Class President Victoria Gamberoni said the class of 2019 has been putting together puzzles throughout their lives. See more photos here.
DALTON, Mass. — With the impending renovation of Wahconah Regional High School, the 146 members of the class of 2019 were charged to keep the building's memory alive.
Valedictorian Anna Duquette told her fellow classmates Sunday during graduation exercises in the packed gym that the school has served them well and that despite the trials they faced in the aging building, it was still their own experience.
"I find it sad that as so many of us have worked so hard to make this building a better place that much of our work will go down with the building," she said, referencing the $72 million renovation that's planned. "Yet it is just not our memories and legacy that will go down with the building it is thousands of memories and legacies left by Wahconah alumni that will go down as well so it is up to us in the greater Central Berkshire Community to keep the memories of Wahconah alive."
Duquette listed some of the issues they faced in the 60-year-old building over the years such as the unreliable heating system, constantly breaking girls room toilets, and even a few rogue ceiling tiles that fell on students but noted all of these instances made their high school experience unique.
She said although they will not be able to visit the building as they remember it a new school means new opportunity -- similar to the new opportunities the class of 2019 will face.
"I do know that incredible things are happening in the world here and everywhere so class of 2019 let's make ourselves part of these incredible things," she said. "As we go out into the world, we must remember that it is up to us to keep the memories of Wahconah alive and when an opportunity comes knocking open the door."
In class President Victoria Gamberoni's welcome address, she told her classmates that at some point in all of their lives they have assembled a puzzle.
"When we were younger we tackled puzzles which contained very few pieces each was large and colorful and easy to manipulate," she said. "It was easy to differentiate the right piece from the wrong ... As young children our lives puzzles were rather simple however as we have grown older the complexity has increased."
As freshmen, the pieces of new puzzles were "scattered and in disarray" and it was difficult to figure out where to begin. She said this leads to more questions and they often had to ask for help or just be left alone.
Gamberoni said as they complete their puzzles at Wahconah, they enter another phase of their lives with new even more complex puzzles that often will require a "leap of faith."
"Some of the problems we encounter may never be solved but here at Wahconah we learned that there is joy in trying," she said. "It is not always about what the final product looks like it is the knowledge we gained that helped us to become better problem solvers."
Salutatorian Holden Nelson said every single member of the class of 2019 is important.
"I would make the case that not a single one of us up here today is more important than anyone else," he said. "While some of us have been given fancy titles and epithets ... there is no one in this class who is not remarkable in their own right."
Nelson listed some of the accomplishments of the class of 2019 that will have a lasting impact on the school. He said he hopes his classmates continue this trajectory.
"My wish for us all is that, as we carry on after graduation, to keep with us the spirit of hard work that our class is famous for," he said. "Keep doing whatever it is that sets us apart from everyone else and we will all someday be remembered elsewhere as we will be here."
Superintendent Laurie Casna shared a similar sentiment, saying this class has impacted the Central Berkshire community and will continue to do this wherever they go.
"Know your power, know the impact of your decisions, know how important you are to the community that you chose to participate in," she said. "Thank you for everything you have done. Wahconah is different because of you as is the community and you will have new community but please always come back here as well."
Principal Aaron Robb was last to speak and reflected on the class moto, a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters to what lies within us."
"Because what lies within you as individuals is the capability to create positive meaningful and lasting change in the world," he said. "On behalf of all the staff at Wahconah Regional High School, I wish you nothing but the very best as you go out and apply what lies within you."
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