With a toss of a hat, 125 students celebrate their graduation from Monument Mountain High School. More photos here.
LENOX, Mass. — The "universal fear" of change is a lot like building a sand castle on the beach, according to Kevin Li.
The Monument Mountain Regional High School salutatorian explained that everyone fears that change will come in and destroy everything they've worked toward — just like the waves destroying a sand castle.
"We fear that this wave will swallow everything and everyone we've grown to love," Li told his fellow classmates Sunday afternoon, as the 125 students prepared to graduate.
But, he also told the class of 2014 that they shouldn't fear the waves, because it is the water that gives the sand the texture to be molded and built into the sand castles. And, the waves won't destroy all that you've worked for, he said, they simple scatter it across the beach. And after graduation, the class will be scattered across the world.
"Don't be scared of losing your sand castles," Li said, to standing ovations from his fellow classmates and beach balls being swatted around the inside of the Shed at Tanglewood.
The Monument Mountain students had accomplished a lot, said valedictorian Emily Martin, who recalled stories of transforming into a well-rounded student and person. She remembered hiking on class trips in the cold and rain, struggling along side her closest friends. But it is that adversity that Martin says left a mark on her.
"In times of adversity, do not wish away the moment," she said, urging her classmates to continually look for the lessons and the value in every situation.
Throughout the students career, they are always asked how will they leave their mark on Monument Mountain. But on Sunday, Martin turned that phrase around, asking, how has Monument Mountain left its mark on them. For Martin, that is answered with one work — "integrity."
"We have all accomplished so much in our last four years," Martin said.
Watching the students over those four years was "extraordinary" for Principal Marianne Young. She told a story of a student just this year asking her — during a talk on memoir writing — how she felt about living an "ordinary" life. While Young agreed that there can be some "ordinary" moments in her life, watching the students grow every day is not.
"This is extraordinary. You are gorgeous. You inspire me. And there is nothing ordinary about that," Young said.
For the school, this may be the 46th class, but Young says every year she is continually inspired to grow and learn more along side the class.
"I am grateful that I am still willing to learn," she said.
School Committee Chairman Stephan Bannon told the students to continually learn because there is always more to learn. And he reminded the students not to forget the community they live in.
"We have taught you that besides the classroom there is work to be done in the community," Bannon said. "It is incumbent on you to help the community you live in... be a person who helps to solve the problems."
The ceremony also featured the band and the Spartones. After Bonnon awarded the diplomas and after the students flipped the tassel on their caps, a loud cheer rose as they threw their caps into the air. Just a few hours after the ceremony began, the 125 seniors walked out of the Shed and onto the sun-soaked lawn, under a blue sky where they were greeted by their families as graduates.
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