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Pittsfield High graduated 187 students on Sunday.

PHS Class of 2021 Has Musical Commencement, Acknowledges All Career Paths

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The chorus prepares to perform live, as did the band and orchestra. A number of other graduations had teed up recorded performances because of the uncertainty of pandemic restrictions. See more photos here.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield High School held what is believed to be the first-ever graduation in its "back yard" on Sunday, and the first time the event has been held at the school since at least the late 1980s.

The graduation celebration for the 187 seniors was musically charged with a performance from the band playing "The Mandalorian" by Ludwig Goransson, the chorus with a live rendering of "High Hopes" by Panic! At The Disco that had the graduates finger snapping, and the orchestra performing "Impromptu" by Jean Sibelius.

PHS chorus member and graduate Julia Ostellino-Moran sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

A majority of the student speakers acknowledged post-high school paths that don't involve going to college. They emphasized that those who choose to pursue a trade, enroll in the military, or even take a year off should be celebrated equally.

"We have to realize that college isn't for everyone, and that's all right, today we also honor the young men and women who are, who have chosen other paths in life, we honor those who have decided to enlist in the Army, and other armed forces, and we honor their great courage," Class Council President Ryan Muller.

"We should also not forget about those who decided to go into the trades and go directly into the workforce and will probably make more money than any of us here today."

Muller pointed out that his peers have gotten into some of the "most elite universities and colleges in the world" such as Williams College, Northeastern University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Rochester, and many more.

"What is more important than success, however, is to not lose yourself along the journey," he said. "Yeah, some of us will move far away from Pittsfield and never even look back, and that's OK. This next chapter of our lives is about discovering who we were then, who we are now, and who we one day hope to be."

Class Council Member Da'Lisia Adorno said although COVID-19 "overstaying its welcome," the school administration was accommodating to her and her classmates while the virus completely changed the way they were educated.  

"Not only do we face the normal challenges of being senior, deciding whether or not we're attending college, university, trade school, enlisting into the Army, or taking a gap year, but we also had to face the challenges that COVID-19 had placed on our shoulders," She said.

Adorno said the two weeks that school was initially shut down in March 2020 quickly turned into 14 months. She referenced making the trendy whipped coffee and doing YouTube star Chloe Ting workouts to pass the time, which quickly got old along with the shutdown itself.

"I know this year was not what we expected 13 years ago," Adorno said to her classmates. "But we still made our mark here under the dome, and we'll continue to make our mark in the paths we choose."

Fellow Class Council member Sadiya Quetti-Goodson believes that she will see her peers on magazines, billboards, in the National Basketball Association, on Broadway, and in the White House.

"There are endless possibilities for us right now, this may seem challenging and confusing or daunting and overwhelming, but there's beauty in the madness," she said. "I think that each and every one of us will end up where we are meant to be. We can agree and recognize the world is a little broken right now, however, you have the potential to reshape rebuild, and change it for the better."

Quetti-Goodson encouraged the class to do what makes them happy, do what they can to improve the world, and live the life that they want to live.

"I additionally believe it is of the utmost importance to clarify and remind everyone that no one measures your success except yourself, and this next chapter in your life, do not limit yourself to what others think you are capable of," she added.

"Challenge yourself, don't take no for an answer, and don't let others determine or dictate your success. Remember what you have overcome to get to this moment today and be proud of yourself. You are the Pittsfield High Generals."

Interim Principal Maggie Harrington-Esko also reminded the graduates that as they embark on the next chapter of their lives, it is important to "be yourself, be true to yourself, and be confident in who you are."

"This year, the world has seen division, loss, and isolation on such a large scale, but over the past few months, the PHS class of 2021 has brought hope and joy back to 300 East St.," she said.  "You have rebuilt a community here, and for that, I'm forever grateful. You have filled our home under the dome with kindness, compassion, and given us a reason to celebrate."

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Berkshire NAACP President Reflects on Juneteenth Origins, Plans Rally

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Juneteenth was celebrated Saturday for the first time as a local, state, and national holiday.  
The city of Pittsfield added the holiday to its municipal roster in May, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill making Juneteenth a state holiday last July, and President Biden signed a bill making it a national holiday on Thursday.
Berkshire NAACP President Dennis Powell spoke to iBerkshires about the origins of the date and its implications in modern-day society.
Though he is glad to see it adopted nationally, Powell expressed mixed feelings about Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery and has been celebrated in some parts of the country as Emancipation Day.  
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