|Taconic High Graduates 'Remarkable' Class|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
09:37PM / Sunday, June 10, 2012
|Caps, beach balls and Silly String marked the end of graduation ceremonies in the Taconic High School gym. |
PITTSIELD, Mass. — The Taconic High School class of 2012 is prepared to take on the future — its members just have to ask right questions and grab opportunity when it appears.
Both valedictorian Alexis Savery and salutatorian Christopher J. Coughlin spoke of the difficulty of leaving and the challenges ahead; Superintendent Howard Eberwein said parents should be celebrating, too. See more photos here.
"It's hard to let go of that which we have always known," valedictorian Alexis J. Savery said to her 209 classmates seated in the Home of the Braves. "Our fear of the unknown helps us to hold onto our friends and memories and make promises that we may not keep."
Don't look so regretfully at the closed door, she told them, quoting Alexander Graham Bell, that you fail to see the one that opens before you.
"We cannot be so concerned with holding on to what's comfortable that we fail to see the opportunities in front of us."
Each student has been changed by his or her time at Taconic, she said, and because of that, "we can accomplish anything in the future."
This class has been successful already, Principal John Vosburgh informed the friends and family gathered in the school's gym on Sunday afternoon for graduation exercises. Its achievements range from the state science fair to construction to culinary arts and to the more than 1,700 hours volunteered by National Honor Society members in the community.
"Needless to say, you're a pretty remarkable group of kids and we are very proud of you," said Vosburgh, who described this particular graduation as bittersweet because of its link to his time as a teacher before joining the school system's administration.
"This is my last opportunity to speak with a class of students with whom I have worked closely for the last seven years," he said. "I met most of you when you entered Reid Middle School as sixth-graders ... You are the last group of students I actually taught in a classroom."
During the ceremonies, the class and faculty also bid farewell to Dean of Students Gracemary O'Connell, who is retiring after 35 years in the school system, the last 16 as dean.
"She's the only dean Taconic has ever had," said Vosburgh, who added that thousands as well as he had learned a great deal from her. O'Connell was known for quoting "there's no clock on the wall of education," said Vosburgh, who on wishing her a happy retirement on behalf the school, reminded her "there's no clock on the wall of retirement."
The honors chorus sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the high honor awards were presented by School Committee member Katherine Yon, Superintendent Howard Eberwein III and Deputy Superintendent Barbara Malkas. The honor awards were presented by School Committee members Daniel C. Elias and Kathleen Amuso, and school business administrator Kristen C. Behnke.
Giorgia K. Comeau was presented with the Karl B. McEachron Award, a plaque and scholarship of $1,000. The award in honor of McEachron, a pioneer in electrical engineering at GE, is given to a student from Pittsfield or Taconic high with outstanding academic achievements, community involvement and an intention to pursue either science or engineering.
Giorgia K. Comeau
Mayor Daniel Bianchi, presiding over the first graduation of his tenure and of the day (Pittsfield High would graduate a couple hours later) handed out the diplomas.
He urged the graduates to stay in touch with each other and to build lasting friendships. "Accumulate friends like dollars in savings bank," said the mayor, who also reminded the class that the two most important words are "thank you."
Salutatorian Christopher J. Coughlin also found import in the words, taking time at the beginning of his speech to express his thanks to the staff and faculty as well as classmates and asking for a round of applause for them.
He, too, admitted that leaving would be difficult. In addition to classmates, he would be separating from his twin brother, Patrick, as they headed to different colleges.
"Regardless of whether or not you have a twin, we all face the challenge of branching out into the world independently," Coughlin said. "We should be confident in our abilities because our time at Taconic has prepared us well for our futures.
"The class of 2012 is talented group of students and we will undoubtedly succeed in our goals if we continue to strive for excellence."
This would be the next to last graduation, for Eberwein, who is resigning at the end of the school year. In a few hours, he would watch his oldest, Elena, receive her diploma from Pittsfield High School, so he knew what parents were going through today, he told the crowd.
"So parents congratulations, despite the fact we dropped them on their heads a few times, put a pillow over our heads when they cried incessantly, fed them an occasional candy bar and a Pepsi ... They somehow made it here in spite of us and we truly do love each and every one of you."
He urged the class to "be ridiculously curious." Now that they were postgraduates, according to the fine print on their diplomas, they couldn't ask stupid undergraduate questions — like does my butt look fat? or how do they get the deer to cross at those yellow signs? — but important questions, such as how do we feed the famished, how do we stop a war, how do we solve poverty?
"These questions you ask and the answers you seek will ultimately define who you are, who we are, because in our effort to answer them, we learn about ourselves, our worldn and how the two intersect," said Eberwein. "Even if Ray Bradbury's firemen come knocking on your door, the simple act of curiousity, ridiculous curiosity, is all the power you will ever need and it's held in your two hands."
Yon brought congratulations on behalf the School Committee.
"Whatever you do, we hope the foundation to success has been set here at Taconic High School and will help secure the future you envision for yourself," she said, and then took a cue from the closure quote at the bottom of all of Eberwein's emails — "Today is the day, be remarkable."
"Well, today is the day and you are remarkable."
||Scholarships & Awards
||Val & Sal
| Brian Addy
Glen Bona Jr.*
Mark Duane Jr.
William Huxtable Jr.
Scott Ketcham Jr.
| Lisa Lau
Justo Pagan IV
Keith Parsons Jr.
Ryan C. Porter**
Ryan W. Porter
Daniel Rawson Jr.
| Latasha Ridley
Mitchell St. John
Thomas Wool Erin Wurtemberger**
** High Honors