|Wahconah Graduation Stresses Empathy, Preparation|
|By John Durkan, iBerkshires Staff|
05:00PM / Monday, June 04, 2012
|The Wahconah Regional High School class of 2012 went wild at the conclusion of the graduation ceremony on Sunday afternoon.|
DALTON, Mass. — As the tassels turned, Silly String flew wildly through the gym at Wahconah Regional High School as the class of 2012 celebrated its graduation day on Sunday.
Valedictorian Abigal Pugh shakes hands with Principal James Conro during the graduation ceremony.
"They truly have proven themselves to be Wahconah's pride," Principal James Conro said. "They are prepared. All they need to do is apply themselves. If they apply themselves, they can get where they want to be."
A total of 161 seniors were graduated, and almost all of them gifted Conro with a Mardi Gras-esque bead necklace as they grabbed their diplomas.
After the school band opened with "The Star-Spangled Banner," salutatorian Kayla Stergis stressed the importance of being prepared and was optimistic on the future.
"We've learned to be prepared, always ... I see nothing but the best in our future," Stergis said in her speech titled "Wahconah's Pride."
She further explained the importance of friendship and reflected on her time at Wahconah positively.
"A good friend is something we shouldn't take for granted," Stergis said.
A few seniors performed the song 'Please Speak Well of Me' by The Weepies.
Valedictorian Abigal Pugh followed up with her speech "Neurodiversity," and shared her experiences with the Buddy Program, a big-brother/sister program that mentors mentally handicapped people.
"Being a Wahconah Buddy was the greatest part of my high school career," Pugh said. "Some people find this surprising when I tell them. They wonder how someone who appears to succeed easily academically finds herself happiest working with people for whom learning is one of their greatest challenges. The truth is that life isn't easy for any one of us that sit before you today. The best we can do is use our own unique gifts to help others.
"Wahconah taught us to learn about ourselves by helping others," Pugh continued. "We will pass on this endless circle of universal empathy as we enter the world ourselves."
In the midst of the ceremony, Conro spoke highly of Martin Phillips, the assistant principal who will leave this summer, stressing his dedication to success and teaching.
"He was someone I considered my really older brother," Conro joked.
Conro then announced that Aaron Robb will take the position, which was received with loud applause. Conro also commended and awarded Ester Matlock with teacher of the year honors.