Keep the Pelham-Helena bond intact

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Having grown up in Helena, it’s hard for me to imagine the city’s kids not attending Pelham schools. After going through fifth grade at Helena Elementary School, it was off to Riverchase Middle School and on to Pelham High School.

Helena students stopped attending RMS several years ago after the city got its own middle school, but PHS still has about 50 percent Helena students.

At least for one more year.

I drive by the under-construction new Helena High School about once a week, and I’ve got to say it looks mighty impressive. But the realization that Pelham and Helena students soon won’t attend a common high school didn’t really hit me until I was talking with Helena Mayor Mark Hall last week.

The Helena City Council, at Hall’s request, agreed to provide a $5,000 donation to PHS for the upcoming school year. For many years, Helena and Pelham leaders have financially supported PHS – giving the school the backing of two entire communities.

But this year likely will be the last year Helena cuts a check to PHS.

“As we get closer to when Helena High opens, we’ll have to shift around our resources to the new school,” Hall told me. “We still want to be a supporter and do all we can for all our students.”

I’m happy that Helena – one of the largest cities in Shelby County – will finally be getting the high school it needs. When HHS is up and running, it will also help alleviate some overcrowding issues at PHS.

But I certainly hope the school split will not cut ties between the two communities.

Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes has said numerous times “our community doesn’t end at the city limits,” and I couldn’t agree more.

To this day, some of my best friends are from Pelham, and I probably would have never met them without going to PHS.

Moving forward, I certainly hope Pelham and Helena – and both cities’ schools – take the time to hold joint events and continue to keep their longtime bond intact.

Neal Wagner is the city editor for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at