All nine students who graduated BArT this year have been accepted into college. More photos can be found here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Barkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School seniors thought they were done with all of their assignments but on graduation day, Principal Benjamin Klompus gave them one more.
Klompus had pencils and paper prepared underneath the seats of the nine graduates. During his remarks on Saturday, he told them to grade themselves, one to five, on their own purpose, curiosity, effort, respect, reflection and integrity — and, yes, spelling counted.
"This is your core score. It is not any part of your transcript but rather one I hope you'll use to start asking questions about yourself. What are your areas of strength? Which area is a weakness. Is your self-assessment similar to what others think about you? If not, why not?" Klompus asked. "Each of you exemplify one specific core value."
Klompus used the test to encourage the graduates of the Adams school to continue self-assessment and moving forward in life. Each student had been accepted into a place of higher learning and Klompus said it was a pleasure to be able to teach such a group.
But the graduation is the start of a journey not the end, said keynote speaker and former Principal Ellen Ennis, which is why it is called it a commencement.
"We are here to honor you, to applaud you and to wish you well on your next venture that you begin today," she said.
Now the students all have a "destination" in mind but the journey there will take twists and turns, Ennis said, and they will have to evaluate the path and make adjustments. She told them to always continue learning and interacting with the environment around them because those twists and turns could lead to something spectacular.
"Always, always keep your eyes open and see what is new along the way," Ennis said.
Ennis used the stories of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of Apple Computers, as examples of how life can change.
The students chose former Principal Ellen Ennis as their commencement speaker. Executive Director Julia Bowen, on the right, also spoke.
"These nine seniors are resilient students who have persevered through a challenging high school curriculum," Executive Director Julia Bowen said. "Graduation is the first of many milestones we expect these students to achieve."
Student Christopher Cozzaglio said that the school and his classmates have prepared him to graduate.
"We have grown as a group. We have dealt with addiction in our families, our addictions, heartbreak, issues with sexuality and confidence ... We survived it all," Cozzaglio said. "I would like to personally thank every senior. Not only have you helped me grow, you have become a part of who I am."
Cozzaglio promised that he would always be there for his peers even though they are going in different directions. Later, after Cozzaglio thanked each senior personally with stories, the audience learned a little bit more about the closeness of the class. A video presentation with pictures and interviews with the students included a few minutes dedicated to each student.
The ceremony also incorporated a poem read by senior Cassidy Matthew, and senior Colleen Garrity sang "Blackbird" by the Beatles. After receiving their diplomas from Klompus, the graduates made their way out of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Church Street Center auditorium — but not without pausing to dance.
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