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The rain eased up Sunday morning just before the Taconic High School graduation ceremonies in Pittsfield.
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Rain Symbolizes Taconic Class of 2024's Resilience

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The school awarded diplomas to 190 graduates on Sunday. See more photos here. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Taconic High School graduates were told to stay resilient while seated in caps and gowns on the soggy grass.

The rain eased right before Taconic's 54th graduation ceremony on Sunday. Families, friends, and alumni gathered on the school's lawn in raincoats and smiles to celebrate 190 graduates.

"This rain is a symbol of life's moments that are outside our control, just as you're experiencing right now. Your resilience is about embracing these moments, finding the positives, and turning them into memories," Principal Matthew Bishop said.

"So when life showers you with challenges Let them wash over you, strengthen you, and inspire you to keep moving forward. Remember, your story is unwritten and it's up to you to fill in its pages with perseverance, determination, and grace."

Salutatorian Anna Alexandra Potochevska urged her peers to bring these values into their future.

"As we approach the beginning of our adult lives together for one final time, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the resilience, perseverance, and hard work that went into standing here today. Never forget that commitment and the pride that you feel standing here now. Bring it with you everywhere you go and wear it with honor," she said.

"Embrace every opportunity that lies ahead of you with optimism and enthusiasm and finally, remember to be grateful for the people who are here supporting you today and the privilege we have shared being able to attend an institution that sincerely cares about each and every one of us and who has invested in the success of every one of its students."

Valedictorian Bhumi Harshadbhai Patel also highlighted the class's strength.

"Everyone has had their own story and been through different measures of pain," she said. "Despite all of these treacherous adversities, look at where we are now."

This class is one of the last that blends career technical education and non-CTE students, as last year the district decided to transition to all vocational by 2027.

Bishop "really struggled" to give the audience a glimpse of this class for his speech, "Not because I couldn't think of what to say, actually it's the opposite."

"So many attitudes, characteristics, and stories come to mind when I think of the class of 2024 — all positive I swear," he said.

"I mean, this is the class that's demonstrated academic excellence. Seventy-four of you are honors grads while eight of you have GPAs over 100 with the top for being separated by only two-tenths of a point."

This is the class that also ventured out into the real world, he said, with a record-breaking 60 students participating in the cooperative education program and earning more than $320,000 this year. More than 70 students were recognized on National Signing Day.

When struggling to find the right way to remember this class, Bishop looked to the contentious tug-of-war event at the spring pep rally. The class was determined to be the first to defeat the staff but first, they had to beat the junior class.

In the ensuing battle, the seniors were winning easily but after a controversial comeback by the juniors, the seniors were defeated, he reported.

"Refusing to be denied the opportunity to beat the teachers, the seniors arranged a spur-of-the-moment challenge, which of course the staff happily accepted. We kind of take this seriously. The seniors in this class wanted to beat the staff so badly that they brought out the pine tar, maybe or maybe not added a few extra seniors dug in and pulled it all their might," Bishop said.

"And in the craziest display in the history of pep rally tug of war, the rope broke in half, which sent both staff and students tumbling in all directions but they did not lose. So they set a goal, overcame a setback, worked together, and supported each other by cheering as excited, unified, and loud as I've ever heard them. So I guess that is maybe the class of 2024's characteristic that I want to remember them by: their resilience."

He believes this resilience will help the graduates navigate whatever is next.

"As many in the audience can tell you, life after high school is filled with both excitement and challenges. The good times are the easy ones. You'll face moments of joy but also times of struggle. There will be failures and setbacks. These are inevitable. The world can be harsh, competitive, and at times unfair but rely on who you are and remember that each experience, no matter how difficult, is an opportunity to learn and grow," he said, pointing out that the class did not let the rain deter their special day and proceeded with an outdoor graduation.

Patel was named valedictorian with a 103.8 grade average and is an Advanced Placement scholar. She graduates with a number of extracurriculars, including membership in the National Honor Society, committee lead of the class council, and student representative on the School Committee.

She has taken many college-level classes, is fluent in seven different languages, and found her passion for the healthcare industry while volunteering at the Berkshire Medical Center. Patel is taking this passion to the University of Massachusetts to pursue a career in pre-med.

The valedictorian remembered starting the "airport of a high school" with nervous faces and uncertain about the next four years. This day shows how perseverance, hard work, and hard work play a role in our lives, she said, acknowledging the people and experiences along the way that aided their successes.

"We are very grateful for the time that was spent here and for the school for soft launching us into the world, feeling prepared to take responsibility, have respect for others, and striving for excellence no matter what stage of life we are in," Patel said.

She thanked her grandfather who arrived this week from India and her parents who immigrated here in 2017.  

