|Wells Presented Superintendent's Award at Mount Greylock|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff|
03:56AM / Friday, November 27, 2020
|Jacqueline Wells has been a state champion at Mount Greylock in cross country running and cross country skiing. Now she's been honored with the Superintendent's Award for Academic Excellence.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Jake McCandless is new to the Mount Greylock Regional School District, but he is no stranger to the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents' Academic Excellence Award.
He has been around them since he was an administrator in the Lee Public Schools in 2002 and has been giving them out in Pittsfield since 2013.
And he has figured out what all those winners have in common.
"All of the times I've seen this award given or actually had the pleasure of giving this award, there's a really thick thread that runs through the story of every student who I have ever seen receive this award," McCandless said. "That thick thread is woven together of someone who has a deep intellect, a wonderful sense of curiosity, a strong character, a work ethic which is in the 99.9th percentile.
"But tying that thread together, binding it all together is empathy and kindness and a real dedication to using the powers of intellect and curiosity and character and hard work to make the world better — not just making your own life better, but creating a better community in whatever community you're in."
McCandless' first awardee in this Northern Berkshire community was Mount Greylock senior Jacqueline Wells, who was formally recognized with the award at Monday's School Committee meeting.
Wells has the academic chops, carrying a 4.5 grade-point average with no grades lower than A while taking 10 Advanced Placement courses that span the curriculum at Mount Greylock. She is currently taking a multivariable calculus class at Williams College. She is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Merit Commended Student.
She also excels in athletics, helping Mount Greylock win state championships in cross country running and cross country skiing. She won a world snowshoeing championship in 2019
. And in the spring, she competes in track and field.
"In track, you set aside competing as an individual in the post-season meets to focus on giving your best effort in your relay teams, leading to a new school and county record in the by 4-by-800," McCandless said. "You're a three-sport varsity athlete in every season offered from seventh grade forward.
"Jackie completed hiking the New England Hundred Highest Mountain list in her ninth grade year. At the time, she was the youngest to complete the list."
She still has found time at Mount Greylock to write for the school newspaper, participate in the Youth Environmental Squad and take part in the school's Peer Resource Team, which advises peers on health, stress, relationships, depression, sexuality, alcohol and drugs and provides mentoring to younger students.
"Jackie, even though I'm among the newest of the members of the Mount Greylock Regional School District community, I'm sure I can speak for every member of this community when I say what an honor and a privilege it is to know you, to honor you, and I'm sure your teachers from preschool and kindergarten to today are so glad that you are in their life," McCandless said.
Wells was humble in accepting the recognition.
"I'm really honored to receive this," she said. "I'm so grateful to be welcomed into the Greylock community and to be part of a community with such amazing teachers and inspiring peers as well, who have pushed me to always contribute.
"It's truly an honor to be a part of this community and a joy to be involved in it."
McCandless used the occasion of his first public appearance as superintendent to express his joy about joining the Lanesborough-Williamstown schools, and members of the School Committee were quick to show their appreciation of his decision to come aboard.
"I'm very honored to be here, very thrilled to be here, and I have been welcomed warmly at every turn," McCandless said.
Carolyn Greene, who this summer in the interview process told McCandless that she hoped he could bring "stability" to the regional school district, was quick to praise him after he gave his initial report to the School Committee later in the evening.
"It's comforting in a strange way to hear the broad view given so succinctly and carefully and thoughtfully," Greene said. "I get the sense our district is working together under really strong leadership that is participatory. You — all of you — are working together collaboratively as a team, and that's the only way this is going to happen."
In addition to marking McCandless' first appearance at a School Committee meeting, Monday marked the first session for the seven-person panel's four newest members, Curtis Elfenbein, Julia Bowen, Jose Constantine and Michelle Johnson.
The meeting marked the committee's annual reorganization, and by unanimous votes it retained Chair Christina Conry in that post. The committee also elected Greene as vice chair and Steven Miller as secretary.