At its 39th installation ceremony, the Cranston Hall of Fame increased its ranks to 197 inductees.
These men and women all contributed to their communities and professions, leaving an indelible mark.
While their careers and lives have taken vastly different paths, the one common thread is that they all graduated from a Cranston high school.
This year's class of inductees includes Gregory Ahlijian, Gina DelSanto, Ph.D., Rick MacDonald, Lt., Ronald Picerne and posthumously Police Chief Anthony Moretti.
The Valley Country Club in Warwick, on Friday, Nov. 2, was filled with friends, families and colleagues of the inductees wishing them well.
During the cocktail hour, Armando Mirabal, a junior at CHSW and Christopher Trek, a freshman, entertained people on the piano.
Cranston Police provided an honor guard to lead the inductees and their escorts into the room.
Sergeant Brian D'Amico, officer Matthew Davis, Captain Jerry Carnavale, officer Dave Turrell, officer Lou Pezzullo and Captain Mike Pezzullo made up the Guard.
Hall of Fame President Fred Vincent, a 2006 inductee, was the host of the evening. After introducing the head table members and offering his welcoming remarks, he introduced Mayor Allan Fung to the podium.
"We are here to recognize some of the best and brightest to come out of Cranston,” said Fung. “They have all achieved so much in their careers. Their successes prove the strength of a Cranston public school education. Each inductee embodies true Cranston values, and they brought the heart of Cranston to wherever they live and work.”
Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse also expressed her congratulations.
“As Superintendent, this is a unique opportunity to honor the ‘unsung’ heroes from our city who are graduates of our high schools,” she said. “Each honoree has touched the schools in Cranston not only as students, but also as adults who have dedicated themselves to our schools and communities. In writing these greetings, I reflected on the outstanding accomplishments of this year’s field of candidates. And I wondered, as teenagers graduating from Cranston High School East or West, where did they think their education would lead them? Did they know what careers they would choose? Were their passions shaped by the desire to help their communities? Did they know they would become role models for future Falcons or Thunderbolts? Did they desire to make lots of money, or perhaps be famous? Only they know that. But tonight, in our small corner of the world, we take a few moments to say thank you. Thank you for making us proud, thank you for being wonderful role models for our children and each other. Remember the good things these honorees have done and respect them by following their lead in our community. Thank you for reminding us of our humanity and our responsibility to live lives of compassion, respect and kindness. The good things we do live on in our community long after we are gone.”
Due to an unexpected illness, Gregory Ahlijian was unable to attend, so his sister Sondra Pitts did his introduction and his acceptance remarks.
She read off a list of his extensive and impressive awards, accomplishments and recognition in several areas.
"While my memories of Cranston schools have faded, I distinctly remember my teachers and how devoted they were. The one I remember most was Mrs. Alice Howe from Eden Park," she read from his statement.
Ann Ravenscroft spoke of her sister, Gina DelSanto, Ph.D.
"I recall when my sister and I were at the former Pettaconsett School on Pontiac Avenue,” Ravenscroft said. “I was trying to help her get her boots on to go out for recess, and a teacher told her to let her figure it out herself. Well, not only did she get her boots on, she is now a wonderful problem solver, a troubleshooter. She knows that she is standing on the shoulders of giants. Her career has taken her far from Cranston, but whenever she returns home, she makes sure there is room in her suitcase for some Italian bread, pizza strips and sauce.”
DelSanto spoke about the importance of education growing up.
"I have and had such tremendous support all my life. Growing up I was given three gifts; one was undying love of my family, the second gift was my sister, and the third was the gift of education. I have so many fond memories of the teachers whom I met along the way," she said.
She is the daughter of Frank DelSanto, a class of 1987 inductee, making them one a few multi-generational families inducted to the Hall of Fame.
John MacDonald introduced his brother, Lieutenant Rick MacDonald, of the East Providence Fire department.
"Ricky was the oldest of the six of us kids, four boys, two girls and a single mom,” he said. “Ricky has taught over a thousand kids since taking over CLCF boxing in 1999 and has never had even one complaint. I try to teach the kids the same lessons I learned from boxing. Discipline, technique and respect. I always like to see and hear from the kids after their lessons.”
At the end of his remarks, he broke down and became emotional when dedicating his achievement to his mom.
Police Chief Anthony Moretti was honored posthumously by his son, Anthony.
"My father had an uncompromising passion for his city. He embodied what goodness is all about. His family and the Cranston Police Department were his highest priorities. This is in honor of a lifelong career," he said.
The citation was presented to Mrs. Moretti in her husband's behalf.
The final inductee was Ronald Picerne. He was introduced by his friend Dr. Frank DelSanto.
"We are adding a new shining star to our galaxy of stars,” DelSanto said about Picerne. “He is the fifth person from the class of 1946 to be inducted. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.”
DelSanto said that going last was akin to being Liz Taylor's fifth husband.
"I know what to do, but how do I make it interesting?" he said.
Picerne spoke humbly of his success.
"I am lucky to be successful, but what does it mean? I have a happy, healthy family but what am I contributing to society? Success is about giving back to the community," he said.
For further information or questions about the Cranston Hall of Fame Foundation, please contact Fred Vincent, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.