At commencement, BART grads' courage lauded

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ADAMS — Armed with power, wisdom and courage, BART Charter School graduates are prepared to take their next step in life, their commencement speaker assured them.

On Saturday at the school, math and science teacher Stephanie Watroba talked to the graduates about a symbol from her favorite video game, Triforce from Zelda, which represents those three qualities.

The first two are easy to acquire, as everyone is born with the power to change the world, she said. And wisdom, she said, comes naturally with age and time.

"But courage, courage is a quality that cannot necessarily be taught so easily. Courage is something that many people mistake as an absence of fear, and therefore when they experience fear, they think they are cowards and they give up," she said. "Courage isn't the absence of fear. It is being afraid and standing up anyway."

The Class of 2019 displayed courage throughout the year, as its members pressed through barriers that popped up along the way, Watroba said.

"Every time something happened that put a block in your way, you did something quite extraordinary," she said. "Every time that happened, you dusted off and said,`Thank you, OK, I guess we're going to do this again tomorrow, all right, see you."

That courage paid off.

Of the graduates donning purple and white regalia Saturday, 15 of them received the John & Abigail Adams Scholarship, a merit-based program that provides a credit toward tuition for up to eight semesters of undergraduate education at a Massachusetts state college or university.

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Seven of those students will be using the scholarships to attend state schools.

Families and teachers filled the charter school to watch the graduates collect their scholarships and diplomas.

Graduate Thomas Cook, who will be attending the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for its honors program, talked about growing up with his classmates over the past seven years.

The small size and nature of the county charter school led to a class of students from diverse backgrounds, he said.

"We carried each other when we were young and weak," he said. "We also fought just like we were a bunch of siblings under one roof."

Cook said that because of the diversity in backgrounds, hometowns and beginnings of the Class of 2019, it was difficult to sum up the group as a whole. But he tried.

"We are everything. We are humor. We can be gossip. We are grit and determination. We can be lazy, too. We are creative, we can doubt ourselves," he said.

"We are intellectuals. We can make mistakes. We are leaders and we can learn from others. For everything we are, we are the opposite as well."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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