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For Hartsbrook grads, a complicated world — that they can handle

  • Tony Cape, a former Humanities teacher, gives the graduation address at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ryan Crouss after receiving his diploma from Virginia McWilliam, at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Nora Cooper, a graduating senior speaks at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kendall Jansen after receiving her diploma from Virginia McWilliam, at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sloan Jarvis, a graduating senior, speaks at the ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Marley Bernard and the rest of the senior class perform "Home Together, " at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The Hartsbrook school graduating class gets ready to process into the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The Hartsbrook school graduating class gets ready to process into the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ruby Dirks after receiving her diploma from Virginia McWilliam, at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sloan Jarvis after receiving her diploma from Virginia McWilliam, at the graduation ceremony at Hartsbrook High School in Hadley Saturday morning. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS



@nyssakruse
Saturday, June 10, 2017

HADLEY — The world is complicated right now, outgoing Hartsbrook School senior Nora Cooper told her fellow graduates and their guests Saturday morning at commencement. But, she said, with the education she received at Hartsbrook, she thinks she can handle this reality.

“It is this blessing from Hartsbrook, this ability to carefully evaluate the world within and around you, that gives me hope,” Cooper said. “I know how to look past the surface and find what may be obscured below.”

Students and faculty sung the praises of a Waldorf education, especially in today’s society, throughout their speeches Saturday. Waldorf schools like Hartsbrook, which educates students from early childhood through high school, emphasize academics alongside environmental awareness, the arts, community ties and moral development.

Twelve students comprised the Hartsbrook class of 2017, and each was allowed to express his or herself during the ceremony through song, poem or speech.

Graduating senior Romer Sullivan spoke about a Harvard study that aimed to understand what makes a person live a long, happy and successful life. The study measured wealth, health, the number of kids a participant had in his lifetime and a variety of other factors.

Hundreds of people were checked on year in and year out by researchers, who found a strong correlation between happiness and the strength of connections a person has with their family and friends.

“Waldorf philosophy promotes these connections,” Sullivan said. “If the conclusions of this study are true, I suppose I owe a great deal to this school.”

Sloan Jarvis, another graduating senior, also spoke of the ties she developed at Hartsbrook. She said the world can seem dismal if you follow the news each day, but if the world valued community in the way Hartsbrook does, that could help fix today’s problems.

“We have been taught that by putting our heads together, we can create a future whose only boundaries are the limits of our collective imaginations,” she said.

Tony Cape, a former Hartsbrook teacher who gave the graduation address, used one word to describe the current world: grim.

“These are grim times,” he said. “Grim for the environment. Grim for millions of its inhabitants, and grim for this country.”

However, Cape said he, too, was not desperate, despite current events.

He said the qualities like sympathy, compassion and cooperation that allowed the homo sapiens to beat out other primates are the same qualities taught at Hartsbrook and the same qualities he believes can carry the graduates and the world through to better times.

The graduates’ main challenge in this quest, he said, is to overcome fear.

“This is your task: to reach out and build alliances,” he said. “Help our society and planet heal. You have the tools — now use them.”