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By ANDREW MARTASIAN
Special to the Standard
KINGSTONâNorth Kingstown High Schoolâs Class of 2012 celebrated the triumph of its graduation and members set their sights on future accomplishments at t URIâs Ryan Center last Friday night.
Nearly 350 graduating seniors reflected on their four years of high school, were encouraged to remember the opportunities they have been given and were told to look to the future to realize their full potential.
âAs you go forward into achieving greatness in your lives, and I know you will, it is important that you remember to be grateful for what you have achieved, and for what you have been given,â Dr. Phil Auger, Superintendent of the North Kingstown School Department said.
The superintendent praised the quality of the education provided by North
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Kingstownâs schools noted that from the time the Class of 2012 was in kindergarten to their graduation, their education cost âover $50 million.â
âTo whom much is given, much is expected,â he said.
It certainly appeared that the Class of 2012 lived up to expectations when Dr. Thomas Kenworthy, principal of North Kingstown High School, congratulated them for their achievements.
âThis group of seniors is noted for their efforts in the classroom, in the fine and performing arts, and in many extra- curricular activities, on the playing field and courts throughout this community,â Kenworthy said.
Kenworthy also said the group, of which over 100 are part of either the National Honor Society or RI Honor Society, received âover $75,000â in scholarship aid.
Stephanie Andersen, the schoolâs salutatorian, applauded her class for supporting one another throughout their school years.
âWe understand that the success of another individual ought to produce feelings of joy, rather than jealousy,â she said.
Andersen complimented the selflessness of her classmates that made them a close group and allowed students to thrive on encouragement from their peers. This support, Andersen said, allowed them to achieve great things.
âOver our four years at NKHS we have formed a family,â she said.
Andersen, who will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, reminded the graduates that they could not have achieved anything without the support of their parents, teachers, and administrators.
âTeachers, thank you for your enthusiasm and perseverance, despite our occasional feelings of discouragement and laziness. You have taught us an invaluable lesson and we love you.â
Andersen lauded her fellow graduates for completing their âfour-year-journeyâ and at the conclusion of her speech was joined in declaring âWe are, and always will be NK.â
Following Andersen was former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi who told the class of 2012 to appreciate every day, because âlife is like a roller coaster.â
Andruzziâs speech highlighted his personal ups, such as playing in the NFL and winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots, as well as his downs. He shared wisdom gained from his personal battle with Burkittâs lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.
âMove forward. You canât be focusing on what you did yesterday,â Andruzzi said as he encouraged the soon-to-be graduates to make the most of their lives. âFocus in on what you have to do. I want you all to set your goals high.â
He is the founder of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a charity that helps ease the financial burden of families with loved ones suffering from cancer. He has also been cancer free for the last five years.
Andruzzi told the class of 2012 his successes were not only a result of hard work and dedication on his part, but also because of support from his family.
âI truly believe my family is the reason I am the person I am today.â he said.
North Kingstownâs valedictorian, Olivia Edwards, shared that sentiment as she began her speech. She acknowledged that the success of her class was made possible by the help of countless parents, teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administrators and other support staff.
âAlthough some teachers and coaches may seem to have more influence over our lives than others, sometimes seemingly small things like a smile from a bus driver may have gotten us through a difficult day,â Edwards said. âI would like to thank all of the people who have helped me in any way, however great or small.â
Edwards said her class was indebted to the citizens of North Kingstown who paid for their education, and that she was âgrateful to live in a society that values education so much that it gives every person the opportunity to go to school for 13 years tuition free.â
Edwards, who will attend Swarthmore College this fall, said many of her classmates would go to college to study for specific careers that would help them find jobs in a tough economy, but she was thankful for the opportunity to sample many different subjects at NKHS.
âOur teachers have inspired us to love learning for its own sake,â she said .
Although she said her class wonât remember every specific fact taught in high school, Edwards felt the graduating seniors received a âwell-rounded educationâ at NKHS that enriched their lives and made them better citizens.
She encouraged the new grads to remember the value of a free, quality education.
âI hope that we become the type of people who support our local public school systems whatever way we can,â she said.
The class gift to NKHS, presented by Eliza Drew and Jamie Wadovick, was their first gesture of their support for public schools. The departing class spruced up the schoolâs courtyard with new umbrellas, tables and chairs, improved the memorial garden, and made a donation to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.
Matthew Quainoo, speaking during the Junior Farewell Address, summed up the night by telling the Class of 2012 âtoday is the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one in the book of life,â just before he congratulated them on a âjob well done.â
After Helena Tafuri, Madeline Jenkins, Brandon Kaplan and Mike Grenier sang the alma mater; members of the Class of 2012 changed their tassels.
The newest NKHS alumni celebrated by flinging their caps in the air as thunderous applause rained down from the stands.
âTo them, itâs the dawning of a new day,â School Committee Member Melvoid Benson said after the ceremony. âThe world is waiting for them.â