October 22, 2014
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Top 10 students in Cranston West Class of 2014
Alexandra Michelle Smith

1. Alexandra Michelle Smith

Class of 2014 valedictorian Alexandra Michelle Smith, 18, will attend Yale University in the fall, with plans to study biochemistry and go on to medical school.

During her time at West, Smith was involved in a range of extracurricular activities, including the Math Team, Academic Decathlon, peer tutoring, Bible Study Group, Hunger Awareness Club and the National Honor Society. She also served as a volunteer at the Oaklawn Library and Immaculate Conception Church.

In addition to ranking first in her class, Smith has received several special honors and recognitions, including a Rensselaer Medal, the Air Force Mathematics and Science Award, first place in Sen. Jack Reed’s High School Art Competition, Departmental Awards of Excellence in Mathematics, English and Science and several Scholastics Art and Writing Awards, including multiple gold and silver keys.

“I will remember most all the teachers that have touched my life and allowed me to learn about the world and myself,” Smith said.

Smith thanked her family, including her little sister Lauren, cousins and extended family, as well as her friends and boyfriend Seamus.

“I just love to learn,” she said. “I have been blessed … I am self-motivated, and hope that my efforts may make this world a better place and bring glory to the Lord.”

2. Alina Joharjian

Class of 2014 salutatorian Alina Joharjian, 18, will attend Brown University in the fall. She has yet to decide on a field of study.

While at West, Joharjian was involved in many extracurricular activities. She served as the principal viola in the Cranston West Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, was a member of the R.I. All State Orchestra and R.I. Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra, belonged to the Math Team and Science Olympiad, worked as a volunteer at the Cranston Public Library and Camp Counselor at Moses Brown Rise Camp, and served as president of the National Honor Society.

In addition to ranking second in her class, Joharjian has received numerous honors and recognitions. She has received the Claiborne Pell Essay Contest Award, the Brown Book Award, the Excellence in Instrumental Music Award and the Excellence in Science Award, and earned membership in the National, Rhode Island and Spanish Honor Societies.

Joharjian thanked her parents for their support and motivation, along with her friends and teachers.

“I will remember the close-knit community that I formed with my classmates,” said Joharjian. “I attribute much of my success to my teachers. They have challenged me and made me question the world around me. My teachers, such as Mrs. Luther-Morris, Ms. Del Fiore, Mr. Krous and Mrs. Lannon have been an integral part of my success.”

3. Shilah Faith McGuinness

Shilah Faith McGuinness, 18, will attend the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in the fall. She is currently undeclared, but hopes to study a subject related to mathematics or science.

At West, McGuinness was a member of the theater and its board, Hunger Awareness, the Math Team, the Athena Science Team and the National Honor Society, for which she served as president during her senior year.

Aside from ranking third in her class, McGuinness has received several special honors and recognitions. She received the 2013 Rhode Island All State Drama Award for her performance as Hattie in “The Women of Lockerbie,” and took home the 2014 Rhode Island All State Drama Award for her performance as Pegeen in “The Orphan Train.”

McGuinness said her experience in the theater led to many friendships and unique experiences, and she thanked director and teacher Nancy Vitulli for her support.

“Cranston High School West has offered me many excellent opportunities to excel academically and creatively, leaving me with everlasting memories of my four years here,” said McGuinness. “Out of all of my memories, I will look happily upon those related to theater the most.”

McGuinness also thanked her guidance counselor, Ms. Golini, and her geometry and calculus teacher Mrs. Lannon, who served as coach of the Math Team.

“My family have been the biggest supporters for my academic career at Cranston West and for life in general,” she said. “I would not be who I am today without the love and encouragement I have received from both of my parents.”

4. Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro, 18, will be a member of Providence College’s Liberal Arts Honors Program in the fall. He has yet to declare a field of study, but may study business.

In addition to ranking fourth in his class, Zarcaro served as freshman mentor and captain of the cross country team, was a member of the Math Team and was active at Immaculate Conception Church.

Zarcaro has received numerous honors and recognitions, including being named Academic All-State in cross country, earning membership in the National and Foreign Language Honor Societies and receiving the Women in Science and Engineering Award and the Dunkin’ Donuts Scholarship.

“I will always remember all the friendships that I have made over the last four years at Cranston West,” Zarcaro said. “They always made the stressful aspects of the school year that much easier to handle.”

Zarcaro said his family “has driven me to succeed from a young age,” and he thanked Mrs. Lannon and Mrs. Meyer for their support.

5. Michele Colangelo

Michele Colangelo, 18, plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.

Colangelo was active in several extracurricular activities, including theater, Mock Trial, the Athena Science Team, Class Council and the freshmen mentor program.

In addition to ranking fifth in his class, Colangelo has received several honors and recognitions, including membership in the Rhode Island, National and World Language Honor Societies, the Excellence in American Government Award and the Cranston’s Best and Brightest Award.

“I will remember my experience in CHSW theater the most,” said Colangelo. “I love this program, and it truly changed my high school experience. It was through this program that I met the people who had the greatest impact on me in high school.”

