Kayle Krom tells her classmates that there are a lot of things out of their control, but their lives are something they have the most say over. See more photos here.
LENOX, Mass. — Kayla Krom learned that there are a lot of things in this world that one cannot control.
She learned that the hard way. The Mount Everett Regional School valedictorian's brother died in a car wreck in April.
"Just a year ago he was up here sitting on this stage. This is the best moment of his life. I can remember his huge bright-eyed smile that lit up a room and hearts with joy. I was such a proud sister seeing him push through the adversity he had faced to graduate and walk with his class. My amazement with the person he had become was immeasurable. He was not only my role model. He was so much more." Krom said.
"Although he isn't in the crowd seeing me deliver this speech, he is here in my heart and mind, as well as in the hearts and minds of the people who he touched."
Krom focused on her brother in delivering her address during the commencement at Tanglewood on Saturday. She told the 46 others in the class that her brother didn't have a chance to use his talents and compassion for others, but that they do. She urged her classmates to take control over what they do with their lives.
"Make sure that you acknowledge the unpredictability and lack of control you have over life. You can't control what happens. I learned that the hard way this year," Krom said. "From this, I recognized what I can control, however. Every one of us was handed the opportunity to receive an education and all of us did it. We each took this opportunity into our own hands and ran with it using the network we built."
It has been 50 years since Superintendent David Hastings graduated high school and he knows exactly what it is like to have "things happen." When he graduated, he was set on becoming a teacher, but he got drafted and ended up in the military.
"A life in motion travels in a straight line unless it is touched by an outside force," Hastings told the graduating class. "The things that touch your life won't always be wonderful things."
But he encouraged to embrace changes and to avoid having "a narrow path, have a wide path and it will take you to a wonderful place." No matter what though, Hasting said if the graduates ever need any help they can always come back to the community because each student is family.
Salutatorian Kenneth Edwards said commencement is a celebration of what is ahead. But he cautioned his classmates not to spend too much time planning for the future, but to always recognize what is right in front of them now.
"We spend so much time and energy focusing on the future, that maybe our future will only consist of us working toward those eventualities. My point is, we do have to focus on what is ahead of us but we also have to focus on what is right in front of us. In the fall we will continue to focus on the summer. However, this summer I urge all those sitting behind me to keep one eye on the future and the other focusing on now," Edwards said.
The graduation ceremony kicked off in somewhat cold temperatures, as the wind blew through the Koussevitzky Music Shed but that didn't damper the enthusiasm from family, friends, and loved ones who shouted, cheered and gave standing ovations. The ceremony included the announcement of awards and scholarships.
The chorus sang "Stand By Me" and Principal Glenn Devoti told the students to focus on the lyrics because they reflect exactly what the school and the small community is like.
"You were cared for here very, very deeply and you will always be important to us," Devoti said.
The wind ensemble performed "Mountain of the Sun" just before Devoti, Hastings, Dean of Students Kurt DeGrenier, School Committee Chairman Carl Stewart, and some special guests handed out the diplomas the students have worked so hard to earn.
Then the class marched to the lawn to celebrate with family and friends, as another chapter of their lives have come to an end and a new one begins.
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