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Science teacher reminds Pittsfield graduates ‘they matter’

  • Pittsfield graduate Brienne Hill gives her mother, Michelle Hill, carnations near the end of the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday. It is a tradition in Pittsfield for graduates to hand out the carnation to those who who have supported them at their commencement. Lola Duffort/ Monitor staff

  • Lola Duffort / Monitor staff

  • Gabe Anthony (left) and Eli Johnson give the farewell remarks at the Pittsfield High commencement ceremony on Saturday. Lola Duffort/ Monitor staff

  • Noah MacGlashing gives a speech at the Pittsfield High commencement ceremony on Saturday. Lola Duffort/ Monitor staff

  • Pittsfield High graduate Brienne Hill hugs her mother, Michelle Hill, at the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday. Lola Duffort/ Monitor staff

  • Former Pittsfield middle school science teacher Joshua Shawver gives the keynote address at the Pittsfield High graduation on Saturday. Lola Duffort/ Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Former Pittsfield middle school science teacher Joshua Shawver returned to the Oneida Street building on Saturday to give his old students one final lesson.

“You are taught that matter is something that takes up space, and has mass, and can exist in its most common states – solid, liquid or gas,” Shawver, Pittsfield High’s commencement ceremony keynote speaker, told the school’s 25 graduates.

But a more intangible form is just as important – and harder to convey.

“But feeling mattered, and knowing for certain you matter, can never ever be taught or learned,” he said.

Shawver, who was unanimously elected by the school’s graduates to give the day’s speech, said he had “no fame or recognition to my name.” And with his “high-pitched, nasally voice,” he joked that he was certainly “no great orator.”

“So why was I invited here today? Because I matter to you, and you matter to me,” he said.

And that is no trivial thing, Shawver said.

“Feeling mattered is going to be the greatest struggle you face once you exit these doors for the last time as students,” he said. “You will never buy it. You will never sell it. You will never – Snapchat, is that it now? But being mattered is left unspoken, and said through actions.”

Still, Shawver, the graduates should never doubt that they did, in fact, matter.

“Your smile matters. Your tears matter. Your voice matters. Your silence matters. Your intentions, good or bad, matter. What you did, and what you do – matters,” he said.

In his opening remarks to the audience of several hundred gathered at the Pittsfield Middle High School’s gymnasium, graduating senior Bradley Hardwick urged his peers to take charge of the next chapter of their lives.

With a flourish, and, eliciting laughs from the audience, he took out a fortune cookie from underneath his blue robes. Breaking open the pastry, he read his parting words.

“I do not have a plan for you. But if you do not have a plan for your life, someone else will,” he said.

Salutatorian Noah MacGlashing said that while the school was small, and the rural community relatively isolated, he cherished where he came from.

“Instead of questioning why they got stuck in a town that no one has ever heard of, we should appreciate it. It made us the people we are today, it gave us memories and friends who will never be forgotten,” he said.

In her brief address, valedictorian Savannah Godin told her fellow graduates that uncertainty was expected as they embarked on the next chapter of their lives.

“As you’re going out into the world, you’re allowed to say: I don’t know,” she said.

Nevertheless, they shouldn’t doubt what they could accomplish, Godin said.

“Each and everyone one of you has the potential to change the world,” she said.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)