Photo Gallery | 2016 Mount Everett High School Graduation
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LENOX — Parents, teachers, and the community worked hard to get Mount Everett students through high school — but the new graduates owe not only thanks, but "something more than that."
"We have benefited greatly from people who made it their goal to help us, and it is our duty to help others in the same way."
That was the message of Mount Everett valedictorian Justin Makuc's to his fellow graduates during Mount Everett High School's annual commencement ceremony at Tanglewood on Saturday.
The event was a celebration of not only the 56 graduates themselves, but the tight-knit and small communities that shepherded them to success.
"We are privileged to have so many people in our community that truly care about our success and invest in us, and it is our responsibility to return the favor," Makuc said. "Instead of always trying to get ahead for yourself, make it your goal to move the community forward."
Makuc's classmates echoed that sentiment and reflected on what makes Mount Everett a special place following the graduation.
"It's a small school and you know everyone," said Nicholas Scapin, who plans on joining the United States Air Force.
Scapin said he's known many of his classmates since Kindergarten and will hold onto "a lot of good memories, certainly."
The support of students for one another is also a hallmark of the graduating class, according to graduate Jacob Christinat, who will be attending Berkshire Community College.
"The close-knit community is a unique experience for pretty much every student," Christinat said.
That closeness dates back decades, as Southern Berkshire Regional School District Superintendent David Hastings pointed out that he likely had many of the graduates' parents in class as a middle school teacher in the 1970s.
"Your parents are very nice, but you're even nicer," Hastings joked.
Though being a high school in student is certainly part of being a community, it's also a place to find one's own path.
"High school was the beginning of this quest to find identity. It was in high school that we chose our niche, our work ethics, our morals, our values, and our beliefs," said salutatorian Sean Smith.
Smith stressed that the graduating students will always have a strong foundation.
"For the past four years, all of us have been slowly chipping the marble away. Countless chisels have hacked upon us, and here we are. Here, as graduating seniors, our sculptures are complete," Smith said. "Identity does not yell directly at you. It whispers. Identity is hard to discover, but I encourage you to find yourself, if you have not already."
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.