“I’m proud to say I’m a product of Johnston Public Schools,” said Mayor Joseph Polisena. “Forty six years ago I graduated with the Class of 1972. The education I received has served me well.”
Polisena, who has three college degrees and doubles as an Assistant Professor at the Community College of Rhode Island, added, “Therefore, it is my belief – and that of the Town Council – that no Johnston school student should be denied to further his or her education at the college level”
The mayor issued that statement while further explaining the unique $1,000 college scholarships he presented to 15 Johnston High School students during last Thursday evening’s extraordinary Honors Night.
In his ongoing economic development initiatives in Johnston, Polisena explained how “we have three solar companies that have located in our town. We can’t tax Southern Sky – that has two locations here – or Maylan Energy of Lakeville, Conn. because of federal regulations.”
However, as the mayor explained, “When we were almost finished negotiations those companies asked me if there was anything else. I said YES – I want $5,000 for college scholarships.”
So, those three green energy companies concurred and the result was a total of $15,000 in scholarship money Polisena presented during last Thursday’s JHS Honor Night.
But the money isn’t a one-time deal nor has the unique grant program been duplicated anywhere else in Rhode Island.
“We’re believed to be the only town or city in the state that has such a benefit for our school students,” Polisena said. “This will be a long-lasting program that will have $15,000 every year for 25 years and that totals $350,000 if my math is correct.”
Moreover, as Polisena wanted it known: “Neither I nor the Town Council members select what students received the scholarships. We leave that up to the school department personnel.”
The mayor also explained that “these grants are not named for me or council members; they are simply known as the Johnston Mayor and Town Council Scholarships. They’ll be around long after we’re out of office.”
Polisena anticipates the total of $15,000 per year could increase if other green energy companies want to relocate to Johnston.
“We’re talking with two other green energy companies and I will continue to push for more scholarship money,” said Polisena. “There should be no road block when it comes to our Johnston students going to college; these scholarships will have a lasting effect for their education.”
There’s yet another impressive side to the green energy project scholarship program that the mayor noted is entitled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“Each of the students selected for the scholarships must be enrolled in one of those areas,” Polisena said about the STEM program. “And, they must attend a college or university here in Rhode Island. We have some great schools here and there should be nothing blocking our students from going on to higher education.”
The winners of the historic and first-ever “Mayor” and “Johnston Town Council Scholarship and the respective schools they’ll attend, are Benjamin Budway, Valedictorian, Brown University; Grace Almonte, Aley Blakney, Molida Chan, Jacob Coke, Jaime Javier, Alyssa Johnston, Madison Plouffe and Allison Vessella, University of Rhode Island.
Also, Philip Jessop, Providence College; Elijah Burgess, Alexis Lima, Apryll Pazienza, Emily Watson and Ireanus Wilson, Rhode Island College.
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