SOUTH KINGSTOWN – One hundred sixty graduates comprising The Prout School’s Class of 2012 crossed the stage at URI’s Ryan Center Tuesday night as they received their diplomas, ready to begin the next chapter in their lives.
The commencement marked the 44th for Prout, since its founding in 1966. However, 2012 marked a first in the school’s history, as two salutatorians, Lauren O’Malley and Heather Pasquazzi, who finished with the exact same GPA, each gave a speech. The valedictorian, Mary-Catherine Stockman, also addressed the graduating class.
O’Malley compared her experience at Prout to a puzzle, “At times it was fun and carefree, like putting together the easy outside pieces. At other times it was frustrating, like trying to piece together those annoying parts that all look exactly the same. While the overall picture the puzzle forms is beautiful, it is the process of actually trying to put together each piece that is most important, at least for me.”
O’Malley will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall.
Pasquazzi, who will attend Emerson College, delivered a rhyming speech, similar to the literary style of a Dr. Seuss book.
She said, “If sometimes you cannot cope, remember, the motto of our little state is hope. No matter how small you may feel, those feelings of inadequacy are not real. From the smallest state come the biggest dreams, so rip those insecurities from their seams. Let your voices be heard, let your voices scream, because you’re invaluable, invincible and way more than you seem.”
Valedictorian Mary-Catherine Stockman, who will attend Texas Christian University, noted, “Prout is an extended family, not just a school.”
She expressed her gratitude for the support of the faculty and staff and Prout, especially as the seniors experienced the college application process.
She went on to recall her high school experience and encourage graduates to achieve their goals, using quotes to express her feelings, including statements from the Dalai Lama and her mother.
In her own words, Stockman advised graduates, “Do not ever feel like you have to meet someone else’s standards. Be true to yourself and be whoever you want to be. At no point in your life will you satisfy everyone around you. Pursue your own path with the right character; if you have integrity and believe in yourself, any and all goals can be accomplished.”
At the end of the ceremony, Principal Gary Delneo reminded each of the graduates that they will find a piece of Prout wherever they go.
As the celebration concluded, students were both sad and excited.
“I feel relieved,” said Bronwyn Barta, who will attend Providence College. “It’s happy and sad; it’s bittersweet.”
“I’m pretty excited,” said Alexander Clifford. He will attend URI to study education, and hopes to be a high school history or science teacher.
Parents and relatives enjoyed the celebration and were proud of their graduates.
“We’re overjoyed,” said Ann Robinson, aunt of graduate David St. Amant.
David’s mother echoed her sister’s sentiments, “Graduation was wonderful, just wonderful. David went to [Bishop] Hendricken [High School] and came to Prout and it was a great experience for him.”
Some students were saddened to leave their home for the last four years.
Rebecca Rubin, who will attend Roger Williams University to study forensic psychology said, “I’ll miss Prout; I love Prout.”