Pelham High celebrates the class of 2019

Published 9:51 am Friday, May 24, 2019

PELHAM – Pelham High School Class of 2019 valedictorian Isabella Bass shared words of encouragement to her classmates as they prepared to walk across the stage at the Pelham Civic Complex to receive their diplomas on Thursday, May 23.

She encouraged each of her 258 peers to be fearless and not to take life for granted.

“Be present for every moment of your life,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to take risks.”

For the PHS class of 2019, it has been 1,380 days from the first day of freshman year to the day they graduated, recalled principal Amanda Wilbanks as she addressed the class. It’s time that class president Bintou Tall said flew by, but “we became family along the way.”

Wilbanks said she felt honored to be a part of the journey with students.

“Pelham is greater because of your presence,” she said. “Each of you have the ability to be great and to do great things. Remember that our greatness increases as we recognize the greatness in others.”

Wilbanks said Pelham will be represented in colleges throughout the southeast and the nation, in every branch of the military and in the workforce.

“As this chapter closes, new challenges await you – a new freshman year looms – whether it’s in college, basic training or your first year being a part of the workforce,” Wilbanks said. “I would like to leave you with this advice: be persistent. That also means that you have to fail first because failure and success go hand-in-hand.”

For the seventh year, Mayor Gary Waters imparted his wisdom on the students.

“I have three points that I want to make,” Waters said. “The first is that it’s not as bad as it seems. If you listen to everything put out there in a 24-hour news cycle, you’d think that you’re doomed.”

Waters noted that America is divided in some ways, but he said that’s the way it’s always been.

“America was born out of rebellion,” he said. “But for every story you hear on the news about something bad, there are 100 more stories out there about people doing something good. It’s really not as bad as it seems.”

Secondly, he reassured students that the American dream is not dead.

“The American dream is the dream that you have for yourself, and you can tailor it to be whatever you want it to be,” he said. “It’s not what I want you to be or what your parents want you to be.”

Lastly, he told students that in the absence of knowing what to do, just be kind because “an act of kindness goes a long way.”

To see more graduation photos, go to