Perhaps the laurel wreath, which was printed on the front and back covers of the Representative Stephen Ucci sponsored program, was a direct example of the victories and honors members of the Class of 2018 received during last Thursday’s annual Johnston Senior High School Honors Night.
However, there was a special statement during the music and speech filled program which spoke volumes about just how strongly the town’s elected officials, small business leaders, corporate executives and friends of JHS feel about its youth continuing their educations.
That statement came in form 41 major scholarships that were awarded to six dozen plus JHS students and totaled an amazing amount of $60,000 and perhaps more.
From the new “Mayor-Johnston Town Council Scholarships” that were grants of $1,000 each awarded to 15 students by Mayor Joseph Polisena, to the Robert Smith Memorial Scholarships, to the Dr. Anthony DeLuise Scholarships, to Johnston Federation of Teachers Scholarships, the list seemed endless.
Included in all the grants were also the Johnston School Committee Scholarship and Town Councilman Robert V. Russo Law Office and Dr. and Mrs. Vito Russo Memorial Scholarships.
There were also other scholarships that added to the night’s impressive list of awards, memorial grants, in fact, that remembered former JHS coaches like the late Bob Smith (basketball) and Chef Welch (wrestling) as well as the late Parks and Recreation Director Daniel E. Mazzulla Memorial Scholarship.
From the time Ronald Lamoureux directed the JHS band during the recessional march until the Johnston Fire Department Color Guard presented the colors and the Panthers select choir under the leadership of Matt Gingras sang the national Anthem, the night was filled with the usual pomp and circumstance and well-deserving honors that seniors who have spent the last four years on Cherry Hill received.
A total of 57 members of the Class of 2018 received recognitions for their place in the Rhode Island Honor Society and others who last week were inducted into the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society.
The quartet of Abigail Agnew, Benjamin Budway, Philip Jessop and Leah Spirito received the prestigious Senior Academic Decathlon Team Awards while Budway, Jessop and Lauren Papa took home the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge for 2018.
Budway, who will enroll at Brown University in September and enjoys the ranking as the state’s best high school clarinetist, heads the Class of 2018 as Valedictorian. Matthew Eisemann, whose talents also extend into the music arena, is the Class Salutatorian.
Jessop, yet another talented member of the Music Department who took home the Senior Student Council President’s Awards and Dylan Lavoie, President of the JHS Class of 2018, also won the Principal’s Leaderships Awards.
“Tonight, our school community honors the young men and women who have worked diligently these past four years in the classroom and have risen to the top of our senior class,” Lavoie said. “We have not only excellent in the classroom but have aspired to be great in every aspect of our lives. None of our accomplishments have come easy. It took many hours of relentless hard work and perseverance for us to be seated before you tonight. I guarantee you that every sine one of us sacrificed something to get to this point.”
Lavoie, who like Budway, Eisemann, Jessop, National Honor Society President Alyssa Johnson and other seniors, were multiple scholarship winners, said, “It might have been choosing to stay home instead of going out or staying up late losing many hours of sleep. At many points along the journey, we were all faced with the same persistent question: Is all of this hard work worth it and is it truly going to pay off? I can way with absolute sincerity that every single second of it was worth it.”
The Senior Class president also said, “I believe that our class left an impressionable footprint on the school community as a whole. We are extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to fully express ourselves and be able to expand our minds and add to the community in a positive way. The motivational nature of the faculty and staff allowed us to bring out the best visions of ourselves.”
The night also included special remarks from School Supt. Dr. Bernard DiLullo, Principal Dennis Morrell who delivered the night’s Opening Remarks and a special salute to Debbie Licciardi, and the JHS Guidance Department Chairperson, who coordinated the entire program.
A total of 13 Departmental Awards, from Excellence in Art to Music and a variety of subjects as well as awards from mostly U.S. Military Awards and of course, many scholarships were long be remembered as earmarks of the 2018 JHS Honors Night.