Salutatorian Morgan Sarkis tells the class not to stand by while others board that plane, ride that roller coaster. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It wasn't just the Drury High class of 2023 getting some advice on Thursday night.
Valedictorian Evan-Quin Goodermote included the family, friends and staff filling the auditorium seats in their call to live with determination.
"Rather than deliver some big speech about the passing of the torch, the turning of the page and chapters of our lives, I want to talk about the difference between surviving and living," Goodermote said to the 61 graduates on the stage. "All my life I've been taught that those two things are somehow synonymous, that they need to exist in some form of consciousness, but surviving is the act of keeping yourself alive. ...
"But living, truly living is the pursuit of fulfillment, contentment and happiness."
Goodermote urged their classmates to dig deep into the soil and get their hands "filthy with the soil to allow your purpose to grow." Take risks, seek opportunities but don't let failures detract from your goal, they said, noting how the class had grown in a world full of challenges.
"You will be taking that failure and working it into the soil for the next plants you grow. Use what you collect from your mistakes and learn from them to retire next time and start back at square one," Goodermote said. "Relish in the fact that you have the resilience to keep going even as roadblocks appear as your path becomes steep once again."
And to the audience, "I encourage the same. Don't just survive anymore, live."
Salutatorian Morgan Sarkis urged them to face their fears and go boldly into the next chapter of their lives.
"This is not the time to sit on the ground and watch our friends ride the roller coaster, this is not the time to sit on the beach roasting on the sand and watching from a distance," she said. "This is the time that you're going to board the plane confidently knowing what a wonderful time to awaits."
Sarkis asked them to think about the "trials and tribulations that we endured over the last four years" and how that "endemic uncertainty" allowed them to become stronger individuals.
"We adapt and adjust to meet our needs at any given time," she said. "We will all end up where we are meant to be. This is a piece of advice that I will continue to take with me"
Class co-President Nicholas Lescarbeau welcomed the gathering, saying how much he appreciated his classmates and thanking parents and families "for your unwavering love You have been our biggest supporters and we owe our accomplishments to your sacrifices and encouragement. We stand here today because of you."
Ash Gardzina sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "I'll Always Remember You," as the class waved the flashlights on their phones. Principal Stephanie Kopala presented the awards with Director of Curriculum and Instruction Krista Gmeiner and Class Treasurer Emma Bergeron read off the scholarships.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas said she admired the class for having "lived history with flexibility, adaptability, you have lived the values of personal responsibility and resilience, and collectively it has not been an easy road to this day. And for some it has been even more challenging road."
Malkas presented the class and handed out diplomas with Mayor Jennifer Macksey, who told them that there's no recipe for life but to strive to be the best person they can.
Class co-President Rachael Barrows presented the yearbook dedication to physical education and health teacher John Moore, saying he has been there to listen to and support students. "This has an impact that will last a lifetime and we will never be able to thank you enough for being a rock," she said.
The graduation ceremonies, which had a few tearing up stage, ended with the singing of "Drury, Mother on the Hill" and the setting off of confetti cannons.
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Blackinton Mill Owners: City's Delays Put $17M Hotel Project in Peril
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Mayor Jennifer Macksey speaks at Tuesday's City Council meeting as Tourists owner Ben Svenson looks on.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The $17 million expansion plans for the Blackinton Mill are tripping over a 10-foot high pile hides that has been decaying for 60 years.
The partnership that operates Tourists resort says the whole project — including a proposed bike path — is in danger of failing before it even begins if a November grant deadline to clean up the mess isn't met.
But the Mayor Jennifer Macksey says more testing is needed before the city takes control of the one-acre site and is positing a February closing date.
On Tuesday, the partners were pleading with the City Council to use any tools it had to make the mayor abide by an agreement to close on the parcel before the deadline.
"I really don't want to say it will go away but we will not be able to sustain any longer unless we can resolve this issue," said principal Benjamin Svenson. "And so I appeal to you tonight to please — whatever tools you have — communicate to the mayor the urgency of resolving this matter."
The matter before the council was an authorization for the mayor to purchase the property, which would be for $1. The city would be able to apply for a U.S. Environmental Protection Act brownfield grant not available to the private entity.
"We need this to secure our financing," said Svenson. "We can't get a bank loan until we resolve this matter. ...