Grad gifts

(Carmen Rodgers) Local business owners, Larry and Melissa Rogers, wanted to make Tallassee High School's Class of 2020's graduation a little more memorable so they decided to give each graduate a professional portfolio along with a $20 1220 Café gift card and a $25 American Express gift card.

Local business owners Larry and Melissa Rodgers wanted to make Tallassee’s Class of 2020

graduation a little more memorable.

The Rogers gave each graduate a professional portfolio along with a $20 1220 Café gift card and

a $25 American Express gift card.

“This is an unprecedented time,” Larry Rodgers said to the Class of 2020 at the morning practice for graduation on Friday. “It’s one of the greatest times of your life. The (social) distancing and

the coronavirus have made this probably the strangest year in the history of any graduation.”

With the possibility of a very nontraditional graduation only weeks ago, Rogers wanted to make he seniors’ graduation memorable.

“Not that we could bring anything ‘normal’ back to graduation, but I am very, very thankful that you all get to experience this. It is a wonderful time in life,” Larry said. “As a present from our business, we actually have two businesses and just beginning a third.”

Rodgers owns HDD Inc., Underground Custom and Collisions, and recently began working to bring a new fiber-optic service to the Tallassee area, which started as an idea and grew into a reality for Rodgers and his family.

“We are starting a new broadband service,” Larry said. “We started burring new cable this week to start going through town and burying fiber-optic cables to get better internet service. What that says for me and I want to say to you is, don’t ever think that you can’t do something, or that you can’t do anything that you want to do. People build that positivity up but I’m living proof of it. We work hard. We start early and we work late.”

The coronavirus exposed the true importance of essential workers. Many essential workers go to work straight out of high school and, according to Larry Rodgers, that is just as admirable as attending an upscale university.

“Some people will go to college and some won’t,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with either. There is nothing wrong with going to a trade school and there is nothing wrong with going to work Monday morning and working the rest of your life. That’s an honorable thing to do.”

Rodgers also asked each graduate to follow his or her dreams and to continually pursue happiness.

“But what I would encourage you to do is always, always, find what makes you happy and do it,” Larry said. “People who aren’t happy don’t have productive lives. People who 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.”

Larry and Melissa’s son Tyler is a member of Tallassee’s graduating class and they know many of them and wished each and every one of them a bright future.

“Congratulations to each and every one of you,” Larry said. “Some of you I know and some of you I don’t. But I wish you all the luck in the world.”

Together the Rodgers' have seven children with three still in high school.

“We’re going to have three seniors in high school next year,” Melissa said.

Their son Matthew also graduated this year but he recently left for advanced individual training for the National Guard.