Although the grass on Franklin Field was wet and clouds overwhelmed the sky, friends, family, and loved ones were kept dry underneath the tent that housed the class of 2011’s outdoor graduation Saturday morning.
The 220 graduates strode down the field to take their places on stage as the Pelham Memorial High School Band, conducted by Campbell Whitford, played “Pomp & Circumstance."
Principal Jeannine Clark warmly welcomed the attendees to the graduation ceremony and commended the class of 2011.
“I stand before an outstanding graduating class and know in my heart that I am congratulating an accomplished, caring, and wonderful group of young men and women that make up one of the most kind-hearted senior classes I have ever known,” Clark said.
Over the course of the ceremony, there were several awards presented to outstanding students. President of the Pelham PTA, Amy Heese, awarded the W.W. Fairclough Prize to K. Briar Buchanan, Amelia Niedt, and Maura Tracy. Dr. Dennis Lauro superintendent of schools, awarded the coveted Memorial Tablet to Charles Groome and Katherine Kiernan. Robert Eicher of the Pelham Board of Education then handed the students their diplomas as they crossed the stage under the tent.
Megan Wines was nominated by her peers to give the first student address. After comparing her life to the modern musicals “High School Musical” and “Glee,” she encouraged her class members to march to beat of their own drums. “Life is what you make it. Don’t let society dictate your life. It’s your life, you are the one who has to live with your decisions,” said Wines.
Next to the podium was Francesca La Brecque, also nominated to speak by her fellow class members. La Brecque encouraged seniors to “seek new adventures” as they begin the next chapter of their lives and “pioneer” new classrooms, dorm rooms and schedules. She also told her fellow classmates not to be afraid to “let go of the pant leg of their parents” and try new things, because “our parents are not going to be there to do it for us.”
After an original song composition, "Here’s To Tonight," by senior Nikolette Berino, the last student speaker of the day was class president Peter Manos, who shared the wisdom he gained over the last four years.
“Mr. Orefice taught me that agonizing over the small things takes away from the only thing that matters--to live and to have fun. Ms. Wals provided a sanctuary and an open ear to anything I had to say. The people at PMHS have taught me a great deal about life. Mr. Beltecas taught me more about life than anyone I’ve ever met before. I’ve learned that there is always a way to fix things, no matter how bad the situation is,” remarked Manos.
After receiving their diplomas, the Class of 2011 moved their tassels from one side of their caps the other -- symbolizing the end of one chapter and the beginning of another -- and then tossed them in the air.
Once the commencement ceremony was over, the recent graduates proceeded out of the outdoor tent and towards their futures to continue the day's celebration with parents, friends and family members.