Diamond Sparks | Young Hero Award from Alabama Public Television
EDUCATION

Diamond Sparks

Alabama School of Fine Arts

Birmingham, Alabama

A resident of Fairfield, Diamond Sparks is a senior at the Alabama School
of Fine Arts (ASFA). In her nomination of Diamond as a Young Hero, college
advisor Rebecca Rutsky wrote, “Diamond Sparks is a student in the ASFA
Music Department whom we’ve identified as having an innate vocal gift as
well as the tremendous work ethic necessary to become a professional
performer…Her singing pierces your heart, and you know without a doubt that
there is real passion, love, disappointment, hurt and strength all wrapped
up in it.”

Diamond’s accomplishments are many, even at her young age. Already, she has
sung with an Honors Performance Series that took her to Australia,
qualified for All-State Choir for all four of her high school years, and
sang for Harry Belafonte at a Black History Month concert. She has appeared
in numerous plays at her school, as well as musical performances featuring
the school choir and the women’s choir. She sang the national anthem for
the Birmingham mayor’s induction, Birmingham Barons baseball games and many
other events in the area.

With all her achievements, the journey has not been easy for Diamond. She
lost her father to cancer at a young age. Throughout her life, her mother
battled substance abuse problems while having congestive heart failure and
was pronounced brain dead due to what the family believes to have been an
overdose when Diamond was in 9th grade. Her music teacher wrote,
“I witnessed her strength as I sat in the church pew at her mother’s
funeral and watched Diamond not only speak at the funeral but sing a
beautiful tribute to her mother. It takes a strong young lady to do
something like that. I admire her tenacity.”

Diamond lives with her grandmother in Fairfield. This creates a tricky
balancing act for her, considering their limited means and the instability
of public transport from Fairfield to Birmingham. Counselor Rutsky wrote,
“As you evaluate her credentials, keep in mind that ASFA students must
maintain high standards in both their specialty arts and core
academic work. Our graduation requirements exceed those of the Alabama
Advanced Academic Diploma.”

One of her science teachers wrote, “Diamond works so hard at everything she
does. What she may have once lacked in academic preparation due to having attended low-performing schools before being admitted to ASFA, she makes up
for through grit, determination, and positivity. She is a quick learner who
applies faculty suggestions to improve her work, is never afraid to ask
questions, and always has something productive to add to a classroom
discussion.”

For the application of her talent and wits to succeed when odds were
stacked against her, Diamond is recognized by her school and our state as
one of the five 2019 Young Heroes of Alabama.

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APT EDUCATION SPONSORS

For Fiscal Years 2016-2020. These educational programs and services of Alabama Public Television made possible by the generous support of the following contributors:

Community Events & Engagement
  • Books-A-Million, Young Heroes
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, Be My Neighbor Day/Young Heroes
  • Brookmont Capital Management, Young Heroes
  • C. W. Daniel Charitable Trust, Young Heroes
  • Medical Properties Trust, Young Heroes
  • Fred Rogers Productions/PNC, Be My Neighbor Day
  • WNET-CPB, Sesame Street in Communities
General Support
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
  • Public Broadcasting Services (PBS)
Learning Adventures
  • Alabama Bicentennial Commission
  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
    a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts
    a state program of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • American Graduate
    a program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Malone Family Foundation
  • Robert Meyer Foundation
  • Sybil Smith Foundation
  • Troy Univiersity
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
Media Library
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate, Getting To Work
PBS Kids Programs
  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama Power Company
  • Books-A-Million
  • Children’s of Alabama
  • HEAL Alabama
  • Medical Properties Trust
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Professional Development for Educators
  • Community Foundation of South Alabama, PBS KIDS EdCamp
  • Sybil Smith Foundation, PBS KIDS EdCamp
Workforce Development
  • CAWACO, Career Forward
  • Southeast Alabama Works, Career Forward