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Monday, Jun 30, 2014

Graduation 2014

Berkshire Grads Receive Skills and Financial Support for the Future

For the dozens of students attending Recognition Day on June 28, especially those whose academic achievements, community service and good behavior earned them a share of the $60,000 in merit awards and prizes, Berkshire became a place of pride. These students, who typically transferred to Berkshire in pain and often with a history of trauma, learned to build skills, gain confidence, work hard and earn rewards.

For the sixth year in a row, every one of Berkshire Union Free School District’s seniors graduated from high school. For the second year in a row, every senior is also continuing his education.

This year, there were notable surprises, thanks to the generosity of Berkshire Board Member and Chairman Emeritus, Charles Mott. Berkshire President and CEO Tim Giacchetta announced, “Through the generosity of the Mott Family Scholarship, each Berkshire student graduating from Berkshire High School or other schools in New York State will receive a fully loaded laptop computer and carrying case.” A total of 21 laptops were awarded, launching college or work lives with essential equipment. image

The Mott Family Scholarship Fund also initiated a further investment in Berkshire High School’s most recent graduates. Giacchetta went on to announce to these students, who worked hard in high school, and performed community service, “For the first time, each of you will have your first year of community college tuition paid in full.” A big round of cheers and applause from the audience were matched by the broad smiles of the graduates. Thanks to the Mott Family, Brandon B., David S., Tristan W., Nicholas M., William P., and Samuel B. are preparing for fall classes with some of the financial pressure taken off their shoulders.

Calling graduation a fantastic accomplishment, Charles Mott, whose contributions fund the Mott Family Scholarship, said, “I’ve been involved with this school for a long time, and I think what they do for youth is incredible.”

The audience of students and families had the gift of keynote remarks from State Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, who harkened to the graduation ceremony theme: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” He suggested to students, “Your job is not to be who you were; your job is to become who you are meant to be and that journey continues from this day forward.” He suggested to students that they say “watch this,” when someone tells them they can’t do something. He celebrated their accomplishments while at Berkshire, a testament to their own capabilities: “You will be able to accomplish anything as long as you believe you can.” image

Student speakers included Joseph C., who said, “When you come here you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom; but when we’re here, we learn we’ve been given the skills and tools we need to help us when we go home.” Joseph said he sees more than excitement on the faces of the graduates who are leaving, “I also see accomplishment and pride for the fact that they did the impossible.”

imageTariq Johnson, Berkshire Class of 2013, told everyone of his hopes and goals, but also about the challenge of going on to college. This year, he proudly returned to the Berkshire stage after a very successful year at the University of Albany. “As the first person in my family to enroll in a four-year university, I wasn’t sure what was in store for me.” Johnson is proud to have attained a 3.2 GPA, joined a fraternity, and describes himself, saying, he has “mentally matured into a young man who has more resources now than ever before.”

The final student speaker of this year’s graduation, Saadiq W., a sophomore, said before coming to Berkshire, “Most people who knew me would have described me as a kid who was disrespectful, disobedient, and angry.” Saadiq said that while at Berkshire, he decided to change: “I want to have a meaningful and successful life, and most importantly, I want to be somebody who is well respected, admired, and remembered for being the motivation for others to change, too.”

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