'Live the life you've imagined': 126 Monument Mountain seniors prepare for next steps


LENOX — Charley Rusk and Jordan Orloff took a serendipitous route to a friendship that has lasted through high school graduation.

The two newest alums of Monument Mountain Regional High School both moved from California to the East Coast when they were five years old.

They first met in second grade in the Berkshires and have been tight through their senior year. They simply enjoy each other's company, always sharing a laugh or two.

"It's our humor," Rusk says of why the friendship has endured. "We just like to hang out and talk."

A nearly 1,200-mile distance between the two will test that bond as Rusk heads off to Boston University in the fall, Orloff to gridiron-crazy Auburn University in Alabama.

"He can come visit and watch football with me," Orloff said as a suggestion to stay in touch.

The two college-bound young men shared their story following Sunday's graduation ceremony under The Shed at Tanglewood. Monument's 52nd commencement saw 126 seniors step up to the stage to receive their diplomas, handshakes and occasional hugs from Principal Douglas Wine, Berkshire Hills School District Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon and class favorite, biology teacher and softball coach Scott Annand.

The future path for the Spartan alumni could be as unexpected as the one Rusk and Orloff have traveled, thus far.

Valedictorian Wilson Sprague told the Class of 2019 that being unsure about one's path through high school was OK. The top senior thanked several teachers, including band director Michael Gillespie, for helping him deal with his uncertainties.

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"Thanks to Mr. Gillespie for showing me the best way to overcome the fear of a solo was to practice and grow," said the tenor saxophonist. "How are we ever supposed to grow if we're not unsure of anything?"

Growth, Sprague noted, that doesn't necessarily have to follow a certain path.

"Piece your life together ... in whatever order you see fit," he said.

And as one grows older, he or she is more aware of their vulnerabilities , according to salutatorian Paige Begley.

Unlike being a carefree four-year-old, Begley said she would sing and dance without any inhibitions.

As a Monument Mountain student, Begley was known for her food allergies, bringing granola to school and a passion for her sister's chocolate chip cookies.

"My eating habits are the mark I always knew would be the mark I left on Monument," she said.

Bannon urged the graduates to have faith in themselves if they are to succeed on their journey beyond high school.

Citing author Henry David Thoreau, Bannon said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."

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


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