NSHS graduates go out with a bang

NSHS graduates go out with a bang

At right, Nick Acciardo’s glasses state emphatically that he is a member of the Class of 2021 at North Smithfield High School, which held its graduation ceremony last Friday night. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – It was a night of celebration in North Smithfield last week for a graduating class who, in the words of one staff member, “gave Del’s a run for their money” with their ability to make lemonade out of lemons.

The North Smithfield High School Class of 2021 held their commencement ceremonies at the high school turf field last Friday, June 11. The emotional evening included video tributes, musical numbers, fist bumps between classmates and, in a tradition that started during the pandemic last spring, a grand fireworks finale.

Salutatorian Ethan Kmiecik kicked off the student speeches with a poem that drew on his experience as a multi-sport athlete. Comparing life to a sports game, he encouraged classmates to play the game to their own found tune.

“While the calls may not go your way, or the game not be won today, the triumph of success can still be dreamed to accomplish it together as a team,” he said.

He finished by urging his peers to collaborate with others to break through challenges along the way.

“Whatever you have come to this world to do, I sincerely hope you accomplish it,” he said.

Valedictorian Meghan Stevens also encouraged classmates to reach their potential, telling students all members of the class can reach success no matter where they are in their lives.

“We have a tendency to worry too much about how we look and not enough about who we are,” she said. “You didn’t have to graduate with honors or give a speech today to make a difference and be memorable. Accomplishments are important, but there are more important qualities that define us.”

Reflecting on her memories of the school, she said those memories have brought her peace and closure and invited her classmates to write down their own memories so as not to forget them. She also challenged them to ask difficult questions and thoroughly examine their ideas.

“I have greatly enjoyed the time I spent here, especially during these last few months, and I am finding it difficult to let go,” she said.

For Student Council President Ethan Lussier, those memories came in the form of his classmates and their many accomplishments during the past year. Recalling the school’s senior project requirement, he congratulated his peers for their success raising money for the Gloria Gemma Foundation, holding a 5K, raising awareness of anxiety and building an electric guitar from scratch, among other projects.

“This stage is going to bridge us into our next four years, whether it be more school, the military or straight into the workforce. It is now time to go ahead and use the bridge we’ve spent so long constructing,” he said.

Along with in-person speeches, the evening featured video greetings from Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski, School Committee Chairman James Lombardi and members of the School Committee. Supt. Michael St. Jean told students that for his generation, their high school experience was defined by the Blizzard of ’78.

“It paled in comparison to what you’ve been through. You will now be able to tell your children, ‘I survived the global pandemic of 2021,’” he said.

Principal Timothy McGee also addressed the crowd, recognizing the efforts of families and faculty members during a difficult year. In an emotional tribute, he singled out Janine Ethier, NSHS school nurse, for her unending efforts to keep students safe during the pandemic.

“It takes a very special person to do what she does,” he said.

Students from the school’s Wicked Good News team compiled a montage of favorite senior memories, while members of the school chorus shared their talents with a performance of One Republic’s “I Lived.”

Following the awarding of diplomas, families enjoyed a grand finale of fireworks shot off from the school’s baseball field.

North Smithfield High School graduates line up beneath a specially set-up scoreboard as they wait for the graduation procession to begin.
Senior Class Secretary Tessa LaBarre, followed by Treasurer Owen Dubois and Vice President Kylie McCauley lead the line of graduates to their seats to begin last Friday night’s graduation ceremonies.
Aidan Beauchemin elbow bumps with School Committee Chairperson James Lombardi III as he prepares to receive his diploma.