e Class of 2022 - the 100th to graduate from Pelham Memorial High School - exited the tent on Franklin Field to thunderous applause this past Saturday, June 25. The annual commencement ceremony marked completion of a historic year for this year’s 240 graduates and the iconic high school, which celebrated its centennial this year. Highlights of this year’s commencement included performances by the PMHS Band led by Andrew Van Bochove and a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem sung by Malia McLellan.
A color guard was presented by American Legion Pelham Post No. 50 and speeches were given by Class of 2022 President William Anderson, Student Association Secretary Oliver Tam, Graduates Malia McLellan and Luis-Jaime Casenas III, as well as PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz and Dr. Cheryl Champ, Superintendent of Schools.
The W.W. Fairclough Prize was awarded by PTA Council Vice-President Dr. Tiffany Hébert to the three top academic students: Andrew Kelly, Ann Liu and William Anderson. Memorial Tablets were presented to Malia McLellan and Thomas Shelton by Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ.
Principal Berkowitz recounted the many accolades garnered by the Class of 2022, including in academics, athletics and service.
“The Class of 2022’s collaborative spirit and creativity has brought joy to the Pelham Memorial High School community,” Principal Berkowitz said. “They sang from the heart during the Battle of the Bands, produced amazing skits during the Senior Talent Show and with ‘Seventies’ style brought home the Wilson Cup as champions of the Dr. Charles T. Wilson PMHS Olympics. Class of 2022, we are so proud of you.”
In a speech titled “High School Musical,” McLellan spoke about how the Class of 2022 was able to come together through the incredible adversity they faced through the pandemic as well as the special bond they forged.
“Take a moment and look around you,” McLellan said. “The peers surrounding you are the ones you traded silly bands with in Kindergarten, went through a neon phase with, got braces with, shared secrets with, crushed on, whipped and nae nae-d with at friday night lives, did the mannequin challenge with, asked to the 8th grade dinner dance, sang “Old Town Road” with, logged onto google meets with, reunited with, and now, the ones you turn your tassel with.
“Although this town is small, Pelham’s bubble has sprouted tenacious students contributing to important issues everyday. Even on a small scale, such as participating in clubs at school, we have aspired to get involved in this community and make meaningful differences towards success.”
Tam’s speech, “The Sequel,” encouraged his classmates to leave their doors open as they proceed into the next chapter of their lives.
“Moving past high school, whether you’re going to college or directly into the workforce, the unknown is the most tantalizing and exciting part,” Tam said. “With months of trying to plan my own sequel, I realized that trying to reason and chart the paths that life takes you is impossible. Life is exciting and spontaneous. It can’t be contained or predicted by words on a page or characters on a screen...So, if you asked me to write the next chapter in my life, the sequel to my high school experience…I’d tell you no because embracing the unknown is the most exciting part.”
In the speech “Struggle for Success,” Casenas spoke about the power of failure and the necessity of forging ahead, learning, and ultimately succeeding.
“Don’t let go of your past regrets or mistakes, and be aware of the inevitability of your future ones,” Casenas said. “After all, what is their purpose if not to act as learning experiences? Carry them with you, and learn from them. They’ll make you stronger - us stronger, collectively. They’ll mold us into the next politicians, the next educators, scientists, actors, actresses, or whatever you aspire to be!”
Class President William Anderson used his speech to reflect on the qualities he has picked up from his teachers at PMHS and thanked the faculty for their hard work helping the Class of 2022.
"...It made me think about what attributes or traits that I have gotten from other teachers,” Anderson said. “It could be the rigorous work ethic from Mrs. Battema, or the bubbling attitude that Mr. Schleifer brought with him to every class. I thought about how amazing my teachers have been, and I would be lucky to take just a couple of qualities with me. Here at Pelham we are fortunate to have an amazing staff of teachers who care about their students. Not only staff, there are a lot of my own classmates that inspire me as well.”
In her remarks, Dr. Champ highlighted some of the similarities and differences between the inaugural PMHS Class of 1922 and this year’s Class of 2022. In closing, she shared Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “To Have Succeeded,” and commended the graduates.
“Pelham Memorial High School Class of 2022, by Emerson’s definition, and by mine as well, you have succeeded,” Dr. Champ said. “As you go forth from these hallowed halls on to the next stage of life, it is my sincere hope that you ‘Honor here the ideals for which they fought,’ as is inscribed upon this Memorial building - ideals of scholarship and service, that you remember with fondness the relationships you made with staff and students during your time here, and that you build upon the firm foundation that has been laid during your time in Pelham to turn your success into significance and truly change the world for the better. Thank you and best wishes to the class of 2022.”
