LENOX, Mass. – Maya Isabelle Velasco worked hard to get the grades that earned her valedictorian at Monument Mountain Regional High School.
Maybe, she thought on Sunday, sometimes a little too hard.
“I sacrificed the balance of my life to get top marks,” Velasco said during his farewell speech at Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Music Shed. “I put school first: relationships, sports, sleep, my health. I should have stopped working on that paper to go to my friend’s birthday party or finish some homework another day to go cheer on a Monument sports team. In the end, you won’t remember a bad grade you got in a year, you’ll remember the memories you made and the experiences you had with the important people in your life.
“Don’t get me wrong, working hard is so important, but it’s so much more worth maintaining a healthy balance between all the priorities in your life, especially the relationships with your best friends, family, teammates, mentors and classmates who all offer something different to your life, just as each person in our class has unique qualities, strengths, interests, and perspectives that bring irreplaceable value to our entire class.
Velasco took the opportunity of the school’s 55th graduation to tell fellow graduates how “worth” it was to get to know them.
“Our class has done a great job of making the best of a bad situation and I hope each of you can find a silver lining in your high school experience, even with the sheer number of challenges and crazy circumstances we face. faced,” she said. said. “To be able to graduate, despite such challenges, is an incredible achievement, one that takes immense perseverance and determination and one that our entire class should be proud of and take these characteristics with them into the next stages of their lives.”
Sunday’s ceremony sent 138 graduates to their next stage and included performances from the band and school choir, remarks from the regional school committee chairman and superintendent, and farewell words from Velasco and Salutatorian Bailey Marie. Carlson.
Monument Mountain manager Kristina Farina told the crowd in the hangar that Velasco had shown more perseverance and resilience than anyone Farina had known.
“She is constantly taking new opportunities to learn,” Farina said. “In addition to her high academic standards of humility, she always demonstrates humility, kindness and compassion for every member of our community.”
Farina had similar praise for Carlson.
“Bailey Carlson is one of the most humble students I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Farina said. “And yet, the impact she has had on our community has been remarkable.
“She has an exceptional work ethic, is a member of the National Honor Society and a recipient of the Rensselaer Math and Science Award…Bailey always values helping others and demonstrates this through the activities in which she is involved. engages, such as volunteering for tutoring. her classmates and her work with Best Buddies.
Carlson told his classmates that it was difficult for him to say goodbye. But then again, she is used to such struggles.
“I’ve never been a big fan of endings,” Carlson said as he kicked off the festivities. “Whether it’s the season finale of my favorite TV show, the last song of a long-awaited concert, or the last hours of a perfect day, all I can think of is is in a way to freeze time and live this moment a little longer. .
“I’ll give you another example. Imagine a 7 year old child. I’m sobbing, uncontrollably I might add, sitting in the window seat of an airplane. I just left aunts, uncles and cousins after a week of family vacation and can’t stand the thought of our trip coming to an end.
But despite his long-standing struggle with goodbyes, Carlson was able to find the silver lining at Sunday’s ceremony.
“Monument helped us find our future, our passions, our people and ourselves,” she said. “From the shy freshmen entering these double doors for the first time to the top seniors departing to the lyrics of ’22’ by Taylor Swift, our turtle-shaped building is there for us five days a week and 36 weeks. a year for all four. He’s seen some of our best times and some of our worst, but most importantly, he’s seen us, whether it’s the freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior version. He’s seen us grow in everyone and, above all, he gave us a safe space to do so.
“Most of us have been together since our elementary or middle school days which seem like yesterday, and it’s crazy to see how far we’ve come. But what excites me even more is seeing how far we’ve come. where we will go and where these new beginnings will take us.
Photos of this upcoming event.