The close-knit students of the 2012 graduating class at Cranston High School West took advantage of academic opportunities and the bounty of extracurricular activities to strive for success.
According to Valedictorian Michael Beck, the class provided a positive and friendly environment.
“You hear of kids bullying one another or not being friends with different groups but our school wasn’t like that,” said Beck. “It was a very friendly community.”
Together, the top 10 students in the class spent countless hours in extracurricular activities including yearbook, debate team, jazz band, math team as well as many sports teams, such as soccer, football and lacrosse.
These scholars will all be staying close to home and attending East Coast schools, including Providence College, Tufts University, Harvard University, Boston College, University of New Hampshire, and the University of Rhode Island.
Graduating valedictorian of his class, Michael Beck plans to attend Boston College and major in finance. Beck has won a number of awards during his high school career, including the Colby Book Award, various medals at the Science Olympiad R.I. State Competition and the Cranston West Excellence Award.
Beck has also participated in many different groups at West. He was the Science Olympiad Senior Captain, a member of the school’s math team and Freshman Mentors, as well as a member of the National and Rhode Island Honor Societies.
Beck hopes that his experiences will help him succeed in the future.
“Being in honors and advanced placement classes and witnessing people work hard every day motivated me to excel myself,” said Beck. “I hope my hard work will help me to do well in college and earn me a rewarding career in the financial industry.”
National Honor Society President and Salutatorian Stephen Albro not only excelled in academics, but in sports as well. Albro played on the school’s basketball team, varsity soccer and varsity volleyball teams. Albro was also musically inclined and was a member of both the school’s choir and the R.I. All-State Choir.
Albro won many awards during his four years at Cranston West, including the Holy Cross Book Award, 2012 Civic Leadership Award and Outstanding Math, Science and Music Awards.
Albro credits his success to his faith in addition to his parents’ support.
“My father, Duane Albro, has been my rock, always supporting and encouraging me,” said Albro. “My mother, Paula Albro, is the best mom in the world. She has been on my side for four hard, stressful years. She has made me dinner and coffee every night when I got home from sports and had six hours of homework.”
Albro will be attending Harvard in the fall, studying molecular and cellular biology under the pre-med curriculum.
Planning on staying in Rhode Island, Elena Zarcaro will be attending Providence College with a major in biology and a concentration in Pre-Med. Zarcaro was vice president of the National Honor Society and a member of World Language Honor Society, R.I. Honor Society, Freshman Mentors and Class Council. Besides coming in third in her class, Zarcaro has also won many awards, including the Women in Engineering Award, the Mayor Fung Scholarship and the Dunkin’ Donuts Scholarship.
According to Zarcaro, high school has given her many memories, both good and bad.
“I will remember the stressful times, the nights I stayed up until 2 a.m. working on projects, and the laughs I shared every day with my friends at lunch,” she said.
Yale Book Award winner Ariana Joharjian finished fourth in her class while juggling a long list of extracurricular activities. Joharjian was a member of the debate team, yearbook and editor in chief of her high school newspaper. She was recognized for her debate skills when she received an Outstanding Novice Debater award.
Joharjian, who plans on attending Boston College, said that the hardest part of graduating is leaving her close-knit group of friends.
“Leaving them is the hardest part of ending high school, but I know we are all headed for bigger things,” said Joharjian.
As she continues her studies at the University of Rhode Island, Narine Taraksian plans to pursue a career in nursing.
“I hope to complete the nursing program at URI in four years and continue to get my Master’s degree,” said Taraksian.
Taraksian, who finished fifth in her class, was a member of the National and Rhode Island Honor Societies as well as the Class Council and World Language Honor Society. According to Taraksian, her group of friends is responsible for her positive high school experience.
“I enjoyed going to West because of the great love and support I felt from my friends around me each day,” she said. “The students I had classes with throughout the years were so talented and fun to be around that [it] was impossible to not enjoy high school.”
Another University of Rhode Island bound student, Olivia Harrison is planning to double major in biology and English. Harrison has received many awards during her time at Cranston West, including the Pell History Writing Award, Brown Book Award and an Excellence in Science Award.
According to Harrison, she gained more than simply academic knowledge from her classes.
“I will not only remember the academic lessons, but also the life lessons imparted to me by my peers and teachers,” she said. “I will remember the teamwork of my biology class and the unity of anatomy.”
President of the Falcon Band, Zackary Downey managed to develop his skills in music and arts while still seizing a seventh place finish in his class. Downey was band president and also jazz band assistant director and member of the theater program.
Downey plans to attend Boston College with a probable Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. When asked what he’ll remember most about high school, Downey said, “The smiles; may they be from teachers to show a job well done, or a fellow student to show friendship, I will remember all the connections and friends I have gained along the way.”
Co-captain of the lacrosse team and member of the ice hockey and cross country teams, Holly Eliades proved herself to be both an athlete and a scholar. Eliades ranked eighth in her class and received awards for both sports and academics such as Rhode Island Honor Society, National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, Excellence in Art, and Excellence in Sociology. Eliades was given Cranston’s “Best and Brightest” award, Academic All-State for lacrosse and also the Scholastic Art Award Silver Key.
Eliades attributes her success to her teachers, classmates and family.
“If it weren’t for them, I’m not so sure I would be in the same place as I am today,” she said.
Eliades will be attending the University of New Hampshire in the fall, where she will major in chemical engineering with a focus on bioengineering.
Melissa Martino plans on following a pre-med route at Providence College, majoring in biology with a minor in Spanish in hopes of fulfilling a lifelong goal.
“Ever since I was very young, I knew that I wanted to become a pediatrician and because of this, I have been motivated to excel in an effort to make my dream come true.”
Martino has indeed excelled, graduating ninth in her class after being an active member in both academics and sports. She was National Honor Society Treasurer and a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society, Language Honor Society, Math Team and Class Council. Martino also played on the school’s volleyball and varsity softball teams.
Rounding out the top 10, Ryan Durigan plans to attend Tufts University and major in biomedical engineering. Durigan was a member of the Math Team, Freshmen Mentors, Peer Tutoring and was on the National Honor Society Executive Board.
Besides academic extracurricular activities, Durigan also participated in athletics. He was co-captain of the tennis team, which went on to win this year’s state championship and was also a member of the soccer team.
Durigan said a true love of learning was his motivation to succeed in high school.
“I absolutely love to learn, and I can never quench my thirst for knowledge,” he said. “I knew that I would learn the most by taking the hardest classes and my interest drives me to excel; I really enjoyed going to class.”