"As a first-generation American student, I have been grateful enough to realize the values of hard work and ambitiousness from them. I am who I am because of the rich morals they have instilled upon me and the altruistic sacrifices they have made," she said, pointing to 16-hour shifts and raising a family of eight while never complaining.

"All this was for you."

Potochevska was named salutatorian with a 103.7 grade average and also is an AP scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. She received the Massachusetts Association of School Committee Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence, the AP Scholar Award, and received the John and Abigail Adams scholarship for scoring advances on all three Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams.

A member of the Taconic Theater Department, the Berkshire Theatre Group, and the Berkshire Lyric Chorus, she will be pursuing a career in music business at Berklee College of Music.

Potochevska can still remember walking to class in the new building, anxious to see how different high school would be from her expectations.

"Thankfully, with the guidance of our incredible teachers and administrators, that anxiety was quickly resolved," she explained.

"The amazing faculty at Taconic has been consistently adept at making our high school experience something to enjoy and be proud of. With every assembly, pep rally, and school event over the years, I have felt a sincere sense of camaraderie and joy amongst our class, which is something that I truly believe is because of the exceptional guidance we have received from our mentors here."

She expressed her "deepest gratitude" to the school's faculty for playing an instrumental role in the class' academic success and personal development and to families that have contributed to the students' excellence over the last four years.

Superintendent Joseph Curtis presented Jasmine Aslan with the Karl B. McEachron Recognition Award for outstanding academic achievement, community and extracurricular involvement, dedicated work ethic, and preference in making engineering and the sciences a lifetime career.

Graduates Lola Bennett and Ava Maffuccio sang the national anthem, graduate Zachary Farina and staff member Michael Duffy performed an original song, the Taconic chorus performed "Butterfly Fly Away" by Miley Cyrus, and the school's band performed the processional and recessional.

Awards and scholarships for the Taconic class of 2024. 

