Tabor, Wiharso lead Scituate High School’s top 10

Tabor, Wiharso lead Scituate High School’s top 10

Valedictorian Leah Tabor, left, and Salutatorian Dominic Wiharso.

SCITUATE – Delicious spicy chicken sandwiches from the cafeteria and amazing friends topped the list of memorable high school moments for Scituate High School’s Class of 2021 Valedictorian Leah Tabor and Salutatorian Dominic Wiharso.

With a school year unlike any before, the top 10 Spartans seniors earned their ranking this year through a mix of hybrid, virtual and in-person instruction.

Valedictorian Tabor, 18, the daughter of Johanna Marcure and Edward Tabor, said she is excited to study political science at Stonehill College this fall.

Tabor is the co-president of the National and Rhode Island Honor Society and is captain of the cross country track and field teams. She received the Pell Medal for Excellence in U.S. History and the AP Scholar Award and is a Commended Student for the National Merit Scholarship program.

She attributed her motivation and success to her family cheering her on along the way and said she is grateful to her stepdad, Joe, who listened and proofread her essays.

She said her friend also challenged her to work hard and to act out of kindness.

“The memories we’ve shared together are ones I will remember forever,” Tabor said.

Despite the challenges faced with hybrid learning, she said friends, family and teachers helped her stay positive.

“I’m very hopeful and excited for the coming year,” she added.

Salutatorian Wiharso, 19, the son of Christine Cocca and Entange Wiharso, will be attending Columbia University with a double major in Film Studies and Human Rights.

Wiharso is the founder and president of the Social Justice Club, the class secretary, a member of DECA and an intern with the Rhode Island School of Design Art Circle and the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

He received the YoungArts in Photography award and is a Bank of America Scholar, a Questbridge National College Match finalist, a College Prep Scholar and a semi-finalist for the Presidential Scholarship and Gates Scholarship.

Wiharso said as a person coming from a marginalized background, he desires to champion and represent his community in a meaningful way.

The Scituate community rose to the occasion over the last year to bring a sense of normalcy through the pandemic, said Wiharso, and he was moved by the way Scituate collectively made the last year special.

He also said he’ll remember the “delicious spicy chicken sandwich” from the SHS cafeteria.

“My friends have been unwavering sources of inspiration, kindness and hilarity,” he added.

The school’s remaining top 10 seniors included, in order, Virginia “Ginny” Illingworth, 18. The daughter of Kathleen Blake and Scott Illingworth, she will attend Ithaca College in the fall with a major in Biochemistry.

Illingworth is a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society and National Honor Society. She was captain of the volleyball team her junior and senior year, played lacrosse and served as president of HOSA- Future Health Professionals, vice-president of Rhode Island HOSA and a member of Varsity Athletes Above Substance Abuse.

She said she will miss her friends from SHS and events like homecoming and prom, as well as home games with people in the stands.

Virtual learning made attending school with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder more difficult, she said, and she found it challenging to separate her work mentality from her free time mentality.

When asked what motivated her to excel, Illingworth said “making my transcript as good as possible for college.”

Olivia Provonsil, 18, the daughter of Anne and David Provonsil, will attend Boston University with a major in Computer Science.

Provonsil is a member of the National Honor Society, Unity Club, Social Justice Club and DECA Club and participated in varsity soccer, basketball and golf. She won the Academic All-State Award for soccer.

She said being a student as well as an athlete taught her many valuable lessons that she will carry for the rest of her life. Provonsil said she owes much of her joy and success to her family and friends, as well as teachers, coaches and administrators.

“I will always remember the incredible people I met and worked with and the teachers who pushed me to succeed,” she said.

A community of hardworking students who all encouraged and helped each other excel, as well as her goals for herself and her future, motivated her through the hardest moments over the last four years, she said.

Though her high hopes for senior year were dashed by COVID-19, she found the ability and motivation to overcome hardships in the end and came out as a student who can learn and study under any circumstances and adapt to new challenges, she said.

Lily Smith, 17, the daughter of Michael and Sara Smith, will attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst and study Animal Science on a pre-veterinary track.

Smith is vice-president of the National Honor Society and Unified Club Secretary and participated in competitive gymnastics.

Because of the small class size, Smith said she will remember the bonds she had with her classmates and the friendships she’s made.

Smith said the supportive teachers at SHS pushed her to be the best version of herself. She said her goals and plans for the future also pushed her to excel.

Virtual learning forced Smith to stay on top of school work, she said, as it was easy to fall behind when not physically in the classroom.

