John Fontaine, Cranston High School West principal and alum, kicked off the school's graduation ceremony on June 10 at the Providence Performing Arts Center by noting his fateful return to the school.
“19 years ago, I sat in the very seats you are sitting in,” …
John Fontaine, Cranston High School West principal and alum addressed the crowd, noting his fateful return to the school.
“19 years ago, I sat in the very seats you are sitting in,” he told graduates. “At that time, I knew what I wanted to do – be a teacher. I wanted to impact future generations of students.”
“Little did I know,” he continued, “it would actually be here at Cranston West, and in my dream job as principal.”
Fontaine noted that the Class of 2023 was a special one for him as it was the first class he graduated as his alma mater’s principal. He also took the time during his speech to drum up business for his Instagram account, which, at the time of graduation, had 1983 followers.
It was his hope, by the end of that day, to have solicited a few more, bringing his total followers to a symbolic 2023.
Fontaine noted the Class of 2023 as the first class to graduate after one full year with no pandemic restrictions and expressed his gratitude for students’ renewal of time-honored Falcon traditions.
“You, the Class of 2023, led us in such an amazing way to ensure the traditions valued by our Falcon community were completely brought back to life,” he said.
“I will be forever grateful for the way you ensured that Falcon Pride was brought back to The Nest so that all future Falcons can continue to experience the same school culture that has been fostered here for over 60 years.”
Of note, 55% of West graduates qualified for the Rhode Island Honor Society, 96% will be attending post-secondary institutions or the military in the fall, and Cranston High School West graduates garnered over $18 million in college merit money.
Valedictorian Jacob Morais was introduced alongside his impressive academic career, beginning with his skipping the second grade.
Half of Morais’ speech focused on gratitude for his family, his teachers, and his fellow students. The other half focused on a one-gallon water bottle he had made a habit of carrying around with him every day at school.
Morais likened the water bottle to the perseverance he and his fellow graduates have had to exhibit in order to succeed in their academic careers. He likened the days he could not finish the bottle to academic and personal failures, but reminded his fellow graduates to get up the next day and do it all over again.
Morais will attend Brown University in the fall and will major in mechanical engineering.
Salutatorian and winner of the Ideal Cranstonian Award Mena Wadia gave a warmhearted and humorous speech about her experience as an immigrant to the United States, and focused heavily on the shared experience of all Cranston West students, especially through the pandemic.
She jokingly offered some construction work to the school as well.
“I promise that if I become successful, I will come back and I will fix that parking lot for the sake of generations to come,” she said.
Principal John Fontaine responded that he would hold her to that promise.
Cranston Public Schools Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse became emotional during her speech, where she reflected on parents’ experiences with their children growing up. On a related note, she presented her son, Nicholas Masse, a 2023 Cranston High School West graduate, with his diploma.