September 19, 2014
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Hendricken’s top students excelled in arts, academics, athletics
KEVIN AUGUSTYN

During the June 7 Commencement Exercises for Bishop Hendricken High School, a lot was said about the graduating class of 2013.

Valedictorian Shane McElroy brought up the school’s dominance in athletics, including championships in swimming, track, cross-country, lacrosse, volleyball, wrestling, baseball, hockey and football over the past four years.

Salutatorian Kevin Dillon III called the Class of 2013 “the rowdiest class in Hendricken history.”

Principal Jay Brennan even said that the Class of 2013 would “always have a special place in my heart.”

That special place is reserved for the class because they were freshmen when Brennan became principal. “We kind of went through the four years together,” said Brennan in a recent interview.

He continued to say that it was a real blessing to work with the class and that they accomplished great things during their time at Hendricken.

“They did great things academically, as athletes, as artists,” said Brennan. Just to name a few, Brennan recalled the cross country team winning the past four state championships, the Class of 2013 winning the Freshmen Football Superbowl and following three Varsity Football Superbowls, and the Academic Decathlon team winning the state championship three years in a row.

“When you look at students doing things like that, it’s pretty remarkable,” said Brennan.

As for Dillon’s claim of the class being rowdy, Brennan said the Class of 2013 did have a great deal of Hawk spirit. “That was apparent at many of the games,” said Brennan. “They were so supportive of one another.”

While he feels “rowdy” insinuates negative behavior, Brennan likes to think his students behaved well. “Even when they were going crazy, they were gentleman,” he said.

Finally, Brennan said the academic achievement of not only the top 10 students, but all 217 graduates, could be seen in the amount of scholarship money they received. According to their proud principal, the Class of 2013 received over $20 million in academic scholarships for college.

Shane McElroy: The Class of 2013’s valedictorian Shane McElroy accomplished a great deal in four years at Hendricken.

In addition to excelling in academics, he participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including Academic Decathlon, Visual Arts, Arts Academy, Ambassador’s Club, Peer Tutoring and Freshmen Soccer.

McElroy was also recognized for many of his academic achievements. He was a National Merit Scholar and AP Scholar with Honors, won the Harvard Book Award, earned a silver medal on the Level 4 National Spanish Exam, and earned Individual Second Place in Division 1 on the State Chemistry Exam.

“My friends and classmates were both the largest contributions to my success in school and my enjoyment of high school,” said McElroy. “They challenged me to excel but also made school enjoyable, even under a stressful workload.”

His motivation to excel came from those same classmates, “both from the Class of 2013 and the preceding classes.”

McElroy added that those friends, both outside and inside the classroom, would be what he remembers most from his time at Hendricken.

Although McElroy said in his graduation speech that looking to the future was “pretty terrifying,” the young man has quite a future ahead of him. He will attend Northwestern University in the fall to study chemistry.

Kevin Dillon III: When salutatorian Kevin Dillon III looks back at his years as a Hawk, he will remember the mission trip he took to Peru as a senior.

“This trip was life-changing, between the people I met and the people I helped and who helped me. I couldn’t ask for a better experience,” said Dillon.

Dillon also has a number of extracurricular activities and awards to look back on. He was a member of the Media Arts Academy, Senior Jazz Band, the Ambassador’s Club and Peer Ministry. He was even president of Media Arts.

As for awards, Dillon received the Georgetown Alumni Book Award, University of Rochester Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award, a bronze medal for General Excellence, the Media Arts Program Directors Award, and was awarded the Hibernian Scholarship Award. He also placed second in the RISEF and earned silver medals in the National Spanish Exam for Levels I, II and III.

Dillon will attend the University of Rochester to major in neuroscience and will also minor in Film. He has wanted to become a doctor since he was young and says he knew he needed to work hard and do well in school to make that dream a reality. He credits his parents with providing the encouragement to persevere through academics.

“Also, without my friends I would not have enjoyed high school, or stayed sane through my past four years,” said Dillon.

Nick Sarazen: Nick Sarazen, who ranked third in his class, will be bringing his love of music to Brown University to major in the subject.

