Nearly 360 graduate from PHS

The PHS Class of 2012 graduates toss their hats in the air during the graduation ceremony May 22 at the Pelham Civic Center. (Reporter Photo/ Kreable Young)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Nearly every day for the past four years, Pelham High School’s class of 2012 heard the same phrase from the school’s faculty members and administrators: “It’s a great day to be a Panther.”

But for class of 2012 President Justin Forehand, May 22 may have been the greatest.

“It’s finally a great day to finish being a Panther,” Forehand said during a speech at the PHS graduation May 22 at the Pelham Civic Complex. “We have the potential to be anything we want to be.”

A few minutes later, PHS Principal Bob Lavett quickly fired off a response.

“When you get up each morning, Justin, for the rest of your life, it’s always a great day to be a Pelham Panther,” Lavett said, drawing applause from those gathered in the packed Civic Complex main arena.

Valedictorian Sunny Chungping Chang presents her speech at the PHS Class of 2012 Graduation in the Pelham Civic Center on May 22. (Reporter Photo/ Kreable Young)

Nearly 360 graduates dressed in green robes and caps with gold tassels took their last steps as PHS students during the ceremony, which was attended by Pelham and Helena city officials.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy challenged the graduates to “be courageous enough to pursue (their) dreams” and praised the students’ work over the past four years.

“Stay true to the values and lessons you’ve learned,” Murphy told the graduates. “There is a lot of love in this building, and it’s directed toward you. You’ve made both your school and your city very proud.”

Valedictorian Sunny Chang, who finished school with a 4.3 GPA, said she and her classmates will never forget the memories they made while at PHS.

“We are happy, we are relieved, we are high school graduates,” Chang said, drawing applause from the crowd.

Lavett said the class of 2012 has brought a “wonderful four years” to the school, and encouraged the graduates to be lifelong learners.

“You are going to accomplish a lot in life. I’ve seen what you can accomplish in four years,” Lavett said. “At Pelham High School, you may be gone and you may forget about us, but we will never forget about you.”