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Sue Bush
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Drury Graduates Class of 2006

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, June 02, 2006

Drury Class of 2006 Valedictorian Komal Shah
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North Adams - Blue-and-white carnations were in place, balloons bobbed merrily, and by the end of the June 2 evening, 122 Drury High School seniors were Drury High School graduates and proud members of the Class of 2006.

Mayor John Barrett III presented the diplomas to raucous cheers and applause, and the entire ceremony was broadcast live on Northern Berkshire Community Television channel 16. The graduation was held at the Drury gymnasium.

Salutatorian Margaret Z. Huang

Margaret Z. Huang delivered the salutatory address. Huang is the daughter of Kailai Huang and Youlin Shi, of 20 Notch Road.

Huang expressed some remorse at the absence of "funny anecdotes" or "life altering revelations," but did say that she had something to share with the graduating class members.

"All that I really have for my class of 2006 is one simple wish," she said. "And it is something that I hope you will truly embrace."

"No, I'm not going to wish you astronomical grades in college or multi-digit salaries, although I'm sure it wouldn't hurt. Above all, more than anything, I wish for you to realize how unique and intricate you are, and how beautiful it is."

Huang urged the Class of 2006 to be who they are and share that person with the world.

"Do not inhibit yourself with insecurities," she said. "We, you, are all so incredibly special that there is no reason to hide yourself. Do not do the injustice of having the world miss the chance to see how extraordinary you are."

Huang offered a hope that the graduates would immerse themselves in life and be overwhelmed by it.

"I hope you are overwhelmed...overwhelmed with exhilaration, wonder, and the vivaciousness of your youth."

Drury Class of 2006 Salutatorian Margaret Huang
Tackle life with gusto, she encouraged.

"So if you want to laugh obnoxiously at a lame joke, don't stifle it," she said. "If you want to be a ninja turtle for Halloween at the age of 17, don't hesitate. If you want to scream phrases like 'I'm a banshee' or 'You're the real deal, baby,' out the car window to an unsuspecting public, don't stutter. If you want to perhaps fashion yourself as a superhero to attend an Aquabats concert, then just be sure to adorn your homemade cape with a real BA superhero name in duct tape."

"And if you want to simply be yourself, do it. In fact, I dare you."

Valedictorian Komal K. Shah

Valedictorian Komal K. Shah refrained from urging her classmates to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, but just barely. Shah is the daughter of Mr and Mrs. Kemlesh Shah of 106 Brickyard Court.

"When I first realized that I was going to be speaking at graduation, it seemed a little ironic that, as one of the quietest people in the class, I was expected to give a speech," Shah said. "It's quite possible that many of you will hear me say more now than you've heard me say in four years!"

Shah noted that the only time she's spoken publicly prior to the graduation ceremony was at the Western Mass. Academic Decathlon - which Drury students won - and the decathlon speech was about vegetarianism.

"I was especially tempted to persuade you all to be vegetarians today but I figured that wasn't exactly the best way to say farewell to the Class of 2006," she said. "So, I'll start out by saying this: when I first came to Drury, I have to admit, I was lost."

Shah described a freshmen year fraught with confusion and worries and a fear of being late to class that prompted her to lug an overstuffed backpack from class to class every day.

Time has eased her anxieties, she said.

"As a graduating senior, I am certainly not lost anymore," she said. "Drury has given me a better sense of where I'm headed, not just in school but in the life ahead of me."

Shah listed several reasons for the Class of 2006 to be especially proud of themselves: "You've survived a constant slew of Mrs. Bedard's puns and Mr. Pecor's jokes," "You will never again have to hear the words 'Please export your attendance by 8:05,' "You've made friends who know you both at your best and at your worst. Even as we move on in our own separate directions, and possibly away from these friends, your relationships with them will shape the way you face the rest of your life."

"And lastly, you have earned the right to move on to a part of your life in which you will have the chance to redefine yourself as a person. High school is a place where we often try to identify ourselves with a particular group or with the people around us. Whether you are going on to college, entering the work force, or haven't decided what the plan is. by completing your years at Drury High School, you have earned your independence. Use this new independence to start over, or as the case may be, build on the person that you have been throughout high school."

"As valedictorian, I guess I'm expected to give the class some words of advice," Shah said. "I'd just love to tell you all to make the right choice and become vegetarians but I'll refrain. I'll just say this: As you continue with your lives and continue to define your character, do not be different just for the sake of being different but always be uniquely yourselves."

Good-Bye and Good Luck, Mr. Solari

Drury High School Principal John Solari joined the school officials and Barrett on the commencement stage for his final graduation as high school principal. Solari announced his retirement earlier this year.

"I'm feeling good and I'm feeling bad that I'm leaving," Solari said. "The time is right to leave. [The Class of 2006] are going on to their future and I am going on to something different. I just don't know what it is yet."

Retiring Drury High School Principal John Solari

Meghan Boucher, 17, who served as an usher during graduation, said that Solari will be missed.

"I wish him good luck," she said. "I know that he did a lot for Drury."

Danielle Thomas, 17, also offered good wishes to Solari.

"He's bringing a little bit of us with him," she said.

"I hope he makes the most of his retirement," said Ashley Perkins, 17.

Graduating class members offered glimpses into their futures.

"I just want to write," said Megan Adams, who is enrolled at Rivier College in New Hampshire.

Ryan Brule said that he plans to attend Salve Regina University in Rhode Island and study administration of justice. Nicole Dupuis, 18, said that she is attending Southern New Hampshire University on a soccer scholarship. Dupuis offered a few words about Solari.

"He is a really great guy," she said. "He cares about us, and he let us have our fun."

Stephanie Bosley, 18, and Stephanie Burdick, 18, have been best friends since the second grade, both said.The duo share an almost unlimited supply of shared memories but will attend different colleges. Bosley plans to attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, while Burdick plans to attend Westfield State College.

"We'll just be an hour apart," said Burdick, and Bosley noted that the longtime friends will finally have different stories to tell each other.

Rockin' Parties And Trying Times

During her welcoming remarks, Class President Kelsey Robare acknowledged the Class of 2006 and their "good times, good laughs, and rockin' parties."

Many of the classmates faced very difficult times that involved family matters, she said.

"Through all this, friends grew close and families grew closer," she said.

Robare urged the graduates to set goals and follow their hearts. She closed with lyrics from Rod Stewart's "Forever Young":

"May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever Young."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 802-823-9367.
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