A Great Night to be a Bolt

Posted 5/24/23

Those were in fact, the opening statement from Principal, Tom Barbieri, as he addressed the students, faculty and guests at his first Convocation ceremony.

Students of the Class of 2023 were …

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A Great Night to be a Bolt


Those were in fact, the opening statement from Principal, Tom Barbieri, as he addressed the students, faculty and guests at his first Convocation ceremony.

Students of the Class of 2023 were honored and awarded with scholarships, school awards and received membership into RI Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and for the very first time Mu Alpha Theta, the United States mathematics honor society.

Acting as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, was Kaitlin Hitchings, Assistant Principal for Academic Affairs at East.

The evening started with National Anthem, Sung by seniors Isabella Ba, Eve Grady and Anika Poshkus. The JROTC performed the Presentation of Colors.

Principal Barbieri was the first guest to address the crowd.

He started his remarks by acknowledging the guests, elected officials and school administration seated on the stage, then he addressed the room.

"I would like to acknowledge parents/families/friends of our students being recognized. Congratulations. Can you believe 13 years ago they were walking into kindergarten and today your children carry on the legacy of Cranston East. I want to thank you for your dedication, support and your unconditional love," he said.

He went on to thank the East faculty and staff.

"Our teachers' unconditional dedication to the teaching profession has proven to challenge students not to be good but great. They are educational contributors to the scholarships being handed out tonight. For these reasons we thank you." he said.

Barbieri also acknowledged the community scholarship sponsors who gave funds for all scholarships.

"You will hear me speak to the East educational community comprised of family, friends, educators, administration, city officials, and businesses. Because of our combined efforts, 173 students are being honored tonight That’s almost 1/2 of the senior class. Students will be receiving almost $300,000 in local scholarship, what an achievement. Seniors, there is so much I want to say and trust me, you will hear me at graduation. I have asked you to take advantage of every moment this year at Cranston East– have no regrets – make friends and try new things. And that you did…through your leadership, academics, participation in athletics, events, activities, dedication to our school community and your unprecedented stamina to weather trying times. You have earned the right to be here today. The RI Honor Society motto points to demonstrating outstanding character and scholarship – you have demonstrated a way of life. Believe me, you will be guaranteed many more deserving moments as your young journey continues. This ceremony you will earn scholarships/recognitions and you will hear speeches – listen – take everything in for this is a life moment. Congratulations on your well-deserved honors and Thank you for making Cranston East a great place – you made me proud to be your principal," He said.

Other speakers included Superintendent, Jeannine Nota-Masse, Mayor Kenneth Hopkins and School Committee member from Ward 3 Domenic Fusco.

The Class of 2023 Co-Presidents Isabella Ba & Caden Holtzman presented to Class of 2024 Co-Presidents Sophie Vorperian & Jessica Tran the traditional Class Gift.

Hitchings said there were several brand new scholarships this year.

"This is the first year for the Cranston Hall of Fame and Nardolillo Family scholarships, The East Effort & Achievement award is new, the class of 2022 scholarship is new, as is the Cranston First Responders scholarship, and the class of 1972 scholarship," she said.

The first awards presented that evening were the blue cords of the Rhode Island Honor Society. Students who received this honor had to maintain a GPA of 3.25 or higher. One hundred and thirty-six students crossed the stage to get those cords.

Sixty-one students were inducted into the National Honor Society. In order to be accepted, students must maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and participate in multiple service/community hours and projects.

Before passing out the awards and scholarships, Assistant Principal Hitchings, read off a list of impressive qualities that describe the Salutatorian.

"This year's Salutatorian is an inspiration to everyone she meets. For the last four years, this student has distinguished themselves as a remarkable student, talented musician, gifted athlete and a powerful leader," Hitchings said.

Taking the most rigorous coursework available to her at Cranston East, this student has earned an impressive 5.06 GPA and took 12 AP and Early Enrollment courses.

"This student is engaged throughout the school community, as a member of the National Honor Society, Crochet Club, Ballroom Dancing Club, Peer tutor, student ambassador and Drama Club. This student also works as a partner in the Unified Program volunteering her time to spend a period partnering with our diverse learners," she said.

 She is planning to attend Georgetown University in the fall. Mr. Barbieri awarded an engraved pen set for the second highest ranked senior to Anika Pashkus.

After Barbieri presented Pashkus with the Salutatorian medal, Hitchings read off the accomplishments for Valedictorian.

"This student is truly one of the Renaissance, as an accomplished artist, musician, athlete and leader. To demonstrate their wide variety of interests and involvements, this student is currently enrolled in AP Calculus, AP Art and Honors orchestra. Among their other courses, it is a rarity to see a student achieve at such a high caliber in such a variety of areas," Hitchings said.

This student has truly distinguished themselves as an invaluable member of the East community. The Valedictorian serves as Captain of the Cross Country and track teams, and an intern in The Women in Technology Engineering Program, a member of student leadership, National Honor society and an officer in the National Art Honor Society. 

" This year's Valedictorian has earned an incredibly impressive 5.153 GPA, the highest GPA recorded in Cranston East History," said Hitchings.

Barbieri presented an engraved pen set and the Valedictorian Medal for the highest ranked senior to Madeline Baxter who will be attending Columbia University.

When Madeline's name was called out, the room erupted into applause and cheers, and the students and people on the stage all gave her a standing ovation.

Students who received the National Honor Society Spirit of Excellence Award were: Isabella Ba, Isaac Barbosa, Alexis Franco, Caden Holtzman and John Varin.

One student was selected to be a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and it was Ari D’Arconte.

Awards for Art went to five students in four categories. The National Art Honor Society had 10 new inductees.

The awards for business and book awards were presented to seven students.

ELL students and world language awards were given to nine seniors.  Three students were given awards from the US marine Corps.

The American Mathematics Society Excellence Award went to two students, and seven students were inducted into the first class of Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society.

One student each was given the Excellence in History and Excellence in Social Sciences awards.

Lieutenant Governor Sabrina Matos Leadership Award, the Superintendent’s Scholarship and the Mayor’s Scholarship were each given to one senior.

The Esther Glackman Blacher Humanitarian Award received one winner, and The CHSE Principal’s Achievement Award was given to two.

Hitchings gave an explanation behind each award and scholarship. Many of the memorial scholarships were given in honor of former faculty or alumni of Cranston East.

Scholarships were presented students from organizations, private families and school groups in a varied amount of money.


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