Hello seniors, families, friends, and faculty of Pelham Memorial High School. I am so incredibly grateful to be here today, celebrating the class of 2022. Whether your great-grandparents grew up here or you were the new kid this year, you’ve made it to the finish line, and the community of Pelham is proud to watch you cross it.
At 5 years old, I envisioned that our high school years would be like High School Musical: breaking out into song, bouncing basketballs around the halls, and throwing our papers at the sound of the last bell before summer break. Although I do break out into song a bit, high school was not exactly how Troy and Gabriella portrayed. Regardless of what you expected high school to be like, I can attest that none of us predicted the past few years we had to endure. The challenge of transitioning into a life of pixels presented a test we couldn’t study for, a test with no answer key. However, this assessment has provided us with a common denominator, and has proven that we are “All In This Together”. So maybe it is a little bit like High School Musical.
Take a moment and look around you. The peers surrounding you are the ones you traded silly bands with in Kindergarten, went through a neon phase with, got braces with, shared secrets with, crushed on, whipped and nae nae-d with at friday night lives, did the mannequin challenge with, asked to the 8th grade dinner dance, sang “Old Town Road” with, logged onto google meets with, reunited with, and now, the ones you turn your tassel with.
As I reflect on our ephemeral moments here and look into the unknown future, our generation gives me hope. The motivation you all have to “Get’cha Head In The Game” and make the world a better place inspires me to advance my own character as an advocate for what I believe. Whether it be climate change, societal reform, racial justice, or mental health awareness, I see all of you fighting the instinct to “Stick to the Status Quo”. Although this town is small, Pelham’s bubble has sprouted tenacious students contributing to important issues everyday. Even on a small scale, such as participating in clubs at school, we have aspired to get involved in this community and make meaningful differences towards success.
Success: an extremely subjective term that no dictionary can properly define. Society has created an outlook on success as a picture perfect career, affiliated with financial gain, extensive popularity, and public accomplishment. If success is portrayed as this grand, almost out-of-reach, idea, why does everyone crave to attempt finding success? The answer is simple. Success isn’t the top of a mountain society makes it out to be. Success can be stepping stones to a larger goal. One of those stepping stones being standing here today. I urge you to be proud of your diligence and perseverance these past 4 years, because today, June 25th 2022, you ARE successful. And to quote High School Musical, today marks the “Start of Something New”.
WE MADE IT PEOPLE! It’s surreal, isn’t it? Graduation. I still remember being in my Elementary School computer lab and wondering why my password had “2022” in it. Well, it’s 2022 now - and look at us! In our graduation caps and gowns, sitting alongside our closest
friends and family, falling asleep in the middle of my speech - which I’m fine with! No, not rude at all. It’s cool. Anway... I genuinely feel like we’re so much more than the PMHS graduating class of ‘22. I’ve known most of you since middle school, some since my days at Hutch, and a
few of you I even met in preschool. We’ve spent most of our lives around one another, and made friendships and connections that will last far into the future. Of course we’re more than the class
of ‘22! In fact, I’d like to think of us as a family, and a tight-knit one at that. So from one family member to another, I want to congratulate you. I want to congratulate you for your perseverance through the pandemic, and any personal conflict you may have endured. For the care you give
out to one another, freely. For the effort you’ve put in every day in order to reach today. And for all of the success you’ve had so far, and for your continued success in college and beyond.
I say that last line with a grain of salt, though, because I feel like it’s not telling the whole story. I mean, what’s success without a little, or a lot, of failure? They’re two sides of the same coin, are they not? For every one of your accomplishments you hold dear, I can guarantee you there is a
mistake or regret that you actively try to push away. Trust me, I have a few of my own: I wish I went out more, I wish I spent more time with my friends, I wish I didn’t quit science research after the first year, I wish I joined chorus or did speech & debate, or tried out for the basketball team. And I wish, more than anything, that I didn’t wear khakis outside in this damn weather. But why tell you all this now? What’s the point, when we’re about to graduate and move on with our lives?
Well, for one, I want to give out a reminder to you. We’re family, after all. And are we really family if I don’t give random pieces of advice you really don’t care to hear at this specific point in time? ... That’s what I thought. I just wanted to remind you that there is no time limit to failure. We’ve all heard that the only constant in life is change, and with change, inevitably, comes failure. It’s a grim reminder, yes, but one I feel it’s imperative to remember as we head into the most formative years of our lives. It’s not the reason why I’m standing up here today, though.
