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Hoosac Valley High graduated 41 seniors on Friday night.

Hoosac Valley's 2021 Class Small But Ready to Roar

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Graduates celebrate on the football field on Friday. See more photos here.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The small but mighty class of 2021 persevered through an odd school year that they found they were more prepared for than expected.
"The 41 of us you see sitting here today is not the largest class that's graduated, but as they say, the smaller dog the bigger the bark," class speaker Aidan Koczela told his classmates Friday on the school football field. "We made sure everyone in this school heard our roar and told them the classic story of the underdogs defining the odds, and that is just what we did."
Koczela said with or without a pandemic, the class of 2021 were going to set goals, stick to them, and adapt to achieve them 
"This year football and soccer played in the spring during the second fall, the band concert went live without an audience, and our SATs kept being canceled," he said. "Obviously the pandemic greatly affected everyone, but this hasn't been the only time the students of this class have had to adapt. We have been adapting since the first day of high school. It is hard to believe that at one point we were scared freshmen walking through the halls for the first time, but we all had a bit of fire inside us."
He said perseverance, hope, and adaption are key components of the class of 2021 and the year's trials and their experience at Hoosac Valley surely prepared them for their next step. 
"We made it through the storm, but there will always be a little hurricane left inside us," he said.
Valedictorian Sydni Jamros said in many ways this school year was unfair, but bluntly she said life isn't fair.
"It is unfair that we had no senior year. It's unfair that we barely got to see our classmates and had barely any sports, dances, or regular school activities," she said. "But the thing about life is that it is always unfair and unfortunately we can't change that. We can either chose to dwell on the unfairness of life or push forward."
She said this is exactly what the class of 2021 did and even though a year has been "stolen" from them they have reached graduation and are all heading out on new and exciting paths.
She said unfortunately they cannot go back in time to relive important moments in high school, and urged her classmates to live in the moment and take nothing for granted. 
"We did the best we could this year and now we only have up to go," Jamros said. "I am sure all of my classmates will do amazing things in the future and I truly wish each and every one of you the best of luck in whatever you chose to do."
Salutatorian Jessica Isbell said between remote learning and in-person learning the class came up with a whole new array of excuses. Excuses that surely won't work after high school as the pandemic winds down.
"We're not going to be able to hide behind a zoom screen with our cameras turned off for the rest of our lives," she said. "It's no doubt this year has been different, to say the least. COVID this and COVID that. Although it did give us a whole new slew of excuses. Slept in? Bad wifi, bored in class? Camera doesn't work? Well, something must have worked because here we all are today about to step foot into the next chapter of our lives." 
She said with such a small class she could easily tell a story about each one of her classmates and that it will be strange not to see them every day.
The class of 2021 holds many exceptional people with bright futures, she said. 
"Our class holds many great people that I know can go off and change the world if they wanted," Isbell said. "Whether you are going off to college, going straight into the workforce, perhaps the military, or even just taking a gap year to figure your life out. Each of you holds potential beyond measure." 
Ambika Sharma gave the Ivy Oration she had presented at class night and that was produced by Northern Berkshire Community Television. In it, she compared the class of 2021 to a growing ivy plant 
"We grew and grew until we got to the point where we began to separate and become independent," she said. "Some of us wanted to challenge ourselves and others wanted to push through high school but that involved learning things ... people have joined and left us and here we are with 40 something kids in our class. It may be the smallest graduation in the history of Hoosac Valley graduations. Maybe I am exaggerating."
She said although it was such a challenging school year there are some positives to take away. Things they learned during the pandemic.
"Take time for yourself and be grateful for what we already had," she said. "It sucks we didn't get a normal year but complaining gets us nowhere. We didn't have a normal prom, a real senior skip day, or even a class trip. But we made the best of it, and it made us stronger." 
After handing out diplomas, the class sang the class song.
See scholarships and awards here; below are the graduates.
Jacob James Adamczyk ** +     
Nicholas James Alibozek * +
Aiden Brian Astorino **  +
Rylie Jane Bishop
Felicia Renee Braica
Izaiah Thomas Burdick **  +
Annabelle Rose Canales
Shaylynn Cantoni-Spencer **  +
Esther Rose Chilson
Gabriel Raymond Church
Daviaun Maurice Cote **
Corben James Craig
Jason Carl Field
Charles Joseph Gallivan +
Jett Francis Ginthwain *
Emily Paige Godfrey *
Anthony Nicholas Harris **  +
Zachary Roland Hubbard ** +
Abigail Renee Hugger ** +
Jessica Lee Isbell ** +
Sydni Lauren Jamros
Kassandra Lee Jarvis **
Sharaya Trish Keele ** +
Lana Alexis Kingsley
Aidan Michael Koczela **
Erica Sakura Langnickel ** +
Kylee Ann Legg
Logan Tanner Leja *
Lucas Robert Levesque
Xavier Brock Noyes
Jackson Valentino Owensby ** +
Madison Taylor Puppolo * +
Jacob Tyler Richardson ** +
Ambika Sharma *
Jacob Warren Soule *
Alexander Russell Strauser ** +
Emma Jane Thurston ** 
Maia Belle Trudeau ** +
Kristen Renee Wilczak
Quintin Xavier Williams
Annabellinda Love Wright
+ National Honor Society    * Honors     **High Honors

Tags: graduation 2021,   HVHS,   

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Cheshire Selectmen Discusses Town Meeting Results, Considers Job Descriptions

By Gregory FournieriBerkshires Staff

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen is excited to welcome a new full-time town administrator to Cheshire.

The board discussed at its regular meeting Tuesday the results of the town meeting earlier this week. Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said that Monday's town meeting brought "amazing news with the approval of the town administrator position."

The rest of the board agreed. Member Ray Killeen said that "early on … you knew which way [the vote for the full-time town administrator] was going," based on the comments by the town members and the applause that greeted those who supported the measure.

Francesconi said the town's selection for the post, Jennifer Morse, will be able to start soon after July 4. The board, however, has not yet negotiated her contract.

Some board members expressed disappointment that the recall measure, Article 17, did not pass. They said that in hindsight, they should have had some guidelines as to what type of behavior rose to the level of recall. They also said they should have upped the required signatures to oust a current member to more than 3 percent of registered voters, or 100 signatures, whichever was lower, as many of the criticisms of that measure centered around the low number of signatures.

Killeen said some voters may also have been confused about the change of some town officials (town clerk, tax collector) from elected to appointed. He said they may not have been aware that this would come up for a vote later, and that their vote at the town meeting was not final.

In other news:

  • The board reviewed job descriptions for some of the appointed officials in town. Members spent a lot of time discussing the harbormaster position, saying they wanted it to be a more educational position, rather than a punitive one.
  • Francesconi asked Police Chief Tim Garner if they could re-letter the harbormaster boat to say "Harbormaster." Currently it says it is owned by the Police Department, but because the harbormaster position is not a law-enforcement officer, Francesconi argued that the current boat-lettering could confuse some swimmers and boaters.
  • Garner reported that he is retiring next year, in 2022, and that he should be succeeded by a full-time police chief.
  • Garner also said police reform efforts in Massachusetts could have some drastic consequences for small-town police departments like Cheshire's. Since Cheshire's department is staffed by mostly part-time officers and its budget is a relatively small part of Cheshire's overall budget, additional training requirements for police departments will likely eat into Cheshire's police staffing.
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