Carter imparts wisdom to seniors at luncheon

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Did your class have senior luncheon when you attended PHS?” I asked Pelham High School English teacher Ryan Dye as we journeyed aboard our bus to the senior luncheon.

“Yes! We went to The Club,” PHS English teacher, alumni and bus driver extraordinaire responded.

“What about you, Mrs. Nolen?” one of the seniors asked.

“No—we weren’t that fancy yet,” I joked.

Although I didn’t attend a senior luncheon, I did attend Pelham High School—just like everyone else on the bus. Since I graduated from PHS and returned soon after college graduation to teach at my alma mater, I’m familiar with the origin of most PHS traditions. I left PHS for college—and even missed some time at home with babies over the years. Somehow, I missed the onset of the senior luncheon tradition.

Since my classes span all four grade levels, I’ve rarely attended this luncheon. This year, I was invited to go because my youngest child and my nephew are both seniors. The day of the luncheon, April 26, was my nephew Connor Hayes’s 18th birthday.

Held at the Florentine in downtown Birmingham, every detail at this lovely venue was attended to meticulously—perhaps because our coordinator was Caroline Ponder—a PHS alum and former literary magazine editor.

Our luncheon speaker, Miranda Carter, another Pelham graduate was also a former student. Carter wrote an essay in my class during her junior year that resonates meaning still. Carter’s wise message at 17 to “consider carefully before making big decisions” was updated in her luncheon message to PHS seniors that every post and every action could impact their lives.

Carter’s senior luncheon message revealed the experience and wisdom she’s gained as a business owner. After owning Johnny Ray’s in Chelsea and other businesses, Carter has recently taken on a new challenge working for the state of Alabama.

“Don’t be afraid to start over,” Carter said. “I’m 33 and I’m starting over.”

Carter’s message delivered exactly the courage that high school seniors need. Another word for graduation is commencement—reminding us that graduation marks a new beginning.