District 3 Town Councilman Joseph Polisena Jr. perhaps said it best Monday night when he told Nicholas A. Ferri Middle School eighth-graders that their awards night was to celebrate something earned, not given.
The students and their families packed the Johnston High School auditorium to receive numerous certificates and trophies honoring their successes in various subjects. Polisena, who spoke shortly before students who finished with Honors with Distinction, said the event celebrated those who “exemplified academic excellence.”
“[We’re celebrating] something earned through hours and hours of homework, studying, paying attention in class and good decision making,” Polisena said. “We’re also celebrating parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents that impact the students here today. The children here are molded by each and every one of you and the decisions you have made for them. No matter how hard some may be, they have helped shape the success that we’re here to celebrate tonight.”
School Committee Chairman Robert LaFazia and state Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D, Dist. 43, Johnston) also spoke prior to handing out certificates. LaFazia said that he and the entire School Committee were proud of the students for their “outstanding academic achievement.”
Fellela brought citations from the State House to present to the eighth-graders.
“I want to wish all of the honorees a congratulations and a great end of the year, and also congratulate their parents,” Fellela said. “It’s a great achievement to be presented with Honors with Distinction. Have a great summer and enjoy your summer.”
The following students finished the year with Honors with Distinction, meaning they achieved nothing but top marks: Allison Benoit, Gianna Brodeur, Melanie Capraro, Vincent Chan, Henock Constant, Emma Homenick, Nicholas Keller, Talia Laflamme, Antonia Marocco, Giulia Marrocco, Ariana Medeiros, Ayomide Josephine Olagundoye, Julia Parsons, Joshua Philbrick, Emily Pistocco, Steffi Rotella, Derek Salvatore, Michael Gary Salzillo, Makayla Scuncio, Dillon So and Catrina Zinni.
“Tonight showcases the hard work and dedication of each student recognized,” Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo said during his opening address. “It’s a testament to the success you have experienced and your diligence in achieving your goals. In addition to being engaged and supportive in your academic challenges, you have grown into individuals who are still social and have a sense of belonging and purpose.”
Awards were given to students for achievements in subjects such as foreign language and reading skills, while some were recognized for their accomplishments in clubs like the announcements team or Above the Influence.
The night closed with the presentation of a handful of awards that were given to at least two students from both Team 8 Blue and Team 8 White. Ayomide Josephine Olagundoye and Catrina Zinni of Team 8 White and Derek Salvatore and Michael Salzillo of Team 8 Blue took home the coveted Students of the Year honors.
Team 8 Blue’s Dylan Martins and Hailey Brown and Team 8 White’s Nicholas Baccala and Makayla Scuncio won the Scholar-Athlete Awards. The Roger Vermeesch Award went to Alexander Morin and Julia Parsons of Team 8 White and Charles Curci and Emily Klein of Team 8 Blue.
“Your unique qualities make you stand up as honored individuals,” DiLullo said. “In addition, family, home life and friendship play an important role in your success. That will continue to happen, even as you go on to high school. Continue to benefit from all of those great supporters. I’m very proud of you, and I thank your parents, teachers and administrators for their ongoing support in helping you achieve your very best.”
The show kept going when James Guilmette and Gianna Brodeur of Team 8 Blue and Kyle Iannuccillo and Miah Gray of Team 8 White won the Janice Mele Citizenship Award.
Jacob Muller and Jaylen Molina of Team 8 Blue and Joshua Raposo and Steffi Rotella of Team 8 White took home the Mary E. Chirico Award. The Brian Richard Award was conferred to Jackson Troxell and Valeria Gomez of Team 8 Blue and Joshua Galeas, Isabella D’Errico and Stephanie Bruno of Team 8 White.
Applause echoed throughout the auditorium for most of the evening, but Polisena reminded students that the road doesn’t end here, as high school awaits them.
“It won’t always be easy – success never is. There are times where you will fail at something, but if you take a step back, look at that failure, learn from your mistakes and put your best effort into the next challenge you face, I’m confident there won’t be anything that stands in your way,” Polisena said.
