BArT Graduates Find Their Voices
Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School graduated its largest class to date on Saturday morning in its new gymnasium.
ADAMS, Mass. — Before the members of BArT's graduating class received their diplomas, they heard from their school's director, its principal, the director of the Northern Berkshires Community Coalition's Neighbors Program, and their fellow students.
And the graduates were reminded that sometimes the most important voice is their own.
"Most of my time at BArT, I spent making sure that I wasn't the one who stood out in a crowd," class speaker Ciera Jeanne Dowling told the crowd assembled in the new gymnasium at the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School.
"But as you all know, being a student at BArT Charter makes that really hard because we have such small classes. ... Here is my message: Speak up. All you have to do in life is speak up."
Nineteen BArT graduates heard their names called from the podium on Saturday. Each of those graduates will be attending a two-year or four-year college or university in the fall, ranging from Brandeis University to Berkshire Community College.
The ceremony was marked by laughs and tears. The former largely supplied by the annual senior class video, the latter coming when graduate Kuwanna Nikole Bobbitt struggled to make it through her remarks prior to the BArT tradition of grads presenting individual teachers with flowers to show their appreciation.
The class of 2015 made a special presentation to a departing member of the faculty, Anna Bean, a teacher of African studies, humanities and performance studies who joined the BArT faculty in 2010.
"May this gift represent the many gifts you have shown and granted us through these years," graduate Elizabeth Catherine Laurin said. "Thank you for your tireless commitment to each and every one of us. We love you, and we would like to say farewell to our captain."
Graduate Jeannette Anna Louise Lambert sang the praises of Bean's "crew" in an original poem she prepared for the occasion.
"You may not realize, but I happen to be graduating with some of the greatest people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting, I'll tell you," Lambert said. "We are the champions of the lunch room. We are the greatest bubble test takers you have ever seen. We are much more than school.
"We are smart despite the tests we ace and fail. And as much as we might not want to admit it, we are the cutest mismatched patchwork family."
NBCC's Annie Rodgers reminded the graduates to bring the love that they have for one another out into the "real world" and to never stop trying to spread love.
"The greatest goodness that you can bestow on someone or something is your love," Rodgers said.
"The path that my life [has taken] is far more interesting and far more fulfilling than any of the plans that I had hoped for when I was 17. It has been so because I risked letting my love be my guide."
And speaking of risks, Dowling reminded her fellow graduates to never be afraid to take a chance and speak up — a lesson that she learned from them, she said.
"I have realized the power of a single voice this past year," Dowling said. "I have listened to every single one of my peers, for the last seven years, use the power of their voices to change things they felt were negatively impacting us or others or to express their love and gratitude toward something that has helped us or others.
"This year, classmates, I have followed your example and decided to start using my voice to its fullest extent, and I feel like it has made life a lot easier to deal with."
Tiffany Marie Andrews
Kuwanna Nikole Bobbitt **
Kyleigh Gianna Castagna **
Tyler Michael Deschaine *
Colin Andrew Douglas *
Ciera Jeanne Dowling
Tyler Fox Either **
Brandon Lee Gregory
Jeannette Anna Louise Lambert *
Elizabeth Catherine Laurin
Katie Ann Maxfield
Caitlin Nicole Mayes
Jordan Marie McLear
Trevon Ja’mel Peltier-Tarrance
Dylan Sean Quinn *
Olivia Schultz-Falandes *
Lauren Hope Shamburger **
Abiyel Dawn Bella Ury
Zachary Ryan Winston
* High Honor Student
** Student served as a BArT Student Ambassador
Tags: BArT, graduation 2015,