Valedictorian Aimee Dowling recalls the good times and the bad at McCann Tech's graduation ceremony on Wednesday night. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The McCann Technical School class of 2018 reflected on memories of the past and were told to go forward with grit and determination.
Just over 100 graduates moved across the stage Wednesday during the school's graduation ceremony held in the Amsler Campus Center at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and valedictorian Aimee Dowling felt it was a good time if any to reminisce.
"Remember those nights where you were up until 2 a.m. cramming for a project and remember the days sitting around a fire with good friends," Dowling said. "It is moments at both ends of the spectrum that have all come together to create our own unique high school experience and it is this experience that has shaped us into the people we are today."
Dowling went back through her time in high school and noted when she was a freshman walking through the halls of McCann for the first time it was a little daunting. She said she came from a middle school with a graduating class of four and was worried about making friends and even navigating the school.
She said what was terrifying at the time seems quite silly in retrospect and went on to this say how close the class of 2018 was. She recalled watching classmates play human-sized Hungry Hippo at pep rallies, watching chickens run around the school, and surviving the Great Paper Shortage of 2017.
She remembered exciting trips the class went on, memorable lunchtime conversations and some of the craziness that went on during shop weeks.
"You may watch your classmate get hit with a chuck key nine times a day, drop a full bucket of cheese and have to play it cool or you may even be the one to break a jigsaw and almost set it on fire during exploratory. You all know who you are," Dowling said. "Whatever it may be I'm sure everyone would tell you that shop memories are some of the best because your classmates become your shop family."
She lauded some of the classes athletic achievements and successes at both SkillsUSA and Business Professionals of America. She said the greatness the class of 2018 demonstrated within the halls of McCann can only continue outward.
"We have all achieved so much during our time here and now it is time to continue achieving in the years to come," she said. "We will all always share the bond that McCann gave us, and we will all have a place to return to ... just remember some of the most worthwhile things in life are the hardest but if we put our hearts into everything we do nothing will be impossible."
Superintendent James Brosnan congratulated the class on completing their four years at McCann.
"Four years ago, you entered a little doubtful ... maybe a little confused about why you selected McCann but every single one of you made that decision, did your very best and this is the culmination of four years of hard work," he said.
School Committee Chairman Gary Rivers echoed some of Brosnan's sentiments and told the class that after these four years of McCann they have more than just a diploma – they have a trade.
"Only a small percentage of people have a diploma from a technical school and when you go home give your parents a hug and thank them for having the wisdom and foresight to send you to McCann," he said. "You have received far more than a high school education and they have given you a golden key that will unlock many doors an and enable you to make your way through this complex world of ours."
Rivers said the post-grad world will be much more difficult and being a top student or all-star athlete won't carry the same significance which means they will have to continue to work hard to accomplish their dreams.
He left the students with some advice: Know yourself, try new things, push yourself and don't fear change.
Salutatorian Daniel Gamari said this day has been a long time coming and thanked those who helped get the class of 2018 to this point.
"This is a day we have been waiting for for a long time. A day where we all gather here to celebrate over a decade's worth of dedication to our education," he said. "In this room, we are surrounded by the people who taught and inspired us throughout our lives to be truly great and successful. For without them many of us would have struggled without their strength and encouragement to push us onward and to never give up."
He went on to say graduation is just an early milestone in their lives and their next adventure is called "the real world" and noted the class of 2018 will likely go their separate ways be that the military, college or straight to the workforce.
Gamari left his class with some advice: don't be afraid to make mistakes.
"While standing at this starting line, I implore you to have goals and dreams and to strive for them every single moment you can, but we are only human, and failure will always be a part of our lives," he said. "You will take chances and choose different paths. Some paths may be rocky while others will have a clear view ahead."
He closed by telling the class of 2018 that their life is their story and it is truly up to them how they want to write it.
"Don't let the opinions of others deter you from your goals in dreams. You are living your life not theirs," he said. "So, I leave you with one final question. Will you sit on the sidelines for the rest of your life watching others accomplish their goals and dreams or will you take charge and follow your passion to the very end and be a true success story? The choice is yours."
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