PROVIDENCE — Donned in the traditional white and maroon caps and gowns, the 166 members of the East Greenwich High School Graduating Class of 2013 were lauded by school faculty, administration, friends and family inside the historic Veterans Memorial Auditorium Sunday afternoon for their achievements both academic and extracurricular throughout their four-year journeys at the campus located at 300 Avenger Ave.
Prior to receiving their diplomas, which marked the end of a pivotal chapter in their respective lives and turned to a new page – as well as their tassels – the graduates received many words of wisdom from their fellow classmates, administrators and comedic insight through both the spoken word and through song.
“It’s only the beginning,” said Class President Matthew Cruise in delivering the welcoming address for East Greenwich High School’s latest commencement ceremony. “We’re here to graduate, but we’re also here to reflect on the accomplishments that define this class.”
Cruise asked the families in the audience to take a look at the East Greenwich High School yearbook, which he says is “dominated by team pictures.” However, even though some graduating students have amassed a myriad of athletic achievements throughout their tenure at EGHS, many academic teams and student clubs, Cruise said, helped make East Greenwich High be the standard for academic excellence in the state.
“We have a tremendous academic decathlon team,” he said, “a math team and a strong junior chemistry team all helped make this school the best public school in Rhode Island. Being a member of a team has a different meaning to us here in East Greenwich. We all want to collaborate and accomplish one common goal. And we didn’t just become a team. We’re a family.”
At the beginning of his salutatorian speech, Jack Payette asked the entire graduating class to turn around and look toward their families and friends in attendance Sunday for thanks and appreciation for their love and assistance in getting the soon-to-be college students to where they are today and received one of many rounds of applause Sunday.
Payette then offered advice to his now former classmates at East Greenwich High to never waste time at any point in their lives and cherish every minute and second doing whatever that makes them enjoy life on a regular basis. He referenced his fellow classmate Marielle Kraft, who was a three-sport standout athlete at EGHS, making the a switch from taking jump shots and dribbles up the basketball court to taking the stage and acting in front of an audience during one year because she felt passionate about acting.
Payette also recalled his time working in a coffee shop in town where he met a man named Dave, who works for the Town of East Greenwich, picking up litter, never had a wife or kids and no plans for the future but still was happier than anyone who would possess all the luxuries one could own. Payette said that will to be happy, like Dave’s, is the way he wants not only him, but the rest of the graduating class, should strive for.
“You can’t afford to waste your time,” Payette said. “Don’t take classes because you have to. Take them because they interest you. You are to society the best it can be. But society should allow you to do things you love. Doing things you love is time well spent.”
Valedictorian Christina Lusi, through multiple instances of humor that delighted both her classmates and the accompanying audience members, shared what she described as her “best day ever,” where she developed the unusual sense of feeling well-rested, finding a matching pair of socks, enjoying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat for lunch and savoring every bite.
She also described “great days” as something that occurs in just a matter of minutes and not the duration of a 24-hour period. Lusi believes that great days are made between 1:58 p.m. and 2:02 p.m.
“Those four vital minutes in a senior’s day-to-day life where the merit of the entire day is suspended in limbo over one crucial question: ‘will you beat the buses?’” said Lusi amidst tremendous laughter from the audience. “This was a great day. I may not be a runner; my walk falls just short of the habitual pace of death. But on this day, I ran. I was Usain Bolt running the 100-meter dash. I was Kate Winslet on the front bow of the Titanic. I was king of the world. I beat the buses.”
Lusi also said to her fellow graduates to always remember to dream and to take advantage of their youth while they still have the opportunity to.
Erica Sidman and Julia Waicberg, the class social chairs, announced the planned gift the Class of 2013 plans to leave for East Greenwich High School. The two said there is a small booth located in the rear of the school’s auditorium and, based on the ever-growing popularity of the school’s drama program, the outgoing students will transform the booth into a larger professional tech center.
The other gift the students plan to leave for the school is a monetary donation for the creation of an Avenger logo in the center of Carcieri Field.
A select group of students, during the ceremony, graced the stage with a couple of musical numbers to entertain and inspire the audience as a whole. Kraft, with acoustic guitar in hand, performed an original song entitled “Alive,” and Gwen Luvara (on violin) and Leticia Luz (on vocals) then revived the song “To Sir With Love.”