Pittsfield graduation: ‘Courage, fortitude, and resolve’

  • Students from Pittsfield Middle High School graduated Saturday, June 15. Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWItt

  • Students from Pittsfield Middle High School graduated Saturday, June 15. Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWItt

  • Students from Pittsfield Middle High School graduated Saturday, June 15. Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWItt

Monitor staff 
Published: 6/15/2019 6:35:12 PM

Not all of Colton Gaudette’s defining high school moments involved a classroom. Some of them featured a cowsuit, a movie script, and a tight-knit pack of collaborators. 

Many of them, actually.

Gaudette, a 2019 graduating senior at Pittsfield Middle High School, was the life force behind “Beef Bites Back,” a 17-minute sci-fi romp featuring a fictional battle between cows and humans on school grounds.

The film project – supported by the school’s Learning Studio – took about 1,000 hours of work to write, shoot and edit, drawing in nearly a dozen student participants. But it also set Gaudette on a life course, inspiring him to pursue film studies and English at Plymouth State University next year.

On Saturday, Gaudette joined 41 of his classmates in crossing the stage at the school’s graduation ceremony, following their own paths. Painted onto his cap: a film reel.

“I want to do action movies, big superhero budgets – that’s kind of my dream,” he said.  

For many, “Beef Bites Back” was the kind of group effort that captured the spirit of the class of 2019. It was a class that came together to design a superhero-themed homecoming float like few had ever seen, and that showed up to the costume contests of Spirit Month in force. It was a class that chose to donate as its class gift not just money but effort, installing a new set of gardens and gravel pathways outside the main entrance. 

And on Saturday, it was a class that met to say goodbye.

“I don’t want us to look at high school as something you're forced to do,” said salutatorian Joeanna Emerson in an address. “We should look at it as a stepping stone, that helps us get on the path of life that’s right for us.

“It’s definitely been a wild four years, and I’m going to miss it a lot.”

Some are going into the military. Some, like Charles Chapman, are transitioning into career technical education with an eye to electical apprenticing. 

Shekinnah Stockman is heading up to Canada in the summer to learn the craft of horse ranching. The dream: a ranch of her own one day, somewhere in the South. 

For Jessica Rainville, the path forward involves a dental hygiene degree from University of New England. It was a choice helped along in her anatomy class. “I love looking at all the body parts and learning about humans,” she said. 

Pittstown is a small town with a small school. But to keynote speaker Derek Hamilton, the school’s dean of operations, it more than punches above its weight. And it puts a new meaning on the word ‘gritty.’

“In order to be “gritty you have to display courage, fortitude, and resolve," he said. 

The students agreed.

“Every class tries to be the best,” said Benjamin Stephens. “I know this. You know this. Even our rival class of 2018 knew this. The difference is: when we say it, we mean it.” 

Toward the end of his valedictorian address, Colby Wolfe turned to look back at his classmates on the stage.

“I know that every one of them are ready,” said “They are ready to be the next generation. They are ready to change the world.”

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, at (603) 369- 3307, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)

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