Students enjoy view from top

PHS seniors, from left, Sunny Chang, Jasmine Lee, Tracy Kimbrell and Mary Alys McCulloch enjoy their view from the top. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

We’re back! Pelham High School has officially started a new academic year, and our new senior class takes the lead. As senior Tyler Sharp said, “After three years of walking in the shadows of the kings and queens of Pelham High, at long last, the class of 2012 will reign supreme.”

Truthfully, we’re off to a strange and stressful start. At any moment, I expect that my students will start speaking in different languages, I’ll answer in Japanese and, since I don’t know Japanese, my husband will wake me up and ask me what strange dream I’m having.

What makes school surreal this year? All of our newness, including a new eight-period day and the schedule that goes with it, a new dining area for lunch, a new lunch period, a new path to enter the lunchroom, a new outdoor path to exit the lunchroom, a new wing that will be opening soon, new plans for pep rallies and new software for student records and grades.

The sheer volume of new students this year is unusual. With total PHS enrollment around 1,740 and Nolen enrollment at 196, both the school and my classroom have reached numerical records.

Yes, we’re crowded. Crowds create stress, and given our numbers, stress exists. I remember reading that “prayer is the opposite of stress.” Reading what my new students have written, I am reminded that the numbers represent students. Keeping our focus on the kids requires keeping a positive outlook, and these kids are worth an attitude shift.

Senior J.C. Lentine said, “Being a senior is bittersweet. Sweet because I finally graduate with these classmates I’ve come to know and love, knowing that I may not see them again after graduation. My plan is to enjoy every moment of this year.”

Senior Sage Rose said, “I’m overwhelmed with choosing the right college, but this year is the year I’ve waited for and looked forward to experiencing — my senior year! I am a role model to my little Panthers, and I want to be the best I can be.”

Our students want the best year possible. As teachers, we’re committed to giving the kids our very best. At PHS, we’re up for the challenge of this new academic year. Equipped with a potent antidote, stress fades, excitement reigns and Panther Pride prevails.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at