“It was a unique experience no one could have anticipated, but it made me mature as a student and gain independence,” she said.

Joey Del Santo, 18, the son of LisaMarie Del Santo and T.J. Del Santo, will attend Wheaton College in the fall and pursue a double major in Film and Political Science with a minor in music.

Del Santo is the Scituate High School Student Council president, president of the Music Department Student Council and student liaison to the Scituate Music Association.

Outside of school, Del Santo appears in theatrical productions with the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket, the JDP Theatre Company in Providence and the Scituate Youth Drama. He co-produced SYD’s production of Willy Wonka, Jr., last year, and works as Lighting Designer with Stadium Theatre.

Del Santo won the Rhode Island State Acting Award for “Best Kiss,” Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore and Junior Chorus Member, Runner-up in Scituate Idol, the Leadership in Music Award in 2017-2018 and Achievement in French 1.

Del Santo said he enjoys learning new things and his desire to discover the best version of himself opened many doors over the past four years.

“Both my friends and teachers have been my rocks throughout my high school years. Together, with the unwavering support of my parents and family, they’ve inspired me and encouraged me in all my endeavors,” he said.

Makayla Cennamo, the daughter of Colleen O’Brien and Dan Cennamo, will attend the University of New Hampshire with a major in Business Administration and a focus on Marketing.

Cennamo is co-president of the National Honor Society, a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society, DECA secretary, Unity Club vice president and former class secretary. She placed second in the Rhode Island for Marketing Communication Series Event and earned high honors with distinction all four years at SHS. Cennamo also participates in varsity soccer, lacrosse and tennis.

She said she will miss the relationships she’s made with some of the “best people” at SHS and the amazing friendships she’s created.

Cennamo said her parents and grandparents pushed her to try her best every day, and supported her through long nights of studying, attending every game and event.

“Along with my family, I also motivated myself to excel because I am always looking to improve and want to reach my full potential,” she said.

Rachel Oster, 17, the daughter of Todd and Annie Oster, will attend Roger Williams University to play soccer and has not yet declared a major.

Oster is a member of the National Honor Society, Rhode Island Honor Society, the Unity Club and Varsity Athletes Above Substance Abuse.

She serves as varsity soccer captain and also earned Most Valuable Player in basketball. She was an Athlete of the Year finalist.

Oster said her parents contributed to her success and were always there pushing her through the past four years. Along with her teachers by her side, she said her classmates also motivated her to excel, including everyone in the top ten.

“I will always remember the close-knit community and friends that Scituate High School gave me,” she said.

Oster said virtual learning was difficult for everyone, but with hard work and dedication, she was able to reach the top 10.

Abigail Pagnozzi, 17, the daughter of Laura and Jeff Pagnozzi, will study Nursing at the University of Rhode Island.

Pagnozzi received high honors with distinction from SHS and is a member of the National Honor Society, Rhode Island Honor Society, Unity Club and Varsity Athletes Above Substance Abuse.

Pagnozzi is captain of the varsity soccer and basketball teams, played on the high school golf team and won the High School Soccer Coach’s Award.

Her need to set goals and accomplish them has grown stronger over the years, Pagnozzi said, and motivates her to excel. She said her success comes from her parents, who pushed her to be the best she can be every day and always had her back.

“Knowing that they will be proud, no matter what, makes me want to work harder and harder,” Pagnozzi said.

Living in a small town means knowing everyone, she added. She said her enjoyment comes from her friends and family, and said each person she met through high school made an impact on her.

“They have all been there for me, and I want to thank them,” she said.

Talia St. Angelo, the daughter of Lisa and Michael St. Angelo, will attend Syracuse University and plans to explore Business.

St. Angelo is a member of the National Honor Society, Rhode Island Honor Society, Homecoming Court, Unity Club president and Varsity Athletes Above Substance Abuse and served as freshman class president.

St. Angelo won first place for apparel and accessory marketing and merchandising in DECA, where she is vice-president, and earned high honors all four years.

She was also varsity captain of tennis, basketball and softball, and won the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Sportsmanship Award, softball Most Valuable Player and softball first team all division.

St. Angelo said she was fortunate to attend high school with her brother, Michael, and cousin, Molly, who motivated each other in the classroom and sports. Along with them, she accredits her teachers, administrators, friends and family for her success.

“I have always set high goals for myself. How people see me as a person, and who I have the potential to be, is something that has always motivated me,” she said.

She said she will always remember the relationships she’s formed and the opportunities she’s had for shaping who she is today.