PVPA graduation: ‘We are exactly like a family’

  • Pioneer Valley graduate Jaylin Carrasquillo applauds during a speech by Melinda Winter, the president of the school's board of trustees, during graduation ceremonies Thursday evening in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School graduate India Weber walks away with her diploma during graduation, Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts graduate Amelia Burbine performs the B-52’s “Love Shack” with a group of other graduates during commencement Thursday evening at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School graduate Joshua Hann walks away with his diploma during graduation, Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School graduate Isabelle Richards walks away with her diploma during graduation, Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School graduate Lila Templin, the senior class speaker, delivers her address during graduation, Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School graduate Kalyani Kortright walks away with her diploma during graduation, Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/7/2019 12:05:47 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Joy and song filled the Calvin Theatre for the graduation of Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School’s Class of 2019.

The commencement featured numerous speakers and performers, as well as 60 newly minted graduates crossing the stage to receive their diplomas. Students entered to an instrumental version of Starship’s “We Built This City,” and some danced in place as their fellows joined them.

“The Class of 2019 turned out pretty damn great,” said student speaker Janavia Miller.

Miller, who took the time to thank her mother, also drew attention to the class’s future.

“Ahead of us stands the dreams we are to realize,” she said. “Ahead of us stands life.”

Three student films highlighted the evening, as well as several performances, including a rendition of the classic B-52’s song “Love Shack.”

Faculty speaker Jake Rose praised the talents of the graduating class, and also noted their kindness. As someone who has lived in five different communities over five years, Rose praised the school and the Class of 2019.

“You made me feel like I belonged,” he said. “When I had no community, you let me be a part of yours.”

In his remarks, PVPA Executive Director Marc Kenen asked the students to thank their parents and guardians, and the students stood and applauded them.

“If there’s a more thankless job than being a parent to a teenager, it’s being a teacher to 400 teenagers,” he said.

He then asked the students to thank their staff and teachers, and was obliged by another hearty round of applause.

The other class speaker, Lila Templin, began her speech on a bit of a sarcastic note.

“I like you, but family is a stretch,” she said. Following a recent family reunion, she realized, however, “We are exactly like a family.”

“We were all raised with the same values,” she said, likening some classmates to siblings. “You can tell because we get into huge fights,” Templin said.

“I love this wild family so much,” she said.

As she neared the end of her speech, Templin grew emotional, and then she dropped an F-bomb.

“Oh shoot, so sorry,” she said.

Amelia Burbine, who studied musical theater, described her high school career to the Gazette as a “long journey.”

Burbine is going to Dean College in Franklin, where she will pursue a BFA in musical theater. She said that her favorite production at PVPA was “A Chorus Line.”

Following the presentation of diplomas and an intermission, the graduation had a second act, featuring performances that were all prepared by graduates, although the program featured both graduates and underclassmen.

Some of the second act events were a fashion show, a dance number to a series of rap songs, a performance of Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira” that also featured dance, and a tech sketch.

Graduate Maiya Avisata-Sullivan studied film, and will attend Champlain College in Vermont.

“I would not be where I was without PVPA,” she said. “It has definitely been the most amazing school ever.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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