typically only in brief sentences. Despite her somewhat reserved manner, Allie is no wallflower by any means. Far from it.
Carbon Hill, the Walker County hamlet where Allie grew up and still lives, has that small town, everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere that tends to draw families closer together. Family is important to Allie. She says she is very close to her parents, Jonathan and Amy Parr, and her brother, Carson, 11. “My parents have been my biggest supporters in life,” Allie says. “They’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams.”
Every week, as she has done for years, Allie attends Prospect Methodist Church with her grandmother, Sandra, her role model since she was a young girl. It is Sandra whom she credits with helping shape her strong faith. “My grandmother plays a big part in my faith,” Allie says. “She’s taken me to church since I was little. When I think of a true Christian, I think of her. She’s always encouraged me to go to church. She’s always positive and very loving. She would do just about anything for anybody. That’s something she has instilled in me.”
She has nothing but praise for the man who has led the Bulldogs during her time here, head coach Wade Tittle. “Coach Tittle has been my coach for the past five years, and I have improved each year, thanks to him,” Allie says. “He pushes me to do my best in basketball and softball. He’s always there for all of his players, and he’d do anything for us. I could never thank him enough for the influence he’s had on my life.”
But before you pigeonhole Allie as another athletic student who’s only interested in shooting baskets and running bases, think again. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Anchor Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Junior Ambassadors, and last year she participated in Walker County Youth Leadership. What draws her to being involved in so many activities? “I just like to be a part of everything. I feel like I am a bigger part of the school, being more involved in stuff,” she shrugs.
A self-described country girl who is partial to the music of Brett Young and George Strait, Allie often spends her summers bass fishing with her boyfriend, Sawyer Thompson. In colder weather, you’ll find them huddling in the woods, hunting for deer. “I’ve always done more outdoorsy kind of things. I enjoy being outside,” Allie says.
With her senior year now winding down and graduation looming around the corner, Allie will soon join the ranks of other high school graduates entering college and the workforce. Currently she plans to attend Birmingham-Southern College to pursue a nursing career. It’s something she’s always wanted to do, no doubt inspired by the school nurse—her mother, Amy. “I want to be a nurse practitioner,” Allie says. “I would like to specialize in pediatrics. I really love being around kids.”
Where does Allie see herself five or 10 years down the road? She wants to have a family and believes she will probably still be living in Carbon Hill because she loves being close to everyone there. Whatever success she may find, Allie says she owes it to her family, and her faith.
“I’m thankful that I have two parents that have had such a positive influence on my life,” Allie says, before rising to leave for the next class. “They give me advice that I’ll carry with me forever. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family and my faith in God.”
The door swings open, and in moments the young Carbon Hill senior has evaporated like a tendril of smoke. The room is only marginally quieter now than it was 5 minutes ago when she was still sitting here. Allie isn’t much of a talker, but that’s because Allie is a doer. You won’t find her warming a bench for long.
There is a quote by Frank Ocean that bears repeating here: “Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.” If that’s true, you can expect a lot more noise in the future from Allie Parr. 78