Julius Munemo, chosen by his classmates, and Ruth Weaver, chosen by the faculty, address Saturday morning's graduation ceremony at Mount Greylock. More photos to come.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In reflections both sweeping and intimate, the Mount Greylock Regional School's 2021 class speakers Saturday talked about the often frightening ways the world has changed them and how the school prepared them to change the world.
"High school was a playground, a sandbox, to have a simulated go at real life," Julius Munemo told the crowd assembled outside the school. "A real life defined by what you say and what you do; by what you chose to be, when the world wants you to be something else. The fact that we can remember moments from our time here and cringe is a good thing. It's proof that we've developed something between our ears."
Mount Greylock graduated 84 seniors at Saturday morning's ceremony, held for a second straight year outside the school building.
Munemo was chosen by his classmates to deliver an address. Ruth Weaver, who also performed a stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," was chosen by the faculty to speak.
Munemo chose as his theme, "the world is a machine of change," and talked about the personal journeys of change each senior experienced at the middle-high school.
And he told them that as they changed, they also became agents of change.
"We affected some change together, I'm sure of it," Munemo said. "Maybe it wasn't the stand-outs or the protests so many of us cared so much about. But maybe it was. Either way, I don't think the scale of that change is important. We made choices which had ramifications.
"Think about that. Friendships and relationships were created, and then broken, social groups and cliques were split and divided. Simulated life wasn't always clean and it wasn't always painless, we didn't always change the whole world-but we never failed to change each other."
Weaver talked about how the world changed in the seniors' brief lifetimes and the challenge of coping with the day to day turmoil of life in 2021.
"On the Snapchat 'news' page alone, I'm hearing that a hundred people died in five different places and that I have to do something about it," Weaver said. "That this piece of plastic is killing this sea animal. That this politician hid this, that I have to sign this, that I am standing comfortably by as a hundred million people are tortured or starved.
"Oh my god. That's a lot. It's a ton of responsibility, which is yet again a good thing, but it's an abstract new responsibility. It's not being told to do the dishes or walk the dog. It's being told to grow up and learn to keep up. Quick."
Weaver admitted that, for her, life can be overwhelming, and it was long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While the Parkland shooter fired his first shots, I was taking selfies in Mr. Louis' directed study," Weaver said. "I still have the pictures — they're not good, considering I was in ninth grade and my braces and acne kind of overpower the poorly applied lipstick. I can't bring myself to delete them, and I can't enjoy them either: they are forever the shallow, poorly lit pictures I was taking while kids my age were getting shot at. And those moments, when we as young people find the problems of the entire world falling around us, is what is in the heart of our generation."
But Weaver, like Munemo, offered hope, assuring the soon-to-be graduates that Mount Greylock had prepared them to face the challenge of life in the mid-21st century.
"Math is not just knowing how to find the area under the curve; it is understanding the logic, the step-by-step, the deductive reasoning, and understanding how to apply that to real life," she said. "Language is not just studying stories written by dead people or knowing how to write and read; it is knowing how to creatively communicate, express yourself, and experience the human condition of a thousand more people than you could ever be.
"And since I have thanked our teachers and illustrated the gifts all of them have given us, I likewise want to thank my fellow classmates for stepping up to become the community in which we could practice, debate, sometimes make fun of, and ultimately genuinely struggle with these big problems. Our class has never backed down from a challenge, whether that is extracurriculars, jobs, academics, or spike ball, and we kept each other on our toes. I am proud of us."
The class of 2021 singled out two members of the staff who helped them on their journey of change. The seniors voted Sean Flaherty as staff member of the year and math teacher Lucas Polidoro as faculty member of the year.
Polidoro talked about his interview for a position at Mount Greylock. He said he was asked about his philosophy of education and admitted Saturday that he had no good answer at the time. But he does have an answer now, and adapted it to share one last lesson with the graduating seniors.
"My educational philosophy revolves around fostering relationships with students and reflecting daily on my teaching," Polidoro said. "When you get to know each student, take time to talk to them, go to their plays and their games, you earn their respect.
"To the Class of 2021, take the time to get to know the people in your life."
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Berkshire DA: Up to Towns to Handle Officers on 'Brady List'
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — If Select Board members hoped the Berkshire County district attorney would offer direction on how the town should deal with the impact of having a police officer on her office's "Brady list," they were very disappointed.
Twice during an hourlong presentation at Monday's Select Board meeting, District Attorney Andrea Harrington said it was not her office's place to tell towns how to respond when the county's prosecutor decides one of the municipality's law enforcement officers has a history that needs to be revealed to defense attorneys or, worse, that an officer's history is so concerning that he or she cannot be used as a prosecution witness without approval of a supervisor.
The town currently has 11 full-time officers — including one on administrative leave since March and another pulling double duty as lieutenant and interim chief. A third has been placed on Harrington's "do not call" list, meaning the DA has determined the officer has "made misrepresentations about material facts in a criminal investigation," she said Monday in Williamstown Elementary School's gymnasium.
Some in the community have wondered whether having an officer on the do-not-call list, particularly when the department already is short-handed, creates an issue for the department's efficiency. Many residents have suggested that the town should remove the officer on the list and replace him with an officer who can be fully functional.
If Select Board members hoped the Berkshire County district attorney would offer direction on how the town should deal with the impact of having a police officer on her office's "Brady list," they were very disappointed. click for more
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The committee advising the Select Board on the selection of the next town manager is launching a multi-front effort to gather input from the community about its priorities for the next occupant of the corner office at Town Hall. click for more