PELHAM — Be yourself and never give up.
Good advice at any age; advice given last night by student speakers to the graduating Class of 2011 at Pelham High.
The school awarded 140 diplomas to one of the most accomplished classes in Pelham history.
Principal Dorothy Mohr related their achievements in academics, athletics and community service to scores of friends, relatives and well wishers who turned out to see them off in an outdoor ceremony.
More than 80 percent of the graduates will pursue higher education, Mohr said.
About a third of the graduating class stood when the principal recited the names of those who already have attained at least 10 college credits.
The students also leave Pelham with an established record for community service. Mohr said they recorded more than 10,000 hours combined helping the town in some way.
"You have not retreated from challenges," Mohr said. "You have embraced them."
The students cheered one of their classmates who could not be with them. Stephen Irwin was an early graduate, bound for training with the United States Marine Corps.
Salutatorian Emily Morris reminded the graduates that what makes Pelham High great is not always what can be seen.
"Most of the things that make Pelham High great are not visible," Morris said. "You don't see the camaraderie that develops from spending so much time in a school like this," Morris said.
"You don't see the time and dedication that the teachers put into their jobs or the way they care about their students as people."
Class essayist Ethan Ely called on the students to persevere in life.
"I am here to tell you not to worry because as long as you keep trying and never give up, in the end, everything will be all right," Ely said.
"Be yourself," valedictorian Ben Bradbury-Koster told them. "The world needs you because no one else is like you and no one else can replace you."