The impact of education and the inspiration of people you’ve met along life’s journey were common themes among inductee speeches Friday night at the Cranston Hall of Fame’s 41st …
The impact of education and the inspiration of people you’ve met along life’s journey were common themes among inductee speeches Friday night at the Cranston Hall of Fame’s 41st Induction ceremony. The Hall of Fame, which now has 112 inductees, was founded by Cranston’s School Committee in the 1980s and honors Cranston graduates who have distinguished themselves on a local, regional and national level in their chosen field. Nicole Benjamin, Paul Ciccarelli, Paul DiMaio, Michael Matracia and Stephen Scappaticci were recognized at the Oct. 14 event.
“Every lesson the community imparted on that quiet, timid five year old is the foundation of everything that I do today,” said Benjamin who is a shareholder in the firm of Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.
From the day her parents dropped her off at Oak Lawn Elementary School to the day she graduated high school as a confident, determined 17 year old, Benjamin’s educational experiences and opportunities that followed shaped her success.
Attorney John Tarantino introduced Benjamin, saying that she has had a remarkable career. He said she is someone who never says no – no matter how busy she is. Tarantino shared how he had to become a caretaker for some time, and Nicole took on all his clients while continuing her own practice.
“She didn’t miss a beat,” said Tarantino.
Scappaticci, who has served as a science teacher since 2000, also recalled the role education played in his life when his elementary school teachers determined he had a reading disability.
“Cranston was able to provide me with the specialized instruction that allowed me to be successful – not only in high school but in post-secondary education as well,” said Scappaticci.
Michael Crudale, who introduced Scappaticci, shared that Scappaticci has dedicated his life to the students of Cranston Public Schools and is someone who serves and asks for nothing in return. He added that Scappaticci even came early to the Hall of Fame ceremony to set up the sound system for the event.
And of course, there are also those who are inspired by community members.
Ciccarelli, who has led a highly successful career in law enforcement for more than four decades, spoke about former Cranston Police Chief Anthony Moretti being Ciccarelli’s first inspiration for going into law enforcement.
“As a teenager, I said to myself, ‘if I’m going to be a police officer someday I want to be a cop with Chief Moretti,’” said Ciccarelli.
Ciccarelli shared that when he first wanted to become a police officer, Scituate Police Department called him in to take a test; however, the test was during the Blizzard of ‘78. All the roads were closed and when Ciccarelli called the department, the chief said ‘if you really want to be a cop, you’ll find a way to get here.’ So, at 3 a.m. Ciccarelli started walking 7.5 miles to the Scituate Police Department. During his speech he thanked the cop that later found him walking and gave him a ride the rest of the way – he was four hours early for the test.
Ciccarelli’s daughter, Jennifer, introduced her father and talked about how his job took the family around the world growing up. While she attended eight schools in 12 years and lived in places like Guam and Naples, being in Cranston felt like coming home and she said the city had a special place in the family’s hearts.
Michael, whose career is also in law enforcement, was introduced by his brother Charlie. Charlie spoke about his brother’s athletic achievements in wrestling and football and that when multiple sclerosis tried taking hold of his brother, Michael tackled it like he did in sports.
Michael reminisced about moving from Providence to Cranston in 1975 when he was 10 years old. It was the first time he saw organized sports taking place and when he attended Park View Middle School, the pool impressed him because he got to swim during the school day. He also thanked former Mayor Michael Traficante for telling him to ‘keep the faith’ when he was trying to land a job as a police officer but wasn’t having any luck. That faith led to Michael now serving the Providence Police Department for over 30 years.
Former Cranston Police Chief Kenneth Mancuso introduced DiMaio – sharing how the two have been friends for many years and how he grew up knowing DiMaio’s family. DiMaio has led a distinguished legal career as a probate judge and an attorney who’s served the Rhode Island community. He has spent countless hours conducting pro bono work and has lended support to many sports, educational and community opportunities.
In addition to the five inductees, the Cranston Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors established a new category for recognition called the Cranston Hall of Fame Community Service Award and, this year, honored Dr. Frank Del Santo.
“He has an unmatched record of community service,” said Cranston Hall of Fame President Cindy Soccio.
Soccio said Del Santo represents the best of humanity as an educator, community leader and family man.
Del Santo’s volunteerism extends four decades – including being Chair of the Cranston YMCA Board of Management, Officer of the Board of Directors of the Cranston Veterans Scholarship, and a member of the Board of Directors Cranston Historical Society. He has received numerous educational awards during his 42 year career in the field of health and education as a teacher/professor at the local and university levels. Del Santo expressed his gratitude for the recognition.
Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse emceed the event and commended inductees on their achievements. She added that not every community has the same deep pride that Cranston holds onto.
“I read the biographies of tonight’s inductees and I am truly, truly inspired by what you’ve accomplished,” said School Committee Chair Dan Wall.
This year, the Cranston Hall of Fame will also be giving four $1,000 scholarships to each of the high schools (Cranston East, Cranston West, NEL/CPS Construction and Career Academy and the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center. This is the second year for the scholarship and the Hall of Fame will have a representative go to the high schools’ spring awards night to hand out the scholarship. Students chosen for the scholarship exemplify what it means to be a Cranstonian – just like those honored at Friday’s ceremony.
Attorney Nicole J. Benjamin is a litigator with more than a decade of courtroom experience who has been recognized for her successes in complex commercial litigation matters. As a shareholder in the firm of Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C., Nicole spearheads the firm’s use of cutting-edge technology to efficiently manage complex litigation from pre-suit to trial.
Nicole has represented public and private companies in high-stakes litigation in federal and state court. She has defended clients against antitrust, breach of contract, business tort, employment, intellectual property, products liability and toxic tort claims. She also has defended class actions and litigated cases involving international law, mergers and acquisitions, securities laws and banking laws.
Additionally, Nicole has represented state departments, state general officers and municipalities in matters of significant public importance, including constitutional challenges to government actions. Along with her trial court experience, Nicole has successfully briefed and argued cases in the First Circuit and the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Nicole maintains many professional relationships and affiliations as a result of her distinguishing herself through her practice and publications. She has served on the Board of Governors for Leadership Rhode Island for the past nine years, and has filled the role of Chair since 2020. Also, she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Resource Center and has held various leadership roles for the organization since 2015.
Nicole is a 1999 graduate of Cranston High School West, where she served as editor of the student newspaper. She is magna cum laude graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law and the University of Rhode Island. Nicole is a Trustee of Roger Williams University and has been a member of the Board of Directors of Roger Williams University School of Law since 2014.
In view of her many years of hard work and professional achievements in the field of law and her service to Rhode Island organizations, the Cranston Hall of Fame proudly installs Nicole J. Benjamin as a member of its Class of 2022.
Paul Ciccarelli, a 1973 graduate of Cranston High School West, has led a highly successful career in law enforcement for more than four decades. A proud military veteran, Paul began his career in the US Navy in 1974 and served as a cryptographic technician for four years. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Roger Williams University and a Master’s degree in criminal justice from Salve Regina University, Paul graduated first in his class from the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy and then worked as a patrolman and detective for the Scituate Police Department for six years.
In 1984 Paul made the transition to federal law enforcement and was hired as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), where he held a variety of positions and leadership roles at stateside and overseas NCIS offices. In Italy, he served as the protective service detail leader and provided executive security for the four-star admiral and his staff; Paul and his team accompanied the admiral throughout Europe and Asia, including travel to Bosnia and Croatia during the Bosnian War. As a result of his protective service experience, Paul was later called upon to support security teams for the US Secretary of Defense during travel to Brazil and Bahrain and for President Barrack Obama during his visit to the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in 2008.
During one of his three assignments to Washington, DC, Paul served as division chief and provided oversight to a team of NCIS agents who were dispatched to the Pentagon to assist the FBI with the crime scene examination following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Paul served as the special agent in charge for three separate NCIS field offices, including the Office of Special Projects (OSP) in Washington, DC, where he was responsible for managing the most sensitive counterintelligence investigations conducted by NCIS. Paul and his team worked jointly with the FBI on the Chi Mak spy case that resulted in the arrest and sentencing of an engineer who conspired with family members to export US sensitive technology to the Peoples Republic of China.
During his 25-year NCIS career, Paul received numerous awards and commendations including the Navy Superior Service Award, Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, and the NATO Medal for Service. Following his retirement from NCIS in 2009 Paul worked as a counterintelligence lead and security site integrator for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta, Georgia for 10 years. As a resident of Kings Bay, Georgia, Paul was asked to serve as a board member for Habitat for Humanity, and received the Habitat Silver Hammer Award for his dedicated work. Paul retired to Venice, Florida in 2019.
In view of his outstanding achievements and accomplishments in the field of law enforcement, the Cranston Hall of Fame proudly installs Paul Ciccarelli as a member of its Class of 2022.
