947 to receive diplomas at 5 high school graduations


It’s that time of year again when high school seniors are gearing up to don caps and gowns for graduation and then head off to college or seek employment by the end of summer.

For 2012, 947 students from area schools, including Warwick Veterans Memorial, Toll Gate, Pilgrim, Bishop Hendricken and Rocky Hill, located in East Greenwich, will earn diplomas.

“I’m looking forward to starting a new phase of my life and being more independent,” said Amanda Ruggieri, Pilgrim’s valedictorian, who plans to study biochemistry at Boston University in the fall.

Her classmate, Lauren Peladeau, is the salutatorian. She shares the same sentiments as Ruggieri and is eager to take up physical therapy at Springfield College.

“A few years ago, I got hurt during softball and went to physical therapy,” she said. “When I was in the physical therapy clinic, I realized I wanted to pursue that career [and] I did physical therapy for my senior project to get a feel for it.”

Third ranking student Amanda Rhode, who will be studying biomedical engineering at the University of Rhode Island, is this year’s class essayist for Pilgrim. The young ladies are three of Pilgrim’s 240 students set to graduate June 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Knight Campus at 400 East Avenue.

Vets and Toll Gate will also host their commencement ceremonies at the CCRI Knight Campus. Vets will take place June 6 at 6 p.m., with 215 students graduating.

Valedictorian Kristen Hyle will be off to Suffolk University in the fall, salutatorian Rebecca Hurd is set to study theater arts at Elon University, while essayist Jordyn Payne is earning her associate’s degree in general studies as part of CCRI’s running start program. In fact, she spent half the school year there.

As for Toll Gate, the graduation will be at June 7 at 3 p.m., with 240 graduates. Valedictorian Benjamin Hodge will be studying forensic science at the University of New Haven, Allison Penn will head off to Brown University and is yet to declare a major, while class essayist Katelyn St. Amand is to attend High Point University to study biochemistry.

On June 8 at 5 p.m., 211 Bishop Hendricken students will receive their diplomas at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence at 30 Fenner Street. John Kane of North Kingstown, who plans to study pre-med at Tulane University, and Ryan Sutyla of Coventry, who will take up chemistry at Hamilton College, are tied for the top two slots. At the moment, they are vying for the spot of valedictorian. There will not be a class essayist.

The same day at 10 a.m., 41 Rocky Hill students will graduate on the front lawn of Hopelands, weather permitting, at 530 Ives Road. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Sharpe Gymnasium.

This year, Steven Petteruti of East Greenwich will address his classmates as valedictorian before attending Brown University in the fall. Also, Dane Ardente of East Greenwich will be recognized during the ceremony as a “lifer,” a Rocky Hill School student who attended the school for 15 years, beginning as a preschooler.

While no staff members from Hendricken will be retiring this year, a handful of teachers from the remaining four schools are set to retire. At Vets, physics teacher John Parente, math teacher Joyce Laurence and tech ed art department head Roy Greiner will retire after a combined total of more than 75 years of service for the school department. At Toll Gate, Samuel Holtzman, former Warwick Teacher's Union President, will be retiring after 30 years as Science Department Head.

At Pilgrim, Athletic Director Domenic Marcone is retiring after nearly 40 years, and Rocky Hill English teacher and director of college counseling Paul Tukey will be retiring after 36 years.


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