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Dan Pompi is surrounded by family on Monday night after getting the Superintendent's Award. The Hoosac senior plans to study aeronautical engineering.

Dan Pompi Receives Academic Excellence Award

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
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Dan Pompi receives the Superintendent's Award for Academic Excellence from Superintendent Aaron Dean.
ADAMS, Mass. — Hoosac Valley High School senior Dan Pompi is this year's recipient of the Superintendent's Award for Academic Excellence 
Superintendent of Schools Aaron Dean made the presentation at Monday's School Committee meeting as a number of family members looked on. 
Each year, superintendents from across the state honor the top-ranking student from their district with the award. The award is sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.
"When I was a principal my favorite part of the job was celebrating student successes. As superintendent that continues to be the favorite part of my job," Dean said as he presented Pompi with the award. "These things don't happen by accident. You have a wonderful support system. I couldn't think of a better recipient for this."
High School Principal Colleen Byrd summed up several emails she received from faculty with effusive praise for Pompi as a student and a person. 
"I went through all the [letters] and here's what I heard: fostering, eager, natural, focused, friendly, leader, positive. And without fail every single morning when you walk into school since I've been principal you always look  me in the eye and say good morning and smile. I don't think you know how important that is," Byrd said. "You deserve this award for your character and your academics. It couldn't happen to a better young man."
Pompi was surprised to receive the award and quickly praised his family for their support. 
"It was nice to hear all that. I found out about this about an hour ago. I wasn't expecting it. I know there are a lot of students with the same well-roundedness at Hoosac so I'm sure it was tough competition," he said. "[My mom] always pushes me. It's never the easy route. She's always been working in education so she's like the principal at home. And my dad is an engineer so I hope to kind of follow his path."
Pompi wants to study aerospace engineering in college and he said all his applications are in and he's nervously waiting.
"I've applied to 10 schools. The decisions start coming out soon. I think UMass is the first that comes out, maybe this week," he said. 
Asked what his dream school is, he replied quickly: "[University of Southern California]. It's a stretch but we'll see. Eleven percent (acceptance rate)."
Pompi parents Jill and Christopher, siblings Natalie and Nick, and aunt and uncle David and Tina Maselli were on hand for the ceremony.

Tags: academic award,   graduation 2020,   

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Guest Column: Statement on Sentencing in Steele-Knudslien Murder

Guest Column
As the region's longest-serving LGBTQ organization, Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition has closely followed the case of the murder of Christa Steele-Knudslien, the North Adams resident and founder of the Miss Trans New England Pageant. 
Today [Thursday], her murderer has been sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after serving 25 years. In the two years since we lost Christa, the community has rallied around her memory and inspiration. In North Adams, a grassroots task force was founded in reaction to her death and those of other residents killed by their partners. This led to the Berkshire County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force, a coalition of community agencies such as Elizabeth Freeman Center, law enforcement, and the court system, currently working to end domestic violence in Berkshire County for good. 
On the brighter side, over the past two years the Berkshire Pride Festival has grown to be a major event, celebrating and uplifting the trans community that Christa cared about so much. An annual award for local LGBTQ leaders has been established in her name and with her spirit. Clothing swaps have happened where Berkshire residents shared the joy and beauty of being trans, the same goal Christa had in mind when founding her pageant. Rainbow Seniors and the Berkshire Trans Group expanded their meetings, providing support and connection from Williamstown to Great Barrington.
Politically, a local contingent spent hours organizing and fighting to pass the state ballot measure last year that made Massachusetts the first state to successfully defend an attack on a trans rights bill, setting a strong precedent for human rights across the nation. And we mourned, as a community, at each Trans Day of Remembrance, a national event that struck home when we read Christa's name amongst those murdered.
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