Pittsfield seniors told to ‘be proud of where you come from’ 

  • Jah Gordon speaks to the crowd during Pittsfield Middle High School graduation Saturday. Gordon received a $4,000 scholarship.

  • Amber Johnson addressed her fellow Pittsfield Middle High School graduates during Saturday’s ceremony. She received a $5,000 scholarship. Ray Duckler photos / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/12/2021 3:41:42 PM

Jah Gordon and Amber Johnson stayed busy during Pittsfield Middle High School’s graduation ceremony Saturday in the Panthers’ gym.

Nothing new there, considering the graduating seniors belonged to more clubs, organizations and boards than a PTA president during their four years at Pittsfield High.

At graduation, they spoke immediately after the introduction and touched on a number of topics, including friendship, risk-taking and hanging out with friends in Room 212.

Later, in an Oscar-like presentation, both students were called back to the stage, where they were named recipients of the Foss Family Scholarships. The organization received a $1 million donation 14 years ago from the Foss family to start the program.

It’s handed out 310 scholarships in that time, worth $496,500. This year’s money was broken into four categories, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

Gordon got $4,000, Johnson $5,000.

As the salutatorian, Johnson already knew what it felt like to be at the top. It took energy for that, to be in so many places during the course of a day, and she admitted she nearly spread herself too thin.

“At some point it was overwhelming,” Johnson said. “But when I got my schedule down, I got it together and was able to incorporate everything.”

She incorporated a lot.

Johnson planned the class trip to Myrtle Beach; helped plan the graduation ceremony; mentored a 12-year-old girl who’s now 15; served as the yearbook editor; served on the Student Council and coordinated the effort to remotely stage Dress-Up Day and Twin Day; completed her course work to graduate; and nannied one specific family, sometimes up to 40 hours a week.

And once those kids were done with Zoom learning, any and all questions went to the nanny.

“I’d go to the house and had a daily routine,” Johnson said.

That will change, once Johnson attends New Hampshire Technical Institute this fall to get her general studies done. Then she wants to attend either the University of New Hampshire or Southern New Hampshire University to study forensic accounting.

“You look into finances and make sure nothing is fishy, like tax fraud,” Johnson explained. “It’s money, forensics and math, three of my favorites.”

As for Gordon, he, too, is a teen mentor and on the Student Council. In addition, he was a co-chair ambassador, a class officer and an athlete.

A good athlete, too. Gordon played four years of varsity basketball and soccer and was named All-State in both sports.

Add 30 to 40 hours working at Sully’s Grocery store – as a stock boy, cashier and supervisor – 24 hours a day goes quickly.

“I’m trying to be busy,” Gordon said. “That’s a challenge in life, and I’ve gotten great support, from family, friends and teachers, and they keep me going.”

He’s also the man of the house and takes that role seriously, mindful that he must set a good example for his sister.

“That gives me extra motivation,” Gordon said. “I want my sister to grow up and be an outstanding person in the community.”

As for the future, Gordon is attending Colby Sawyer College and wants to be a dental hygienist.

“Teeth are very important and the first thing you see,” Gordon said. “A smile is a confidence booster and I like to make people smile.”

The packed gym had reason to smile Saturday. Things got rocking immediately when Alden English plugged in his electric guitar and played his versions of “Black Dog” and “Whole Lotta Love,” both by Led Zeppelin.

Then, in a day filled with memories, he played the national anthem, improvising his way back to Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.

From there, valedictorian Benjamin Marcotte, wearing bells, jingled his way to the podium and praised the soccer program, fundraising efforts for the Myrtle Beach class trip and a return to normalcy.

The keynote speaker was Chris Davitt, a middle-school English teacher in Pittsfield who was praised by students for his unique communication skills, and who said his students taught him how to be strong and take chances.

“Be proud of where you come from,” Davitt said.

Prior to that, Johnson had had her own final thoughts during an interview, saying, “This is a whirlwind of emotions. Some days I’m happy and proud that I’m graduating. Another side is being sad, missing family and friends.

“And another side is terrifying and I’m asking, ‘What am I going to do?’ ”




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