Since 1963, when Nancy L. Goodwin was named Cranston High School West’s first Ideal Cranstonian, the faculty has been selecting a student who, according to CHSW Principal Tom Barbieri, “best embodies the characteristics of what we feel is an ideal student.”
This year, two graduating seniors were chosen by the faculty, Heather DiFazio and Sara Lancellotta. In all the years the award has been given, two students have been named only ten other times, and in 1975, three students were named. Each year, the announcement is a surprise for all, including for the recipients and their families.
“The Ideal Cranstonian Award is considered one of the most prestigious honors a student can receive in recognition of their personal achievements and contributions to Cranston High School West. The individual receiving the award exemplifies Falcon pride, service to the community and serves as a role model to others, supporting the school creed with dedication and integrity,” Barbieri said.
In naming Heather DiFazio as the first awardee, Barbieri described her many achievements, contributions and accomplishments.
“Our first Ideal Cranstonian recipient represents a perfect example of how stepping out of our comfort zones and trying new things is the best way to grow. Whether it’s in the classroom, or on the playing field, this student has stepped out of her comfort zone many times since entering Cranston West. She is personally driven to be the best version of herself in anything she does whether it’s academically, socially, athletically or spiritually. She is inspired by the thought of being a good role model to the people around her and to always be someone they can trust,” he said. “She has gotten the most of her high school career, contributing endlessly in various leadership roles, including being a Rhode Island Department of Education Student Liaison, representative on the Congressman Langevin Youth Advisory Board, and as this year’s Coordinator for Running for Remission. She is also an accomplished visual artist and has proved she is well on her way to becoming an inspiring Biomedical Engineer as part of our Career and Technical Center’s Pre-Engineering Robotics program. This student is also a dedicated three-sport athlete, having played for our Indoor Track, Cross Country and Soccer teams. She has completed over 300 hours of community service and ranks sixth in our graduating class. She is the first graduate from Cranston West to have completed the Women In Technology Internship Program at TYCO/Johnson Controls. She will be attending the University of Rhode Island in the fall and plans to major in Biomedical Engineering. She will be part of URI’s Honors Program as well as the International Engineering Program where she will combine her major with German.”
As Principal Barbieri announced the second recipient, he described her in this way:
“Our second Ideal Cranstonian is bursting with school spirit. This student is always happy, admitting they truly love being a Falcon. Faculty members state this student would drop anything to help anyone, never saying no when asked to lend a hand. This student embraces all that Cranston West has to offer, every single day, always with a smile on their face. This student has excelled academically, maintaining a class rank of four, and a career GPA of 4.97, completing 23 Advanced Placement and Honors level courses. She is a member of the National and Rhode Island Honor Societies, and as a junior received the Rhode Island Civic Leadership and College of the Holy Cross Book Awards. This year, she received the Red Sox Scholarship, Rotary Club Scholarship, Excellence in Journalism and Excellence in Psychology awards. Her leadership roles are impressive, serving as President of our National Honors Society, Vice President of Student Council, Captain of the Falconette Dance Squad, Editor-in-Chief of our school newspaper, Treasurer of her junior class, Group Leader at the TEAMSPIRIT Leadership Conference, member of Rhode Island’s Girls State Auxiliary Program, Leader of the Rhode Island Youth Advisory Board and mentor for our SADD Chapter. She has also been a member of the Media Club, Peer Tutoring and Hunger Awareness Club,” he said. “This student’s values are deeply rooted in her religion, serving as a Minister at Holy Apostles Church and having traveled to Jamaica on a Mission Trip. She has completed over 250 hours of community service. She was a Campaign Manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Student of the Year campaign, STEM tutor and volunteer for Running for Remission, St. Charles Soup Kitchen and Orchard Farms Elementary School, just to name a few. As she entered senior year, it was her personal goal to become part of our special education Unified Sports Basketball team. In the Fall she will attend Providence College where she plans to study Chemistry, receiving the prestigious Professor E.R. Boyko Chemistry Scholarship. She will also be traveling with the Providence College basketball team, performing on court at halftime as the newest member of the PC Dance team. She claims she wants to dress up as our Falcon mascot at this year’s Thanksgiving game, and we are going to hold her to it.” Both students were brought on stage to receive their awards and their names will be added to the list of Ideal Cranstonians from the past five decades and beyond.