Throughout the top 10 students of Pilgrim High School’s Class of 2013, several threads run, connecting all of them as scholars and the school’s top achievers.
They turned to academics, the arts, and athletics as avenues for success, and showcased their talent and ability in the venues of the classroom, theater, and field.
Some shared the volleyball court, others the softball diamond, and others the ping-pong table. Some solved math equations and others conducted science experiments. Some turned to the written word and others pursued the study of history. All of them represented the best that Pilgrim can produce.
Valedictorian Natalie Tocco stated that these students are all familiar with one another and they have grown together as a group. “All of us have been in practically the same classes,” said Tocco.
Now that all the hard work is over, Tocco has found that there are some common characteristics shared by all 10. “We’re eager to learn. We’re really involved in our school.”
She also acknowledged, however, that after graduation, things would never be the same. “We’re all going our separate way. I am not really sure what is going to happen.”
Tocco is sure that her classmates pursued all of their individual interests at Pilgrim and found success.
In the fall, they will continue on to several colleges and universities across the country, carrying with them what they learned at Pilgrim and a desire to learn even more.
Coming in first out of a class of 252 is Natalie Tocco, earning a GPA of 3.9.
This honor came as a real surprise for Tocco because she had been switching back and forth with Cameron Devin throughout the semester, and she did not fully believe that she had come out on top until she saw the final standings. Reflecting on it, she said that she is happy all her hard work paid off.
Outside of the classroom, she pursued both sports and extracurricular activities. She was a three-season athlete and served as a captain of the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams. She sang in the Pilgrim Concert Choir and acted as a defense lawyer in Mock Trial.
In the fall, Tocco will head to the University of Vermont to pursue a degree in Animal Science-Pre-Veterinary.
Tocco’s approach of doing it all can be attributed to her attitude of finishing what she starts.
“My nature does not allow me to go halfway. I push myself to go all the way with 100 percent effort,” she said.
This effort has been recognized through a certificate of achievement in Math and Science from the Society of Women Engineers and the Middlebury College Book Award. She was also a member of both the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. Tocco furthered her studies as an AP scholar.
Looking back, she names all the hilarious conversations in Mr. DiFilippo’s U.S. and European History AP classes as memorable.
She credits her success to friends and teachers who were always supportive and helpful.
Second in Pilgrim’s senior class is Emily Pride, who tried her hand at a whole host of areas, both academic and extracurricular.
She ran track all three seasons and was a member of the National Honor Society. Her motivation comes from a succinct aspiration.
“I aspire to lead a fulfilling life in which I can be both happy and successful. I have always believed it to be necessary to put forth my whole effort in everything I set out to do,” said Pride.
So far in this pursuit, she has received the Bausch & Lamb Honorary Science Award, Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award, and the General Treasurer Gina Raimondo Honorary Award.
The next step in her life is heading to the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor for a degree in Kinesiology and Occupational Therapy.
Pride feels that her family and friends have supported her and encouraged her to show honesty, determination and dedication. She also found a friendly and supportive atmosphere at Pilgrim.
Third in the class is Cameron Devine, a senior who has his sights set on a degree in either computer or space and aeronautical engineering from the University of New Hampshire.
Devine was captain of the cross country, indoor, and outdoor track teams. He said that these teams and his friends are what he will remember most from his high school days.
He was also president of the National Honor Society and vice president of his class.
Devine has been awarded the Rensselaer Gold Medal for excellence in Math and Science. This award coincides with his fondness for both math and science teachers, especially David Fisher. In addition, Devine feels his parents have contributed to his success. Overall, he feels that he has always had a strong drive for success and that failure was never an option.
Ranking fourth is Thomas Greenberg, who felt motivated to succeed by the pursuit of happiness, good education and gaining employment.
This motivation has translated into several accomplishments. Among them are captain of the tennis team, treasurer of the National Honor Society and something he takes personal pride in, president of the Ping Pong Club.
For this success, he has received awards in math and science, and was named academic all division and MVP of the tennis team.
He feels that his parents, teachers and many friends have contributed the most to success at, and enjoyment of, high school.
Greenberg will look to find success this fall at Boston College studying either Finance or Business Administration.
Finishing fifth in her class is Heather Wolfden, a future student of business at Stetson University.
At Pilgrim, she filled several leadership roles. She served on the Executive Committee and acted as captain of the soccer, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. She also participated in Mock Trial.
Wolfden is a member of the National Honor Society, the Foreign Language Honor Society, and the Rhode Island Honor Society.
She received further recognition with the Wellesley College Book Award, All City, Division and State Honors in soccer, and All City, Class and Division Honors in track.
For Wolfden, it is her friends, family and teachers that both stand out in her memory and motivated her the most.
The accomplishments for Stephanie Johnson are a mix of all the possible areas a student could pursue at Pilgrim High School. She found success in a wide range of activities.
She sang as class vocalist in Chorus, acted in the Drama Club, and served as secretary of the National Honor Society.
When asked what motivated her, Johnson responded, “the desire to go to a good college with sufficient amount of scholarship.”
That desire will be fulfilled this fall at Emanuel College. She will pursue a double major in English and Vocal Performance.
For her pursuits at Pilgrim, she was awarded the George Eastman Young Leaders Award, the Principal Award and the Outstanding Vocalist Award.
She fondly remembers all the activities she participated in and all the friends she made along the way as what will stay with her from her high school days.
Among the accomplishments for Katelyn Reph are the Harvard Book Award, the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Award-Silver Key, the Sister Charlene Tedeschi Academic Achievement Award, and being named First Team All-Division in softball twice.
For Reph, her parents and friends are the individuals who played the largest role in her success. They have allowed her to create lasting memories.
“I will remember playing in many games in the different sports that I enjoy and also all the friends I have made over the years,” she said.
Reph moves onto the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Sacred Heart University, combining her passion for sports and her excellence in academics.
For Melissa Conti, striving for success is something inherent in her nature.
“It is in my nature to take full advantage of opportunities presented to me because that is what my parents have encouraged me to do,” she said.
At Pilgrim, Conti not only took advantage of numerous opportunities presented to her, but she took them as far they would allow her. She was a captain of the varsity volleyball team, vice president of the National Honor Society, and member of the Executive Committee.
It is these activities and others that will stick out in Conti’s memory of Pilgrim.
“I will remember all the activities I was able to participate in, like the volleyball team and honor society, as well as many great teachers and faculty members who devoted themselves to helping students succeed.”
Conti will continue her education at URI. She currently has an undeclared major.
Driven by a desire to explore the world and fueled by support from her family, Kelsey McQueeney finished ninth in Pilgrim’s graduating class.
McQueeney took time to appreciate all aspects of her time in high school. In response to the question of what will she remember the most, she answered, “My friends, the hard work we all put in and all of the great moments at events.”
She led others as president of the Yearbook Committee and secretary of the Travel Club. She also served on the Executive Committee and participated in the Environmental Club.
She was recognized for her efforts with the Regis College Book Award and the 2013 High School Civic Leadership Award.
McQueeney will further her studies at Hofstra University, pursuing a degree in Forensic Science.
Rounding out Pilgrim’s Top 10 is Sarah Ferry. She is an inductee into both the Rhode Island and National Honor Societies. She participated in the Ping Pong Club and played on the soccer team.
She was motivated by an ambition to go to college and make her family proud.
She received the Xerox Technology Award and plans to attend Endicott College in the fall for Interior Design.
Ferry formed connections with several of her teachers and credits them with inspiring her to succeed.