As a Hawk, Sarazen was a member of concert band and indoor percussion. He even served as the DJ for Hendricken’s Day Glow Mixer.

In addition to his music, Sarazen was vice president of the Ambassador’s Club and a member of the National, Math, English and Spanish Honor Societies.

When asked who contributed the most to his success in high school, Sarazen credited his parents and AP European History teacher Wayne Gage. “They always pushed me to do my best,” said Sarazen.

He adds that he has a driven personality. “I have always strived to be the best I can be in anything and everything I do, and I accept nothing less than the best from myself in my academic life,” said Sarazen.

Sarazen says he will always remember the “brotherhood dynamic” shared between the friends and classmates. He knows the friendships will last for a lifetime.

Matt Casbarro: An all-division indoor track and field athlete this past year, Casbarro will continue his athletic career at Cornell University as a member of the varsity track and field team. He will be majoring in Biology and Pre-med at what he says is his dream school.

Casbarro, fourth in his class, also showcased his musical talent as a member of both senior jazz and concert bands. He was also a member of the Math Team, a peer tutor and secretary of Ambassador’s Club.

He said his parents, teachers and dream to attend Cornell motivated him to excel. In addition to his success on the track, on the stage and in the classroom, he was awarded the College of the Holy Cross Book Award and University of Rochester Young Leaders Award.

But his best memories of high school are still on the track. “I will remember the long hours of studying and training, all of my track meets, especially competing at all the Indoor and Outdoor Track National Championships my junior and senior years,” said Casbarro.

He will also remember all of the times he spent with his friends, who he says “kept me from going insane due to my difficult workload.”

Pietro Conte: Ranking fifth, Pietro Conte says without the great friends he made, his Hendricken experience would not be the same.

“My friends made coming to Hendricken every day very enjoyable because of the fun times that we had,” said Conte.

Conte’s experience included four years in the Italian Club, two years in the Ambassador’s Club and a place on the Freshmen Basketball Team. He was the recipient of the Fairfield University Book Award and placed first in the state on the National Italian Exam in 2011. Conte was also a member of both the National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society.

“I was motivated to excel in school by my desire to get accepted into a great college,” said Conte. “My parents always told me that in order to be successful, you mist be willing to put the work in. So, I drove myself to excel because I knew that hard work was the only way I would be able to achieve my ultimate goal.”

His hard work paid off. Conte will attend Boston College, majoring in political science. Conte is also considering adding a second major of either history or Italian.

Conte also says his parents and teachers contributed to his success. “[My teachers] were willing to do whatever it took to help me succeed,” said Conte. “And I could never have made it through Hendricken without the sacrifices that my family made to allow me to attend Bishop Hendricken.”

Erik D. Olsen: Erik D. Olsen’s success at Hendricken can be contributed to athletics. “The people who contributed most are my teammates on both the football and rugby teams. Both teams were like a brotherhood,” said Olsen.

The young athlete may have been a member of the state champion Freshman Football team and the three-time champion Varsity Football team, but he will continue his rugby career at Loyola University in Maryland. He was part of Hawks Rugby for three years.

Olsen, sixth in his class, will remember his four football championships most from his high school years, but he was also a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society and French Honor Society, a two-time academic all-league for football, and received the Thomas J. Jaquard Memorial Scholarship from Hendricken as a junior.

While he will never forget his time on the field, Olsen says his motivation came from closer to home. “My mother motivated me to excel by keeping me focused and committed to academic excellence,” said Olsen.

Olsen plans to study Pre-med at Loyola, focusing on psychology.

Christopher Lafen: Ranking seventh in his class, Christopher Lafen will have many fond memories of his time at Hendricken.

Not only did he travel with the school to both Spain and France in his senior year, but Lafen recalls fond memories of his time on campus as well.

