Leaders: NP Class of 2014 was a great one

Leaders: NP Class of 2014 was a great one

North Providence High School class Valedictorian, Michele Winter, addresses her class with members of the North Providence School Committee, Mayor Charles Lombardi, Principal Joseph Goho, and the keynote speaker PaulLa Lipsey seated behind her. Winter graduated with a 4.0 average and will be attending Brown University on a full scholarship. (Breeze photo by Charles Lawrence)

PROVIDENCE - It was a class that exceeded expectations, that did it all with character and exuberance, said those who know it best.

The North Providence High School Class of 2014 displayed great resolve from the start of their high school career, said Principal Joe Goho during commencement ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence last Wednesday.

The "individual and collective greatness" of this class was "truly amazing," said Goho, and the past school year was "one of the most successful" in the school's 75 years, as seniors excelled both academically and athletically.

How fitting on a night when the NPHS "Golden Anniversary" Class of 1964 was honored to celebrate a class that achieved more than just about any class in the past 50 years, said Goho.

"The accomplishments of the Class of 2014 are many," said Goho.

This year's seniors submitted a record number of college applications, 625 compared to the previous high of 510. A total 200 students, or 82 percent of the class, will attend college in the fall, receiving scholarships of $1.4 million over four years. Nine students will join the military.

This year, 97 students earned honor roll and merit list status, while 96 were inducted into the National and Rhode Island Honor Societies, resulting in the largest ceremony ever.

Reflecting the "determination and high aspirations" this class had for itself, four students earned perfect attendance this year, Nicole DeLaRosa, Blessing Oyedokun, Benjamin Smith, and Tristin Webbe, and three seniors, Thomas DeTora, Binta Paye, and Diana Perez, earned perfect attendance for all four years of high school. DeTora had perfect attendance since grade 6, and Perez had perfect attendance since kindergarten.

This class won more than 250 varsity letters, 75 all-division and all-state awards, 11 division titles, nine state championships, and two first team all-state awards, said its principal. One could argue that the 2014 class was even more prolific in its volunteer activities, he told the crowd.

"Academic and athletic accomplishments aside, what we are most proud of is what the class of 2014 has done to make community service a common and accepted part of our school," he said. "Over the last four years, you have assisted with or participated in countless community service learning projects and causes for the needy," he said.

This was also a happy class, said Goho, who hosted an "impromptu" dance to the song "Happy," a tribute to the seniors who created a viral dance video this spring.

Valedictorian Michele Winter told her classmates that they're not truly leaving North Providence High because the experiences they had here will shape who they become. Their histories and memories will stay with them forever, she said.

The Class of 2014 should "relish" the moment and "live in it," said Winter, but also "respect it." Students should "choose to remember" and learn from their experiences, said Winter.

Salutatorian Julia DePalma said the Class of 2014 was one that "found our individuality" and "discovered each of our respective passions."

"We know what we are and what we want," she said.

The journey of self-discovery has already been full of sacrifices and loss, she said, but there has also been plenty of love and laughter along the way.

DePalma encouraged her classmates to "go confidently in the direction of your dreams," to "embrace every struggle and each sharp turn."

Supt. Melinda Smith told students to remember that their family and friends "will travel with you on life's journey." Smith told students to "stay connected" with the people who have supported them, and "we will follow your accomplishments with great Cougar pride."

Class President Danielle Carey agreed, saying students "are left with the people who have stuck by us through thick and thin," the people who made them who they are. Carey asked her classmates if they'll be happy with where they are 10 years from now.

Mayor Charles Lombardi welcomed classmates from the Class of 1964 with his trademark, "once a Couga, always a Couga." He introduced Paulla Lipsey, his classmate from that class.

Lipsey, the keynote speaker, said she learned from her grandfather "the significance and value" of an education. Learning is a "privilege of a free society, never to be taken lightly," she said.

"Whatever you choose to do in life, approach that choice with passion and enthusiasm," she told graduates. "Keep trying no matter what type of adversity life throws your way."

Lipsey said she was part of a class where females broke new boundaries, especially in sports. Today, she said, she is proud to say there are an equal number of females and males playing school sports.

Lipsey took a good-natured jab at Lombardi, noting that he was voted "best-dressed" in their class. The ties the mayor wore 50 years ago are the same ones he wears today, she said, he "just recycled them."

Lombardi encouraged North Providence's "leaders in the making" to live lives of character, to back up their talk with actions. Diplomas are an example of students "choosing what is right," said Lombardi.

"Do not be afraid of competition, encourage it," said Lombardi. You are "only as good as your last decision," he said.

Christian Valencia is all smiles as he walks back from the stage after receiving his diploma during the North Providence High School graduation ceremony last Wednesday at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.
Principal Joseph GoHo lightens things up by dancing with the school mascot during the ceremony.
Casie Weidinger receives a hug from her friend after just receiving her diploma at the North Providence High School 2014 graduation.
Tesia Polanco receives a hug after graduating from North Providence High School last Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.
The 250 graduates of the class of 2014 of North Providence High School, seen here with relatives and friends at the graduation ceremonies. The graduation was held on June 4 in the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.