‘Loving, fun and incredible’: Pittsfield celebrates the 35 graduates in Class of 2024

Physical education teacher Richard Anthony addresses the 35 Pittsfield graduates in the class of 2024.

Physical education teacher Richard Anthony addresses the 35 Pittsfield graduates in the class of 2024. By Sofie Buckminster—Monitor staff

Pittsfield graduate Michael Casey gets a hug Saturday.

Pittsfield graduate Michael Casey gets a hug Saturday. By Sofie Buckminster—Monitor staff

By SOFIE BUCKMINSTER

Monitor staff

Published: 06-08-2024 3:32 PM

Modified: 06-08-2024 6:21 PM


Seemingly every graduation speech throws around the word “family.” For the 35 graduates of Pittsfield Middle High School, the term is more than a cliché.

“This town, this school, these people will forever be ingrained in our personality,” said salutatorian Riley Nagle, who will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall, in her speech.

On Saturday morning, the Pittsfield community gathered in the school gymnasium to celebrate their graduating class with the scoreboard lit up to 20 vs. 24 at the 20:24 minute mark.

Melanie Rand, the valedictorian, was a late addition to the group.

“While many of these students have grown up with each other since kindergarten,” she said, “I barreled in during our sophomore year.”

Still, her school family adopted her.

“It’s sort of mutually understood that we treat each other like siblings,” she said.

Rand plans to attend Southern New Hampshire University in the fall, and aspires to become a high school teacher.

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To introduce faculty speaker Richard Anthony, a physical education teacher for 30 years and graduate himself, students Tiffany Boucher and Michael Casey took to the podium. Boucher got through a sentence or two about Anthony’s “tough love” before pausing and choking up. Casey put his arm around her, and the audience applauded in support. When Anthony walked up to the podium, the three of them shared a group hug.

“Thank you, Mikey and Tiffany, for that kind introduction,” he started.

Anthony, whose son Gabe was unexpectedly killed by an intoxicated driver in December, also fought back tears in his speech. “My family saw support from friends, and the entire Pittsfield community,” he said.

At several points in his speech, he touched on memories and inside jokes with the class.“Hey Emma,” he asked, “How do you make a tissue dance?” “Put a little boogie in it,” she yelled from her seat. His banter with the graduates was fluid, and their connection was clear.

“This class sticks together. They fight like siblings,” he said, echoing Rand’s speech.

“At their core, they are a caring, loving, fun and incredible group of individuals that made me smile,” he added as students wiped away tears.

Before diplomas were passed out, graduate Justin Rivera took to the microphone to announce the final presentation.

“As we reach the end of our high school journey, so many of us have someone to show our gratitude towards,” he said.

Taylor Swift’s “Our Song” started to play over the speakers as each of the graduates dispersed through the crowd, handing flowers to teachers, family members, and friends.

The moment served as a prelude to the moment everyone had been waiting for – graduation itself.

One by one, the 35 graduates accepted their diplomas while red and white carnations bobbed up and down throughout the crowd with each round of applause.