Graduation Speech, June 29, 2019

By  Jeannine Clark, PMHS Principal

It is my privilege to welcome the graduates of the Class of 2019, their parents and family members, as well as our distinguished faculty and guests.

Before we begin, I want to thank Mr. Andrew Von Bochove and our talented PMHS Band and Margaret Solimine for their wonderful performances. Thanks also to our PTA and Senior parents for their help in providing this tent on such a happy and important day.

In our audience are former students who graduated from Pelham Memorial High School and today’s ceremony will bring back many memories for them. I would like all former PMHS Senior Class members to please stand and be acknowledged.

Over the years, PMHS has built a well-earned reputation of excellence. It sometimes seems impossible for this or any class to rise continually to the challenge of new or higher standards of expectation, but they do and the Class of 2019 shines brightly in that achievement.

Throughout their past four years, the members of this class — which, by the way, includes 8 sets of twins and 1 set of triplets — have showcased their exceptional talents, passions and achievements. And succeeded through their hard work and perseverance.

On the International level, our students won awards in Science Research placing in the top at both the Regeneron Science Talent Search and as an Intel ISEF finalist. Our students received gold and silver medals on World Language exams. One student qualified to compete at the 2020 USA Olympic Swimming Team Trials for the games in Tokyo. The National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association named another athlete as an All American Diver for the third consecutive year.

Other students competed in a variety of different passions and pursuits during their high school years. A competitive rock climber and a talented equestrian rider are here in this class of 2019, as is a competitive ice skater, a Futsal player and a student who earned a black belt in karate. Many of our student athletes will continue participating in their sports at their post-secondary schools. Sports that include basketball, track and field, cross country, lacrosse, diving, swimming, football and rugby to name a few. We have State awards winners in ice hockey and rugby along with school records broken in indoor and outdoor track and diving.

As the diversity of our student body grows, so indeed does the diversity of their hard work and well-earned achievements. Many of you made your college decisions in the fall with 97% of your class continuing on to institutions of higher learning from coast to coast as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. After attending programs at the tech center, others in your class will continue with studies at vocational schools or begin a trade as an apprentice. Several of you will be the first in your families to attend college. Four will apply your considerable talents, loyalty and teamwork skills to service in our armed forces. Would these armed services-bound seniors please stand. Please join me in thanking them for their devotion and commitment to our nation.

What is truly unique about the Class of 2019 is their sense of tradition. Based on the theme of your talent show, you have declared yourselves the Class of the Century, inspired by the plaque in the front of our school. This plaque was the dedication of the Cornerstone Ceremony in October 1919, which laid the foundation for the Pelham Memorial High School building we know today. By dedicating the cornerstone of our building, built with native stone from the Pelham area, you have indeed paid homage to the plaque, the people who placed it here and to the lasting foundation of learning that every class since then — and now you — have received here.

You have demonstrated time and again your respect for your teachers and classmates. 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.

Many of your teachers have told me how much they will miss you — a true compliment for your class. Your teachers, administrators and staff all watched you enter as young, unsure and wide-eyed freshmen and now see you leave as intelligent and mature seniors. These young women and men are confident and will successfully find their place and voice in this world. As the late poet Maya Angelou put it, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”

So use your voice for the good of all. Stand proudly and confidently in sharing your beliefs and treasuring your own traditions. Moreover, where every path in life takes you, always be kind and helpful to others.

On behalf of your teachers and staff, the administration, Board of Education and the entire community of Pelham, I wish you every honor, achievement and success in the coming years, and throughout what your teachers, my fellow administrators and I are more than confident will be exciting, fulfilling and adventurous lives for all of you. Congratulations!

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