Village green provides picturesque backdrop for 2013 Scituate grads

Village green provides picturesque backdrop for 2013 Scituate grads

Memories of 'animated' Ali Mink linger for this Class of 2013

SCITUATE - Albert Mink is an elderly gentleman, a former longtime Scituate resident and retired Providence educator who now lives in Florida. Friday night, he was at the Scituate High School graduation for a very special reason.

"They're going to honor my granddaughter," he told The Valley Breeze & Observer in a whisper. "She was a member of this class. She was the most beautiful girl in the world, so bright, so pleasant, a beautiful girl, I'll tell you."

Judging from their remarks at graduation, her friends as well as school officials agree with that assessment of Alexandra L. "Ali" Mink, the daughter of David and Donna Mink, who died of brain cancer Nov. 7, 2012. She was 17 years old and had just been voted homecoming queen.

"She was loved by all the kids," her grandfather said. "She loved school. She was a straight-A student, she wanted to write a novel and be an author." The elder Mink during his years in Rhode Island was a principal in Providence schools, including Hope High School and the former Oliver Hazard Perry Middle School. He did not take part in the graduation exercises, but spoke privately to a reporter.

The passing of Ali Mink and the warm remembrances of her high school friends and town educators added a somber note to an otherwise joyous occasion, held in picture-perfect weather on June 14, as 112 graduating seniors from Scituate High School were awarded diplomas during the school's 56th commencement.

Graduation exercises were held outdoors - "a courageous decision," remarked Supt. Paul Lescault, after days of excessive rain - at the gazebo on the Samuel Tourtellot Memorial Common in North Scituate Village. The picturesque scene looked like a large garden party, with hundreds of people seated under the trees around the quaint, white-columned gazebo, the scent of newly-mowed grass fresh in the evening air. Cameras, festive balloons and flowers were everywhere.

The gazebo was the center of attention because it functioned as the stage, across which graduates walked to receive their diplomas and from which graduation speakers addressed the crowd. The high school band performed "Pomp and Circumstance" as the blue- and white-robed graduates filed into their seats, blue robes for boys and white for girls, with each girl clutching a long-stemmed red rose.

Although some people have negative views of young people, said Principal Michael Sollitto, the Class of 2013 defies such a perception. "Every class has a personality," he said, and this year's graduates comprise "a class of compassionate, caring, truly remarkable young men and women." He urged them to "go confidently from Scituate High School and live the life you've always dreamed."

Graduation is "the favorite part of my job," Lescault told the gathering. "This is why we (town educators) do what we do every day." The class received offers of more than $3 million in scholarships, he said, with 91 percent of the graduates pursuing post-secondary education. "Be sure to make everything you achieve in life count," he urged.

School Committeewoman June Guglielmi presented local scholarship awards, 52 grants worth a total of more than $70,000, she said. The local scholarships, mostly in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, came from funds raised by various community groups, such as the Scituate Rotary Club, the Scituate Arts Festival Committee and the Scituate Teachers Association.

But Ali Mink was never far from anyone's thoughts.

"She was the most joyful and animated person I ever met," Salutatorian Samantha Toohey said. Toohey used to think Scituate was too small and far away from everything, she recalled, but her friend's mortal illness made her see how fortunate she is to live in a such a "tight-knit town," with family and friends close-by who care about her. "Anyone's days can be cut too short," Toohey said.

Ali was "a big part of us," said Valedictorian Alexi Mangili, "and we are forever changed" by her passing. "Her smile, her strength, her personality will never be forgotten." In presenting what would have been Ali's diploma to her parents and her brother, Joseph, to a standing ovation from the audience, Sollitto observed that Alexandra Mink "will always be a member of the Class of 2013."

Presenting diplomas were Sollitto and Marylou Umbriano, chairwoman of the Scituate School Committee. The Rev. Pamela Gregory, of Trinity Episcopal Church, gave the inspirational prologue and epilogue.