McCann Class of 2007:"This Is Not Where The Hard Work Ends"

By Susan Bush
09:45PM / Wednesday, June 06, 2007

McCann Class of 2007 members Cinthia Rios, Chase Randall, and Ashley Watts [Photo by Sue Bush]
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North Adams - Four years of friendships and accomplishments captured the focus the Charles H. McCann Technical School Class of 2007.

"The best part about McCann is that we all got to be close-knit friends," said Amanda Sayres, 18, who received a diploma from the information technology curriculum. "This is a small class, only 107 of us."

Alicia Giorgi, 17, who accepted a diploma from the automotive curriculum, repeated the sentiment.

Erick Cardinal and Chelsey Ciolkowski shared a hug moments before accepting diplomas. [Photo by Sue Bush]
"This is a real close class with a lot of strong friendships," she said.

So Long Astoria

Class Salutatorian Justin Burdick reviewed the past four years but avoided any note of things "too strange or embarrassing to mention here."

As freshmen, the class watched four English teachers pass through their classroom, and Burdick was the recipient of a "welcoming concussion from Whitney Frost, who also convinced most of the class my name was Jason."

"During our search for knowledge, we often wondered as to what exactly the infamous clam roll actually was, why those who ate it did it only for bragging rights and why a single slice of cheese remained stuck to the ceiling for almost an entire year," Burdick said.

The students formed friendships and relationships that will be remembered for the rest of their lives, he said. A song on a favorite CD seemed to describe the class and the emotions of graduation:

"So long Astoria, I've found a map to buried treasure And even if we come home empty-handed, we'll still have our stories of battle scars, pirate ships, and wounded hearts, of broken bones and all the best of friendships."

"It then says something that I believe sums it all up; 'life is only as good as the memories we make.' And if this is the case, I'd say that each and every member of this graduating class has had a pretty good life."

"This Is Not Where The Hard Work Ends"

Valedictorian Ryan O'Hearn spoke about the value of education.

Kayleigh Spofford delivered a congratulatory kiss to her fiancee Ben Wick [Photo by Sue Bush]

"Theodore Roosevelt believed that 'A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car but if he has education, he may steal the whole railroad'," said O'Hearn. "While the President wasn't condoning anyone to steal. the message is clear that education leads to more. This is what receiving a superior education is all about, being able to move ahead and go beyond your original expectations, to see what you're really capable of."

"Some of us didn't think we'd make it this far but we have and we can be proud of what we've accomplished, because it took a lot of work and perseverance to get here," O'Hearn said, and then offered thanks to parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and others who helped students continue their high school educations.

"This is not where the hard work ends," he said. "When we land that dream job or continue and finish our education, that is when the quest for lasting contentment begins, and we can reflect on how we got there. We must let nothing discourage us or get in our way."

O'Hearn shared a poem by Edgar lee Masters that spoke of the winds of destiny.

Nicollette Chandler and Brittany Folino anticipated the graduation with eager excitement. [Photo by Sue Bush]
"We must remember to not be afraid of change or be afraid to charge of our futures," he said. "As we stand together for the last time, we will remember this moment forever, while we look forward into the future, not to find our destinies but to create them. And remember, without challenge, there cam be no success."

Superintendent James Brosnan welcomed family and friends to the ceremony, hosted by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts at the Amsler Campus Center gymnasium.

"This evening is about being proud," Brosnan said.

He urged the Class of 2007 to remain loyal.

"Remember that you are from McCann," he said. "Remain loyal to your classmates, your school, and your family."

The procession was led by bagpiper and McCann student Toran Manning and drummer Jason Stevens and a group of McCann school members of the Class of 2008. As the procession passed beneath a green-and-white balloon archway, the pops, clicks, and flashes of cameras filled the room and almost every face wore a smile.

Class of 2007 member Chelsey Ciolkowski led the singing of the national anthem. Diplomas were presented by Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School Committee Chairman Daniel J. Maloney Jr. and Brosnan.

And as has been a tradition for several recent graduations, after the tassels were turned, "silly string" strands were freed from canisters and sprayed onto caps and gowns. This year, hand-held "clickers" added sound effects to the revelry.

Kim Critelli plans to return to McCann as a post-secondary student. [Photo by Sue Bush]

Diverse Destinations

Sacha Tovani, 18, completed the cabinetry curriculum and plans to use her skills in New England.

"I am going to Sabbathday Lake [Shaker Village] and I'm going to be an oval box maker. I'm going to be a sister there."

The Sabbathday Lake community is an active Shaker community located in Maine.

Katrina Manolarakis also completed the cabinetry program. She plans to study massage therapy at MacIntosh College in New Hampshire, she said.

Emerald Lapier of Williamstown said she will attend SUNY-Morrisville and earn a degree in agricultural business.

"My dad's been a farmer and I want to follow in the footsteps," she said.

Automotive graduate Kim Critelli is among the students who plan to return to McCann as a post-secondary student.

"I'm going into cosmetology," she said. "And I want to coach JV [junior varsity] soccer if they have it. I've got plans."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.

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