The Honorable Paul J. DiMaio has spent his distinguished legal career as a probate judge and an attorney who tireless serves the Rhode Island community. He is well-known as a fierce advocate for his clients in both the criminal and civil spheres and is the longest sitting probate court judge in Rhode Island. Judge DiMaio retired in 2021 after serving as Johnston Probate Court Judge for more than four decades. Upon his retirement, the Town of Johnston’s Municipal Courthouse Conference Room was dedicated in his honor.
A 1960 graduate of Cranston High School East, Judge DiMaio earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School and was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar in 1968. In addition to serving clients through his law practice, he has provided countless hours of pro bono legal work for numerous people over the years. Many attorneys have turned to Judge DiMaio for advice because of his vast legal knowledge and his sterling reputation as a criminal law expert.
Judge DiMaio is an individual who believes in giving back to society and consistently lends his support to a wide range of youth sports, educational and community organizations. Among those that have benefited from his generosity are the Johnston High School and East Providence High School scholarship programs, Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Rhode Island SPCA, St. Robert Bellamine Church, Our Lady of Grace Church, Humane Society of the United States, Boys Town, St. Jude’s Hospital, and Providence Animal Rescue League.
In view of his distinguished background as a judge and lawyer and his compassion and generosity, the Cranston Hall of Fame proudly installs Judge Paul J. DiMaio as a member of its Class of 2022
Michael A. Matracia is a dedicated public servant who has served the Providence Police Department and his community for over 30 years, despite facing many physical challenges along the way. A proud 1984 graduate of Cranston High School East and the 53rd Providence Police Training Academy, Michael’s grit, spirituality and steadfast desire to take life as it comes truly embodies the Cranston spirit of giving service to others.
An exemplary athlete at Cranston East and recipient of the Top Shooter Award from the Providence Police Training Academy, Michael began his career with the Providence Police Department in 1988 as a control center operator and then a rookie patrol officer. Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis several years ago, Michael faced the inevitability of life in a wheelchair. This, however, hasn’t stopped him from continuing his career as an active member of the Providence Police Department and from earning an Associate degree in science from Roger Williams University and continuing his studies in criminal justice.
Michael’s positive attitude, infectious smile and stamina have given him the ability to endure the challenges brought to him by his diagnosis. From mentoring students in the Burch Program at Mount Pleasant High School to his work with Special Olympics and the MS Dream Center of Rhode Island, Michael’s service to others has made a profound impact on the lives of people across the state. A tireless advocate on behalf of people with disabilities, Michael is the recipient of the Accessible Rhode Island 2014 Person of the Year Award, Congressman James R. Langevin Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, Senator Jack Reed Certificate of Accomplishment, City of Providence Community Service Award, City of Cranston Person of the Year Award, RI Community Partnership Award, along with numerous recognition awards from the Providence Police Department.
In view of his enduring dedication to his career in law enforcement and his unrelenting service to the community, the Cranston Hall of Fame proudly installs Michael A. Matracia as a member of its Class of 2022.
Stephen N. Scappaticci has dedicated his life to his students in the Cranston school system, where he has served as a science teacher since 2000, and to the Cranston community through his tireless commitment to youth sports. Over the past two decades, he has motivated Cranston youth to prioritize their education and physical well-being through his dedicated work as a teacher, coach and mentor.
A lifelong resident of Cranston, Stephen attended Stone Hill Elementary School, Western Hills Middle School, Cranston High School West and the Cranston Area Career and Technical School, where he graduated in the Class of 1994. While at Cranston West, Stephen was a member of the baseball and track teams. He continued his education at the University of Rhode Island, from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in science education with a minor in communicative disorders and a certificate in secondary education.
Stephen began his career with the Cranston School Department in 2000 as a science teacher at Hugh B. Bain Middle School where he also served as audio-visual coordinator, co-advisor to the student council, co-coordinator of the Bain Memorial Day program, and co-advisor to Bain TV. While at Bain Stephen served on numerous committees, supported state science testing, and was a coach of the two-time state champion Science Olympiad team. In 2015 Stephen was named the science program supervisor for Cranston Public Schools where he oversees the science program and curriculum and designs and implements professional development programs. In this role, he also serves on numerous state committees to help support STEM education. Stephen also provides support to the school district for its audio-visual needs at school committee meetings and end-of-the-year events and volunteers as a technical consultant for the Cranston High School East and Cranston High School West drama programs.
In view of his incredible work ethic and personal commitment to furthering the education of Cranston students, the Cranston Hall of Fame proudly installs Stephen N. Scappaticci as a member of its Class of 2022.
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