November 29, 2014
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Graduations start Friday
First in cycle of high school graduations starts Friday
Nancy Levin

With graduation just around the corner for many Warwick high schools, seniors are busy finishing exams, portfolios and projects. Some will stay in state for college, while others will travel to the other side of the country. Still others will join the workforce, but for all, the ceremony will mark a transition and a life of independence.

Commencement services for all three of the city’s high schools will be held in the Cullen Field House at the Knight Campus of CCRI. Toll Gate High School will graduate approximately 225 students, according to Principal Stephen Chrabaszcz. The graduation will take place on June 13 at 6:30 p.m. 

“They care about each other and they’re very connected as a class,” said Chrabaszcz of the graduating students. “They’re also very unique and creative.”

Chrabaszcz cited valedictorian Nina Yu as one such example of this creativity. Yu will be attending the Annapolis Naval Academy in the fall.

Salutatorian Haley Moen will be attending Brown University in the fall. Chrabaszscz said many of this year’s seniors chose to attend college in state next year due to the rising costs of out-of-state tuition. Colleges and universities students will be attending include Bryant University, Providence College, the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island.

In keeping with the tradition of Warwick high schools’ graduations, there will be no guest speakers because “we want the focus to be all about the kids,” said Chrabaszcz.

Warwick Veterans Memorial High School will graduate approximately 214 students this year, said Principal Gerry Habershaw. The graduation will take place on June 13 at 3 p.m.  The valedictorian, Olivia Roy, will attend the University of Rhode Island next year to study business in the honors program. Salutatorian Johnathan Moore is still deciding between the University of Rhode Island and Norwich University, a military academy in Connecticut. Other colleges and universities students will be attending include Community College of Rhode Island, Florida Institute of Technology, Pace University and Suffolk University.

“We have so many outstanding students this year,” said Habershaw. “This class especially is very highly motivated and has done great work on completing their senior projects. They know how to get stuff done on time too.”

The ceremony will also honor recipients of two scholarships in honor of former students who have passed away. The Tim Packhem scholarship honors the former student who passed away in his junior year at Vets in 2007. Based on faculty consideration, awarding $1,000 to a student who exhibits school spirit, compassion for the less fortunate and will be attending a two- or four-year college in the fall. The Kory Kenyon scholarship honors a 2007 graduate through funds raised by the family.

Pilgrim High School will graduate 252 students on June 12 at 6 p.m.

Principal Marie Cote described the class as “one of resilience,” recalling how the class banded together following the death of one of their classmates in a car accident two years ago.

“They really turned it around and made Pilgrim a better place,” said Cote.

The valedictorian, Natalie Tocco, will attend the University of Vermont in the fall to study in the pre-veterinary program. Salutatorian Emily Pride will attend the University of Michigan for kinesiology. Other schools students will be attending include Sacred Heart University, Roger Williams University, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Syracuse University.

Bishop Hendricken High School will graduate 218 students on June 7 at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence.

“This graduating class and I have a very special connection,” said Principal Jay Brennan, whose career as school principal began when the graduating seniors were freshman students. “They are a remarkable group and have achieved some accomplishments that are just mind-boggling.”

Among these achievements are a first place finish in the state’s academic decathlon, five championship wins for the cross country team and over $10 million in merit scholarship awards from colleges and universities for the following year.

Valedictorian Shane McElroy will attend Northwestern University in the fall, and salutatorian Kevin Dillon will attend the University of Rochester. One student from each academic discipline will also be honored at the graduation ceremony, including awards for Christian service, performing arts and technology.

Other schools students will be attending include Brown University, Cornell University, the University of Virginia, Boston College and New York University.

Rocky Hill School will graduate 37 students this year, with nearly 100 percent attending a college or university in the fall, according to Karen Gibson, director of marketing and communications. The graduation will take place on June 14 at 10 a.m. on the school’s campus. Valedictorian Lily Hanlon will attend Boston College in the fall. Other colleges and universities students will be attending include Brown University, Bryant University, the University of Rhode Island and Tufts University. Another member of the graduating class, Nicholas Cicchetti, has been recognized as a National Merit Finalist based on his results in the PSAT. The graduating class also includes several international students from China and Japan.

“They’ve all gotten into a variety of schools for next year, which is just so great for them and for us,” said Gibson.


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