Taconic High School Class of 2024

Ryan Anoh Agyeku 
Eliora AnneMarie Ahoussi
Naveh Marie Aldrich 
Maelen Tracy Alexander
Miguel Emilio Alvarado
Yaw Osei Ampofo
Jasmine Ashley Aslan
Elrad Ed-Anthony Atte
Giovanna Marie Avanzato
Isaiah Ryan Baker
Gavin Seamus Barnes 
Bryce John Paul Barnett
Giana Elizabeth Barscz
Michael Paul Beaulieu 
Lola James Bennett
Veronica Lei Bentz
Gael Berthelly-Cabrera
Brayden Matthew Bishop
Valerie Ewura Esi Ate Bonney
Justin Stephen Borawski 
Jonathan Caleb Bradway
Destiny Ann Marie Buffoni 
Grace Violet Burdick 
Hannah Belle Burke
Letrell Devon Burns 
Megan Marie Carroll
Noah Alexander Cannon
Alexis Marie Carmel 
Shea Elena Coe
Malia Frances Choon
Makaylah Mariah Conrado 
Dayana Victoria Cruz Hernandez
Giddeon Alois Dallmeyer
Conner Joseph Daniels
William Luis Delsonno, Jr. 
Addison Rose Digrigoli 
Nathan Michael Discoe 
Sunne Antonio DiTomasso 
Alizaya Rose Dixon 
Logan Thomas-James Evangelisto 
Hunter Thomas Christman
Clayton Jonathan Cowdrey
Matthew Robert Avery Curtis
Anthony Joseph Cruz
Logan Matthew Daniels
Chase Robert Dawley
Hayden Robert Dearstyne
Dhyani Parthiv Derasari
Natalia Freitas Dos Santos 
Dominik Joseph DuBois
Marcus Jay Ferdyn 
Anthony Michael Fiorini
Bella Pumpelly Catherine Foster 
Wyllow Elizabeth Gagliardi
Grace Mae Garinther
Natalia Rose Gillis 
Kira Belle Gomes
Georgeilys Gabriela Gomez Guijarro
Jason Jeremiah Green
Makenna Leigh Guinen 
Kenneth Michael Guinen III
Jonah Araya Haagenson
Noah Araya Haagenson
Emmett Fields Krantz
Makenna Leigh Kubli
Ella Catherine LaMalfa
Scott Michael Langlois
Ruth Nohemi Larias
Madeleine Reese Leoncini
Kailynne Brielle Errichetto
Damaris Giselle Escalon-Brizuela
Michael William Farina
Zachary James Farina
TraQuon Anthony Hall 
Elizabeth Andra Marie Halla
KeShaun Daniel Hawkins 
Anna Kathleen Herbert 
Michaela Ann Hinckley 
Vincent Cade Holmberg 
Vincent Paul Houle 
Jalisa Mariah Jessup 
Alan Adair Jimenez
Anthony Rey Jimenez
Nicholas James Johnson
Faith Jean Karl 
Juliana Jean Kastrinakis  
Camille Marie Kenney
Hannah Lynn Kickery
Noah Fields Krantz
Mia Jean-Shea Kimber
Logan Patrick Kleiner 
Cameron Matthew LaFerriere
George Benson Lee
Nicholas Cody LeFebvre
Adriana Rae LePlante
Mariah Emily Letalien 
Tera Lim
Aidan Sebastian Lind 
Brandon Tyrone Luckey II
Raymond Jeffrey Lynch
Levi Amier Machaffie-Davis
Ava Rose Maffuccio
Ashtin Lucas Magner
Sophia Marie Denise Mahoney 
Lachlan Patrick Manley  
Kyle Anthony Mason
Jacob Wayne Massey
Christian Robert Maturevich 
Victor Robert Maturevich
Mitchell Alexander McCann
Thomas Michael McQuoid
Paxton Mason Miller
Addison Cassius Moore 
Erin Rose Moriarty
Luke Lewis Murphy 
Xaviar Josiah Nicholls
Sebastian Parker Noel
Sadie Mary O'Donnell
Caden Charles O'Neil
Maverick Scott Ostrander
Timothy Robert Parsons
Bhumi Harshadbhai Patel
Damon William Pause
Andrew Kwame Peprah
Va'Sean Anthony Pettijohn 
Isabel Marie Pettinato 
Caleb David Petruzella
Julias Xavier Pierce
Juan Pablo Plazas Guerrero
Karen Jasmin Portillo Rodriguez 
Anna Alexandra Potochevska
Rylee Angelec Pratt
Dylan Prout 
Eric Asmah Quaidoo
Cristofer Josue Ramos 
Kaelin Rose Rathbun 
Madeline Rae Rawling 
Oscar Reyes-Columna
Hunter Elijah Reynolds 
Michael Sovann Ringer
Clarence Walter Ritcher 
James Wesley Roach 
Naveh Marie Robinson 
Shane Patrick Roccabruna
Audra Christine Rock
Vanessa Essandoh Robertson
Joey Mahalla Roman 
Pablo Jose Saldana Cajamarca
Christian Ronald Salzarulo
Jariel Javier Sanchez Vega 
Neycha Karina Santos-Plouffe
Alissa Rose Schettini
Valery Guadalupe Serrano
Diamond Medina Malika Sepulveda
Elijah William Shaw
Kylie Nancy Slattery
Samantha Elizabeth Slocum 
Danyah Kathleen Shuler 
Jarmal Armand Sistrunk Jr. 
Brennan James Smith
Gracelyn Rose Smith
Olivia Kathleen Sprague
Guage O'Neal Statley
Dylan Thomas Stetz 
Brady Aaron Street
Kali Rose Strout
Zachary Austin Sullivan
Donald Paul Tanner IV
Isabella Rose Tarjick 
Nathan James Tarjick 
Carissa Beth Tatro 
Shayna Lynn Thomas
Masiah Elise Thompson
Kaeleigh Addisyn Tornicelli 
Anthony Bruno Trapani
Rylie Elizabeth Viale
Amelia Jane Vidoli 
Dennis Patricio Tituana Viteri
Madelyn Rose Walger 
Amelia Mary Wallace 
Andrew Cole Wilcox
Arieanna D'asia William 
Eternity Joy Alice Williams
Nevaeh Lyn Williams
Abigail Lindsay Winters
Elizabeth Xicotencatl-Reyes
Georgio Michel Yared
Amir Hasin Young 
Esha Zahid
Mia Kathleen Zuccalo

Tags: graduation 2024,   Taconic High,   

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Dalton Public Safety Facility Advisory Committee Discusses Next Steps

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The town's Public Safety Facility Advisory Committee held its first meeting on last Wednesday. 
The committee voted to have two co-chairs and elected Don Davis and Craig Wilbur for the positions. 
The committee will be examining all the options for a new police station or combined public safety facility. The goal is to have a recommendation for the Select Board by a year from December. 
"The Public Safety Facility Advisory Committee shall examine all issues regarding the proposal for a new police station, including the potential for a new building to house the fire station and the emergency management director," Town Manager Thomas Hutcheson said. 
He also emphasized not to feel limited in this scope. 
"Issues include, but may not be limited to, whether and where to lease, buy or take property or to use existing town property, including whether to build a new building," he said 
The ex-officio seats are Bob Bishop as the Select Board representative, Police Chief Deanna Strout, Hutcheson, and Building and Grounds Superintendent Jeff Burch. 
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