SMITHFIELD – Three students will share the top of the class this year with two co-valedictorians, Maximilian Chelminski and Cameron Kasbarian, and a salutatorian, Victoria Richard, as Smithfield High School transitions out of its traditional class ranking system.
SHS Principal Dan Kelley said the year was already challenging enough, and students kept the competition tight for top rankings. He said he was proud of the school’s top three, who persevered among a class of 165 students.
Chelminski, 18, the son of Piotr and Iwona Chelminski, will attend Nagoya University in Japan in the fall with a full scholarship and major in economics. Chelminski is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and the Science Olympiad Team.
Chelminski said he became interested in Asian and Japanese culture after visiting several Asian countries, including Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea, over the past few years. He studied and became proficient in the Japanese language.
He said he felt inspired to globalize and interconnect places and people, and to pursue the cross cultural ties that unify people.
“My dream is to see the world and try to make an impact on the places I go to. Therefore, I work to gain the credibility I need to be put in a position where I can strive to make such an impact on the world,” Chelminski said.
Moving to Japan will be a different environment from SHS, he said, though he feels prepared due to the education and support he received while in high school.
Making it through a hybrid learning model takes strong ethics, he added, and he said he enjoyed learning cooperation through group projects.
Co-valedictorian Kasbarian, 17, the son of Alison and Hank Kasbarian, will attend Harvard College in the fall and major in biomedical engineering. He added that he is interested in trying out as many things as possible, including Spanish and economics.
Kasbarian is the National Honor Society President, a representative on the Sentinel Advisory Council, and a member of the Spanish Honor Society and Smithfield Youth Council. He also played on the SHS hockey and lacrosse teams.
Kasbarian received the Bank of America National Student Leader Award and the State of Rhode Island Civic Leadership Award. He also served on the Math League and as a Freshman Mentor.
For Kasbarian, success comes with support from his family and teachers. He said his family supported and worked hard to provide for him.
“My family has taught me to value kindness, hard work and education and I could not be more grateful,” he said.
Excelling, he said, was a result of a strong work ethic and discipline. He said school was always important to him, and he is driven to do well later in life. Each member of his class, he said, as well as his administrators and teachers, pushed him forward.
“I would not be in the position I am today without their dedication and commitment to the success of their students,” Kasbarian said.
He added he will miss the people at SHS the most, especially his classmates.
Salutatorian Richard, 18, the daughter of Elinor and Bob Richard, will attend Rutgers University with a double major in political science and Spanish in the fall.
Richard is a member of the National Honor Society, secretary of her class and co-captain of the varsity girls’ tennis team and participates in school musicals. She received the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Civic Leadership Award from Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and the Pell Excellence in History Award.
Richard was also the Rhode Island representative for the United States Senate Youth Program.
Throughout her high school career, Richard said she was primarily self-motivated. She said she needed to self-advocate when taking on advanced placement level courses along with her many extracurricular activities.
“I am grateful that I always prioritized having a strong work ethic and perseverance skills,” she said.
Richard added that her teachers were a source of motivation and continually supported her.
Of everything at SHS, Richard said she will miss the environment the most, along with her tennis teammates, classmates and the closeness of the environment.
The Class of 2022 will be the last student body to graduate SHS with a valedictorian and salutatorian, Kelley said. Next year, the school will switch to a Latin Cum Laude ranking system based on weighted grades to award those who take challenging courses, such as advanced placement or early enrollment programs, more credit.
This year, to earn Summa Cum Laude at SHS, students must earn a 94 and above un-weighted grade point average over their high school years.
“We are extremely proud of their achievements and look forward to great things in the future,” Kelley said.
Nine students will be honored as Summa Cum Laude under the new system. In alphabetical order:
Nova Southeastern University with a major in Biology
The University of Tampa with a major in Forensic Science
The University of Rhode Island with a major in Studio/Fine Arts
The University of Rhode Island with a major in Medical Laboratory Science
College of New Jersey with a major in Physics
Eastern Connecticut University with a major in Health Science
Bryant University with a major in Communications
Clarkson University with a major in Mechanical Engineering
The University of Rhode Island with a major in Computer Science
The University of Rhode Island with a major in Nursing
Paige “PJ” Martin-Brown
School of the Art Institute Chicago with a major in Illustration.