Class of sweet 2016 graduates from Pelham High School

The class of 2016 sings Pelham High School’s alma mater before crossing the stage as graduates May 26. (Reporter photo/Jessa Pease)

The class of 2016 sings Pelham High School’s alma mater before crossing the stage as graduates May 26. (Reporter photo/Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM—After 672 school days came and went, the seniors of Pelham High School finally made it to the night they spent four years preparing for: Graduation.

As the 198 students prepared to receive their diplomas, they heard from speakers who encouraged them to peruse their passions with integrity and character.

“You can do anything you want. The sky is the limit,” said Jenna Bennett, class president. “Nothing can stop you. The great lessons about these words are they are true. I have never seen a brighter group of students than the ones I have attended school with and are standing right in front of me.”

Students file through the teacher tunnel, allowing them to embrace the faculty members before stepping onto the stage.

Students file through the teacher tunnel, allowing them to embrace the faculty members before stepping onto the stage.

Bennett illustrated the journey students had travelled from freshman year to senior. After participating in Friday night football games, karaoke nights and a homecoming parade, the class of sweet 2016 was about to enter a new chapter of life.

Rather than dwelling on the past or fearing the unknown of what lies ahead, Bennett encouraged her fellow students to focus on what lies within.

“Pelham has shaped every one of us to be the best person we can be,” she said. “There are very special moments we will take with us.”

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters also spoke on the students being the best they can be. He said there are 49 behavioral qualities that create perfect character, but there are five, in his opinion, sorely missing from the nation today.

He challenged the students to move forward while showing qualities of benevolence, boldness, compassion, discernment and perseverance.

“Failure is a good teacher, not the best teacher, but do not be afraid of failure,” Waters told the graduates. “Do not be afraid to step out. You will never know the joy of soaring until you overcome the fear of falling. Make us proud.”

Before the students filed through the teacher tunnel to embrace faculty members on their way to the stage, the class valedictorian, Payton Strickland, took the stage.

“I can gladly say that the best decision I ever made is deciding to be a part of Pelham,” he said. “Being a part of Pelham is so much more than attending just your average high school…we are diverse, we are talented, we are Pelham.”

Students in the class of 2016 are artists, musicians, athletes, actresses and more, and Strickland named the champions, contest winners and excelling students graduating from the school that night.

He added in the coming weeks, each of the students would depart on their own path whether it be through college, the workforce, the military or the pursuit of musical dreams in Nashville.

“Fellow graduates, I encourage each one of you to pursue your dreams and do it with passion,” Strickland said. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything. Forever and always it will be a great day to be a Panther.”