PHS senior class gets $8.3 million in scholarship offers

PELHAM – Before students in Pelham High School’s Class of 2019 take their walk across the stage on May 23, they took a moment on Thursday, May 10, to recognize their accomplishments during Senior Awards Day.

This year’s senior class more than doubled the amount of last year’s scholarship offers, raking in a staggering $8.3 million in offerings, with PHS salutatorian and National Merit Finalist Alex Wilkins accounting for more than $500,000 of that.

Of the school’s 266 graduating seniors, 79 were offered academic scholarships totaling $4.3 million. Eighteen students received athletic scholarship offerings totaling $4 million.

With a GPA of 4.37, Isabella Bass was announced as the school’s valedictorian, and Wilkins was a close second with a GPA of 4.3. Seventeen students who are on track to receive an advanced diploma and have a 4.0 GPA and higher were recognized as honor graduates.

Awards were also given to the students who achieved the highest grade in each core or elective class. Pelham Spirit awards were given to students who may not have the highest grade, but they came to class prepared, were always willing to help the teacher and other students, were a leader in their class and the first to volunteer for classroom projects, according to Principal Amanda Wilbanks.

Fourty-two academic and Pelham Spirit awards were given, said PHS junior and senior counselor Brooke Self. Two students received the Exemplary Attendance award, meaning they had no absences and were late to school less than four times.

Perhaps one of the biggest awards of the day was the Pelham Way Award. According to Wilbanks, “the Pelham way” is best seen in the actions of others rather than words. It is awarded to someone who displays recognizable leadership, excellence regardless of adversity and someone with a strong sense of pride in their school and community.

The recipient of the award, Kasey Clark, was described as purposeful in his actions. Wilbanks said his poise and maturity is uncharacteristic of an 18-year-old. Most recently, Wilbanks said teachers and administrators were blown away by his actions following his last high school baseball game.

The Panthers had a heartbreaking loss to Helena, which ended the team’s hopes of postseason play. Instead of allowing himself to be overcome with anger or sadness, he choose to be grateful.

“He knew that was his last game and the last time he’d ever wear his Pelham Panthers jersey, and he chose to be grateful for the experience. He walked into the stands and started shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for their support over the years,” Wilbanks said. “Coach Anderson said his presence was like having a third coach on the field. He embodies the meaning of ‘the Pelham way.’”

PHS career coach Katie Cardwell said the Class of 2019 will truly be missed.

“They all have so many great skills they learned here that will help them excel in their future endeavors,” Cardwell said. “As they look to the future, I hope they know they can always come back and visit us.”