By Angie Sykeny
For The Eagle-Tribune
---- — PELHAM – “Hold onto the memories you have created here,” Emily Lamport said in her salutatorian address to her Pelham High School classmates at the graduation ceremony last night. Lamport preluded her speech by taking a selfie on stage with the graduating class behind her.
“What will you remember? Will it be that exam you aced? That game winning point you scored? Whatever it is, our time at PHS helped mold us into who we are. Never forget the memories you made, but don’t be afraid to pursue new challenges.”
Though the ceremony was held inside due to poor weather conditions, the gymnasium was full of smiles, hugs, and cheering. Graduates bounced around a beach ball during applause, and many decorated their caps with glitter, paint, jewels, and bows.
But the class had one empty chair in the front row. Zachary Andrews was a Pelham High School junior when he passed of a rare form of pneumonia in January 2013. Class president Sutton Bradbury-Koster presented the senior class gift—a tree to be planted along with a plaque in the school courtyard.
“This is to pay respect and honor the memory of the classmate who should have graduated with us tonight,” he said. “He will be remembered fondly. Zach, we wish you were here.”
Valedictorian Mary Hammer offers her fellow graduates a piece of advice that she admits she herself struggles to follow.
“Having fun is important too,” she said. “I know we all have responsibilities to our school work, our parents, our bosses, our coaches, but we also have responsibilities to ourselves. We become so caught up in the craziness and stress of life that we forget what we are living for. We forget to take the time to appreciate each and every day.”
“No one knows how much time we have on this earth. We need to make the most of our lives and savor each moment. Take time to have fun and really live your life. I believe that as long as you maintain a balance between hard work and living life to the fullest, you will be amazed at where life can take you.”
In all, 86 percent of the 126 graduates are going on to secondary education. Many are staying local, attending University of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Franklin Pierce University, Southern New Hampshire University, and New Hampshire Technical Institute.
Essayist Nicole Lister challenged her classmates to dream big no matter what they do after high school.
“If you’re looking to change the world, do it. End world hunger. Design the next big thing for Apple. Become president. Make a million dollars. Create world peace. Go beyond expectations. Be whoever you choose.”