On Friday night, the New England Laborers’ Cranston Public Schools Construction and Career Academy (NEL/CPS) celebrated the first of the CPS 2018 high school graduates to receive their diplomas, as 32 seniors walked across the stage at Hope Highlands Middle School and turned their tassels, signifying the end of one chapter in their lives and the start of the next.
Honored guests for the evening’s events included Cranston’s Mayor Allan Fung, International Representative Laborers' International Union of North America, New England Region, Christopher Sabitoni, Cranston’s Superintendent of Schools, Jeannine Nota-Masse, Cranston School Committee Representative, Dan Wall, Chairman, Board of Directors and Member of the Cranston School Committee, Michael Traficante, and Executive Director of NEL/CPS, Dennis Curran. The Presentation of Colors was courtesy of Cranston High School East’s JROTC Color Guard under the direction of Lt. Col. John Murray and Sgt. Major Gerald Thifault, and the National Anthem was sung by Cranston High School East Chorale under the direction of Mrs. Emily Johnson, CPS Music Program Supervisor.
As the speakers each delivered their greetings to the students, their messages were clear. The graduates have worked hard to get to this big milestone, and are well-prepared for their next step of their journeys, and most importantly, they are not alone as they face the future, having each other to rely on, as well as the support of their school, family and friends.
Sabitoni reminded them to stay focused on their goals as they move forward.
“Do not let negativity dissuade you from a goal that you know is the right thing for you to pursue,” he said. “Find good people to help you build your dream, surround yourself with them and you will achieve something greater than you ever imagined. Graduates as you begin on your journey, I wish all of you a life of many rewards.”
Mayor Allan Fung brought greetings from the city of Cranston. “This school has given you one-of-a-kind opportunity to launch your careers right out of the gate. Seize this opportunity and take what you learned here to do great things in your life. I know each and every one of you can be successful if you keep learning new things, show up on time and be responsible. But to get to the next level, you’ll have to do more than just show up,” he said. “There’s a well-known business advice book called 212 The Extra Degree that talks about getting extraordinary results from one small change. If you think about it, only one degree separates water from ice. Only one degree makes water go from being just hot, to boiling. And you can power a locomotive with steam. Sometimes in life, that one extra degree of effort is the difference between being the employee who shows up, to the one who earns the promotion. The difference between doing a good job, to doing a great job. So keep up the great work you’ve demonstrated here. You’re on an exciting path. There’s so much work to be done here in Rhode Island, and around the country, and I wish you the best as you start the next chapter in your lives.”
Superintendent Nota-Masse delivered greetings from the Cranston Public Schools and reminded students that as they venture off into the world beyond high school, that their slate is clean, they have a new beginning ahead of them and any mistakes from their past are behind them.
“Define yourself, don’t let anyone do it for you or to you,” she said. “Be creative, musical, mechanical, funny, athletic, quiet or smart, but always be you. Shakespeare said it best, ‘This above all, to thine own self be true.’”
Nota-Masse reminded the graduates to take risks and to take action that will make them significant and valued and not to live their lives in fear, despite the world that they live in, and she quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who once said. “So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
As she finished her remarks, she reminded the students to live in the moment, not through their phones.
“Remember, the real world is not on your phone, in an Instagram post, or a Tweet,” she said. “In real life people wipe tears from your cheeks, share a lovingly prepared meal, or give you a strong hug or a kiss. Your phone doesn’t, especially on a day like today.”
Executive Director Dennis Curran addressed the audience, speaking to the many achievements of the class of 32 graduates, 11 of whom began their high school careers there as freshman, 8 joining as sophomores, 6 as juniors and 7 as seniors. He noted that although they may not have begun together, the class of 19 boys and 13 girls stood out for their care and compassion for each other.
Curran spoke about the top scholar for the year, Kelsey Carreiro, a student who did begin her high school journey at NEL/CPS freshman year. “This young lady has been with us since her freshman year and has always worked hard in the classroom,” he said. “She has consistently made the honor roll and has achieved a grade point average of 4.065. This year she enrolled in the Running Start program at CCRI and took a full load of classes there. She has earned straight As in these courses and has been accepted into Rhode Island College in the fall. She has also been involved in many charitable efforts over the years while also holding down a job.”
Curran shared a meaningful quote from one of the evening’s graduates during the ceremony.
“‘Walking into this school on the first day, none of us knew what to expect, whether we would leave with tears or with a smile. Although when it came down to it, this class has always been there for each other, we walked in together and we are walking out together today.’”