NPHS’s top students Iacobucci, Williams headed to Ivy League

NPHS’s top students Iacobucci, Williams headed to Ivy League

Aidan Iacobucci, left, the NPHS Class of 2021 valedictorian, and Samantha Williams, salutatorian.

NORTH PROVIDENCE –The top two students at North Providence High School this year are headed to Ivy League universities.

Aidan Iacobucci, the NPHS Class of 2021 valedictorian, has committed to Princeton University after being accepted to four Ivys including Columbia, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania.

This year’s salutatorian is Samantha Williams, who is headed to Harvard University this fall.

With a 4.39 grade point average, Iacobucci said learning he’s graduating at the top of his class was “validation for all the hard work” put in over the course of his academic career.

“I was extremely surprised to learn I was valedictorian, because I was second for basically the entire year,” he said. “I was always poised for second.”

When he learned he’s valedictorian, Iacobucci said, “I literally burst into tears, it was so crazy. It was a really surreal experience.”

He always strived for the best, he said, setting high expectations for himself.

“My goal was always to be at the top of the class. I worked so, so, so hard for three years. It was such a stressful time,” he said.

Iacobucci said it was an uphill battle at times. In elementary school, he said, he felt like he was “in the back of the class in terms of cognition and development.”

“I had bad handwriting, I didn’t understand concepts, I needed different resources to get help in school,” he said. “From 1st to 3rd grade I was really kind of bad at school in general, and not hitting those early elementary milestones.”

His teachers, first in Cranston and later in North Providence (he moved to town as a 7th-grader), helped foster his sense of self-confidence and strong work ethic.

“I’m not a genius, I have to push myself,” he said. “I pulled some all-nighters at times. Part of being at the top of the class is indicative of more than good grades. There were a lot of sacrifices and mental depletion.”

Iacobucci said his parents, Krista Missry and Vincenzo Iacobucci have always been supportive, but never pushed him to perfection.

“If I got a 70 on a test, they’d say, at least we know you’re human. It’s OK as long as you tried your best,” he said.

“The internal pressure is so much more powerful than external pressure. I know a lot of kids who get good grades because they want to please their parents, but I’ve always been happy by virtue of them understanding a lot of my commitments, paying for Scouts, chauffeuring me around, paying for college apps ... I can’t thank them enough,” he said.

Of his teachers, he said all were flexible and kind, with a desire to help their students.

“I’ve never had a bad teacher in the North Providence school system,” he said.

In addition to earning top marks in the classroom, Iacobucci spends his time outside of school volunteering and participating in a variety of activities.

He joined drama as a sophomore, and snagged lead roles in productions his senior year. He’s editor-in-chief of the Cougar Courier, the school newspaper. He participates in the academic decathlon, where he earned Gold medals in the essay and speech categories.

Iacobucci is also an Eagle Scout and summer school tutor. He has helped educate others on how to be better leaders in the community and in Scouting through the Scouts’ National Youth Leadership Training program, and earned the Seal of Biliteracy this year.

“I always have to have something to do,” he said, adding that his greatest accomplishment of all has been getting into college. After being accepted into a number of schools including four Ivy League universities, he committed to Princeton.

His goal is to teach as a college professor. Knowing how hard he struggled in his early education and the importance of getting help to thrive in school, he said he’s been inspired to go into teaching.

Last summer, he helped create a math tutoring program at the Ricci Middle School library.

“Kids came in every Wednesday for help with their work. It started with a few, and then we had at least 20 kids coming every week. It became something really great,” he said.

His experiences with the National Youth Leadership Training program and tutoring helped Iacobucci realize his passion for teaching others.

“I love it so much,” he said. “I just want to make a difference.”

He plans to combine his love for teaching, humanities, history and comparative literature through his studies at Princeton.

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Reflecting on his educational journey so far, Iacobucci said he wouldn’t ask for another high school experience.

“I’m really proud of my class this year. We didn’t have the same recruitment opportunities because of the pandemic. Everything was online, making it difficult to fill-out our resumes when a lot of our plans for last summer were canceled,” he said.

“Despite that, application-wise this class is one of the best yet. We have students going to Brown, Harvard, MIT, Boston University and Boston College … all of these really great schools. I think this is by-far the most impressive class when it comes to college acceptance.”

Salutatorian Williams, who was interviewed by The Breeze about her Harvard acceptance two weeks ago, finished with a GPA of about 4.3.

Her hard work paid off, and Williams will be living the dream this fall, she said.

Williams, the daughter of Garry Williams Jr. and Jacqueline Garriepy, said she buckled down and set her eyes on the prize at NPHS, juggling academics, extracurriculars and volunteer work.

She has been on the mock trial team since freshman year and Rhode Island Model Legislature since sophomore year, helping to write a bill and participate in a mock congress session. By senior year, she was chair of the House Committee on Labor, Finance and Corporations, which gave her more opportunities to become involved.

She was also the recipient of the 2020 Secretary of State Gorbea’s Civic Award.

“Over the years I’ve been very civic-minded,” she said, feeling drawn to law and politics. “From the beginning of high school I thought I’d do something more medical … I wanted to help people.”

She’s leaning toward0 studying government, with a possible minor or secondary major in economics or the social sciences, with hopes of entering the law field. Ultimately, Williams hopes to stitch together her passions for law, government, legislation, and helping people.

Within two hours of being accepted, she committed to Harvard University’s Class of 2025.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” she said. “Having the privilege of knowing I was able to get in and that I could afford to go there … I wanted them to know I’m ready and fully committed.”