The following students were recognized during the evening: Jacob Abbruzzese, Anthony Abbruzzi, Ethan Alli, Emily Anderson, James Anderson, Alyssa Andrade, Miranda Andrews, Alexa Anzivino, Christopher Arnold, Nicholas Baccala, Allison Benoit, Morgan Bernier, Olivia Bonacossi, Jayden Breault, Gianna Brodeur, Mark Brouwer, Hailey Brown, Stephanie Bruno, Julia Burgos, Hannah Calabro, Gianmarco Calvo, Michael Camarena, Samuel Cambranes, Melanie Capraro, Kylie Caroselli, Dariana Carrascoza, Michael Cepeda, Vincent Chan, Neveah Cole, Kevin Coletta, Haley Connors, Henock Constant Jr., Evan Correia, Juliana Correia, Destinee Costa, Charlie Curci, Isabella D’Errico, Madison Dacosta, Armando DeCosta, Antonio DeFalco, Jake DeWetter, Samantha DiMaio, Sam Dominique, Kylah Dos Santos, Nalaniah Ead, Linda Echeverria, Wilson El Hage, Santino Estrada, Emily Feinstein, Giovanni Fernandez, Zachary Ferry, Nicholas Flanagan, John Ford, Lea Fratantuono, Joshua Galeas, Ashley Galeas, Aaliyah Gervais, Hannah Gervais, Valeria Gomez, Angela Gonzalez, Miah Gray, Fabian Guerrero, James Guilmette, Juan Gutierrez Deleon, Anthony Guzman, Priscilla Guzman, Nathan Haynie, Madison Heroux, Lauren Hill, Emma Homenick, Susana Huezo, Aliyah Hunt, Dante Iafrate, Kyle Iannuccillo, Jada Irons, Michelina Irons, Brooke Keller, Nicholas Keller, Devin Kent, Emily Klein, Fujyi Kue, Lucio La Terra Bellina, Madison Lachappelle, Talia Laflamme, Michael Laflamme, Aiden Lariviere, Noah Lavergne, Amari LeFebvre, Thadeus Leomensah, Karla Liriano, Genesis Luna-Olivo, Gabriella Manchester, Ava Marchesseault, Samantha Marcotte, Antonia Marocco, Guilia Marrocco, Dylan Martins, Maylin McAteer, Aidan McGarry, Ariana Medeiros, Isaac Medina, Ava Melo, Kelli-Lynn Miller, Jaylen Molina, Alexander Morin, Jacob Muller, Ryan Nichols, Stephen Notarianni, Elijah Odhiambo, Ayomide Josephine Olagundoye, Lilian Oliva Garcia, McKayla Osinger, Natalie Packer, Gregory Pahl, Julia Parsons, Jonah Pecchia, Preston Penn, Jianilda Perez-Figueroa, Natallia Periquito, Joshua Philbrick, Michael Picerno, Juliana Pires, Emily Pistocco, Xander Polofsky, Jenna Popolla, Kenneth Privitera, Miguel Quintanilla, Isabella Ragosta, Giselle Ramos, Joshua Raposo, Abigail Regan, Tyler Renaud, Jianna Reyes, Nicholas Rianna, Isabella Ribezzo, Anthony Rini, Dylan Robbins, Justin Rogala, Steffi Rotella, Leah Rubino, Phoenix Russell, Derek Salvatore, Michael Salzillo, Marielis Sanchez, Isabella Sauro, Caitlyn A. Savard, Makayla Scuncio, Shane Simeone, Owen Skovron, Gianna Smith, Dillon So, Ricsa Soth, Sheyla Soto, Marlon Soto, Matthew Sou, Paul Souza, Nicolas Souza, Parker Sylvia, Tyler Tomlin, Lahisa Torres, Gian Tortolani, Jackson Troxell, Cameron Vanstone, Lauren Vest, Nicolas Viau, Nicholas Villani, Kylie Viveiros, William Vizcaino, Dominic Whitten, Elijah Williams, Nathen Zalisk and Catrina Zinni.