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Superintendent James Brosnan presents Vanessa Harrington with the Superintendent's Award.
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Harrington poses with family members.

Harrington Receives McCann Superintendent's Award

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The McCann School Committee, with new member Peter Breen, meets last week. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School senior Vanessa Harrington has been presented with the Superintendent's Award for 2019.
 
"You will lead the rest of the world," Superintendent James Brosnon said Thursday in front of Harrington's family and the School Committee. "You have that innate piece."
 
Each year, superintendents across the state award one student with a Certificate of Academic Excellence, sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.
 
Typically the award is given out in December, however, the multi-talented Harrington was unable to attend because she was performing in a dance competition in Disney World in the state of Florida. 
 
Principal Justin Kratz said Harrington, from Cheshire, is a senior in the information technology program and has a 4.24 grade-point average -- the highest in the class of 2020. She is taking three Advanced Placement courses and hopes to attend Villanova University.
 
Kratz read some statements from Harrington's teachers and said they all were thankful for the opportunity to sing her praises.
 
"Our teachers are always eager to let us know the great things students do but I don't think I have ever received so many thank-yous," he said. "So your teachers had a lot of good things to say about you."
 
The principal read quotes including:
 
"I use the term unfazed and I mean that in the good way. She has always been calm and cool."
 
"She is one of the most engaged students that I have ever had in school. She is an active listener and always participates in class ... she is kind and compassionate at all times and her presence makes McCann a better place."
 
"She is every teacher's dream student. She is conscientious, bright, diligent, kind and caring."
 
Brosnon said Harrington actually works for the school and has spent summers, vacations, and evenings improving the school's computers and network.
 
He said she was part of the massive undertaking of creating a master spreadsheet that lists all of the school's more than 500 computers. She also helped build a maintenance schedule for these computers. 
 
"Creating that kind of thing is indicative of what you are all about because you saw that issue, you knew how it could be best done, you grappled it, came up with a solution and implemented it," he said. "That is part of leadership and confidence so as you work through life, you have already accomplished more than most of us would in a lifetime."
 
School Committee Chairman Gary Rivers also congratulated Harrington and her family.
 
"As a former teacher myself, the one phrase that stood out for me was a pleasure to have in class," the former McCann principal said. "When a teacher says that they are thinking about the personality she brings to class, the leadership, and everything above and beyond her academic ability which she certainly has."
 
Before closing, Brosnon congratulated Kratz who was appointed to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Committee as a Massachusetts representative.  
 
"He was selected and appointed by his colleagues and peers ... and it is something I certainly support," he said. "It is really quite an honor to be selected."

Tags: academic award,   McCann,   val & sal,   

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'Downhill': It's all Relative

By Michael S. GoldbergeriBerkshires Film Critic
"Downhill," an Americanized adaptation of Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund's "Force Majeure," a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, doubtlessly lost something in the translation. Indeed, this variation on a comedy-drama about a family on an Alpine ski vacation evokes a smidgen of its Continental DNA. 
 
Yet, in taking its uncertain path to some hoped for humanistic revelation, it seems like it'd be much happier if only it could jump the tracks from classically cerebral comedy to safely domesticized farce.
 
Not to say that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell as the marrieds with issues just bursting to unravel don't give it as successful an old college try as the scenario will allow. But to quote a hobo I once met aboard a southbound freight I hopped, describing a French version of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" he had recently seen in New Orleans, "They just didn't impart that je ne sais quoi."
 
Still, I suspect the plot's central bugaboo, meant to epitomize and hence hold the epiphanic key to the chronic dysfunction every family worth its weight in Sturm und Drang embraces, is as thought provoking in English as it is in Swedish. And, unless you've emanated from the picture-perfect world of the nuclear family as it was depicted in 1950s sitcoms, there are in this film niches of behavior and modes of coping that assure you are not alone in your experience.
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