LENOX, Mass. — The 113 graduates of the Monument Mountain Regional High School class of 2023 were sent off with some words of wisdom from Taylor Swift: "Be good to people."
"Several things make your class stand out. In addition to your many accomplishments, I appreciate your voices, your commitment to support each other, your decency and your spark," said Berkshire Hills Regional Superintendent Peter Dillon, who channeled the quote from the pop star. "You've come together as a class, you've made remarkable decisions about what's next ...
"Try hard, do wonderful things, make mistakes and try again. We wish you well. We're eager to see who you continue to become."
Graduation exercises for the Great Barrington high school were held in unusually cool weather in the Shed at Tanglewood on Sunday afternoon. The chorus performed "In My Life" by John Lennon and the diplomas were presented by Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee Chair Stephen Bannon. The class marshals were Ari Caine and Noelia Salinetti.
Valedictorian Aria Grossman said she'd gotten lots of advice on her speech — make it funny, make it Oscar-like in thanking everyone, make it profound, don't make it profound, make it musical.
"So today I'm going to be discussing a topic that I think will deeply resonate with a lot of you. Mindless internet scrolling," she said to laughter.
During her scrolling of YouTube, Grossman came across an artist creating a photorealistic drawing of a glass of water.
"Each stroke increased my awareness of everything that goes into a glass of water, all the patterns of light and color that combined to create the glasses image," she said. "In the process, I gained a deeper appreciation for the depth and complexity of visual experience. ...
"I bring this up because I think that high school has, in many ways been like this drawing video. Much of our work has been a sort of deconstruction."
The class had delved into chemistry and biology, grammar and language, ideas and events that shaped history, she said, and in the process they've gained a greater sense of wonder and gratitude for the world in which we live.
"As we move forward with our lives, my hope is that we will approach each situation with gratitude, gratitude for the joyful moments, but also gratitude for the challenges and the opportunity, the opportunity for learning and growth that they bring, Grossman said. "And gratitude for the uplifting and inspiring communities of which we are apart."
Salutatorian Tyler Sprague said he wasn't sure how much advice he could pass on.
"Hopefully, no one came here today anticipating a life-altering speech, because I unfortunately do not feel as if I possess much wisdom to impart on you all," he said. "Rather, I want to take this chance as a final opportunity to reflect on some key moments in my time in Monument."
The one that stood out most to him was an ambitious pep rally in which he had donned a mascot costume but which hadn't gone quite as he planned.
"I felt the strength, courage and honor that I thought this mascot would feel but more importantly, I felt an immense sense of pride. Because in that moment, I was a symbol for something larger," Sprague said, but the limited vision of the head came sent him flying during hamster ball soccer in the gym.
"Monument taught me how quickly one can go from parading around a gymnasium to holding back tears as they lay sprawled out on the floor," he said. "It has taught me the difference between taking my work seriously and taking myself seriously. I'm truly grateful for these lessons. I hope we all can continue to reflect on the lessons we have learned at Monument as we face this large transition in our lives."
Bannon told the class they'd been given a solid foundation and it was up to them to continue to build on it.
"You're about to move into the next phase of your life. Do not look back with regrets. look forward with anticipation. It is only by having faith in yourself that you will succeed in life. Does not matter what path you have chosen to take. Only matters you're comfortable with the path you have chosen," he said.
Before leading the class in turning their tassels, Principal Kristina Farina wanted to address them one last time.
The had had one of "the strangest learning experience imaginable" that none could have predicted, she said. "Class of 2023, you rose to the occasion. You stepped up and pushed through and beyond that you made our community better. You've each demonstrated resilience in getting to this day, a stop along the way to your next journey, your next destination.
"Take time to savor today's experience and thank those who supported you in getting here."
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CHP Readying for New Covid-19 Vaccine Supply
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — With a second mobile medical van now on the road, CHP Berkshires' mobile health teams are preparing to reach more Berkshire residents in more locations this fall with vaccines for flu, Covid-19 and, for eligible patients, the respiratory virus (RSV) vaccine.
CHP anticipates receiving its Covid-19 vaccines in the coming weeks, while flu clinics are well under way.
"We are fielding many calls and inquiries about the new Covid-19 vaccine, and we are as eager as everyone to get this new vaccine on the road," said Melanie Wickwire, mobile health manager at CHP.
Once available, Covid-19 vaccines will be available to CHP and non-CHP patients on the CHP mobile health vehicles. This can be given at the same time as the seasonal flu shot. In addition, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines is available to eligible CHP patients.
Covid-19 vaccines will be available for those six months and older. The new RSV vaccine is for adults 60 and older with certain underlying health risks; pre-screening is required for RSV vaccines with CHP. Flu shots are available starting at 6 months of age.
"We are incredibly fortunate to have this arsenal of prevention against serious illness," said Dr. Laura Need, CHP associate medical director and pediatrician at Berkshire Pediatrics. "We urge everyone to get vaccinated for themselves, their families, friends and workplace colleagues. And parents should be sure their children are protected against other preventable contagious illness like measles, pertussis and others."
CHP will keep the public notified of its vaccination resources throughout the fall and winter season, through its mobile health calendar at chpberkshires.org/mobile and with reminders on social media channels, radio and other outlets.
That was the message to state Sen. Paul Mark and his colleague Lydia Edwards of East Boston, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, who is on a listening tour of the state to better understand the issue.
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The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans is one of the first tribes to receive state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness funding, a historical feat that will go toward the reclamation of indigenous homeland. click for more