Congratulations to the Pelham Memorial High School Class of 2024

The students of the Pelham Memorial High School Class of 2024 closed the books on their time in high school students at a moving ceremony held on June 22, 2024 on Franklin Field. In all, 227 students were awarded diplomas at the ceremony, which began with the presentation of colors by American Legion Post No. 50 and a beautiful rendition of The National Anthem sung by seniors Madeline Lyons, Matthew Michailoff and Ava Pursel, accompanied by the PMHS band.  

Speeches were shared by Class of 2024 members Isaiah Graves, Isaac Lief, Andrew Scott and Sienna Giuseppi, as well as PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz and Dr. Cheryl H. Champ, Superintendent of Schools.  

The W.W. Fairclough Prize was awarded by PTA Council President Krystal Howell to the three top academic students: Avery Goodman, Isaac Lief and Samantha Gregware. Memorial Tablets were presented to Laura Shelton and Erik Fontanella by Dr. Champ. 

In his remarks, Mr. Berkowitz shared some of the many achievements members of the Class of 2024 have earned, including four Finalists and four commended scholars in the National Merit Scholarship competition, a top 300 Regeneron Science Talent Search scholar and three students participating in the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair. He also noted that the Class of 2024 included award-winning debaters and actors, an all-state choral member, 2 all-state athletes, an academic all american, track & field record holders and a U.S. Rowing Youth National Champion. 

Mr. Berkowitz then relayed his interaction with a PMHS Class of 1959 graduate, who returned for a tour of the high school. He shared the reverence this alum had for his school and how his time at PMHS helped as he went on to a successful career. 

“Not every school has such a rich throughline, connecting past to present,” Mr. Berkowitz said. “But Pelham Memorial High School does. There will be times in life where you just have to pay the bills. That is the reality of adulthood. But if you are lucky enough to pursue a career that gives you purpose, and you take the time to develop relationships filled with love, and you make a commitment to engage in civic life on behalf of others, these stone blocks will enable you to construct a life of meaning.”

In his speech titled, “Be the Captain of Your Team,” Isaiah Graves reflected on his time as a three sport athlete and the lessons learned during that time. In speaking about playing a half of a season in lacrosse, he shared that despite trying the sport for the first time, he was glad to have taken a risk outside his comfort zone. 

“The thing I learned from playing lacrosse for half a season is the importance of ripping the duck,” Graves said. “I have no idea what that means and to be honest I had to look that up, but it sounded cool to say in a high school speech. . . In lacrosse, ‘ripping the duck’ describes what you are about to do or what you want someone to do. What I did, or wanted to do, was take a chance in a sport I didn’t know. So, to my fellow graduates, take a risk and even if it’s not a perfect fit, you gain more than you lose.”

In his speech called “Hustle, But Not Too Fast,” Isaac Lief spoke about what it takes to get ahead and achieve your goals, but also about considering what those goals are and should be. 

“Hustling is about the input, the vision, the work, the perseverance, not the output, the reward,” Lief said. “Now that our high school movie has come to an end, it’s time to think about how you want the next chapter of your saga to look like. As with all great things in life, there’s a dichotomy: to achieve happiness you need to strike a balance between hustling towards a goal and enjoying the process. But at the end of the day, the solution is simple: hustle…but not too fast.”

In “The Cringe,” Andrew Scott spoke about the embarrassing or “cringey” moments throughout life that the students may wish to forget. In his speech, however, he reminded his classmates that these moments are what make them who they are and encouraged them to be their true selves as they move on from PMHS.

“As much as that fear of being cringe comes at you in full force, embrace it. Live in it,” he said. “Even if you quit jazz band after eighth grade, never forget the cringe. Even if you missed the easiest goal of your life in freshman year, never forget the cringe. . . It has made you who you are.”

In her speech “Unboxed,” Class of 2024 President Sienna Giuseppi recalled how the now graduates’ began their time in high school virtually during the pandemic and how they gradually grew out of their boxes to become more well rounded individuals. 

“As we leave behind the confines of Pelham Memorial High School, I urge each of you to keep breaking out of the boxes you find yourselves in,” she said. “Whether it’s a dorm room, a new job, or any new environment, leave your door open. Make connections with everyone you meet. Don’t just dip a toe into your interests – dive in headfirst. Let your passions overflow and spill out of any container they might be placed in.” 

In her address, Dr. Champ also spoke on the impact that the pandemic had on the students’ time in high school. Reflecting on the opening line from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” Dr. Champ noted that while the pandemic might have represented the worst of times, their graduation and lives to come are the best of times. 

“Class of 2024, your story is one of ingenuity, creativity, dedication, flexibility, commitment to school spirit and tradition, resilience, adaptability, drive, involvement, connection, and service,” Dr. Champ said. “You leave behind a legacy of learning, growth, wellness, balance, community and belonging for the next generations of Pelham. This is your story and it’s a story of inspiration for the next generations of students who walk the halls of Pelham Memorial High School.”