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Mildred Elley graduates are awarded their certificates on Thursday night during a ceremony held at the Holiday Inn.

Mildred Elley School Awards Certificates to 66 Graduates

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Keynote speaker Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby speaks of his own struggles in life and urges the graduates to meet people with kindness. See more photos here. Right, Brother Jackson is the class speaker.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mildred Elley School presented certificates to 66 graduates on Thursday at the Holiday Inn and Suites. 
The Pittsfield campus of the New York institution offers courses ranging from cosmetology to business technologies. 
Campus Director Belinda Green commended the graduates on their academic achievement that they were able to share with faculty, family, and staff.
"Graduation is one of the greatest times in our life. Our graduation ceremony gives you the opportunity to celebrate the accumulation of all your efforts and truly absorb your new status and then start a new chapter in your life," Green said.  
"This is also a special opportunity for those who have touched your life through this journey to celebrate you, and you should feel rewarded. As you move forward, we really hope that you will keep in touch with us and share all of your amazing accomplishments."
As the Jordan Sparks' recording of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" played on a boombox, financial aid representative Veronica Warren softly sang as she sat with this year's graduates. They encouraged her to sing louder and soon enough her voice filled the room and others to join in camaraderie. 
Green brought President John McGrath's greetings and congratulations because he was unable to attend to give the presidential address.
Student speaker Brother Jackson had graduated from cosmetology program and is now graduating from the business technologies program. He thanked the staff for their support and told the graduates to keep moving forward when times are tough and to turn obstacles into motivation. 
Jackson was also the recipient of the President's Award, given to students of high academic achievement and who have made outstanding contributions to the school. 
Keynote speaker Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby said he expected that all of them had come to this day dealing with a struggle of some kind, perhaps one that they didn't want to share. But he wanted to share with them some of the experience of living with a mother who suffered from a number of mental health issues, including dissociative disorder, and that he had had to work through school with undiagnosed attention deficit disorder.
"If I had known then that I had ADHD, I probably would have been a little bit more successful in high school," Derby said. "I struggled most of my childhood education ...
"I can happily say that next month I am graduating from BCC with an associate's degree in criminal justice. Took me 22 years to get there. And I am graduating with high honors."
He spoke of how it was easy to become jaded, especially in his profession, but that he hoped they would remember that everyone has struggles and "that you keep that empathy with you and treat others as though you wish you would want to be treated." 
There was one graduate who couldn't be there. The school gave an honorary business technology certificate to Jeric Black, who passed away earlier this year with only one more course left to complete the certificate. 
"I did not have the pleasure of knowing or meeting this individual. However, all faculty and staff has spoke very highly of his drive and his determination to finish this certificate," Green said.
As Black's name was called, his mother, Melinda, came up on stage to accept the certificate, hugging Green and Chairman of board Chair Faith Takes. 
The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to instructors Kelly Milne and Linda Vroon. They were selected by the students and staff. The Distinguished Service Award, presented to a member of the administration students felt was most helpful to them, was given to Amy Beverly and Matt Martin. 
Academic Achievement Awards were presented to one student in each of the six disciplines.
At the end, the graduates turned their tassels the room filled with applause and cheers. 
Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate 
 Amanda Buckingham
Ana Buttieri 
Emily Gennari 
Dawn Houghtlin 
Amy Johansson 
Kimberly Kaczala 
Cassandra Losaw 
Christy Mejia 
Cassandra Moro
Tieshawna Ortiz 
Katie Penna
Sharea Perkins 
Christina Ramos+
Leanne Ramsdell^
Ana Rodriguez-Pereira 
Jessica Spring
Izabella Squires 
Gail Stickle +
Antonia Sulpizi 
Tyanna Thomas 
Danielle Wendell 
Amber Williams 
Tracy Williams
Jaycee Wood+
Medical Office Assistant Certificate 
Christine Castle 
Tanika Curry 
Meghan Durso 
Shannon Lee Lockenwitz 
Ashley Murray 
Massage Therapy Certificate 
Joslynn Cancel ^
Sarah Cohen ^
Taryn Dargi 
Bonny Delvillar*
Crystal Gaudette*
Alejandra LeBeau 
Suede Quenneville 
Business Technologies Specialist Certificate 
Oronde Bradley
Trever Clark *
Coral Cook*
Rebecca Corkins*
Brother Jackson
Colleen Koneazy*
Lauren Lewis
Katie Thomann
Cosmetology Certificate
Rachel Couser^
Nola Paton^
Gabriel Riello^
Kelsey Robitaille
Practical Nurse Certificate
Kelsey Bradley
Lachay Canada
Crystal Champiney^
Nicole Drosehn
Lisa Gaudette
Ebony Hall
Chastity Kight
Tina Laviolette+
Jennifer Lee
Shellen McGirt
Stephanie NcNulty
Kerri Najimy
Jacob Novik
Katherin Ogando
Lauren Pettijohn
Dena Porter
Jenny Pytko
Josue Ramos
* summa cum laude, ^ magna cum laude, + cum laude

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General Dynamics Seeks Small-Business Connections

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Congressman Neal says there are more than 133,000 Massachusetts residents employed by small businesses in the state. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — General Dynamics Mission Systems gathered around 75 small businesses and professional organizations at the Berkshire Innovation Center on Monday for a day of making connections.

The event titled "Innovating for The Future" sought to expand the company's supply chain in the state and further GD's relationship with the community by strengthening the local industrial sector.  

"I think one of our main objectives today is to make connections. Make connections between General Dynamics and all of the folks we have here representing the various companies, we have several of the General Dynamics companies represented," Vice President of Supply Chain Management Ann Rusher said.

"So getting our message out as to what our needs are and what would be important for small businesses to be able to support us and making the connections than with the small business, what are their capabilities and where do they want to go, everyone's on their own respective growth journeys, and then how do we make the connection so that we can follow up and actually find ways to work together and to help each other and collaborate on the hard problems that we are facing right now."

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