Pittsfield High School grads go out with a smile on their faces

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LENOX — Two weeks before Sunday's graduation, Terrence Nykorchuck realized he had to punch-up his commencement speech.

As the senior class president at Pittsfield High School, the young man had to, by tradition, address his classmates for the final time before receiving their diplomas under The Shed at Tanglewood.

"T-J" to his friends, Nykorchuck is known for his sarcastic wit and several fellow seniors were expecting a humorous oration. The first draft being more serious, a rewrite was in order and he delivered — even being funny with an unintentional pause during the speech.

"Ouch, lost where I was," he said.

Nykorchuck drew laughs as he recalled the mischief the Class of 2016 would get into, just enough to keep faculty and staff on their toes.

"We jaywalked across the street for lunch ... threw paper airplanes from second floor windows," he said. "We were loud, troublemakers and annoying, but they still loved us."

The hi-jinks aside, Nykorchuck feels he and his Pittsfield High School alums will miss teachers and staff who made their four years informative and interesting. He also felt the seniors had a special bond that got them through the good days and the tough times.

Principal Matthew Bishop saw beyond the funny facade 204 graduates who achieve success in the classroom, were leaders for the underclassmen and active in their community — the latter he hopes continues.

"Be active and participate in life," he said. "Hopefully you learned to surround yourself with positive and successful people."

Bishop urged the graduates to think before they hit send on a tweet or e-mail and obey the pedestrian rules of the road, rules some Pittsfield High students were known for breaking when crossing in front of the East Street campus.

"When you come to the crossroads in life — use the crosswalk," he said.

The Class of 2016 was also warned not to emulate the candidates of the "nauseating" presidential primary election season, according to Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.

McCandless said the White House hopefuls always touting how they are better than their opponents, isn't the way to approach life.

"If you have to chase something, Class of 2016, don't chase better, chase love ... chase peace," he said.

Pittsfield School Committee Chairwoman Katherine Yon hopes the graduates at least follow the examples set by the faculty and staff at Pittsfield High.

"I hope you found a teacher, counsellor ... who inspired you, helped you out ... and you become that person," Yon said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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