I’m standing in front of you because I’m genuinely happy with the person I have become, even while carrying all of the baggage of my frustrations around on my back. Because just as there is no time limit to failure - last time I checked, there is no time limit to success! Don’t let go of your past regrets or mistakes, and be aware of the inevitability of your future ones. After all, what is their purpose if not to act as learning experiences? Carry them with you, and learn from
them. They’ll make you stronger- us stronger, collectively.
They’ll mold us into the next politicians, the next educators, scientists, actors, actresses, or whatever you aspire to be! Our children will read history textbooks written by us - our bright future is written by us- if only we could make mistakes, and learn from them too. History repeats
itself, but mark my words, that ends with this generation. Uvalde, Buffalo, Parkland, and Sandy Hook ends with this generation. Social injustice ends with this generation. If only we could make mistakes, and learn from them too.
And so, as my time speaking to you comes to an end... and some of you are finally waking up! Perfect timing, too... I would once again like to congratulate all of you on your successes: past, present, and future. But I’d also like to congratulate you on your failures, for acting as their
motivation to begin with.
Thank you, Principal Berkowitz. I am always humbled and intimidated to follow our student speakers. They are just amazing. Congratulations to them and thank you to them for sharing their wisdom this morning. Good morning, friends, families, faculty, staff, members of the Board of Education and, most importantly, the distinguished class of 2022. I am honored to be here today to congratulate you and to share a few brief comments on this momentous day, for this most esteemed group of graduates
I had hoped this would be a special year for PMHS - the year we got back to something close to normal - regular school days, in-person clubs and events, and no more masks. But whereas we all strove for normal - the Class of 2022 went for and achieved something far beyond our wildest hopes!!
The Pel Mel achieved the highest award in its history at the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association Awards,
Seven seniors are going to ivy league schools,
We have a National Merit Finalist,
A National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Winner in Environmental Science,
2 Regeneron Science Talent Search Semi Finalists,
3 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair Finalists,
A team placing 30th in the country at the Grand National Forensic Speech Championships in Washington D.C.,
A member of our Math Team participating in the State competition,
The most stunning PMHS Art Exhibition ever, All state Chorus participants, live concerts by our performing arts students,
Countless all league, all section, all conference, and all state athletes,
League championships in Volleyball, Boys Basketball and Boys Swimming,
Section championships in Boys Lacrosse,
3 All American athletes,
1 Con Ed winner,
A State Championship Shot putter,
A Tier 2 Division 1 State Championship Rugby Team and a NYS Division 2 State Championships in Ice Hockey.
And this class also saw the full return of its cherished tradition of the Dr. Charlie T. Wilson Olympics. You did this!
Your ability to not only persevere, but push the envelope, to forge ahead and reach for new heights has made you perhaps the most decorated class to ever graduate from this historic building. You should be incredibly proud.
The Class of 2022 is the 100th to graduate from this historic high school building. In revisiting the rich history of Pelham Memorial High School, there are some obvious key differences:
Most notably, the Class of 1922 had 19 students. Today, you are 240 strong.
Back in the ‘Roaring 20s,’ students left during the day to go home for lunch - I guess there still wasn’t enough room in the cafeteria. Today, we have an open campus, and “home for lunch” has been replaced with “Wolfs Lane Deli.”
And fashion was quite, quite different. I think dress code violations had a significantly different meaning back then.
Even more striking - is how much has remained the same:
Class periods in 1922 were 43 minutes, a full two minutes longer than what they are today - Can you imagine how unbearable it must have been to sit in class for two more minutes before checking social media?
Many of the activities, clubs and student organizations that have shaped your lives were still part of the fabric of students’ lives in PMHS’ inaugural year:
Students back then participated in orchestra, drama club, yearbook, the Knight and Lamp Chapter of the National Honor Society, and boasted undefeated sports teams. Those same activities are still alive and well in 2022.
The Beta-Pythian club existed to promote a “desirable spirit of inter school rivalry.” Clearly a precursor to the beloved Olympics, a treasured part of our modern history thanks to Dr. Charles T. Wilson, who recently passed away.
And, finally, I must give credit to my source, Caitlin Winston, “The commanding towers, elegant arches, and striking wooden details of the Collegiate Gothic Style of the building invited and impressed all who laid eyes on it.”
These traditions are part of the fabric of Pelham Memorial High School and your participation and success as students and soon to be alums makes you part of that storied legacy.
