Dedication underscores outlook of Toll Gate’s top 10


A good word to describe the top 10 students in the Toll Gate Class of 2013, according to Principal Stephen Chrabaszcz, is “dedicated.” These high-ranked students are dedicated to their school, and dedicated to their community. Toll Gate’s top 10 seniors are the best and the brightest the school has to offer, all with a variety of talents. Some are musicians, some are athletes, some are even artists. But all of them are hard workers, who cared about Toll Gate both as a school and as a community. Attending schools like the United States Naval Academy and Brandeis University, these motivated young people have every opportunity to make a bright future for themselves, and hopefully the world.

Nina Yu

Nina Yu attributes many of her successes in high school to her experiences in band class. An all-state flute player, Yu’s fondest memories are in her jazz band class, and on the field trips she took to band competitions all around the Northeast, including going to the Berklee Jazz Festival. She has also received several band awards, including the John Phillip Sousa Band Award, and the National School Orchestra Award. But, Yu is not the traditional musician. She is incredibly athletic, winning Rookie of the Year and rising to become a varsity swim team captain. The valedictorian’s academic awards include the Harvard Book Award, National Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. Yu plans to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., majoring in chemistry, where she believes she will continue to excel.

“I am very self-motivated, because I like to learn and want to see what I can achieve,” she said.

While she can motivate herself, her parents help and encourage her, and her sister serves as a role model. Her friends from band have also supported her, making it possible for her to succeed.

Haley Moen

Artistic and athletic achievements mark Haley Moen’s high school journey, all of which gave her the opportunity to attend Brown University in the fall, which was one of her favorite memories from high school. Moen has received several art recognitions, such as obtaining the Governor’s Citation for “Best of Show” in the Scholastic Art Competition. She has also taken art classes at the Nancy Stephen Gallery and School of Art. Moen’s other passion is running. She was captain of the cross country team, the indoor track team and the outdoor track team. An all-division and all-class runner in both cross country and track, Moen considers some of the best times she had in high school to be the days she spent with her team. She has also had a great support system consisting of her parents, sisters, friends and teachers, all of whom made high school all the more enjoyable for her. Moen will double major in Business Entrepreneurship and Organizations and Visual Arts.

Matthew Deneff

Although Matthew Deneff plans to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals, he considers the time he spent with Toll Gate’s Mock Trial team to be the most worthwhile. A member of the team since 2010, Deneff has held many positions. He has served as an expert witness, an opening lawyer, and was even invited to become a national team member twice.

“I gained so much from my experience, including public speaking skills, confidence in front of an audience and the ability to think on my feet,” he recalls about the program, also saying that he has made many amazing friends because of Mock Trial.

Deneff has also received many academic awards, becoming a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and the Rhode Island Honor Society. He has also received the Bausch & Lomb Science Award and the St. Michael’s College Book Award. There have been several teachers and role models that Deneff attributes to his success – western civics AP teacher Mr. Politelli, biology AP teacher, senior project mentor and lacrosse coach Mr. Vadney, and finally Mock Trial coach Mrs. Franco. Due to the help he received from these individuals, he will be attending the University of Connecticut in the fall as a pre-pharmacy major and will apply to the UConn School of Pharmacy as a rising junior.

“I would not be where I am today without them,” he said.

Dena Goldblatt

Coming in fourth for the Toll Gate High School Class of 2013 is Dena Goldblatt, who will attend Brandeis University double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology with a minor in Music Performance. Goldblatt’s goal for the future is to do clinical work in the neuroscience field. During her time at Toll Gate, she was an active member of both the Mock Trial team and the school band, even winning the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. She auditioned for All-State Jazz Band in both 2009 and 2011, placing second for jazz piano. Goldblatt believes that her AP western civics class instilled within her a passion for learning.

“It was the most exhausting class I have ever taken, but it was also the most challenging and the most rewarding,” she said. “Mr. Politelli always encouraged me to do my best.”

Academically, Goldblatt has been recognized with many awards, like the AP Scholar Award, the National and Rhode Island Honor Societies, the Rhode Island Scholar Award and the Colby College Book Award.

Emily Fox

Emily Fox’s academic career at Toll Gate is marked by various successes in athletics, and her dedication to volunteer work outside of school. Fox was a member of the varsity hockey and soccer teams for all four years of her high school career, and on the varsity track team for one. She was the captain of both the hockey and soccer teams, and obtained the title of most valuable player on both her team and in the city two years in a row.

“For hockey specifically, I’ll remember beating Mount for the first time in the program’s history and breaking a hundred points,” she said about her time in ice hockey, saying that her team and coaches were incredible.

