Lazy days enjoying time with friends and working part-time jobs before heading off to college are typical ways recent high school graduates are spending the summer.
But all summer long eight Warwick Veterans Memorial High School students, plus one Toll Gate student, had their noses in books for summer school. After recently completing their courses, each of them earned a diploma.
“Don’t stop here – don’t let this be the last piece of paper you get,” Principal Gerry Habershaw said during a brief ceremony held at the school yesterday morning. “Go on to an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, get a plumber’s license, get a hairdressing license – do something. Do what you want in life.”
While not all the graduates were at the event, four took part in the commencement. They were Dylan Grant, Kevin Hickey, Kyle Rigby and Toll Gate student Danielle Pietros. Additionally, earning diplomas were Alisha Cady, Adrien Ferrell, Geoffrey Fennell, Mitchell Pope and Nicole Sheldon.
Hickey is taking Habershaw’s advice, as he is ready to start classes at the Community College of Rhode Island. He’d like to study radiography.
Other than finishing his schoolwork, Hickey worked at Babies R Us this summer and was also able to squeeze in some fun by playing baseball with friends. Of his graduation, his mother Robin said with a laugh, “Thank God it finally happened.”
Rigby shared her sentiments.
“It’s about time,” he said when asked his emotions of earning his diploma.
Now, he plans to look for a job and eventually go to college, possibly to study auto mechanics. For now, he’s going to “relax” and enjoy what’s left of the summer.
His mother, Tara Hughes, was at the event and said she is “very proud” of him. Also, more than 20 of their loved ones were there to share in his big day.
The long list included his older brother, Ryan Rigby, 23, who said he always encouraged Kyle to stay in school, as he left school to pursue a full-time job in his younger years.
“I told him when he was younger, ‘You better go to high school and graduate because the worst decision I ever made was to leave school,’” Ryan said. “I’m extremely happy that he graduated.”
These days, however, Ryan coached wrestling at Vets last season and is looking into coaching football. He was pleased to attend the ceremony with his family, including his nine-month-old daughter, Skylar.
Their grandparents, Gary and Pat Leatherberry, said, "We’ll support him no matter what.”
Danielle Pietros isn’t planning on college at least not right away. Pregnant, she is scheduled to deliver a girl in October.
“Actually,” she said, “this has worked out for me.” She said that the late completion of his high school requirements “has made me appreciate school more.”
As for the future, she says she’s not sure what she’ll do but that college is a consideration.
“It’s been a long road,” said her father Peter Pietros. “I’m glad to see the choices [she has made] and the turnaround. I don’t think students should give up…they should stay on the track.”
As Grant and his family were leaving the ceremony, he and his family expressed their joy by throwing their hands up and cheering.
“We feel it’s important to recognize them,” Habershaw said of Warwick’s newest high school graduates. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into them getting their diplomas. They had to work hard, and the bottom line is they persevered.”