Global events have upended all facets of life this year, but Genesis Aldana Pineda, president of Cranston High School East's class of 2020, said her classmates have "found a way to brighten the dark days of those around us and leave a
Watch the full Cranston East graduation video here.
Global events have upended all facets of life this year, but Genesis Aldana Pineda, president of Cranston High School East’s class of 2020, said her classmates have “found a way to brighten the dark days of those around us and leave a lasting impact on our community.”
“We are the class that has started a statewide pay-it-forward movement … We inspired the members of our community and touched the lives of perfect strangers,” she added during remarks included in the schools virtual graduation ceremony, a video presentation that aired on Capitol TV over the weekend. “As you move through life, always remember what Thunderbolts do best – give back to others.”
The class president’s remarks were among those recorded in the Cranston East auditorium in June. The recording sessions also afforded students a chance to return to the school, cross the stage and receive their diplomas.
East Principal Sean Kelly, during his remarks, noted that this year’s graduates join a tradition that dates back to 1891 – an “illustrious ‘Green Line’ of Thunderbolt alumni.” That is “much to live up to,” he said, and he challenged the students to continue that “tradition of excellence.”
“Become our next generation of engineers, doctors, teachers, electricians, chief justices, or titans of industry,” he said. “Set your sights high. Work hard. The success you are looking for is within your reach. Grab it.”
Eighty-five percent of this year’s graduates will go on to higher education, Kelly said, and the class has received a combined $2 million in scholarships and financial aid. Five percent of the graduates will join the military, and another 5 percent will pursue full-time employment.
Indiamei Coren-Gold, class of 2020 salutatorian, said while the virtual ceremony – recorded over several days in June – was “far from the graduation that we had envisioned four years ago,” the she and her classmates have much to celebrate.
“The lack of closure that I have felt and I’m sure many of you may have also felt is frustrating, but I want to remind everyone that we did it,” she said. “After four years of high school, we are all here today because we did everything we needed to – and probably more – to earn our diploma. We have accomplished so much these past four years both inside and outside of school, that I am excited to see what now until the rest of our lives holds for us.”
Eden Fisher, East’s class of 2020 valedictorian, spoke of the words “be the change,” which she has often noticed engraved on a pair of coins attached to a friend’s necklace. Aside from the “change” pun, she said, she has been drawn to the necklace and its message – an abbreviated version of a quote attributed to Gandhi – because of its “powerful” meaning.
“Sometimes it feels as though we are all simply passive onlookers in this world of constant flux,” she said. “But, class of 2020, if change is inevitable, we are perfectly situated to shape that change – to be the change we wish to see in our communities … Each one of us possesses the power to help mold the world the way we want.”
Mayor Allan Fung, during his remarks, spoke of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this year’s class.
“Graduation time is usually when speakers tell you to do your best and go out to make history,” he said. “Well, this year is quite different. History is writing itself for all of us. An event that happened a world away swept the globe and found us right here in Cranston.”
He added: “As you go off to college, start a job, or serve all of us in the military, know that we believe in you. You’ve been prepared for anything that life will throw at you by your teachers, administrators and most importantly, those people sitting at home with you … We will always be there for you.”
Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse described the members of this year’s graduating class as “visionaries.”
“You have the luxury to look ahead and see things that are in front of you,” she said. “You have bright futures, even though it may seem daunting right now. Do not dwell on the disappointments you experienced over the past few months. You will never be able to change them. See them as life experiences which have shaped or influenced you, but have not ruined you. Instead, look forward. Use your 2020 vision to see the hope and opportunities your futures offer.”
The full video of the virtual graduation ceremony can be viewed on demand via Capitol TV. A link can be found on the General Assembly’s website, rilin.state.ri.us.