Lee High Class of 2023 Told to Embrace Change in Finding Self
LENOX, Mass. — Before receiving their diplomas, Lee High School Principal Gregg Brighenti asked graduates "Are you who you want to be?"
This was not intended to be a yes or no question.
"To truly answer it you need to really search inside yourself and dissect the person that you are at this moment. You've been given the tools to do that over the last six years," he said.
"Be brave, because it's not easy to take a serious look at what makes you tick, to analyze the truth of your character and impact your actions, to try and figure out the parts that make up your authentic self. It's even harder to come to the conclusion that there are parts of you that you'd like to change, that you'd like to improve, that would help make you who you want to be. Now's the time for that first-course correction and a path that never truly ends."
In the journey to self-reflection, he advised that everything is temporary, smaller steps are important, and love is above all else.
"Thank you seniors for being who you are," Brighenti said. "I look forward to seeing who you will become."
The rain held off while 58 seniors concluded their high school education under Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Music Shed on Saturday.
Many spoke about the obstacles that this class overcame throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that began during the student’s freshman year.
"When I look back at the past four years, I don't separate experiences based on freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year. I see it as being pre-COVID, COVID, and post-COVID," valedictorian Tyler Moran said.
"Now, obviously one of these times is much worse than the other two but today I look back and I'm grateful for all three of these times in my life. I believe it is because of these challenges that we have faced over the past four years that we might be the first class with the opportunity to truly appreciate the relationships, the experiences, and the camaraderie of high school because we knew what it was like to have that normal experience taken away from us."
He said his class had gained a much greater understanding of the privileges of life since the beginning of lockdown in the spring 2020, which was supposed to only last two weeks.
"We must not forget the lessons, the growth, and even the pain of the past few years," Moran urged.
Maguire Roosa, who was chosen to give the senior address, was originally not going to speak about pandemic but ultimately found it to be essential.
"I bring this up because our lives changed on March 13 of our freshman year and we accepted this fact and we got through this change as a team as the class of 2023," he explained.
He spoke about change in terms of the pandemic his small town, and his own life, joking that the former Friendly’s on Housatonic Street that is now a Starbucks is an unfortunate example.
"Change happens around you, without you choosing but all of us can make our own changes as well,"
"So after we all move on to our next adventure if you're ever stuck or feel out of place, take a second and remember this small town, this little school in a Wildcat class of 2023 because change will happen to us and we will make changes in our own lives. They won't all work out but if you decide to make the change and not let the change make you you will always end up on top."
Salutatorian Isabella Lovato pointed out that 28 of the classmates have spent 13 consecutive years growing up together.
This included many ups and downs, which they got through together.
"Experiencing the unknowns of COVID, the unspoken hardships, or even losing a loved one, everyone has had their difficulties," she said. "But we still made it to this day and for that, I will just say that I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you all for the accomplishments you've made, big or small, and not giving up when being challenged."
She urged her classmates to take control of their lives while also letting it run its course.
"There is something special about the things you don't plan for. Trust the process. Not every road you plan on going down is going to lead you to that perfectly shaped life you have fabricated in your mind," Lovato said.
"You are going to make mistakes, you are going to make wrong choices, you are going to wish you approach the situation in a different way but that's all part of growing up. For every moment after today, I do not want you to be discouraged if something does not turn out the way you expect it. Do not be discouraged if you get a little lost on your journey to becoming the person you want to be. Roll with the punches, embrace the obstacles, and live the life you want to live. The life you deserve."
Superintendent Michael Richard told the students that graduation is a moment of celebration and accomplishment but also a beginning filled with dreams, aspirations, and the thirst for success.
"Do not allow the fear of failure or the pressures of society to dampen your spirits," he said. "Embrace every opportunity, seize every moment, and let your passion guide you. Find what truly ignites your soul and chase it with unwavering determination."
He advised that the class embraces change with open arms, believes in themselves, thanks those who stood by them, embraces opportunities, and creates opportunities for others.
The national anthem was sung by Kaya Haddad, the Lee High graduation band performed the march of the seniors and march of the graduates, and the school chorus performed "Sing Your Way Home" by Joseph Martin.
Lee High School Class of 2023
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