Colangelo said her family “has always contributed most to my success,” and that from a young age she had been driven to excel.

6. Alexander Cherry

Alexander Cherry, 18, plans to study computer science this fall at Northeastern University in Boston.

At West, Cherry was involved in many extracurricular activities, including the Math Team, Science Olympiad and theater as a stage manager and technical crew member.

Aside from ranking sixth in his class, Cherry has received numerous honors and recognitions, including membership in the National and Italian Honor Societies, Social Studies Student of the Year, the Harvard Book Award, the Economics Excellence Award and the Anthropology Excellence Award.

“Above everything else, I will remember the theater program and the people on the crew who helped me become the person I always wanted to be with their unwavering friendship,” Cherry said.

Cherry also thanked his friends and his teachers Mr. D’Amico and Mr. Martineau.

“The only person who could properly motivate me in academics was myself,” he said. “I did everything for myself and my family.”

7. Rena Levin

Rena Levin, 17, will attend New York University in the fall to study communications.

Seventh in her class, Levin was active in indoor track and field, Class Council, Math Team, the Athena Science Team, peer tutoring and the freshman mentoring program. She also served as secretary of the National Honor Society.

“High school is truly where I found myself, and that is my fondest memory,” Levin said. “I will leave Cranston West with a close group of friends, an excellent education and most importantly a strong voice that was not evident in my shy, reserved freshman personality.”

Levin specifically thanked Mrs. Lannon for her guidance and support.

“It’s always nice to have a teacher that has watched you grow full circle. My geometry teacher as a freshman also happened to be my calculus teacher as a senior,” Levin said. “Mrs. Lannon has taught me how important learning is, even if the subject is not your area of expertise. She is truly a mentor to me.”

Levin said she found motivation to excel within herself.

“I knew that the only way to end up in the greatest city in the world for college was to keep pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible and beyond others’ expectations,” she said.

8. Kathryn Toyota

Kathryn Toyota, 18, plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall with a double major in mathematics and finance and a minor in Spanish.

At Cranston West, she served as co-president of the community service club FCCLA, was active in peer tutoring and belonged to the Math Team, Athena and the Hunger Awareness Club.

In addition to ranking eighth in her class, Toyota’s special honors and recognitions include the Sociology Award, membership in the National, Rhode Island and Spanish Honor Societies, Cranston’s “Best and Brightest” Award and membership in the Rhode Island Scholars.

Having transferred to West from a school in Massachusetts, Toyota said “I will remember the transition from feeling isolated on my first day of sophomore year to feeling like a part of the Cranston West community by graduation.”

Toyota thanked her mother and father for their support, and her friends for making her high school experience enjoyable.

Asked what motivated her to excel, Toyota said: “My own personal ambition to improve upon what I had already achieved.”

9. Annette Deion

Annette Deion, 18, plans to attend Rhode Island College in the fall to study elementary education.

Ninth in her class, Deion was a member of the Art Club and the girls’ tennis team. She has received many honors and recognitions, including high honors, the Psychology Award, the Frank A. Bruzzi Sr. Art Award, the Congressional Art Award, the Wellesley College Book Award for Excellence in English, the Spanish Award, Cranston’s Best and Brightest Award, two silver keys in the Scholastic National Art Competition and membership in the National Honor Society and National Society of High School Scholars.

“From my high school years, I will remember most the countless hours spent in hard work and dedication, the impact of my teachers and the love and support from good friendships,” Deion said. “The people who have contributed most to my success and enjoyment of high school are my close friends who have stood by and supported me, and my mom who has loved and encouraged me and continues to be my biggest fan.”

10. David Rainone

David Rainone, 17, will be attending the University of Rhode Island in the fall, and plans to study chemical engineering with a minor in German. He hopes to study in Germany in 2017 through the university’s International Engineering Program.

At Cranston West, Rainone has been involved with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, the school band, chorus and jazz band, and the math team.

In addition to ranking 10th in this year’s class, Rainone has received a number of special honors and recognitions. Those include acceptance in the RIMEA All State Band and Orchestra during all four years and achieving a superior ranking at the RIMEA Solo-Ensemble Festival; receiving the Colin D. Hawes Music Department Award and the American Mathematical Society Book Award; being a Math Team high scorer in junior and senior year; and becoming a member of the Rhode Island and National Honor Societies.

“I will remember the relationships and bonds I have created with teachers and close friends,” said Rainone. “All the laughs and memories that have been made through all of the activities I participated in during high school will last forever.”

Rainone cited the contributions of his family, friends, teachers and mentors throughout high school. He specifically thanked private music teachers Raffi Rachdouni and Joe Esposito and West teachers Mrs. Lannon, Mrs. Feole, Mr. Montanaro, Mr. Lachance and Mr. Pannone, among others, who “inspired me to put in maximum effort and have driven me to reach capabilities I had no idea could be reached.”

Rainone said music has shaped his approach to life.

“As life continues, more is expected. In the composition of life, different challenges symbolize difficult musical passages,” he said. “The only way to persevere is to do what I have always done: work through it. My thoughts and actions will lead me to enjoy the symphony of life to the fullest.”


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