NMH speaker says, ‘Share knowledge with others’
GILL — The skies were ominous but the tone confident Sunday at the heart of the Northfield Mount Hermon campus, where students and families gathered to send the 130th graduating class on its way.
Raheem D. Jackson delivered the class oration, exhorting his classmates to judge people by their character and to make a difference. Jackson said he realized that he had become distrustful of people with a lighter skin tone, and thanked his new NMH family for helping him come to this realization and go to India.
Jackson, who came to NMH for a postgraduate year from a Florida high school and is bound for Amherst College in the fall, said he grew up with food stamps and had considered himself underprivileged until his visit to India.
“India made me realize not only how privileged I am but that I have a little to spare to share with others,” Jackson said.
Commencement speaker Shabana Basij-Rasikh also demonstrated a different barometer for privilege.
Basij-Rasikh, 23, is a co-founder and the managing director of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan, or SOLA, a nonprofit that educates young women in Kabul and helps them gain access to schools abroad.
Basij-Rasikh disguised herself as a boy to attend a secret school in Kabul under the Taliban regime, and said that privilege, education in a country where more than 90 percent of women are illiterate, kept her on her toes later as a student at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Basij-Rasikh said being asked to usher a class into the future was a great responsibility, and passed on advice from her grandmother, to appreciate people for who they are; her father, to defeat meanness with kindness; her mother, to learn languages; and a college adviser, that “the greatest sin in the world is to have knowledge, to know and not to share with others.”
Among the 190 graduates was a student from the SOLA program, Fatima Saidi, a postgraduate bound for Bates College in Maine this fall.
Franklin County graduates:
Bernardston: Kenneth Kinsman.
Conway: Eliana Goldsher.
Deerfield: Atticus Moeckel Cole, recipient of the Elizabeth Leyden ’22 Music Award, and Leah Schwartz, recipient of the Marie Hood Award.
Gill: Tucker Emery, recipient of the Alice B. and John E. Baldwin Award, Emily Messer, Luke Poulsen, Ke Wang, recipient of the Joseph T. Elliott Jr. Prize in Music, and Raleigh Yates.
Greenfield: John Fox and Taylor Sullivan.
Montague: Henry Weis.
Northfield: Abigail Carr.
Orange: Perry Holmes, Salutatorian and recipient of the Lila and DeWitt Wallace Award in Writing.
Shelburne Falls: Samuel Downes and Madeleine Stark.
Sunderland: Jacob Douglas
Warwick : Isabel Bennett, recipient of the Florence Chapman Haslun Prize.