Caleb Duffy tells his classmate that they are about to embark on a journey, starting at the bottom of a 'mountain of dreams.' See more photos here.
ADAMS, Mass. — For years, the members of Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School's Class of 2018 walked into school across a sidewalk emblazoned with the school's ubiquitous star-shaped logo.
Before walking out of the school one last time on Saturday morning, the graduates heard just how appropriate that logo really is.
"Many other elements are inside of us," the school's Executive Director James White told the graduates at the start of Saturday's commencement. "They're in the food that we eat. They're in the drinks that we have. They're in the air that we breathe.
"As the years advanced, I've learned that all … those heavy elements, besides hydrogen and helium and a little bit of lithium, were not made in the big bang. There was only one place where those heavy elements were made. One place. They were created inside the terrifically hot, deep interiors of big stars.
"Graduates, billions of years ago, everything that you are now was rolling and cavorting and moving inside a massive star. Billions of years ago, that's where you were. And look at you now."
White, an astrophysicist, opened the ceremony with that bit of cosmological history but assured the 31 members of the Class of '18 that the day's main theme is what comes next.
"Today, is not a celebration of ending," White said. "It is a celebration of beginning — one where we reflect only a little but stare firmly and confidently into the future."
Graduate Caleb Duffy picked up on that theme right away by providing a metaphor for the future that awaits him and his classmates.
"We see this as an entrance to the 'real world,' to get a degree, to get a job," Duffy said. "But where we are today is not a 'cliff to adulthood.' Rather, we stand at the bottom of a hill, of a mountain of dreams.
"Up that hill, there are sights to see, worlds to experience and journeys to begin.
"Today, we start that journey."
Principal April West shared a little about her journey, which took her from a small town in northern California to Bennington (Vt.) College when she was the same age as the graduates before her.
"My grandma had bought me a plane ticket to get me from California to Albany [N.Y.] for move-in day, but I didn't even know when I set out how I was going to get home after the first term of college ended," West said. "What I did know was that I had big things to do, a mark to make and I was one step closer to beginning that journey."
West told the crowd in the school's gymnasium that she had dreams of being either an architect or an actress, "or maybe both." But, as the members of the Class of 2018 are soon to find out, life sometimes takes you in directions you never expected.
"I stumbled through the end of my teens and my early 20s rediscovering myself and discovering new truths," she said. "I realized that what was most important to me is people, relationships and what it takes to expand opportunities for youth.
"I've come to learn it isn't what you do with your life but how you live it and what questions you ask while you're living it that are most important. Your 'how' will directly affect the 'what' of what you do."
Of course, not all of the day's festivities were about the future. In addition to honoring the graduates' accomplishments — including the fact that all of them are moving on to college — the ceremony continued a BArT tradition of letting the graduates honor their teachers. Early on in the festivities, each member of the class presented a single red rose to a member of the faculty who has particularly impacted his or her life.
And the faculty member students chose to speak at the ceremony, commencement speaker Nicholas Caccamo, reminded the grads that while today may not be entirely about nostalgia for those moving forward, those who stay behind are entitled to a little nostalgia of their own.
Caccamo, a guidance counselor, talked about the way each of the graduates inspired the entire school when he or she brought news of acceptance to college, something that happened 156 times — an average of more than five per student in the Class of '18.
"Almost every morning, one of these students walked into the office, bright and early, with big smiles on their faces, saying to whoever was there at the time, 'Guess what? I got in here or there or there or there,' " Caccamo said.
"The outward expression of pure joy by our students is why we teachers show up every day. The late nights of planning, grading essays and the difficulties that come with classroom management are all a distant afterthought. It means that we teachers did something right, that our collective commitment to your education resulted in something positive for you."
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Adams Holding Informal Information Session on 40R Smart Growth
ADAMS, Mass. — Residents wishing to learn more about the town's consideration of a Smart Growth Overlay District are invited to a public information session on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
The session will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Visitors Center at 3 Hoosac St.
The purpose of the informal session will be to provide information to the community at large about the town's proposed adoption of the Smart Growth Overlay District, also known as Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40R.
The Planning Board has proposed that the town's zoning bylaws be amended to establish a Smart Growth Overlay District.