Cranston High School East, currently celebrating its 64th graduation, has seen changes during the 2022-2023 school year including the installation of Principal Thomas Barbieri, formerly of Cranston …
Cranston High School East, currently celebrating its 64th graduation, has seen changes during the 2022-2023 school year including the installation of Principal Thomas Barbieri, formerly of Cranston High School West, and the creation and cultivation of new career and technical programs.
“Though I wasn’t your principal for all four years,” Barbieri said, “I am honored to be your principal for your best year…and I must say, Bolts, this last year you made our school come alive again!”
Of note, 45% of seniors qualified for the Rhode Island Honor Society, 75% will be attending post-secondary institutions or the military in the fall, and graduates have garnered over $9 million in merit money.
“You are always a Bolt,” Barbieri reminded graduates. “Thank you for letting me into your lives and for being such a significant part of mine.”
Mayor Kenneth Hopkins addressed graduates and their loved ones, Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse spoke about the transition of children to adults from a parent’s perspective, and Domenic Fusco, of the Cranston School Committee, shared his wishes for the graduating class.
Co-Class Presidents Isabella Ba and Caden Holtzman delivered a meaningful and entertaining address.
Both students noted the relief and joy they experienced during their first “normal” school year since the pandemic.
“Although we may not have had the most ideal high school experience these past four years, there is so much to be grateful for,” Ba said, “like having a normal senior year, being able to connect more with our friends and teachers, seeing the crowds full at a football game, pep rally, senior assemblies, the out-of-order bathrooms, prom, and lastly, being here to celebrate with you all.”
She reminded her fellow graduates to follow their passions, chase their dreams, and never be afraid to take risks. She urged her classmates to embrace failure and never lose sight of their values or integrity.
Caden Holtzman took the crowd through his experience of first attending Cranston High School East with his older brother, who graduated two years ago, and then on his own.
“I needed my brother to help me make my first steps into Cranston East, but I realize that while taking my last ones off this stage today, there’s no map for where we go next. Cranston East has provided us with life lessons and support that we will take with us in our lives as Thunderbolts.”
Salutatorian Anika Poshkus, who will be attending Georgetown University in the fall, shared her revelation as an 11-year-old that time goes by and doesn’t ever stop.
She recounted sharing this revelation with her mother, then telling her, “I will never again wish for a single day, week, month, or hour to go by any faster because there are so few I’ll actually get to have and they’re already going by so fast.”
Poshkus explained that her mom tried to reassure her that she shouldn’t fear the passage of time, but she still finds it a struggle to stay present in the moment.
Poshkus reminded her fellow graduates to focus on the moment of their graduation, and not worry about what has already happened or what is yet to come.
Valedictorian Madeline Baxter, who has earned the highest recorded grade point average in the history of Cranston High School East, both congratulated and urged her fellow students to look towards their futures with hope and excitement.
Baxter, also an accomplished artist and musician, will be attending Columbia University in the fall.
Graduating senior and Class of 2023 Secretary Maura Kitterick read the poem, “What Life Should Be,” by Pat A. Fleming, to the crowd. The poem speaks to being triumphant in spirit over adversity, being kind and loving despite one’s wounds, and remaining a source of hope through good times and bad.
Principal Thomas Barbieri surprised the crowd by awarding the first annual Thunderbolt Award, an award given to one student who exemplifies the Thunderbolt spirit.
Alexis Franco, Class of 2023 Vice President, was the first Cranston High School East student to receive this award.