Blue and white caps flew into the air and the celebration began as 213 seniors concluded their education at Pelham Memorial High School and made the transition from students to graduates.
The graduation ceremony, held Saturday morning, June 23 in the Pelham Middle School gym, offered several vivid reflections of the experiences, trials, and successes seen through the eyes of the class of 2018.
“One of the central strengths of this senior class is your phenomenal creativity and talent,” said PMHS Principal Jeannine Clark. “For me and for so many others, the total sum of your considerable talents were clearly on display at the Senior Talent Show earlier this year. In my 14 years as Principal, it was the most imaginative show I have seen. Your skits were ingenious and insightful. And they gave the adults who attended a thoughtful, keen and incisive snapshot of your lives.’”
In her speech, Mrs. Clark noted the many accolades accomplished by this year’s seniors, including successes in science research, forensic speech, awards for theater, the student newspaper and the yearbook. She also mentioned students who excelled in competitive horseback riding, competitive ice skating and starred on primetime television and the incredibly successful athletic year for the Pelicans.
Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ drew on the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraging the students to be the thermostat, not just a thermometer.
The festivities kicked-off with music by the PMHS Band, led by Director Andrew Van Bochove, a color guard presented by American Legion Pelham Post 50, and a stirring rendition of the National Anthem sung by senior Lorena Maggiore.
During the ceremony, the W.W. Fairclough Prize was awarded by PTA Council President Leah Tahbaz to the three top academic students: Jillian Harrison, Emily Xue, and Patrick Roche. Dr. Champ awarded Memorial Tablets to Mason Brady and Jillian Harrison.
In her keynote address, Board of Education President Madeline Smith encouraged the graduates to keep three things in mind as they move on from PMHS: smile, be an ambassador, and listen.
“Most importantly, you’re an ambassador for yourself,” Ms. Smith said. “So make sure you always represent the true you – the caring you, the friendly you, the considerate you, and the loving you. Be the best ambassador that you can be. You are always on the job.”
PMHS seniors Hannah Mackay, Nick Wessman, and Class President Eva Perez also delivered remarks focusing on their time as students and members of the Pelham community.
Ms. Mackay, in her speech titled “Wait, what?” implored her classmates not just to be knowledgeable about their worlds, but to aspire to affect change.
Mr. Wessman shared a personal story about his father’s cancer diagnosis and spoke about how the Pelham community sprang to action, providing him and his family hope in their time of need.
In “Recipe for Success,” Eva Perez channeled her love of baking to reflect on the Class of 2018.
“In life we do things, some of which we regret, and some of which we would like to replay 2,018 times over again,” Ms. Perez said. “But they all make us who we are today. And in the end they shape every characteristic about us. If we were to go back and do anything differently we wouldn’t be the same people we are today. So just live, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, make wonderful memories, take risks, add that extra pinch of sugar. Never second guess what made you who you are, what you have done or where you are going, because your recipe will work out in the end.”