Lee High grads venture on with smiles on their faces

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STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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LENOX — The Lee Middle and High School Class of 2018 left 'em laughing at Tanglewood on Saturday afternoon.

During the school's commencement, senior class speaker Shane Cloutier delivered a late-night talk show-style monologue of one-liners on the teenage habits that drive parents and teachers crazy.

He pointed to the difficulty of getting his classmates up in time for the first bell on a school day.

"Every first-period teacher could tell you we aren't a morning class," he quipped.

Cloutier issued warnings of certain classmates likely to have a future impact on America — including himself.

"Watch out, federal government, Shane Cloutier is coming to town," he said.

Lee's graduation exercise was comic relief to a traditionally reflective, thought-provoking ceremony as the soon-to-be-adults move on to college or a career.

School Superintendent Howard "Jake" Eberwein III added to the jocularity before the 47 seniors received their diplomas on The Shed stage.

As a father of five children, Eberwein could identify with parents in the audience dealing with sons and daughters leaving dirty laundry about the house, dirty dishes in the sink, eating all the food and nearly emptying the gas tank of the family car.

Despite the daily annoyances, he told the senior class: "You are our purpose and primary source of joy."

Yet, Eberwein wasn't quite ready to dismiss the graduates.

"Don't go. (pause) Really, don't go, it's really crazy out there," he said, drawing laughter and applause from the crowd. "I'm kidding, you have to go we've already changed your locker combinations."

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In all seriousness, Eberwein added that the graduates must go, so that they can solve the "sticky problems" of tomorrow.

Lee Middle and High School Principal Gregg Brighenti encouraged the graduates to stay upbeat by finding the good and humor in today's steady stream of horrific and negative news.

Brighenti said to find the heroism in man-made tragedies and natural disasters.

He noted that some news stories you can't make up, such as how some viewed the devastating eruptions from Mount Kilauea in Hawaii.

"I saw this headline that read, `The U.S. Geological Survey: Don't roast marshmallows over the volcano,'" Brighenti said.

The principal did show a serious side, urging the Class of 2018 to "make a mark on your world."

Tired of misinformation and narrow-mindedness, valedictorian Will McKeon urged the graduates to understand all sides of an issue or debate.

"Always look for the second story or you'll see things from only one perspective," he said.

Salutatorian Lydia Morawiec's advice to her classmates: "Live intentionally."

"We need to play an active role in every moment of our lives," she said.

Moments to be enjoyed, according to Cloutier.

"Class of 2018, have fun; don't let the mundanities of life get you down," the senior class president said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com mand 413-496-6233.


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