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Submitted / The Outlook Four Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch seniors will graduate from Reeltown High School this year, as girls before them have done. They will have a personal ceremony at the ranch Wednesday as well as participate in the Class of 2020 Reeltown graduation at the football field Friday.

The Tallapoosa County Sheriffs Girls Ranch provides homes for neglected or abused girls of all ages and families on site support them through school and milestones in life. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic robbing many seniors in the area of traditional events, the four graduating Reeltown seniors were in the same boat.

“These girls missed out on some of those major memories that happen senior year,” Girls Ranch director Candice Gulley said. “So we wanted to provide something for them to look forward to and get excited about.”

Instead of just one thing to honor these graduates, the Girls Ranch is hosting both a graduation ceremony and a prom.

“We were unsure if the school would follow through with a graduation and we didn’t want that opportunity to pass them by waiting to see what happened,” Gulley said. “So we planned to have a graduation ceremony for our girls here.”

Boys and Girls Ranches of Alabama president Michael Smith has been invited and the girls’ friends and families will also be in attendance.

“We have a whole ceremony planned,” Gulley said. “We are excited to be able to celebrate their accomplishments.”

Reeltown will host a graduation ceremony on the football field Friday, so the Girls Ranch seniors will be honored twice.

“They thought they were gonna miss out; now they get a double ceremony,” Gulley said. “And for many of then, they are the first to graduate in their family, so that’s a big deal.”

The Tallapoosa County Sheriffs Girls Ranch plans to host a prom in recognition of its seniors as well but it will be open to any of the teenaged girls living there.

“We’ll be doing a ranch prom here,” Gulley said. “We’ll turn one of our buildings into a dance floor and we have a DJ lined up to provide music and entertainment.”

She’s still hoping to get someone to help cater the event and provide finger foods. Gulley said a prom dress drive over the last two weeks helped provide gowns for the girls to wear.

“We think it’ll be a great night for them to look forward to and dress up, have their hair and makeup done and just add a little excitement to their summer,” Gulley said.

Girls are allowed to each bring a friend or a date and those younger girls who don’t get to experience junior-senior prom will still be a part of the magical night.

Many of these events and other maintenance of the ranch comes from community fundraisers. 

The annual Boston butt sale was wrapped up with selling 150 7-pound whole fully smoked butts that will be passed out May 22.

“It was a great show of support with that,” Gulley said. 

Also coming up, the Girls Ranch is hosting its quarterly luncheon at noon June 17 to provide the public or anyone interested with a ranch update.

“We’ll discuss where we’re at, what we’ve accomplished and what we plan on doing in the next quarter,” Gulley said. “Anyone wanting to learn more can come out and have a meal on us. We just ask they call and RSVP so we know we have enough food prepared.”

Amy Passaretti is a staff writer with the Alexander City Outlook.