Beginning with a marvelous rendition of the National Anthem by Maggie Solimine and ending with the traditional tossing of the caps, the Pelham Memorial High School Class of 2019 moved from students to alumni on Saturday, June 29, 2019.
The ceremony, held on Franklin Field included music by the PMHS Band, led by Director Andrew Van Bochove, a color guard presented by American Legion Pelham Post and a number of speeches. The W.W. Fairclough Prize was awarded by PTA Council President Leah Tahbaz to the three top academic students: Francesca Di Cristofano, Sarah Ellenbogen and Charlotte Edmunds, was also presented a Memorial Tablet along with Kevin Coleman by Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ.
In her address, PMHS Principal Jeannine Clark recounted the many accomplishments of the 215 graduates from the Class of 2019 and also focused on the students’ incredible character.
“You have demonstrated time and again your respect for your teachers and classmates,” Clark said. “This was obvious as seen by the phenomenal support and compassion you showed to our new Unified basketball team. You were not only there to cheer on our own student athletes, but also there to encourage the visiting athletes by loudly cheering them on as well. You even sang Happy Birthday to one of the visiting athletes.”
Class President Joseph Silva said that he and his classmates experiences in high school have set the stage for the next phase of their lives.
“Our high school career was somewhat like a seminar on life,” Silva said. “We know how to go about hundreds of thousands of different situations thanks to our high school experiences. And for that, I’d like to thank those who gave us these lessons, whether we liked them or not. Thank you parents, thank you teachers, thank you coaches, thank you friends, siblings, and thank you to the class of 2019 for teaching me to never give up.”
Michael Salama, in his speech titled “Open in 2019,” also spoke about the various memories that he made over the course of his education in Pelham.
“Take a moment to remember the experiences that made us who we are today,” he said. “Think back not only to the days we wish we could relive for the rest of our lives, but also to the days we wished away. Remember your best yearbook picture - but never forget that one you couldn’t retake. Remember the triumphant section titles, but don’t overlook the seasons that ended in heartbreak. Remember the friendships that have lasted since kindergarten, but don’t forget the ones that grew apart over the years. Remember the second-grade love letters you wish you hadn’t written, and also the ones you wish you had. As we move on from our time in Pelham and think back to the past, we can only be sure of one thing: that the future will continue to be a mystery.”
Samuel Rodd’s speech, “What I Learned in High School,” focused on the little moments that transformed him over his four years at PMHS.
“We all change and it’s always going to be the little moments that you find yourself going back to,” he said. “Maybe you cried over a test, or a fight. Maybe someone told you what you like is stupid. Maybe you didn’t feel like you were cool. But thanks to your time here, I can almost guarantee that you settled into your own skin a little more. You became just a little closer to a human being. A little closer to yourself. And that’s invaluable.”
Dr. Champ quoted Holocaust survivor and author Viktor Frankl as she encouraged the students to never lose sight of their choice to hope and finding meaning in their lives.
“No matter what comes your way next, what challenges you face, what future accolades you receive or accomplishments you achieve, I encourage you to find your personal meaning in those things which can never be taken away, who you are and what you bring to others in this world,” Dr. Champ said.
In her keynote address, Board of Education President Sue Bratone Childs, a PMHS Graduate herself, spoke to the students about their community and shared thoughts from members of the PMHS faculty about the class of 2019.
“Especially in a world where we have endless distractions pulling at our attention, and really big problems to solve, it’s important to appreciate community -- to acknowledge all the people who have helped make you who you are -- and ask how you can do the same for others that you meet along the way,” Childs said. “You are, quite literally, surrounded. Your families and loved ones are here. Your teachers, coaches, and class advisors. Your friends and classmates and teammates, who’ve had your back when it mattered most. Today is for all of you graduates and for all of us who have watched you grow and struggle and ultimately make it to this point where you are ready to take on the bigger world.”