“I will remember the time I spent in tech crew, building sets and running shows for the Drama department,” said Lafen, who served as a spotlight operator in both 11th and 12th grade. He was also a member of the Jazz Band during the first half of his high school career, a member of the track team as a freshman and a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Lafen also received numerous awards, including two gold medals and one silver medal in the National Spanish Exam, a McNally Spanish Book Award, Congregation of Christian Brothers Book Award and the Charles Colicci Alumni Language Award. He was also inducted into the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Foreign Language Honor Society.

“Attending Hendricken was a great experience and I will always be thankful for the academic and extracurricular opportunities I found there,” said Lafen, who says the faculty, staff, student body and Arts Academy motivated him. Specifically, Lafen thanks his parents for their support and Brother Kiernan and Jeanne Babula, as well as the other teachers, for encouraging him to challenge himself.

Lafen plans to attend Wheaton College and major in Biology with a minor in Spanish.

Kevin Augustyn: Eighth in his class, Kevin Augustyn has a unique addition to his Hendricken résumé from his fellow top 10 classmates. He was a part of the Magic: The Gathering Club, an extracurricular activity based around the popular card game.

“I will remember the afternoons I spent playing Go and Magic while debating philosophy, politics and technology,” said Augustyn, who added that he will remember his great friends, amazing teachers, his 11th grade English class and “the growing pains of Freshmen Analysis and Algebra 2.”

Augustyn, who will attend Lehigh University in the fall to study Civil Engineering and Architecture, was also a member of the Ambassador’s Club, threw discus for the track and field team, was a peer minister, and was composer and president of the Guitar Ensemble.

He says his parents, Auto CAD teacher Mike Benedetto and math teacher Thomas Morey contributed to his success, while his friends Neil Grant and Nick Tomasso contributed to his enjoyment of high school.

“My motivation to excel comes from my will to succeed, my ambition to change the world for the better and the want for a more educated and brighter future,” said Augustyn.

James Miller: James Miller will remember his service trip to Kentucky during his junior year the most from his high school experience as it “really transformed my perspective on what is important in life.”

Miller, who ranks ninth in his class, was involved in programs both on and off Hendricken campus. He was in the Hawks Business Club, played on the Unified Basketball Team, was a fourth grade religious education teacher at St. Gregory The Great and volunteered as an instructor at Rhode Island Special Hockey.

He was also a member of the Mu Alpha Theta National Mathematical Honor Society, National Honor Society, Rhode Island Honor Society and The President’s List. Miller also won the Bishop Hendricken Academic Affairs Committee Book Award.

Miller, who will study Biology and Pre-med at Boston College, credits his parents with encouraging him to work his hardest, and the “strong academic environment at Hendricken” with motivating him.

In an exact tie for the 10th spot are Griffin Werner and Brian Duranleau.

Griffin Werner: Griffin Werner says he was successful at Henricken and enjoyed his high school experience because of his teachers, family, friends and personal goals.

As a result of those goals, Werner was a part of the National, English, Spanish and Math Honor Societies and was the recipient of the St. Anselem Book Award.

He was also a three-sport athlete, competing in cross country, track and tennis.

Werner will attend Villanova University to study physics, and he has a simple philosophy to live his life by. “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be,” said Werner.

Brian Duranleau: Brian Duranleau will travel south this fall to become a member of University of Miami’s class of 2017, majoring in Biology.

Duranleau found a place on the stage at Hendricken as a part of 14 school theater productions. Those productions will be some of his fondest memories of Hendricken, along with his “closest friends and people whom I met along the way, including teachers, who, for whatever reason, deserve to be remembered.”

In addition to time on stage, Duranleau was on the freshman indoor track team, the school Mock Trial team, and threw discus for the outdoor track team in 2012 and 2013. He was also a member of the Ambassador’s Club and Arts Academy, and was a math tutor.

Duranleau was also inducted into the National Honor Society and English National Honor Society, and won the Muhlenberg Book Award, 2012 Award for Style Presence in Theater and earned fourth, second and third place in the Poetry Out Loud contest as a sophomore, junior and senior, respectively.

“Without most of my friends, the day-to-day ins and outs of school would be unbearable,” said Duranleau, adding that his friends and teachers can be credited with his success. He was also motivated by the expectations of his parents, peers and teachers.


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