Patriot grads hail transition

This is first year former Veterans students graduate from Pilgrim following secondary school consolidation

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Excitement filled the air at CCRI’s Knight Campus Tuesday as Pilgrim High School celebrated its 55th commencement, and its first after consolidating with the former Warwick Veterans Memorial High School.  Bouquets of flowers adorned the laps of proud relatives, air horns sounded, and folks scurried to find the best possible seat to watch their favorite high school senior cross the stage.  Some parents held congratulatory signs, while others went to extremes waving extra large photos of their graduate.

Hundreds eagerly waited as the processional of 278 graduates began in the air-conditioned (thankfully, seeing that Tuesday’s temperatures hit a record high for the day of 95 degrees) Vin Cullen Field House. The enthusiastic group of students took their seats in anticipation amidst hugs, chatter and laughter as the ceremony got underway. 

Among the graduates was Alyssa Garcia, who earlier this year survived a brutal attack while working at Rite-Aid. She was tutored at home during recovery from multiple stab wounds and returned to Pilgrim to cross the stage with her classmates. The entire class, as well as many in the audience and on stage, stood and applauded in recognition of her courage.

Another graduate who has demonstrated persistence, Andrew Martin, who is battling Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T), which is a rare genetic disease that attacks children and causes progressive loss of muscle control, immune system problems, and high rates of cancer, also crossed the stage to receive his degree.

Principal Gerald Habershaw greeted those in attendance and addressed the historic occasion, accentuating the positives of the two secondary schools consolidating. While many seemed to expect negative results, and admittedly it wasn’t always easy, Habershaw gave credit to students for making it work.  “I owe a great deal of gratitude to the senior class,” he says. “Their leadership helped to make the transition go fairly smooth.”  He also thanked and congratulated the student body from both schools for making the most of what could have been a difficult situation. Also, he credited the faculty from both schools for their dedication and collaborative efforts to combine the best of both Pilgrim and Vets programs, which offered more opportunities for both students and faculty.

Earlier in the evening, as students assembled in the main campus building before filing through the connecting tunnel to the field house, Andrea Hainey, one of three class advisors who had previously taught at Vets, said Habershaw “was the absolute key” to the smooth consolidation of the two schools.

“He’s a real teachers’ principal. He trusts us to make good decisions,” she said.

Parent Candida Nunez said the transition went well and that “Kids had a better transition than the parents.” Her daughter, Isabel Nunez, graduated in the top 10 and plans on attending URI for biological sciences. Amanda Marciezyk, whose sister Daria Madden graduated, said the transition went well but the school was “crowded.”  Her 5-year-old daughter, Aaliyah Jennings, graduated from kindergarten earlier in the day and enjoyed spending the evening seeing her Aunt Daria receive her diploma.

Consolidation was also a theme for salutatorian Chelsea Faith Lavallee. She said it was not easy and that “the determination to make the best out of a tough situation should not go unnoticed.”

“We as students and as people progressed so much from the start of the year. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have met new people who I’ve learned so much from and for the opportunity to accept change with an open mind,” she said.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, a Pilgrim alum, congratulated the class on their endeavors and their handling of the transition.  He urged them to keep in mind all those that supported and sacrificed for them, and even though they’re graduating now, much lies ahead. 

“Your future is limitless,” he said while encouraging them to find and cultivate their passions. “Take chances, make mistakes and rejoice in the wondrous beauty that is all around us.”

Class valedictorian Alexandrea Pouliot, who placed first in Rhode Island and ninth in the nation in Italian, as well as founding the Pilgrim Environmental Club, spoke candidly to her classmates about being true to themselves and following their passions.

“I want for us all to have the confidence to be true to ourselves and do what speaks to us,” she said.  “If we are all our amazing selves, we will shine and all find our own ways to change the world.”

She plans on attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a biochemical engineering major.  

After the presentation of diplomas, mortarboards were tossed in the air.  Some students, such as Jacob O’Donnell, decorated his with his future school, Plymouth State University. He aims to study business and wants to go on to get a master’s degree. Tannor O’Connor, who plans on attending CCRI in the fall, posed a question on his cap, asking ‘Can I be excused for the rest of my life?” Others had future goals written, such as “Nursing,” as well as messages of affirmation, such as “Just Did It,” “I graduated first” and “2017, The start of something new.”

Superintendent Philip Thornton, who encouraged the students to have the courage and perseverance to follow their dreams, seemed to sum up everyone’s thoughts with his words, “Well done, Class of 2017!”

