BART grads told: 'Be passionate about what lies at the top of the hill'

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Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle
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ADAMS — Caleb Desmond Duffy urged fellow BART Charter Public School graduates Saturday morning not to think of their commencement as a sudden end to their youth, but rather the beginning of the long journey to their adulthood.

"Where we are today is not at the cliff of adulthood. We stand at the bottom of a hill, a mountain of adulthood," said Duffy, a soon-to-be business and politics major at Brandeis University.

"I plea that you start climbing that hill with the same conviction that you had when you started high school. ... I want you to be passionate about what lies at the top of the hill."

A majority of the 31 graduates in the Class of 2018 were awarded scholarships, most of them with the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship providing tuition waivers for up to eight semesters of undergraduate education at a Massachusetts state college or university.

Every one of the students was recognized for graduating with honors or high honors.

Throughout the ceremony, the seniors at the charter school showed their appreciation in several ways to staff and faculty who helped them work toward their academic achievements, including by handing roses to the staff member who had an effect on them.

BART Principal April West reflected upon her experience graduating high school in a rancher town in California and moving across the country, with very little money, to pursue her undergraduate degree in Vermont.

In a breath of realism, West made the point that students' college experience, and their expectations for themselves, might not live up to the hype and, at times, they might feel alone or disappointed.

West, who dreamed of being an architect or an actress, told the students that it is not uncommon to face an "identity crisis."

For individuals who find them in that place, West encouraged them to not put so much emphasis on what they do with their life, but how they are living it.

"We are not all introspective by nature, but no matter what you are, take time to reflect," she said. "This notion that you change the world by changing yourself will be as relevant to you at 17 as it will be at 41."

The students who have spent the past several years focusing on the arts and technology stood tall in regal purple and white regalia. The expressive bunch donned decorated mortarboards spanning from simple inspirational quotes to elaborate three-dimensional pieces of art.

In her senior reflection, future Framingham State University biology major Ashlyn Carol Marcil took a moment to divert the advice from her peers and spoke to the parents and families in the room.

She acknowledged to the adults that she and her peers might have angst in their teenage years, but insisted that just because they are now taking their next step in life, they are not leaving their families behind.

"You've probably heard the classic stomping up the stairs, door slammed and other signs of aggression," she said, before launching into an explanation of the past four years in extended board game metaphors. "Our games and our fun together doesn't stop here."

At the closing of the ceremony, BART Executive Director James White II explained to the seniors the historical significance of the tassels that were hanging to the right side of their heads.

In unison, the graduates moved them to the left, signifying the achievement of their diplomas, before exiting to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

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


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