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Taconic Class of 2022 Told to Make the Best of a Challenging Situation
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:02PM / Tuesday, June 14, 2022
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Valedictorian William Garrity and salutatorian Connor Sultaire lead the Taconic class of 2022 in moving their tassels to show they graduated in this still from PCTV.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Taconic High School valedictorian William Garrity urged his classmates to make the best out of a challenging situation, both with the class's high school experience and with their futures.

This advice came from his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic when he was able to expand his horizons because of the opportunities it opened up.

"Because of the extra time I had available, I started to work a little bit more on leisure projects. Because of the influx of funds coming from the federal government to colleges, I was able to take many dual enrollment courses at (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) and (Berkshire Community College) and complete a whole year's worth of college before the end of my senior year," he told to the class of 2022 during graduation ceremonies recorded on June 5.

"I started to get more involved in my local community by getting hooked and watching School Committee meetings, learned about how the school district is handling COVID, which led me to becoming a student representative to the Pittsfield School Committee and I know that a lot of you have also had positive changes due to the pandemic, whether that be enjoying a new hobby of singing, realizing the true passions computer science, making an online friend from California getting involved in protests for racial justice, or even learning you prefer virtual learning over in-person learning.  Most of us have experienced positive changes as a result of the pandemic."

Garrity added that every one of the graduates is going to face a new challenge and asked them to make the best of it. He also told the class to not be afraid of making mistakes — unless they are illegal — as they are part of the learning process.

"If we can make the best out of a little pandemic during our high school career, we can make the best out of the challenges that lie ahead of us after we leave here today," he said.

Principal Matthew Bishop highlighted how the class of 180 students were "builders" as the first freshman group to enter Taconic’s new building.

"We all know this class has faced many challenges and obstacles but they've also been asked to do something very unique: they've been asked to help build a new Taconic, not once but twice. When the class of 2022 arrived here four years ago, they were going to be the first class to spend their entire four years here so we asked this amazing group of freshmen to help us figure out how to navigate challenges that we didn't even know existed," he said.

"As we all know, the pandemic interrupted our work and when this group came back in the fall hoping for a normal year, we asked the same group, now seniors, to once again, help us build a new Taconic in a post-pandemic world. So when people ask me about this class, it's easy to think of words like resilient, determined, unbreakable. It's all true, you've had an incredibly challenging journey but I think I'm going to choose to remember you for a different reason. I want to remember this group as a group of builders."

Bishop said the class rebuilt traditions and extracurriculars, and built new pathways for success through school work and work outside of class.

"And finally, with so many students struggling to return from the pandemic, worried about school, scared to be around so many people, you set out to help rebuild a love for Taconic," he said, later adding that the students made a major positive impact on the school and left their mark.

Salutatorian Connor Sultaire would have loved to say the last four years were easy and flew by but that was not the reality. He said the class fought many different battles and overcame them to get to graduation, each with a different strategy.

His was the support of friends and family.

"I was lucky enough to be surrounded by great friends, a great girlfriend, and a supportive family who always made sure I did everything and to the best of my abilities, making it easier for me to accomplish my goals and push past the academic and personal struggles that we all faced," Sultaire explained.

"Some thrived on the sports fields, some found support in the performing arts but in the end, even through all of the hardships we faced, we've all reached the final destination regardless of the different paths we took or who helped us along the way."

The class had 28 honors students and 59 high honors students, all of which stood to be recognized during the ceremony.

The senior chorus sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and graduate Alizehia Marie Pimentel-Rosa sang "Ave Maria." The school band accompanied the marches.

Editor's note: iBerkshires had reached out to Taconic High for graduation information. We're not sure what happened, but we did not get a response and so did not get the top students press release. We missed when the time was finally posted to the calendar so arrived too late to get photos. 

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