Superintendent Barbara Malkas shakes hands with students. Last year's graduation had everyone 6 feet apart. Look for more photos Friday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Drury High School class of 2021 made a dramatic appearance when the curtains swept back from the auditorium stage on Thursday night.
The graduation had been set for Joe Wolfe Field but a last-minute change because of weather had them front and center at their alma mater to receive their diplomas.
The 78 graduates were told several times that they were about to step into the "real world" but that their experiences at Drury would help them navigate wherever their paths may lead.
"Graduates, today marks a new beginning for each and every one of us. After tonight, we'll no longer be high school students with no clue about life. We will then become graduates with no clue about life," said valedictorian Katie Booth to laughter. "And if any of you have a clear concept about what our next steps will be taking us, just know that I am envious."
Booth spoke of the support and inspiration she'd had from family, the good friends she'd made and the tremendous impact administrators and faculty had had on her.
"Taking part in sports throughout my years at Drury has created long-lasting friendships, and lessons," she said. "Being part of the team has truly showed me what a family is. There is always support, on and off the courts or fields."
Teammates and coaches taught her that you can't get upset by failure, and that failure can provide an opportunity for improvement. It was a concept, she said, that's she's since used inside and outside the classroom.
Stepping into the real world might be scary, Booth said, but their time at Drury had allowed for each and everyone one of them to prosper.
"We've been training for 12 years to be ready for this moment, our moment. Our time has finally come to show the world what we are capable of. The future is us," she said. "Always remember, who made you who you are and where you came from, so congratulations to the class of 2020."
Salutatorian Mackenzie Dobbert also reminded them that they'd been waiting for this day since kindergarten but had never imagined it would look quite like this.
But they would leave Drury knowing they had the ability to face the challenges ahead and that they had a strong support system within themselves. She offered a few tips from the past year -- to wash your hands to "Happy Birthday," not to put gasoline in plastic bags, appreciate the little things like having toilet paper, and if you need to know something, ask your parents.
"We learn from these experiences in life, and they shape us into a slightly different version of ourselves each time, whether the change is good or bad, we are always evolving in our own search for the best version of ourselves," she said. "Take 2020 for example, it was unexpected and challenging. It completely changed society, every time, and we were forced to change with it, despite not having the typical high school experience, we as a class may not have like these changes, but it helps shape us as independent thinkers, and people who are ready to take on the real world. Are you ready?"
The gathering was welcomed by Class President Kevin Chen, who introduced the speakers.
Sophomore Rachael Barrows presented the dedication of the yearbook to School Nurse Leader Lauren Gage and to the faculty and food service and custodial staff for their efforts during the pandemic, represented by Stephanie Kopala, director of curriculum and instruction. Kellie Lahey, middle school special education coordinator, was given honorable mention for her work on not only the 2021 yearbook but last year's as well.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas presented the Marion B. Kelly Teacher of the Year Award to Michelle Darling, a special education teacher and co-president of the North Adams Teachers Association.
Principal Timothy Callahan presented faculty awards to the graduates before diplomas were presented by Malkas and Mayor Thomas Bernard, chairman of the School Committee.
Callahan told the graduates how life-changing it had been to read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" at the age of 5. The book broke all the rules with its mismatched pages and little holes intimating the caterpillar was eating his way through it. It evoked a love of books and reading that led Callahan to teaching English and to the stage where he was talking to them.
"What it taught me on that day all those years ago, was not that rules are made to be broken, but maybe sometimes there are no rules, maybe what we think are rules are just the ways we've done things in the past," he said. "As I think about the class of 2021, I think of a class that has embodied that philosophy in the most glorious way possible, even before the pandemic, you were a class that challenged the norms."
The class of 2021 pivoted from remote to hybrid to in-person during a year of pandemic challenges, sometimes every few weeks.
"You're able to adapt, possibly because you never really believed in the old rules to begin with, possibly because you're willing to choose your way as a metaphorical book, and you're not going to let anybody stop you, and possibly because we knew that there might be other ways to do things, and we're willing to figure that out," the principal said.
"Now that you have a emerged from your cocoon, or your chrysalis like that beloved caterpillar, I can't wait to see you spread your wings and fly."
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BOSTON — The governor is proposing a two-month-long sales tax holiday this year as a way to support local economies and that would put an estimated $900 million back into residents' pockets.
A sales tax holiday is already on the books for Aug. 14-16, a weekend of tax relief in August that's now a law in the state at this point. The Baker-Polito administration filed legislation on Wednesday to expand the sales tax holiday to the entire months of August and September.
"A two-month sales tax holiday will provide a boost to Massachusetts' taxpayers and Main Street economies as we continue to recover from COVID-19," said Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday in a statement. "Massachusetts' economic recovery is off to a good start, but it's crucial that the commonwealth takes action now to spur more economic activity in communities and support taxpayers. Thanks to stronger than expected tax revenues, the commonwealth has managed to grow the rainy day fund to a balance higher than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, and we can also afford to return these tax dollars to our residents and small businesses."
State tax revenues for fiscal 2021, he said, continues to "significantly exceed projections." Sales tax revenues to date are 14.9 percent above benchmark and revenues across the board means the state is poised to end the fiscal year with a significant surplus.
The commission granted Chairman Jeff Naughton and Administrative Officer Angie Ellison permission last week to begin reviewing applications for both a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and a new airport manager.
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