Fox is an active church member, volunteering for St. Gregory’s Church often during her freshman through junior years. She has served as an alter server, an altar server instructor, a Glory Days teacher and a festival volunteer. She also attended the St. Gregory’s Youth Mission in 2012. Fox has also shown dedication to her schoolwork and won the Wellesley Book Award, the RIIL Student of the Month Honorable Mention, and the SWE Award. Fox will be attending the University of Rhode Island, studying pharmacy.

Madeleine Anthony

Madeleine Anthony will attend Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., majoring in History with concentrations in Legal Studies and Pre-Law. Anthony made the decision to go into law because of her experiences with the Mock Trial team, and her AP western civilizations course. She calls her time with the Mock Trial team life changing because it made her realize she wanted to be a lawyer. Those who supported her the most throughout her high school career were her friends from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School. Her friends at the school became like a second family to her, and it was because of them that she was able to succeed in school.

“Being with them, playing in an orchestra together and having the same interests and difficulties in school was an enjoyment,” she recalled.

Another person that motivated her to excel was her brother, David, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 3. Her brother made her realize she was a very lucky person, and made her want to work to her fullest potential to achieve. Anthony has won various awards, including the Brown University Book Award, the Maureen Callahan Scholarship and has achieved a Superior ranking in the Rhode Island Music Educators Association Solo and Ensemble.

Elena Chace

Number seven in her class, Elena Chace claims that she will have trouble forgetting the amount of time and stress spent on her homework every night. But, aside from that, she says that she will cherish the memories she made with her friends, especially those from track and cross country. Chace will be attending her dream school in the fall, Northeastern University, where she will major in Human Services and Criminology. She has been incredibly involved throughout her high school career: She was a captain of the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams, a member of the School Improvement Team, a volunteer at Save the Bay, and the vice president of the National Honor Society. Chace has been the recipient of the Bryant University Book Award, an Outstanding Senior in French, the Rhode Island Higher Education Scholar Award and the President’s Education Award.

She is very grateful for those who have helped her to succeed in high school.

“My incredible parents, extremely dedicated sister, inspiring teachers, and my close friends have contributed most to my success and enjoyment of high school. I cannot accurately express the gratitude and love that I have for these people.”

Nicholas Rodrigues

“What motivates me to excel is the competitive nature of the world and man’s desire for knowledge,” said Toll Gate Class of 2013’s number eight ranked student Nicholas Rodrigues.

Rodrigues will attend Emmanuel College in Boston, double majoring in Psychology and Biology. He will remember the wealth of knowledge he obtained from his classes, and those who contributed to that. His success can be attributed to his teachers and his family, who gave him the motivation to work hard. Rodrigues is a member of the National Honor Society, the Rhode Island Honor Society and the Toll Gate Band. He has received the President’s Education Award, the Richeliea Franco-American Heritage Award and has become a member of the Rhode Island Higher Education Scholars.

Julia Paolino

Number nine in the class of 2013 is Julia Paolino, who has been involved in theater for most of her high school career, even outside of Toll Gate’s drama program. Paolino has had many starring roles in plays like “Legally Blonde,” “Grease,” “Oliver,” “Annie” and “Into the Woods.” Her performance experience isn’t just limited to the stage, though. Paolino has also directed several plays, and has been part of Toll Gate’s show choir and chorus. Due to her love of theater, she was awarded the Performing Arts Consultants Outstanding Soloist Award. It’s no surprise, then, that she has chosen to attend Wheelock College in Boston, with a double major in Communications and Theater. Along with her theatrical accomplishments, Paolino has achieved several academic awards, including the St. Michael’s College Book Award and becoming a member of the Rhode Island, National and Spanish Honor Societies. Her favorite memories will be from when she directed plays at the Rhode Island Youth Theater camp, and helping to establish Toll Gate’s Drama Club.

“My involvement in the performing arts has continually influenced me to excel academically. It gave me the opportunity to escape from stress when necessary and also worked as an incentive to get good grades.”

Tyler Inkley

Rounding out the top 10 for Toll Gate’s Class of 2013 is Tyler Inkley, who will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall with a major in Mechanical Engineering. Inkley’s high school career has made him a well-rounded individual, and he has participated in wide-ranging activities from the Drama Club to Best Buddies to basketball. He also plays the piano, the guitar and the ukulele. Inkley has a strong drive to win.

“I hate to lose more than I love to win,” he said. “I simply always want to be at the top of my game, so I’m prepared for anything.”

Inkley’s academic accomplishments are just as wide-ranging as his extracurricular activities. He has been honored with the Daniel Brian Cohen Scholarahip, the Ryan Wingren Scholarship, the Secretary of State Civic Leadership Award, the Principal’s Leadership Award and the Holy Cross Book Award, along with being part of National Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society.


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