Lincoln celebrates Class of 2019

Lincoln celebrates Class of 2019

Jennifer Dennen plays with the ceremonial cords worn by fellow senior David Motta, above, as they await the start of Lincoln High School’s commencement at CCRI last Friday evening. They will attend College of the Holy Cross and the University of Rhode Island, respectively. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

LINCOLN – Last Friday night, supporters gathered inside Community College of Rhode Island’s Field House to celebrate a group of soon-to-be high school graduates who thrived despite their school being a construction zone their senior year, rising up to earn the highest AP proficiency rate in the state.

That was one of a long list of accomplishments by Lincoln High School this year that were cited at the commencement ceremony, coupled with the school being named a Special Olympics Unified Champion School and its recent NEASC accreditation visit.

“As I look out tonight at you, the Class of 2019, I am filled with pride at who you are and filled with hope at what you will become,” Principal Kevin McNamara told the graduates.

More than 80 percent of the graduating class will attend college in the fall, and nine students will serve in the military. A total of 147 seniors were listed on the honor roll this year, and 121 seniors earned various academic awards and scholarships at senior night.

Ten seniors earned perfect attendance this year, including Jessica Iasimone, Lilly Jacobsen, Natalie Jorge, Kristen Labossiere, Dustin Parks, Lauren Degnan, Michael Gagnon, David Motta, Alexis Parmigianna and Nathan Kumar. Degnan, Gagnon and Motta earned perfect attendance for all four years of high school. Parmigianna earned perfect attendance seven years through middle and high school. Kumar has had perfect attendance since he was a 3rd-grader.

An unprecedented 45 seniors played in the LHS band. In athletics, 140 seniors played on sports teams, earning more than 540 varsity letters, 33 all-division selections, five all-state selections and seven team sportsmanship awards.

School Committee Chairman Joe Goho shared the statistics and thanked the graduating class for their patience this year as construction began on their school, likening their senior year to the Charles Dickens quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

“Your senior year of high school is supposed to be one of the greatest, most memorable years of your lives, and you couldn’t wait to experience it … but as many of you drove into the parking lot on that first day of school, you found a whole new world … one with backhoes, cranes, jack hammering, huge piles of dirt, chain link fencing, yellow caution tape, rerouted entrances and, worst thing of all, not enough parking spots,” Goho said.

Fortunately, students turned what may have been the worst of times into the best of times at LHS, he said. “Despite all the year’s trials and tribulations that you encountered starting on that first day of school, your greatness as a class still shined through.”

Student Council President Lillian Victoria Jacobson said she took for granted the amount of hard work and challenges she’d face on the road to graduation, ending with the final trial of writing a speech that would go over half as well as Troy Bolton’s in “High School Musical,” which ended with a perfectly executed song and dance number.

The problem, she said, was writing a speech that adequately addresses a diverse group of people with their own individual drives, problems and aspirations.

“What makes this class truly exceptional is that we have surpassed completing the basic graduation requirements to craft our own selves,” she said, persevering through illnesses and injuries, heartbreaks and disappointments to grow as individuals. “This diploma is not a given, it is an achievement and the beginning of defining ourselves,” she said.

Valedictorian Bethany Autumn Reeve also celebrated the variety of interests within her class in her commencement speech, which taught her that there is always more than one way to do something.

“There are so many different people in our class,” she said, “… from AP kids to auto kids who fixed all of our cars, kids who stayed behind to clean the cafeteria, kids who stay after just to talk to the teachers and those who spent more time in the bathroom than in class; I’m not scared for the future because of us.”

Brett Lee Bessette, who offered the class reflection, said high school provided an opportunity to discover whom he and his peers would become, acting as “a springboard into the future” and initiating unique and prestigious career paths. LHS, he said, was like a rock tumbler, where students are thrown in as insecure freshmen and come out as college-ready graduates.

Yiru Lee, the Class of 2019 salutatorian, said she’ll carry a lot of memories with her as she and her peers begin their next chapter, from creating parody videos in history to watching a movie in biotech and breaking for lunch in the middle of the autopsy scene.

She thanked her classmates for their support, as well as the faculty members she’s come to know over the years.

Supt. Larry Filippelli and Town Administrator Joe Almond also addressed graduates during the ceremony. The choral selection was “Wherever I Go” by Hannah Montana.

McNamara incorporated messages from his Positive Sign Thursday campaign into his speech, with students standing to hold up the signs he had used through the school year to inspire students to persevere, beginning with: “You are stronger than you think.”

“Obstacles are opportunities in disguise,” he said as another sign was lifted with the message. “Like our renovation and all the other things we faced this year, there were opportunities to grow, change and become a better community. When you agreed to be a part of a picture, you helped to build our community and shape our culture.”

“There’s no traffic jam along the extra mile,” he continued. “You will never regret putting forth your best efforts. Class of 2019, I know that as you make your way in life – ‘you won’t do average – you will do awesome.’”

The graduating class from Lincoln High School awaits the start of commencement exercises at CCRI on Friday.
Astry Martinez, above, holds a ceremonial mace over her head as the Lincoln High School Class of 2019 enters the CCRI field house on Friday.
Lincoln High School senior Hiral Nandu has her cap adjusted by parent volunteer Abby Danforth before the start of Lincoln High School’s commencement on Friday evening at CCRI.
Lincoln High School students, above, march toward the CCRI Field House for the start of commencement exercises on Friday.