Nearly 250 students graduated from Harlan County High School this year, and Ally Alred finished at the top of the class of 2020.
Growing up in a small town, Alred had big hopes and dreams. Her list of academic accomplishments is long, including valedictorian, National Honor Society, Governor's Scholar Program, Rogers Scholar, and High School Student Congress.
"I tried to fully invest myself into everything that I do. I feel like life is so precious, and we should never waste our time not giving something our all. So my freshman year, I set a goal for myself. I want to be valedictorian, and I wanted to just have that sense of accomplishment when I got done, and I did that."
"I thought that I would have the perfect graduation, and I would look over, and I would see my friend, and I would smile, and we would all throw our caps together. I didn't get that, and neither did any of the class of 2020. I feel like we were almost robbed of something so special, but that doesn't take away the worth of our moments and the worth of our years."
She had a lot to cheer about in high school, where cheerleading is a family affair. She and her cousin were on the Harlan County High School squad that won a state championship in 2018. Her mother Whitney and two aunts were coaches.
"My junior year I got really involved with cheer, we really put ourselves into that, and we actually won the only state title for my high school and cheerleading. So that was really awesome!"
She will take that winning tradition to Morehead State University. "It's any little girl's dream, especially from Kentucky, to go to college and cheer and participate collegiately at that next level. So I'm really excited for that to see where that leads me."
Ally Alred hopes that eventually leads her back to her hometown to work as a lawyer in her family's private practice.
"I have such pride for my hometown. Harlan County is a special place, and I will tell that to anybody anytime. I'm so grateful for my small town. I believe wholeheartedly that it has shaped me into the woman that I am."