June 17, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart
Saturday was graduation day at Cranston West, but for the approximately 200 students who completed a dual education by also attending the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center, Thursday was their night to shine.
Students who attend CACTC complete their academic courses at Cranston High School West, as well as a three-year certificate program in one of 13 different career and technical education programs. The programs range from pre-engineering and graphic communications to child development and culinary arts.
To celebrate the achievements of the CACTC grads, they have a separate Senior Certificate Ceremony, complete with caps and gowns.
“Each and every one of you has chosen a path for your future careers. You are setting many goals for yourselves already,” Fung said. “You will be helping yourselves and the City of Cranston for many generations to come. All of us up here and all of your family and friends beside you now will always be beside you, no matter what goals you set for your future.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Judith Lundsten told the students that being asked to speak at their ceremony was the highlight of her day. She asked the students to turn and thank their teachers for all the guidance and support over the past four years, as well as their parents.
“Tonight is all about you, but it’s also about your parents who have supported you for the past 12 years. Turn and thank them also,” she said.
Dr. Lundsten noted that she recognized many faces in the audience from her days in Cranston when she taught third grade, and when she was an elementary principal in the district as well.
Andrea Ianazzi delivered greetings on behalf of the Cranston School Committee, stating that she always enjoys the time she spends at the CACTC.
“Your enthusiasm for your trade is contagious and has served you well throughout your tenure here. You are being recognized this evening because of your hard work, determination and commitment to your field of study,” said Ianazzi. “However, because you have been blessed with these attributes, you have the responsibility to use these skills to help others. As Spider-Man creator Stan Lee said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Ianazzi cautioned the students that as they proceed into the future, they would not be judged on their GPAs, their choice of colleges, or their smarts. Rather, they will be judged on their character; the way they treat others, their work ethic and their passion.
According to the faculty and staff at CACTC, the class of 2010 has all of that and more.
“I’ve been here for 21 years, and every once in a while a special class comes along. The last one was in 1998. This is that kind of class, one that you’ll always remember,” said faculty member Louis Giglietti.
The evening continued with the presentation of special awards and scholarships to more than 15 students.
CACTC faculty and staff choose an Outstanding Student in each of the 13 career path programs. Those students must excel academically, but also in the attributes mentioned by Ianazzi: work ethic and strength of character.
“The teachers never had to ask the students to work harder, to keep working,” Coutu said. “They were already doing it.”
At the end of the awards ceremony, Coutu presented the Director’s Medal Award to the overall top student of the year, which she said was a difficult task.
Coutu explained that the students work on a point system, earning points for various facets of their academic and technical achievements. She and another administrator reviewed the student resumes, without looking at names.
The 2010 Director’s Medal award recipient was Gianna Velino. Velino also won several other awards that night, including the Outstanding Skills USA Award, the Graphic Communications Industry of Rhode Island Top Student Award, the CACTC Graphic Communications program’s Outstanding Student Award, and a four-year, full scholarship to Johnson & Wales University in North Carolina.
Velino was also named the 2010 Ideal Cranstonian at the Cranston High School West graduation ceremony on Saturday.