NEL/CPS celebrates largest graduating class yet

By Jen Cowart
Posted 6/15/16

The New England Laborers'/Cranston Public Schools (NEL/CPS) Construction and Career Academy has celebrated the graduation of the largest class of seniors in its history. Thirty-six graduates crossed the stage at Hope Highlands on Friday

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NEL/CPS celebrates largest graduating class yet

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The New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools (NEL/CPS) Construction and Career Academy has celebrated the graduation of the largest class of seniors in its history.

Thirty-six graduates crossed the stage at Hope Highlands on Friday night, receiving their diplomas from Director Dennis Curran. According to Curran, this class has had more than half its members together for all four years, with 10 hailing from Cranston and the 26 others hailing from seven other Rhode Island cities and towns.

Citywide School Committee member Michael A. Traficante welcomed guests and dignitaries from around the city. Among those on hand were committee member Daniel Wall, Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse and other Cranston Public Schools central office staff members, and Mayor Allan Fung.

The Cranston High School East JROTC Honor Guard presented the colors, and Danielle Dotter, a senior at Cranston High School West, performed the national anthem.

“Welcome to our 12th annual graduation exercises,” Traficante said. “I extend to each of you not only a warm welcome, but my heartfelt, most sincere congratulations to each of you, especially to the parents, families, and friends of the 2016 graduates.”

Traficante reminded the students that although their talents and abilities will always get them where they need to be, it is their character that will keep them there.

“Go forward, be careful, keep healthy, and keep up the good work,” he said.

Curran followed Traficante, welcoming the graduates and their guests. He thanked the families for their support through the last four years.

“These four years were not easy ones for you or for your families,” he said. “It was critical that they were there for you every step of the way.”

Curran took a moment to commend the staff for their tireless dedication to the students. He recalled that when it was determined that the graduating class did not have enough money to take their senior class trip, one faculty member approached Curran with an idea – a challenge that Curran could not turn down.

“Carl Steckhert came to me and said that he thought the staff could raise the money needed to send the students on the trip,” Curran said. “He suggested that if the staff could raise $350, then I would have to wear a crazy tie at graduation.”

Curran paused as the audience looked at his plain, black tie.

“They raised $600,” he said. “As a result, I am wearing the ugliest tie I have ever seen, and this isn’t it.”

With that, Curran pulled off the black tie, revealing a wild black and white, zebra-striped tie and matching pocket handkerchief.

“Is this not the ugliest tie you have ever seen?” he asked as the audience cheered and clapped.

Curran spoke to the students about the many life lessons they have already learned during their high school years.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, you will never regret being kind to each other, and a strong work ethic at school or on the job will help you get ahead in life,” he said.

He recognized this year’s class valedictorian, Bryanna Melo, who has been first in her class for all four years, an honor roll student, and the recipient of various scholarships. She will be continuing her education at the Community College of Rhode Island, having already completed five college classes through the CCRI Running Start program.

“Ten of our graduates will be entering the Pomfret program, two are joining the military, 17 are attending CCRI, and the remainder are entering the workforce,” he said. “You should all be proud of your successes so far, but it’s only the beginning. Keep us updated and come back and visit when you can, because we will miss you.”

Mayor Allan Fung delivered greetings from the city. He told the students how impressed he has been with their school since the beginning, and he reassured students if they do not know what comes next on their journeys.

“As you sit in the auditorium today, you might not be sure what you want out of life, and that’s OK,” he said. “You are some of the best that Cranston has to offer, and you’ve been prepared for all that life will throw at you by the people up on stage as well as those people behind you – your parents, family and friends.”

Nota-Masse congratulated the students on their achievement.

“You have had opportunities here that other high school students have not had,” she said. “You have had the opportunity to be in a small environment with people who have watched over you very carefully, making sure you were successful. You have had the opportunities to build, to create and to work in a field that may eventually be your career path, before you have even gotten out in the workforce.”

Wall brought greetings from the school committee, and asked for a round of applause for the graduates and the people who have supported them, including their families and the faculty and staff at NEL/CPS.

He then shared several quotations that have inspired him throughout his life, including some from John F. Kennedy and Vince Lombardi, as well as one from Eleanor Roosevelt, with which he concluded his speech.

“Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.’ Graduates, life is a journey, we should make every effort to make that journey enjoyable,” he said.

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