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Rodgers with THS principal Matt Coker

Gifts for grads

By Michael Butler

It is customary during the graduation season to gift graduating seniors. Usually a gift is given when a graduation invitation is sent. Larry Rodgers did not need an invitation.

Rodgers, who owns HDD Inc. in Tallassee, got gifts for every Tallassee High School graduates. Each student was given a leather folder, $25 American Express gift card and $20 1220 Cafe gift card.

"This is an unprecedented time," Rodgers said in addressing the seniors prior to graduation ceremonies on Friday. "The coronavirus has made this the strangest year probably in the history of any graduation. Not that we can bring anything normal back to graduation, but am very thankful that you get to experience this."

Commencement exercises were a little different on Friday at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium. The grads sat six feet apart and each had a maximum of six invites in attendance.

"It's a present from our business," Rodgers added. "Don't ever think that you can't do something or anything you want to do. I'm living proof of it. Some people will go to college and some won't. There's nothing wrong with either. There's nothing wrong with a trade school. There's nothing wrong with going to work Monday morning."

One of the 127 THS seniors is Tyler Rodgers, Larry Rodgers son.

"All I can say is there is no father like Larry Rogers anywhere else in this world," Tyler said of his dad on a Tallassee Times Facebook post about the donation. "He gives so much and never asks for anything in return. His message today hopefully resonated through my senior calss and sparked at least a little flame in some of them. He cares more about other people than most people would ever understand. I love you, dad."

Rodgers gave some final words of advice in his few moments with the Tallassee High School Class of 2020.

"What I would encourage you to do is always find what makes you happy. People that aren't happy don't have productive lives. People that aren't productive don't have happy lives. Work hard. Be honest. Help people. Smile. Enjoy yourself. This is the greatest time of your life. Congratulations. I wish you all the luck in the world."