Pilgrim Class of 2017

* Rhode Island Honor Society 

+ National Honor Society

 Senior Project with Distinction

#NAME? Honorable Mention

Pilgrim High School

Class of 2017

Top Ten Students 

Alexandrea C. Pouliot

Chelsea Faith Lavallee

Jennifer Marie Paiva

Ryker William Meinel

Ronald Bryan Minear

Mary Anne Dolan

Brendan Violette

Griffin M. Doyle

Isabel I. Nunez

Lauren Canning

Graduates

Taylor M. Addessi

Ryan Patrick Agnew*+=

Kyle Anthony Allessandro

Tyler James Alexander

Tyler Jordan Algren

Kalum J. Alldredge*+

Morgan Kathleen Almon=

Kristiana Marie Altieri

Ana Karen Alvarez

Crystal R. Armstrong*+^

Delta Ann Ayres=

Emma Dee Baribault=

Nicholas Joseph Barratt

Destiney-Dawn Marie Barrett

Richard Leslie Bateman

Thomas Christopher MacGregor Battison

Claire Georgette Beauregard*

Cameron Scott Beausoleil@

Rhianna R. Bellows

Mitchell James Bendokas

Nikole Bermudez

Zyahna Lynn Bernard

Syler S. Bessette@

Emma Rose Bianco

Alexis Brooke Bier

Lexie Marie Birmingham@

Emma Wenli Hulme Birney

Christopher James Black*+=

Alec David Bloomingburgh

Katerina Marie Boiano*

Tayla Jean Bordeleau@=

Emiley Noelle Boudreau

Hannah Sarah Bouressa*+=

Michael E. Boyajian

Brianna Ann Boyd

Brittney Barbara Boyd*@

Ashley Nicole Braga*+=

Brittney Ann Braga

Brianna Marie Breban=

Catherine Anne Brennan

Lelia Kate Britto

Ryan Adam Bruhn

James Douglas Burniston

Lauren Elizabeth Canning*+

Austin Roger Carbone

Nicolette Nancy Carney

Kelsey Marie Carreiro*=

Edward Anthony Cascella*

John Francis Castaldi

Paula M. Cavanagh=

Omar Chaghlil

Benjamin David Champagne

Noah Steven Chauvin

Madison Christine Chiovare

Ashley Clift

Andre Scott Cochran Jr.@

Casey Ellen Cokely*=

Abigail Jane Comtois*=

Bryanna L. Concepcion

Maya Alexis Connolly

Sean Dennis Cooney

Amanda Grace Corley=

Nicholas John Correia

Emily Bae Costa

Derek James Cote

Ryan Austin Cote

Joseph Albert Cotrone@

Matthew Joseph Coughlin

Miranda Crum

Zachary David DAndrea

Samantha Marie DaSilva*@

Simone Kaitlyn Demers

Collin Edward Devine*

Genna Rose Devine

Sean Elizah Diffley*+

Andre James Dion@

Mary Anne Dolan*+^

Danielle Marie Donaldson

Griffin M. Doyle*+

Cassandra Melissa Dreyer

Maranda Jane Duffie*+

Elizabeth Marie Durand

Jeriann Elizabeth Evans*+=

Amanda Janet Farrell

Dylan Joseph Feley

Nathaniel Timothy Ferri

Victoria Elizabeth Ferri

Mitchell W. Fielding=

Ryan Alexander Follett

Adam James Fox

Victoria Elizabeth Alexandria Frazier

Julia Marie French*+=

Kianna Marie French

Tierra Simone Frey

Kellie Gallagher

Patrick Joseph Gallogly III*

Alyssa Tatyana Garcia

Lillian Elizabeth Gardner

Avonlea Faye Gauthier*+

Jadin Isaiah Genao

Tamar Snow Gershman*+

Bailey A. Goff

Victoria Starr Golato

Nicholas Paul Gonnella III

Jake Gonsalves

Jacob Charles Goodman

Anthony William Gorton

Tayla E. Gorton@

Kyle Steven Gray

Kaitlyn Ann Greenwood

Nathan Russell Burke Gremour

Sandra Lee Grondin

Makenzie Hope Grover*

Levi Jaymes Guertin

Emily Arianna Hager@

Amanda Leigh Hallock

Katarina Olivia Hanley

Jillian Harris

Olivia Justina Harris

Gregory Keith Harrop

Nicholas Jeffrey Hart

Nicholas James Hartman

Hunter Edward Heal

Chantrea May Heang*

Kyle Fredrick Heilborn

Kyle Joseph Henderson

Michael Robert Henninger

Jareth Vathana Him@

Zachary Hogan

Coral-Ann Kathleen Houghton*+

