Lee High Class Told that Failure Is An Option

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Valedictorian Maureen Feldman, top, addresses the graduating class at Lee High School's 137th commencement at Tanglewood in Lenox. More photos to come.

LENOX, Mass. — Lee High School valedictorian Maureen K. Feldman has a simple request of her classmates: Fail.

Not just fail, but fail spectacularly.

"Class if 2014, I feel that now is a time to enjoy our mistakes and the liberty to change," she told her 93 peers on the stage of the Koussevitzky Music Shed on a warm Saturday afternoon. "I stand before you unsure about my future and proud of it."

Failure, she said, was nothing to fear.

"... We have yet to experience most of our truly life-changing moments ... compared the lifetime stretching before us, high school was a warm up. Every decision so far has seemed incredibly final, until something better has come along."

Some may continue along or change paths and move on to something else, leaving what they thought was their dream behind.

"This is not a sign of weakness or youthful blindness, but a symbol of self-awareness and a representation of where we are in life," Feldman said. "Being secure in your plan doesn't guarantee happiness and changing your mind isn't a sign of failure."

But they will fail at something — at work, at school, at relationships. Take risks, get out of comfort zones, don't be afraid to fail, she said. "Find yourself, because no one else can do it for you."  

"So class of 2014, fail spectacularly but, after failing, continue to try," exhorted Feldman. "Success is not a moment of greatness but a life of errors marked by continued perseverance. Success is already ours. We need only to fail to find it in ourselves."

Feldman spoke to the 137th Lee High graduation ceremony that saw the announcement of nearly 100 awards and scholarships to the graduating class. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Andrew Consolati, a recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Award, and the song "For Good" from the musical "Wicked" was performed by the school chorus.

The diplomas were presented by Principal Joseph P. Turmel and Dean of Students Arthur P. Rielly, as family and friends became increasing jubilant with applause, cheers and horns. In one special case, Morgan F. Zukowski slipped off the stage to receive her diploma from her great-grandfather, longtime Lee High teacher and superintendent Henry T. Zukowski, who was seated in the front row.

Lee School Committee Chairwoman Susan G. Harding noted the students' dedication to their community and their support of each other.

"Your high level of participation in all manner of school activities and your support of each other in sporting events, academic competition, performing and visual arts has been noticeable," she said, and offered a role model for their peers in the lower grades.

No matter what their career choice, "You will be well prepared because of your public school education."

But salutatorian Everett J. Harding cautioned that the class shouldn't think that achieving a dream was as simple as wishing.

"It must be constantly followed, found, pursued, even if it seems at times to slip away from you," he said, giving the example of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, the Notre Dame player who conquered numerous obstacles to play just one varsity game.  

While some think dreams are a snap, the actions and support of his school and class had proven that determination was still alive through tournaments, plays and competitions.

"It gives me courage because I know that we have the grit it takes," said Harding. "In fulfilling these small dreams, you give me courage that we all will live our larger ones. ... I know we can, and I can't wait to see the world once we do."

Interim Superintendent Alfred W. Skrocki, recently retired from the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, had stepped aside so a student more familiar with the school could speak in his place. (No student, he joking noted, had insisted that he speak.)

The volunteer, Heamon Williams, encouraged his peers to thank those who supported them along the way and not to get so caught up where they're headed that they miss the memorable moments.

"Class of 2014, I love you guys," he said. "In the words of the great Steven Tyler, 'Life's a journey, not a destination. So enjoy yourself.' "

Graduates Top Students Scholarships
& Awards
Abbott, Renee M.
Belliveau, Nicole L.
Borges, Jeremy A.
Boutiette, Paul G.
Bridagan, Brooke A.
Briggs, Caitlyn A.
Brown, Jonathan T.
Carlino, Rachel C.
Clark, Conor D.
Clouser, Sadie L.
Conklin, Carol-Anne
Consolati, Andrew M.
Consolati, Matthew J.
Cook, Devin Z.
Cosmus, Naomi H.
Costa, Jalissa M.
Dewey, Cecilia A.
Dorsett, Kimberleigh H.
Eckert, Michael J.
Fadding, Jared M.
Farina, Eric M.
Feldman, Maureen K.
Fera, Cameron M.
Forero, Laura P.
Forest, Cameron D.
Forget, Emma O.
Fraser, Anna I.
Giarolo, Deaglan P.
Graziano, John V.
Hanley, Jessica L.
Harding, Everett J.
Holmes, Mary C.
Hontas, Samantha N.
Houghtlin, Mackenzie H.
Hubbard, Samuel M.
Hurley, Chelsea J.
Jimenez, Barbara S.
Joy, Ava C.
Kastrinakis, Elizabeth M.
Kaur, Gurvinder
Kaur, Rajkiran
Kelley, Matty J.
Kohlenberger, Ryan A.
Konopka, Daniel T.
LaGrant, Shane C.
LePrevost, Julie M.
MacNayr, Emmilyn G.
Martin, Megan H.
McKeon, Erin R.
McLaughlin, Amanda M.
Miller, Hannah J.
Miner, Emma M.
Morin, Katie A.
Newton, Jake D.
Nikituk, Angela
O'Brien, Daniel J.
Onorato, Vinicius M.
Pelkey, Bree-Anna M.
Perry, Laura C.
Provost, Jacob R.
Provost, Kenneth J.
Rodriguez, Daniela
Rodriguez, Karen M.
Sacco, Harrison J.
Shepard, Zachary J.
Sherman, Morgan E.
Simon, Jake T.
Snow, Katrina I.
Somostrada, Jastine K.
Spare, Justine L.
Tanner, Aaron J.
Tietgens, Matthew C.
Toomey, Thomas A.
Truden-Girardey, Kenneth G.
Twing, Eric S.
Velis, Rocio G.
Wadsworth, Tori E.
Wickham, Alexandra S.
Wickham, Kayla S.
Williams, Heamon C.
Williamson, Jordan E.
Zukowski, Morgan F.


Tags: graduation 2014,   

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