Helena, Pelham forever connected

Lynne Jebeles directs the Pelham High School faculty choir for her last graduation before retirement. (Contributed)

Lynne Jebeles directs the Pelham High School faculty choir for her last graduation before retirement. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

The last days of school for teachers are hectic—even after students have gone. Grades must be completed. Report cards are mailed. Graduation supplies are stored for next year. Rooms are packed up to allow for summer cleaning and repairs.

At Pelham High School this year, there was an additional wave of preparation as our faculty loaded boxes—many for Helena High School—and some for retirement. Lynn Jebeles mustered up the largest PHS faculty choir ever to sing the alma mater at the final graduation before her retirement. I took that picture—and now, I study it.

“Some of your best friends will be the people you raise your children with,” my mother told me many years ago. Looking at her lasting friendships, I knew she spoke the truth.

PHS parents and faculty and the two cities of Pelham and Helena have that kind of lasting friendship. We’ve raised our children together. We danced through the victories, wept through the defeats and suffered through the weather of outdoor contests, games and parades. We’ve stayed alert watching and prompting as difficult assignments were completed and content was committed to memory. We’ve attended the productions, concerts, performances and ceremonies. We’ve delivered an exhausted student or an item that student needed. We’ve made the cupcakes, the bread, the fruit, the chili and the spaghetti supper. We’ve been a family.

Differences between our two cities will be underscored in the coming years, but the similarities will stay with me. Helena and Pelham both care about raising strong, smart kids with solid character. Both cities stress work ethic, academic performance, appreciation of the arts and athletics.

With Maya Angelou’s passing, her words echo. “All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike,” said Angelou. She also said, “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”

Our high school had to split into two. Like family, we move on, but we remain connected by memory, by experience and by our human hearts.