Monument Mountain grads told to seize their 'opportunity to choose' life path

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Photo Gallery | 2016 Monument Mountain Regional High School Graduation

Related | Monument Mountain Class of 2016

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LENOX — Amid meditations on time, history, identity and troublemakers, with a peppering of Muhammad Ali quotes, 132 students graduated Monument Mountain Regional High School during a rainy celebration on Sunday at Tanglewood.

Three young women — all noted for high marks and creative writing skills — addressed the audience and their peers.

All three brought their creativity to bear in their remarks, dismissed the importance of high marks and resisted the temptation to preach.

Caroline Sprague, salutatorian of the class, said, "I could never speak to the experiences of everyone here. For some, high school was a safe-haven, for others it was a hell."

But she invited her peers to consider their history and identity, and how they would henceforward have more control over the latter.

"Take some time over the next few days to tangle yourselves up in the past," Sprague said. "Read old letters, visit old memories and pictures. Remember, before we go out into a world that does not know us yet, what has made us who we really are. Don't be afraid to leave behind things that no longer apply. We now get to choose what we take with us into the future."

The graduates, Sprague said, would be keeping an eye on Monument, hoping "it continues to grow in the right directions."

The next speaker, valedictorian Isabelle Morley, offered a meditation on time more resembling a poem or essay than a typical graduation speech.

She encouraging her classmates, at the end of long days, to "draw on your last reserves of energy and choose differently," rather than "eat ice cream and watch television."

"Each moment is an opportunity to choose," Morley said. "It will always be easier to remain still while life whorls around you. While you watch from afar and begin to believe that change is only a distant, dying dream. This is not true."

Morley ended quoting the famous words of poet Dylan Thomas, telling her classmates to "rage, rage against the dying of light."

Emma Adler, class orator, said her favorite teachers at Monument "showed me what could happen when you follow dreams and hold onto passions, how you can overcome stress and nerves just by saying 'yes' to something that allows you to put your guard down, exposing who you really are inside, so much more than the academic accolades, the numbers and the awards."

"The individuals who taught us to shoot for the stars and saw genius in us are the ones who we truly owe everything to," Adler said.

At several points in the ceremony, the audience erupted into applause for Jeffrey Stevens, longtime musical director of the Monument Mountain Regional High School Band, who is retiring after 34 years.

Stephen Bannon, chair of the School Committee, said "do not regret the things you could have done differently. Instead, look forward with the anticipation of taking your experience and knowledge and having faith in yourself that you will succeed in life."

"We have provided you with a solid foundation, but it is up to you to continue the learning process," Bannon said.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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