Roughly 1,000 people showed up to Pilgrim High School’s 52nd commencement ceremony on June 12, celebrating the more than 200 graduates in the class of 2014.
“Class of 2014, go dream big, live your lives, dream your dreams and always remember that this city is incredibly proud of each and every one of you,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian.
Pilgrim’s graduation ceremony started at 6 p.m. at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Vincent A. Cullen field house, which is located at the Knight Campus. Warwick City Council members Joseph J. Solomon and Camille Vella-Wilkinson were present for the ceremony. It was Pilgrim’s smallest graduating class ever, with about 210 seniors receiving diplomas. The boys wore black and the girls wore white. The national anthem was performed by band director Christopher Pratt and the Pilgrim High School Concert Band.
Avedisian, a 1983 Pilgrim graduate, emphasized his connections to the school and this year’s class. He pointed out that physical education teacher Robert Soscia was one of his teachers growing up and that graduating student Caitlin Ann Blanchard’s parents were his classmates at Pilgrim.
“This class has energy, and a collective spirit, and enthusiasm that is so wonderful,” the mayor said. “I’ve watched them take care of one another. I’ve watched you volunteer at social services agencies. I’ve watched as you have worked really hard to improve the lives of one another and of our community.”
Principal Marie Cote spoke of what has been expected of the graduates, saying, “For 12 years your teachers and your parents have asked you to study hard to ultimately succeed and be seated here tonight.”
Now, she said, the class will face new challenges. She urged the graduates to embrace what lies ahead, difficult though it may be at times.
“I hope you fail. It’s not because I don’t wish the best for you, because I do,’” she said. “But nothing great is ever achieved without hard work, disappointment and persistence.”
School Committee member Karen Bachus told the students to always stay humble and to work every day to be the best that they can be.
“My wish for you is that you do get up every morning, and even when you’re sad you make a decision that you’re going to work today as best you can, as happy as you can, and that you will never stop climbing and working to be better,” Bachus said. “I guarantee you at the end you will find that you live a happy life.”
Superintendent Dr. Richard D’Agostino noted that this year’s class includes four sets of twins.
“I don’t know what was in the water that year, but thanks for the results,” he said.
Jazeon Johnson, the class salutatorian, offered her peers a piece of advice.
“You control your future, so make the most of it,” Johnson said.
Johnson would like to be a fashion designer one day and develop her own line of clothing. She recently designed a prom dress.
Valedictorian Megan Wilks wrote a poem that she read to the students. It included references from songs that motivated her throughout her four years, including Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Pink Floyd’s “Time” and Sublime’s “What I Got.”
“This is an achievement, and hopefully there are many more to come,” she said.
Wilks also took time out of her speech to wish a happy birthday to her mother. She will attend the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy in the fall.
The presentation of the diplomas was done by Cote and Assistant Principals Pamela Bernadi and Bruce Fairbanks.
The class gifts were presented by Victoria Curley, class of 2014 president, and Alexa Annotti, class of 2015 president.