JMW: Small class with big potential

JMW: Small class with big potential

Members of the Class of 2018 at the Jacqueline M. Walsh School are pictured with Director Ricardo Pimentel, seated in front.

PAWTUCKET – The Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Arts Class of 2018 may be small, at 35 members, but officials and students alike made it known at a June 7 commencement ceremony that the graduates have big potential.

Director Ricardo Pimentel said students have already been making waves. Collectively,

he said, the students earned more than $10,000 in scholarships, received five seals of biliteracy and some seniors received two seals of biliteracy each.

Pimentel pointed out that one student, Antonio Burton, served as the vice chairman of the Rhode Island Department of Education Student Advisory Council, representing all students in the state. Kaya Giroux, Pimentel said, is the first JMW graduate to be accepted into the Carnegie Mellon School of Music vocal program.

“As you start this new chapter in your life, remember to never give up and follow your dreams. You will make mistakes, but that’s OK,” he said. “Learn from your mistakes, because that will make you a better person and more successful at anything you do.”

Laureen Grebien, wife of Mayor Donald Grebien, touted the accomplishments of JMW seniors, such as the establishment of the broadcasting club, a successful Broadway musical and a performance at the Statehouse.

“Now you’re ready for the next step, you’re ready to keep this momentum going,” she said. “You’re ready to change our community, and to make this world a better place,” she said.

School Committee Chairman Jay Charbonneau told the students to keep pushing through any challenges that come their way in the future.

“Strive for excellence in everything you do. Be as kind to yourself as you are hard on yourself,” he said.

Pawtucket native Kevin Lima, Hollywood animator and director, also served as a guest speaker at the ceremony.

“I want to encourage you to ask for what you want, and then, do something to prove that you deserve it. Show that you are worthy of being chosen, and expect to work hard, and become resilient to the word ‘no.’ ”

Valedictorian Soraya Silva’s speech, read by fellow graduate Jose Hernandez, paid homage to the positive culture at JMW.

“What is unique to JMW is our ability to see people beyond the stereotype. … We have created a community where anyone from any walk of life can feel at home, and that is truly something special,” it read.

Salutatorian Molly Brown told her classmates, “You have a voice, even without words. You have the strength, even without muscle. But most importantly, you have the ability to do anything you put your mind to. Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are.”