St. Joseph grads urged to break through barriers

Monday June 4, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Don’t be afraid to fail and you will succeed.

That parting advice was bestowed upon the Class of 2012 at St. Joseph Central High School as the 45 seniors received their diplomas Sunday afternoon.

Class salutatorian Nicole Akramoff cited the fear of failure as one of several obstacles her classmates will have to overcome in order to succeed in college, the workplace and personal lives.

"Never hold yourself back," she said during graduation at St. Joseph Church. "Believe that you can handle all that life throws at you."

Michael Spiller urged his fellow graduates to use failure as a learning experience toward success.

"You can learn from any mistake, break any barrier that holds you back," said the class valedictorian. "There is always a way to progress and there is always a way for redemption."

And success won’t come easy or without failure, according to the Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spring field. McDonnell recalled a recent article about how the late Steve Jobs was confident he could overcome his numerous failures before achieving success as the co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc.

"He knew he could do it," McDonnell said.

What success St. Joseph’s newest alumni achieves will, in part, be due to their four years on the Maplewood Avenue campus, the three commencement speakers acknowledged.

Besides history, religion, English and other subject matter, the graduates also learned respect, determination, perseverance and compassion in the classroom, according to Spiller.

"Respect will bind your work place together. Per sev erance will keep you strong through the hard times and trials you’ll encounter," he said. "Compassion will build you a network of friends and family that will last you a lifetime."

McDonnell added, religious faith will also guide the Class of 2012.

"God is speaking to you no matter what your circumstances," he said.

However, Akramoff pointed out life beyond high school is more of an independent journey, with success more of an individual effort.

"We will now walk our own path," she said, "but we won’t forget what we’ve learned in school and from each other."

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.


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