NPHS celebrates Class of 2019

NPHS celebrates Class of 2019

Destiny Gregson, 18, right, greets Ty Jones, 17, left, with a hug before the start of the North Providence High School graduation ceremony last Thursday at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)
227 proud graduates walk the stage at the VMA

PROVIDENCE – For the second consecutive year, a flash mob dance party broke out during North Providence High School’s graduation last Thursday, when Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” began to play just as the school’s 227 graduates were asked to turn their tassels to the left.

The song will carry a special meaning for the NPHS Class of 2019, after every speaker during their June 6 commencement advised graduates to never stop believing.

“You are our future. We’re counting on you. Don’t. Stop. Believing,” Mayor Charles Lombardi told NPHS graduates at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.

School Committee Chairman Frank Pallotta said, “You’ll often experience failure before achieving success. Do not, ever, stop believing in yourself. There are dreamers and there are achievers … the difference between the two is that achievers take action.”

Class President Alexia Vincent thanked her classmates for putting their trust in her and for believing in her. “Do what brings you ultimate joy,” she told them, “…and most of all, don’t stop believing.”

Speaking at his final graduation as principal of NPHS and his first as superintendent, Joseph Goho said both his and the graduates’ next journey will include many challenges but, “what we have in common is that our time at NPHS has prepared us both well for what lies ahead.”

“Of course, you will take a few wrong turns along the way,” he said. “You should not fear those mistakes, because all of us learn wisdom and virtue from our failures as much as we do from our successes. During your journey, don’t stop believing in yourselves, and be comforted knowing that you will always have a home at North Providence High School.”

Goho said 89 percent of this year’s graduating class will be attending college in the fall, the highest percentage he’s seen in the last 20 years as principal. In addition, five students will serve in the military.

The Class of 2019 received nearly $1.6 million in public and private scholarships for the next four years, including more than $80,000 in NPHS scholarships.

Notably, 10 graduates earned perfect attendance this year (Daniela Acarapi, Sage Cherry, Katarina Gorder, Victoria Olivieri, Biagio Rizzo, George Saban and Soriah Suggs), and three of those (Sonia Lariviere, Stephen Marano, and Abigail Medeiros) earned perfect attendance all four years of high school.  

In athletics, more than 100 seniors participated in sports teams, earning more than 200 varsity letters, 75 all-division and all-state selections, three division titles and six state championships.

Michael Tan, the class valedictorian, earned a 4.36 grade-point average. Goho said Tan’s teachers described him as one of the most well-rounded individuals they’ve ever taught, a Renaissance man “beyond limits,” and the student who “throws off your bell curve” in the classroom.

Tan delivered a humorous speech that compared the high school experience to “a big, beautiful lasagna,” filled with layers that will be put together and baked at 400 degrees at graduation. Inspiration for the speech came as he cooked lasagna for dinner last week.

“While the tomato-y sauce was reducing for three hours, I thought this was the perfect time to write this graduation speech,” he said. “I hope it didn’t turn out too cheesy.”

On a serious note, Tan shared memories of his late grandfather, including their trips to LaSalle Bakery after school and moments spent cooking together in the kitchen. In losing his grandfather, Tan said he learned that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

“We need to take charge of the moments we have right now and unforgivingly be ourselves,” he said.

Tan, who will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said NPHS allowed him to do just that, growing from a shy freshman into his “true self.”

“I love you, Class of 2019,” he concluded. “Don’t stop believing in yourselves and stay saucy, my dudes.”

Salutatorian Tina Chen echoed Tan’s sentiments about her peers’ progression from 9th-graders who have “grown as individuals and flourished as a class,” transforming from clueless freshmen with noses glued to their schedules and maps to confident seniors with blooming personalities.

Despite the challenging road ahead, “Somehow, someway, you still believed in yourself and others believed in you,” she said. “As for our future: don’t stop believing.”

The Journey song began to play moments after the seniors moved their tassels across their caps and were declared high school graduates. Many of them rose from their seats and joined administrators on stage for a choreographed dance number, during which faculty, staff and parents in the crowd pulled out posters and revealed t-shirts that said “DON’T STOP BEL19VING!”

During the flash mob when outgoing Principal Goho and incoming Principal Christen Magill rose to join the seniors in dance, Goho handed her a torch to symbolically pass the baton and transition to a new school leader.

Tina Chen, salutatorian of the North Providence High School Class of 2019, delivers her address during the graduation ceremony.
Michael Tan, valedictorian of the North Providence High School Class of 2019, exclaims that he “Loves the class of 2019!” to close his address during the graduation ceremony, held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence last Thursday.
Senior members of the North Providence High School Concert Choir sing the national anthem at the graduation ceremony
Members of the North Providence High School Class of 2019, sing and dance to “Don’t Stop Believing” at the close to the graduation ceremony, held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, Thursday.