Perhaps Bob Deming, a popular Johnston High School custodian who maintains Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Stadium, said is best about last Saturday’s Homecoming.
“Everyone’s having a great time!” Deming exclaimed as he chatted with Johnston School Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. and co-worker Antony Fellela. “Just look at all the smiling and happy faces; this has to be Panther Pride at an all-time level.”
To which DiLullo, who walked the entire parade route added: “I’ve never seen so many people; there were spectators everywhere.”
The turnout is credited to the tireless works of JHS Science Department Chair Greg Russo who serves as advisor for the Homecoming Coordinating Student Council and SADD (Students Against Dangerous Decisions).
Russo, in fact, was among the many JHS alums who enjoyed many memorable moments and milestones during what people assessed was “one of the biggest and best Homecomings in recent memory.”
For example, it was Russo’s 46th anniversary of his 1976 graduation from JHS.
Likewise, it was also a marvelous milestone for Mayor Joseph Polisena, Class of 1972, who hosted a large delegation of Rhode Island’s top federal and state elected officials who accepted his invitation to witness Panther Pride and enjoyed marching the entire parade route.
U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Gov. Dan McKee who has been a parade participant in previous years, RI Attorney General Peter Neronha, state Sen. Frank Ciccone, Town Council members Linda Folcarelli, Lauren Garzone, Joseph Polisena Jr. and School Committee Vice Chairman Joe Rotella were among the marchers.
So was Town Council President Robert J. Russo, who made a special pre-parade visit to the football Panthers and wished them well.
Even Johnston’s youth football cheerleaders marched in the parade after a special greeting from School Committee member Dawn Alosio.
Meanwhile, Councilman Robert J. Civetti joined is fellow Lions Club members preparing the annual Alumni Breakfast that attracted a record crowd of over 300 alums, students and parents.
Last year’s Homecoming Queen Glorianna Crichlow — who is a student at Harvard University was the Class of 2022 Valedictorian — came home and rode along the parade route in a classic convertible.
Thus, Jacob Muller and Taylor Powell added their names to the JHS record book as they were announced as 2022 Homecoming King and Queen during halftime of the Panthers football game with the visiting Narragansett High’s Mariners.
Also, the JHS cheerleaders continued their prolific performances during the game and parade which was highlighted by an extraordinary show of talent from students in all four classes who raised money and constructed what people called “some of the most beautiful floats ever” and also used unique designs and slogans for their colorful and handmade creations.
“Johnston should be proud of what transpired here this morning,” was a common chant from parade-goers. “This was a great of a community coming together in many ways from the Police Guard to Fire Apparatus and a host of old-time cars.”
One in particular that stood out was four local businesses stepping forward to tow each of the floats.
The float towers and float themes were the following: Seniors, Anthony’s Auto Body, “Blow ‘em out of da’ water”; Juniors, Local 57, “Catch ‘em off guard”; Sophomores, Rambone Brothers, “Stomp & Chop ‘em”; and Freshman, Anthony’s Auto Body, “Wipe out the Mariners.”
Although Head Coach Joe Acciardo’s football Panthers came up short, the Blue and White maintained their spirited play and as someone suggested showed “great sportsmanship despite the loss.”
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