Mount Greylock Regional awarded diplomas to 112 students during graduation ceremonies at the school on Saturday evening in a flurry of red and white. See more photos here.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With five snow days, two wet floor days, one blackout day and a graduation day that is set in stone, Mount Greylock Regional School's class of 2014 had fewer days in school than any class in recent memory.
And that is just one thing these grads have to be thankful for.
Giving thanks for the more important things in life was a theme throughout Saturday evening's commencement exercises.
Mount Greylock's Teacher of the Year, selected by the class, told the 112 graduates what he tells his cross country runners.
"Your mother was wrong. You're not special," Larry Bell told the class, going on to note that no one succeeds on his or her own.
"You achieved a lot of goals, as you heard earlier, but you didn't do it alone. You've done special things not because you're special, but because you're surrounded by people that care for you, and they're there to pick you up and encourage you, and critique you and discipline you.
"And if you were a little nervous about getting to this point at Mount Greylock, you're probably feeling relieved to be here right now because of your hard work but also the people around you. My one wish for you going on to jobs, careers, families, college is you remember when you're a little scared about something, you're not going to be alone. You still have these people behind you and many more in the years to come who want to be that friend as well."
Bell reminded the graduating seniors not to be afraid to ask someone for help — echoing the theme of the Paul Simon tune, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," sung earlier in the evening by the Senior High Chorus.
Saturday's ceremony recognized the class of 2014's achievements in academic, cultural and athletic pursuits, and it singled out a few grads for outstanding academic achievement.
The school's John B. Clark Scholars' Awards were given to five graduates: Class President Emily Kaegi, Caleb Backus Raymond, Zavi Katt Tiluca Sheldon, Heather Kristen Tomkowicz and Derek James Wood.
Mount Greylock also recognized winners of top honors in nine disciplines: English, Sheldon; history, Thomas Nicholas Guettler; mathematics, Kaegi; science, Raymond; foreign languages, Steven Michael O'Brien; Latin, Raymond; art, Cara Elyse Betti; music, Harrison James Dilthey; business technology, Nicholas Anthony Dastoli; and wellness, O'Brien and Pearl Anna Sutter.
Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald opened the evening, filling in for Superintendent Rose Ellis, who was out of town on family business.
MacDonald listed some of the myriad accomplishments at the high school over the last four years and, in her own way, reminded the "special" class of how they got that way.
"Ralph Waldo Emerson encouraged his acolytes to 'Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously,' " she said. "That is not a difficult task to accomplish. We are readily grateful for the gifts, positive attention and opportunities we receive.
"What is harder is the second part of Emerson's precept: 'And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.' The difficult, uncomfortable experiences from which we learn and grow are far less appealing and usually eluded by our gratitude. And yet we must appreciate them for their contributions to who we are and where we will go."
MacDonald told the grads they need to practice gratitude.
"Your parents, guardians and extended families are most deserving of your appreciation," she said. "Tell them how much you appreciate everything they do for you. Consider your favorite teacher, adviser or coach — and what you have learned from him or her — and say, or write, thank you.
"And look beside you. These classmates, with whom many of you have moved through six years at Mount Greylock, have given you inspiration, support and good cheer. Show them your gratitude as well."
One of those classmates joined MacDonald in emphasizing the theme of gratitude.
"Each of us owes thanks to someone in this room," said Kaegi, who was the faculty's pick to address the ceremony. "The older student in the back who completely turned our world around, the coach who saw something in us, the teacher who inspired us to think further, the parent who gave advice but stepped back to watch us grow, the peer sitting a couple of seats over who taught us something new about ourselves."
Dilthey, who was chosen by students to speak, spoke about goals — goals accomplished and those that lay ahead.
"Some of us are attending college, and some of us are working full time, but no matter where we are going, we are all moving forward," Dilthey said. "Senior year has fully molded us into a class: into six years of history and learning that will be in our memories forever.
"And although we are passing our Mount Greylock pride on to the class of 2015, there will always be a place for the class of 2014 at Mount Greylock. After all, as we've said all year, this is our house."
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