I’d like to share a short poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson that speaks to this success and that I hope captures some of the highlights of your years at Pelham Memorial High School. It is entitled:
To Have Succeeded
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded
Having watched you at the Olympics, the battle of the bands, the school plays, games and throughout the halls, I know you have laughed and laughed and laughed, and found the best in others.
Through your scholarship you have won the respect of intelligent people and appreciated beauty in the arts, in writing, in science, in history and in math!
And through your service, I know this centennial class has done it’s part to to leave the world a bit better,
Pelham Memorial High School Class of 2022, by Emerson’s definition, and by mine as well, you have succeeded.
As you go forth from these hallowed halls on to the next stage of life, it is my sincere hope that you “Honor here the ideals for which they fought,” as is inscribed upon this Memorial building - ideals of scholarship and service, that you remember with fondness the relationships you made with staff and students during your time here, and that you build upon the firm foundation that has been laid during your time in Pelham to turn your success into significance and truly change the world for the better. Thank you and best wishes to the class of 2022.
I am obsessed with sequels. Good sequels…bad sequels. I love them all. For example, recently I watched “The Next Karate Kid,” with Hilary Swank and Pat Morita, the sequel to “The Karate Kid.” And as I pressed play, there were two possibilities. Either this would be a fantastic continuation of a beloved film, building upon the emotional depth that was found in the first, or it was going to crash and burn into a horrible, but overall amusing, mimicry.
And when I got to the point in the film where three members of a high school security group called the Alpha Elite bungee jumped from the roof of the school gymnasium onto the prom dance floor, I knew which of the two it was.
Perhaps I love sequels because I’m going into the business of telling stories. Or that I just loved seeing how people create new things out of old ideas. Whatever the reason was, it got me thinking. Why do people feel compelled to write sequels? Do people really want to see their characters tarnished by a continuation of a possibly subpar story? And, most importantly of all, what producer thought “The Next Karate Kid?” was ready for release? All of these equally important questions rattled in my brain. And then, in a moment of clarity, a single question emerged.
If I were to write the sequel to my high school story, how would I make it exciting and captivating? Well, a sequel needs to be grandiose, encapsulate the energy of the original, and build upon it. Alright, simple enough. All I would have to do was write a story that could rival the drama of a global pandemic! Maybe not so simple. But, let’s brainstorm. What if…I went into space and flew through a wormhole and then time went by faster-wait, okay…that’s Interstellar. Oh! How about I dress up as a bat and fight crime in the-hmm…Batman. That’s not gonna work either.
Of course, I’m making this more light-hearted and trivial, but the inherent idea of it is something that was bothering me. When you picture the end of “the high school experience,” you’d probably imagine a graduation like this. Maybe a group of friends gathering in a field. The camera pans and fades to the sky as hats are thrown in the air and the credits roll. But, what happens after the happily ever after? How could someone dive into the next chapter of their story without having a notion of what they’re getting into? And for months, the question would simply not stop bothering me until finally I found the answer.
Moving past high school, whether you’re going to college or directly into the workforce, the unknown is the most tantalizing and exciting part. With months of trying to plan my own sequel, I realized that trying to reason and chart the paths that life takes you is impossible. Life is exciting and spontaneous. It can’t be contained or predicted by words on a page or characters on a screen.
Someone told me once that life is like hundreds of doors. Each of them being opened and closed because of reasons beyond your control. If you try and force doors open or plan out which doors you’ll enter, they won’t open. But if you let it, life will guide you to the doors you’re meant to go through.
So, if you asked me to write the next chapter in my life, the sequel to my high school experience, …I’d tell you no because embracing the unknown is the most exciting part.
And if you are asked to write your next chapter, I’d implore you to say no. Because to quantify yourself in that way is simply impossible and it limits your potential.
And finally if the producers of “The Karate Kid '' are asked to create another sequel, I hope they will say no. Because we do not need it. Thank you.
Good morning everyone.
I would just like to start out by congratulating my classmates on this amazing achievement, and by thanking the administrators, teachers, and staff who have made this all possible. It is truly an honor to be standing here today, speaking in front of you all.
