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Thursday, Aug 1, 2013

Graduation 2013: Students prepare for the next leg of their journey to success

The sky outside was cloudy, but the futures were bright for the students graduating from Berkshire Union Free School District in June. For the first time in many years, graduation was held indoors because of threatening weather, but there were plenty of smiles from students and proud family members on hand.

Many students earned scholarships and other honors for their hard work, academic achievements, and community service.  The big moment finally arrived and Berkshire UFSD Superintendent Bruce Potter swore in the class of 2013. The graduates moved their cap tassels from the right to the left, signaling the beginning of the next chapter in their lives and the end of another remarkable year with a 100% graduation rate for the school. image

Berkshire CEO Timothy Giacchetta, who is also the president of the Berkshire Union Free School District Board of Education, praised the students, telling them their commitment to succeed, their hard work, and the ongoing support of their family, the teachers and staff at Berkshire, and the dedication of the Board of Directors have all joined together to make this day possible.

Mr. Giacchetta also noted that, while the average graduation rate in New York State is just 73 percent, and the rate for students with special needs is just 43 percent, this year marked the fifth year in a row 1oo% of the seniors at Berkshire Jr./Sr. High School graduated, including some with Regents diplomas.

"You are now part of Berkshire Farm Center's remarkable 127-year history," Bob Kandel, the chairman of the board of directors, told the students. "Take pride in your contributions to that history and go forth with confidence." Mr. Kandel told the young men that, just as their lives are changing, they can help change the lives of others because of what they have learned at Berkshire.

"We are a school of continuous improvement," said Bruce Potter, the superintendent of the Berkshire Union Free School District. "We ask that of every young man attending our school and of every teacher and staff member." Mr. Potter presented the newly created "Continuous Improvement Award" to Ezra A., a student who has excelled in his academic efforts, his achievements in the Workforce Development Program, and in his voluntary community service at an area nursing home, a volunteer fire company, and other community activities.

Mr. Potter also recognized the Berkshire staff who have volunteered in the Berkshire Friends and Family program that links non-direct staff members (those who do not provide direct care to youth as part of their jobs) with students who may not have a very strong support system at home or can benefit from the attention of an adult who is not there simply to supervise them.

imageTariq J., who graduated with a Regents diploma and is entering the University at Albany as the first step in earning an advanced medical degree, talked about his transformation while at Berkshire. "Rather than focusing on my future, I chose to wallow in my sorrows," he said about his arrival at Berkshire. "Luckily, there were staff, teachers, and other youth who helped bring me out of my shell." He described how his confidence grew, allowing him to reach his full potential. Tariq plans to one day return to Berkshire as a doctor, to speak to future graduates and hopefully to inspire them.

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