PROVIDENCE--Students of East Greenwich High School and their families packed the Vets Center to the walls to celebrate the graduation of the 2019 class on Sunday. The shouts and applause of the crowd were enough to rival the performance of any popular band or broadway performance, and the pride at the many accomplishments of this year’s graduating class was palpable.
The joyous event was opened by a stunning rendition of the National Anthem by EGHS graduate Abby White, and featured an array of student and school official speakers, as well as musical accompaniment by the EGHS band directed by Brendan Carniaux.
Co-class presidents Zadoc Gee and Petranea Smith introduced their class and the many families present to the day’s festivities, and reflected on the support of their families in getting them to this point.
“Thank you to the younger brothers and sisters who got dragged to this event,” Gee greeted the crowd jovially. “At times it seemed we would never get to this point. But here we are. We did it.”
“Our roots will always tie us back to this,” Smith added. “To our families, teachers, friends and classmates. We will always carry our experiences as the class of 2019 with us.”
The mood of the ceremony maintained a fine balance of reflection and reverie with a humor made possible only by the type of accomplished class that has so defined East Greenwich academic life in recent years.
East Greenwich salutatorian, Lauren Shanos, delivered a heartfelt speech to her fellows, imploring them to remain humble, even as they celebrated their accomplishments, and to never forget the lessons they had learned in making it to this milestone in their lives and careers.
“We made it!” Shanos said. “We have discovered that we will either learn to fail or fail to learn, because mistakes are how you grow.”
“As Malcolm X once said, ‘Education is the path forward to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.’”
Indeed, the newly graduated class of 2019 has prepared, and prepared well, for the challenges of tomorrow, and have racked up an impressive array of sports titles, club achievements and college acceptances.
“I could stand here and go on and on about all of the amazing things we did as a class,” class valedictorian Ari Vilker said proudly to applause and laughter, “So I will.”
That track record includes state championships in basketball, girl’s volleyball and tennis, a nearly flawless competitive chess record, and superb academic accomplishments.
“Of course, the ‘student’ comes first in ‘student athlete,’” Vilker added. “Our academics are unparallelled. We have accomplished so much in the classroom that I don’t know where to begin. Although, getting people into Harvard, West Point and the Air Force Academy isn’t a bad start.”
As it stands, the class of 2019 have taken one large stride toward establishing themselves as future leaders in fields both academic and business-oriented. But their discipline to remaining humble and ever aware of the role that community support has played in getting them here was a constant theme of the day.
“To me, none of these impressive feats are what makes us stand out as a class,” Vilker said in his closing statements. “What makes us stand out are the truly difficult things we have done. Some things are more important than sports, academics or even memes. One of those special qualities is support. We have always been there for each other, to make us better versions of ourselves.”