I have a little anecdote that I want to share with you. In my sophomore year, I was in class with Mr. Codella, when on some answer key he had put a little shadow under the box on the answer key. I don’t know why, it was actually pretty silly, but I started doing the same thing. The next year, I saw that Mr. Lindley liked to doodle on his answer key, and I ended up copying that too. When I started physics my senior year, Mr. Schembari noticed these two little details, and asked me why I did them. I didn’t really know why I did it, but I explained that I took after a few of my teachers. He responded with the question, “What are you going to take from me?” I thought a lot about this question, and it made me think about what attributes or traits that I have gotten from other teachers. It could be the rigorous work ethic from Mrs. Battema, or the bubbling attitude that Mr. Schleifer brought with him to every class. I thought about how amazing my teachers have been, and I would be lucky to take just a couple of qualities with me. Here at Pelham we are fortunate to have an amazing staff of teachers who care about their students. Not only staff, there are a lot of my own classmates that Inspire me as well. In this class, we have incredibly talented students, artists, athletes and performers.
I have been fortunate enough to serve as the class vice president and president all four years of school. Through this time, we have had our ups and downs, and then a few more downs. But I think that this year this class has truly become part of Pelham. We’ve had WESEF winners, state champion hockey teams, incredible performances, forensic speech championships, lacrosse section championships, all state and american players. The list goes on and on. This class has accomplished so much in the school, and I encourage everyone to take with them what they have learned in this school.
There’s a saying that goes, “you can’t take it with you.” This is referring to taking money into the afterlife, urging people to have fun and live in the present. I’m going to twist that saying for the sake of the speech. I’m going to say, you CAN take it with you. If it's something as simple as putting a shadow under the box on your answer key, or even something as big as the memories you made with your friends. I urge every single one of you to bring these memories, skills, and emotions with you to wherever you go, and never forget Pelham High School.
Mark Berkowitz PMHS Graduation Speech June 25, 2022 Students, Teachers, Families, Loved Ones, Friends: It is with great joy that I welcome you to the Pelham Memorial High School Class of 2022 Commencement Ceremony.
I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Andrew Van Bochove, the PMHS band and Malia McLellan, for their dynamic performances.
Thank you to the Pelham Public Schools Board of Education, Dr. Champ and the Department of Facilities for your help in providing this beautiful graduation tent!
And thank you to the PMHS PTA for these lovely flowers.
Extraordinary thanks are due to every teacher, administrator and faculty member of Pelham Memorial High School & the Pelham Public Schools whose daily dedication to our students’ has allowed us to reach this day.
Parents, families, loved ones: This is your day of celebration too.
Our Class of 2022 would not have reached this moment without your love, support and guidance.
Joining us today are friends and family who are themselves graduates of Pelham Memorial High School. We are so happy you are here.
Will all former PMHS Senior Class members please stand and be acknowledged.
And now, to the class of 2022:
You have dazzled us with your Olympics Silly Walk. Danced the night away at the Best Senior Prom Ever. And led our school’s commemoration of the PMHS Centennial. But it is your intellectual achievements, your commitment to service, your award-winning artistry and your championship athletics for which you will forever be remembered.
Seated among the class of 2022 is a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. Two of our students were named top 300 scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2022, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
Another student presented their research in Albuquerque, New Mexico becoming the 1st ever Pelham Memorial High School student to win the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), the premier STEM showcase for high school students.
Also featured in the Class of 2022 are your New York State Champions in Duo Interpretation as awarded by the NY State Forensic League; Award winning actors and visual artists, an Academic All American, All State Choral Members and members of teams that won the Section 1 Boys Lacrosse title, a Sectional Championship for Girls Ice Hockey, a sectional title for Boys Golf, a State Championship in Boys Rugby and your NY State Ice Hockey Boys Division II State Championship.
Several members of the Class of 2022 will be competing for their college or university in sports such as rowing, field hockey, rugby, football, baseball, tennis and track.
This Fall, students from the Class of 2022 will attend colleges and universities across the United States. Several students will be attending colleges or universities outside of the country, in locations that include Edinburgh and St. Andrews Scotland, Paris France, and Toronto & Vancouver Canada. Three students will demonstrate their commitment to leadership and public service by joining the United States Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Marines).
Will any Armed Forces bound Seniors please stand.
Please join me in thanking these students for their dedication to our country.
The Class of 2022’s collaborative spirit and creativity has brought joy to the Pelham Memorial High School community. They sang from the heart during the Battle of the Bands, produced amazing skits during the Senior Talent Show and with “Seventies” style brought home the Wilson Cup as champions of the Dr. Charles T. Wilson PMHS Olympics.
Class of 2022, we are so proud of you.
On behalf of your teachers, faculty and the Administration of Pelham Memorial High School, I wish you continued success and much happiness in the days and years ahead.