Published: 6/3/2022 8:03:55 PM
Modified: 6/3/2022 8:01:54 PM
TURNERS FALLS — “Watch out, world,” Superintendent Richard Martin said as he congratulated Franklin County Technical School’s “113 future workaholics” on graduation night.
“You are goal-setters, go-getters, who are ready for any challenges,” he said. “You are ambitious, hard-working and ready to take on any opportunity in life. Congratulations for what lies ahead.”
Martin said Franklin Tech’s Class of 2022 has graduates from 13 vocational programs at a time when many employers can’t find enough qualified applicants for job openings. He said 87% of employers polled say they couldn’t find enough people qualified for openings in the building trades, food services and health fields, among others.
“And yet, the federal government spends $1 on vocational education for every $6 it spends on college prep,” Martin remarked. He believes those spending priorities may change in future years, as the need for highly skilled trades workers grows.
“The world has changed, and that’s the reality,” said Principal Brian Spadafino, who recounted the past two years of adjustments that students had to live with during the COVID-19 pandemic — from masks to no masks, from coming to class or doing classwork from home, from being told the state wouldn’t require them to taking MCAS tests — and then telling them they couldn’t graduate if they didn’t. He said his daughter struggled with the same limitations brought on during the pandemic as the Franklin Tech students, but found an outlet by taking up running.
“Find an outlet that is your ‘happy place,’ he told the 113 graduates. “This is important, as you go into adulthood. We all make mistakes, but you are not mistakes. We all have our struggles. Have confidence in your abilities. Do not shrink from your struggles, for you are prepared.”
School Committee Chair Rich Kuklewicz remarked that the new graduates had lived most of their high school years through the pandemic, but made it through and grew along with all the adjustments. When they start their new careers, he advised, “try to make your future workplace just a little bit better.”
“It is such an honor to sit here with some of the most talented future tradesmen,” said Salutatorian Greyson Rollins, an electrical trades student from Erving. “I’ll always know someone who can check my engine light, who can fix my laptop and who can trim those mullets,” he joked.
“Thank you for the fun,” Rollins told his classmates. “Now go do something amazing.”
“Imagine you died tomorrow. Would you have any regrets about how you lived your life today?” asked Valedictorian Andrew Smith of Northfield.
Smith said his biggest regret was “not being my real self sooner.”
“For the last four years, we have created such a great family,” he said, as he thanked everyone from his parents and teachers to the maintenance staff that kept the school clean. “Welcome to the end of high school and the beginning of the rest of your life.”