Ashley Nicole Howard

Nicholas Raymond Howland

Zachary L. Johnson*+

Sophia Elizabeth Kaczmarzyk=

Steven Thomas Kavanagh*+

Brittney Ann Keenan

Christopher Michael Kenney*+

Tatum Lyn Kotkofski

James Francis Kozusko*

Samuel William LaFrance

Stephanie Langevin*+=

Lenita Rochelle LaRoche*

Chelsea Faith Lavallee*+

Kyle Michael Lawton=

Caitlin Rose Lee

Jonathan Raymond LeJeune

Nicholas Robert Leland=

Brian Li*

Brandon Lopez

Jerry Ly*

Daria Madden

Matthew Raymond Major*

Jacob William Manchester@

Megan Rose Marcille

Jamal G. Martey

Andrew Joseph Martin

Yareisy Sujey Martinez

Katelyn Elizabeth Martino*=

Cameron Anthony Martins@

Adoria Jennel Maxwell

Tyler J. Mazza*

Sara Jean McCaffrey*

Shannon Elaine McCarthy

Kayla Celia McCoy

Emma Hope McGrath*+=

James F. McKay

Shawn McMillian

Katelyn Rose Medeiros*

Paulo Antonio Medeiros

Steven Medeiros

Ryker William Meinel*+

Jonathan Joseph Merritt

Amanda Marie Messier

Ronald Bryan Minear*+=

Karael Antonio Lucien Mistivar

Mia Aniyah Mitchner

Aidan Mochel

Kayla Renee Moorby*=

Janeliz Morales*

Troy David Morgan

Ty Daniel Morgan

Kayla L. Morin

Mary Frances Mullane*=

Bryana Maria Mullin*+

Angus John Nathan

Janise Nieves

Isabel Idalia Nunez*+

Daniel Joseph O’Brien

Michaela Hope O’Brien

Samuel Salvator O’Brien=

Michael F. O’Connor

Tannor J. O’Connor

Jacob Stephen O’Donnell

Jessica Lynn O’Leary

Anthony Frederick Oliver Jr.@

Morgan Rose Oliver*

Cameron Kyle Olson

Deryn Leigh Ordway^

Jared Michael Ortiz*

Jennifer Marie Paiva*+

Anthony Joseph Parrillo

Tyler J. Parton*

Rosalie Amelia Passarelli=

Kaitlyn Odete Pereira*+

Jeffrey E. Perreault

Matthew Peter Perreault

Steven Capwell Pezzulo^

Joseph Pezzullo

Dakota Wayne Phelps

Noah Daniel Pike

Ashlee B. Pillier

Maria Isabella Piperata

Miranda Kathleen Plante

Sarah Jane Poppe

Garrison William Potter

Alexandrea Cassidy Pouliot*=

Grace Lee Powell

Blessin Joe Premy*=

Kelsey Vaughn Rafferty

Katherine Marie Raposo

Emily Cynthia Ann Reid

Courtney Reiff

Patrick Joseph Reilly

James Daniel Richardson@

Sydney Lynn Rickey@

Trejur Autumn Robitaille

Caitlin Rossano@

Sean Michael Ryan

Nicholette Salvaggio

William Riley Sanders*+=

Stephen James Sangas

Zachory Matthew Saucier=

Gabrielle Elisabeth Savard

Austin Thomas Savitsky

Gabrielle Lynn Scalzo

Joseph David Scalzo*

Jaclyn L. Schmitt

Samantha Lynn Seymour

Jason Alexander Sholl

Jarod Paul Sickinger

Kellee Jo Silva@

Mikaila Sandy Simmons

Edeline Faith Sjogren+=

Elizabeth Mae Smith@

Jared Gene Smith

Zachary S. Souza

Haley Danielle Stahl

Brianna Christen Steinberg^

Ryan D. Steinle

Christopher James St. Laurent

Ellen T. Strain

Taryn Marie Stringfellow

Elizabeth Marie Strom

Alaric Connor Swanton

Ashley Leigh Swindell

Garet Roger Sylvestre

Louis Christopher Tarvis=

Robert Luis Tavares=

Michael Sean Tessier

Alissa Irene Theberge

Robert J. Thomas

Noah Michael Thresher

Joseph Arthur Tocco*

Jared Christopher Trimmer

Sarah Jean Tyson

Troy Alexander Urquhart=

Myah Jeanette Vianna

Daniel Joseph Vieira

Brendan Patrick Violette*+

Ann K. Wajda=

Kendall N. Watts

Anastasia M. Welch*=

Ty Louis Weldon-Martin

Michael Artissius Wilkinson

Chelsea Elizabeth Yang=

Gabrielle Scarlet Young*+

Jacob Michael Zuller*

Troy Andrew Zwolinski

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