Calera High School class of 2024 accepts diplomas

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

PELHAM– On the evening of Tuesday, May 21, families cheered and applauded as they watched Calera High School’s class of 2024 cross the stage of the Pelham Civic Complex to accept their diplomas and celebrate their achievements.

After an orchestral performance of the national anthem by the Calera High School band, CHS Principal Christopher Myles took the stage.

In his address, Myles shared that the class of 2024 is the first graduating class at Calera that he has watched grow from freshmen to seniors, and that seeing them graduate filled him with a wide variety of emotions.

“I’m truly proud of their steadfast, dedicated work ethic,” Myles said. “First, you entered high school in the most unusual way—the majority of you were remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When you returned at the beginning of your sophomore year, you hit the ground running, looking to make the most of your high school experience.”

According to Myles, the CHS class of 2024 continued to perform outstandingly, surpassing college/career readiness benchmarks and collectively earning more than $6 million in scholarships.

“Remember, wherever you land in the next phase of your life, continue to remember that you have a purpose in the area you occupy,” Myles said. “Take advantage of every opportunity to find peace and ultimately be happy. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all.”

Afterwards, valedictorian Noah Carlisle and Salutatorian Ulisses Molina-Becerra addressed the crowd. The common theme of the night was reflection, unity and the future, with Molina-Becerra telling the story of his first day at CHS.

“On the first day of high school, with the bad haircut my mom forced me to have, I thought about how long it would take until I would be up here on this stage,” Molina-Becerra said. “Now, that time has gone by and here I am. In the class of 2024, we have watched each other grow and learn from freshman to seniors—we have experienced countless experiences that have shaped us.”

In addition to these traditional addresses, the Calera High School commencement ceremony also featured two additional guest speakers, one being Kris King, a CHS alumnus from the class of 2014, and Patricia Waldrip, a CHS math teacher who was elected by the students to introduce the class of 2024.

Ten years ago, King stood on the very same stage and accepted his CHS diploma as a member of the class of 2014. Since then, King graduated from Alabama State University and went into education. The theme of his commencement address followed three mantras for the class of 2024—you did it, you got this and chase your dreams.

“After 13 long years of school work, studying, homework, research papers, science projects, final exams and homecomings, you can all take a deep breath and say you did it,” King said. “You got this is a phrase that means you can do it. It means that you have the skills, the know-how and the ability to be successful in any situation… Take all that you have learned thus far, make good, well thought out decisions and let absolutely nothing stop you from accomplishing your dreams.”

Following King’s address, Myles returned to the stage with Assistant Principal Jennifer McCaleb for the presentation of diplomas. After names were called and students returned to their seats, Waldrip officially introduced the CHS class of 2024.

As a math teacher at CHS, Waldrip seized the opportunity to give her students one last lesson—that your best differs based on your circumstances and you should never be afraid to ask for help.

“Your best will look different when you have three exams in two days than it will if you have one exam in three days,” Waldrip said. “Your best will look different if your family is happy and healthy than it will look if you have to take care of a sick loved one. Please remember that. Be kind to yourself. Remember to ask for help.”

Waldrip concluded her address by thanking the seniors for letting her be a part of their night and asking the students to stand. As they moved their tassels, the CHS class of 2024 officially entered the next chapter of their lives.

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