|Mildred Elley School Awards Certificates to 66 Graduates|
|By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff|
04:07AM / Friday, May 20, 2022
|Mildred Elley graduates are awarded their certificates on Thursday night during a ceremony held at the Holiday Inn. |
Keynote speaker Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby speaks of his own struggles in life and urges the graduates to meet people with kindness. See more photos here. Right, Brother Jackson is the class speaker.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mildred Elley School presented certificates to 66 graduates on Thursday at the Holiday Inn and Suites.
The Pittsfield campus of the New York institution offers courses ranging from cosmetology to business technologies.
Campus Director Belinda Green commended the graduates on their academic achievement that they were able to share with faculty, family, and staff.
"Graduation is one of the greatest times in our life. Our graduation ceremony gives you the opportunity to celebrate the accumulation of all your efforts and truly absorb your new status and then start a new chapter in your life," Green said.
"This is also a special opportunity for those who have touched your life through this journey to celebrate you, and you should feel rewarded. As you move forward, we really hope that you will keep in touch with us and share all of your amazing accomplishments."
As the Jordan Sparks' recording of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" played on a boombox, financial aid representative Veronica Warren softly sang as she sat with this year's graduates. They encouraged her to sing louder and soon enough her voice filled the room and others to join in camaraderie.
Green brought President John McGrath's greetings and congratulations because he was unable to attend to give the presidential address.
Student speaker Brother Jackson had graduated from cosmetology program and is now graduating from the business technologies program. He thanked the staff for their support and told the graduates to keep moving forward when times are tough and to turn obstacles into motivation.
Jackson was also the recipient of the President's Award, given to students of high academic achievement and who have made outstanding contributions to the school.
Keynote speaker Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby said he expected that all of them had come to this day dealing with a struggle of some kind, perhaps one that they didn't want to share. But he wanted to share with them some of the experience of living with a mother who suffered from a number of mental health issues, including dissociative disorder, and that he had had to work through school with undiagnosed attention deficit disorder.
"If I had known then that I had ADHD, I probably would have been a little bit more successful in high school," Derby said. "I struggled most of my childhood education ...
"I can happily say that next month I am graduating from BCC with an associate's degree in criminal justice. Took me 22 years to get there. And I am graduating with high honors."
He spoke of how it was easy to become jaded, especially in his profession, but that he hoped they would remember that everyone has struggles and "that you keep that empathy with you and treat others as though you wish you would want to be treated."
There was one graduate who couldn't be there. The school gave an honorary business technology certificate to Jeric Black, who passed away earlier this year with only one more course left to complete the certificate.
"I did not have the pleasure of knowing or meeting this individual. However, all faculty and staff has spoke very highly of his drive and his determination to finish this certificate," Green said.
As Black's name was called, his mother, Melinda, came up on stage to accept the certificate, hugging Green and Chairman of board Chair Faith Takes.
The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to instructors Kelly Milne and Linda Vroon. They were selected by the students and staff. The Distinguished Service Award, presented to a member of the administration students felt was most helpful to them, was given to Amy Beverly and Matt Martin.
Academic Achievement Awards were presented to one student in each of the six disciplines.
At the end, the graduates turned their tassels the room filled with applause and cheers.
Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate
Gail Stickle +
Medical Office Assistant Certificate
Shannon Lee Lockenwitz
Massage Therapy Certificate
Joslynn Cancel ^
Sarah Cohen ^
Business Technologies Specialist Certificate
Trever Clark *
Practical Nurse Certificate
* summa cum laude, ^ magna cum laude, + cum laude