Committee honors art standouts, hears concerns over closing of classrooms at Rhodes

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At Monday night’s school committee meeting, many students were recognized for receiving art awards and scholarships in the past weeks. Kailyn D’Elena, first place, Cranston High School West and Leah Struminsky (honorable mention) of Cranston High School East placed in the juried art competition sponsored by RIAEA and the Wickford Art Association.

Cranston East’s Brandon Chin was also recognized for his National Gold Medal and American Vision Medal and recognition for his awards at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Mia Merlino and Kelly Picozzi were recognized for their PPAC juried art scholarship competition awards, and Alexandra Cowart was recognized as recipient of the Keri Anne O’Donnell Scholarship. All three are students at Western Hills Middle School.

Angelica Bueno of Western Hills Middle School was also recognized for her honorable mention in the Lyndsey Ann Burke Dating and Relationship poster contest. For the Congressman Jim Langevin juried art competition, Zari Apodaca and Jeffrey Marchetti tied for third place and Arianna Deal and Maria Caserta received honorable mentions. All are students at Cranston High School West. Two students were honored for their awards in Senator Jack Reed’s juried art competition including Cranston West’s Arianna Deal, first place, and Cranston East’s Michelle Phan, honorable mention.

Art educators Valerie Bruzzi, Jilly Cyr, Heidi Copeman, Gloria Budz and Mary Schultheis were all honored along with the artists for their achievements.

Additionally, the committee recognized all those retiring from the school district this year, including Hugh B. Bain science teacher Al Bostock, who is retiring after more than 40 years of teaching at Bain and 47 total in Cranston schools.

Chairwoman Janice Ruggieri and committee member Dan Wall both spoke highly of the three high school graduation ceremonies, which took place June 8 (NEL/CPS) and June 9 (CHSE and CHSW) and noted the strong connections that were evident between the faculty and students as the graduates greeted and thanked the staff before and after the event.

During the non-agenda public comment portion of the meeting, several residents from the Rhodes Elementary School community spoke to the committee regarding their concerns surrounding the closing of classrooms for the 2018-19 school year and the lack of communication out from the district to the families at the school about the decisions about classroom closings. Additionally, concerns were raised by parents regarding the large classroom sizes which will be the result of the closing of current classrooms, as well as the loss of the team teaching method currently utilized at the school at some grade levels, which will come as the school is soon to be reduced to one classroom per grade level, according to one parent’s public comments.

Cranston High School West Principal Tom Barbieri also spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, putting on record his thanks to all involved for their support of CHSW in recent weeks. He thanked his faculty and staff, administration, central administration, the Cranston Police Department and the school committee for their support and noted that he had learned firsthand the impact that social media can have on a school and will use that information going forward.

The calendar of future meetings and work sessions was presented before the meeting was adjourned.

The first meeting of the 2018-2019 school year is a work session on Monday, September 17 at 5:00 p.m. at the Briggs Building. There are also the pre-scheduled June, July and August meetings, for which a schedule can be found on cpsed.net.

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