Seniors pick up caps, gowns, walk the hallways of PHS one last time

By BRIANA H. WILSON | Special to the Reporter

PELHAM – Pelham High School seniors are one step closer to their high school graduation after picking up their caps and gowns at school on Thursday, May 14.

Principal Amanda Wilbanks said seniors signed up for a designated time to stop by the school to clean out their lockers, return school-owned items and to pick up their caps and gowns in time for their May 21 graduation.

Wilbanks said the administrators, teachers and students wore face masks and adhered to social distancing guidelines throughout the day. Although there were restrictions, school counselor Michelle LeSueur said the students seemed to appreciate the opportunity to walk the halls of PHS for the last time as a student.

“One student had their phone out videoing their last walk to their locker,” she said.

LeSueur said the day was an emotional day for everyone.

“As a counselor, you get to know students and what they’re dealing with in life on such a different level,” she said. “It’s like a piece of your heart is missing because you get so used to seeing them every day. There are some students that are always on your mind.”

LeSueur said she keeps in touch with students through text messaging, email and phone conversations.

“It’s been heartwarming to see them again,” she said.

Overall, Wilbanks said it was a relatively quiet day as the students made their way through various stations to handle business. The administrators, counselors and a custodian all worked together to have each station clean and orderly as the kids entered the school.

“The students have been sweet and following all of the rules,” Wilbanks said. “They are really happy to see our administrators and counselors, and I think they appreciated the chance to come back in and have a little closure. They didn’t really get a chance to see many classmates because they’re are stopping by in very small groups.”

Ninth through 11th grade students will have a chance to stop by PHS to clean out their lockers and return school-owned items May 18-19.

The PHS graduation will take place at 6 p.m. on May 21 at the Ned Bearden Stadium. The roughly 216 students will be seated 6 feet apart on the football field and wearing face masks. Wilbanks said it will be a traditional ceremony with the social distancing component included.

Because of social distancing measures, the school has reduced the number of tickets each student will receive. Students will be allowed four visitors apiece. Each group of four will be seated 6 feet apart.

More information and instructions about graduation will sent to parents and students in the coming days.

“Our goal is to make it meaningful, memorable and a great celebration for our students while also still being safe,” Wilbanks said.