EAST PROVIDENCE — One would be hard-pressed after encountering the top three students in the East Providence High School graduating Class of 2014 to depart without anything but a truly positive sense of the excellence the city and its school system can produce.
Ebullient, effervescent, energetic are just a few words that come to mind when describing valedictorian Audrey Duarte, salutatorian Madeleine Carroll and avedictorian Errol Danehy.
The trio, who have earned all the expected academic accolades (National Honor Society, etc.) interacted with an ease, the timing and cadence of a well-oiled comedy act, which may be explained by their participation in the EPHS Theatre program during their four years as the school.
“They’re three of the funniest, most grounded and well-adjusted kids I’ve ever been around here,” said EPHS Assistant Principal Shani Wallace.
Theatre is also the over-arching discipline two of the three plan to pursue in the fall: Miss Duarte at Elmira (New York) College in Theatre and Mathematics, Mr. Danehy in Modern Culture and Media at Brown. Miss Carroll is also headed to New York to attend Bard College, planning to double-major in Spanish and Human Rights.
Miss Duarte, who leaves EPHS with a 98.2 grade-point average, quipped the reason for her earning the highest academic honor in the Class of 2014 was her penchant for eating “lots of chocolate.” On a slightly more serious note, each agreed a finish in the top three was never a gut-wrenching goal. It’s just the culmination of their normal, every-day lives as high school students.
Miss Carroll, with her 95.6 GPA and who like Miss Duarte attended Riverside Middle School, noted the pair were also two of the better students there. “Audrey’s beat me ever since we were in sixth grade,” she said in wry exasperation.
“People tell me I’m smart, so I guess I am,” Miss Duarte interjected, with more than a bit of self-deprecation. “My brother, Alex, (now studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rhode Island) was first in his class three years ago (2011). When he came home after his junior year and said he was first, I said, ‘How am I going to beat that?'”
The 2014 top three each said academics were an important part of their family life, but never stressed to the point of becoming obsessive.
“When I was in elementary school I would do my homework right away. My parents never told me. It was kind of just expected,” Miss Duarte said.
“My parents never asked me if my homework was done. They just expected it,” added Miss Carroll, a native of Maine who began attending school here in third grade.
Said Mr. Danehy, who attended Martin and has a 94.8 GPA at the high school, “It’s like Audrey and Madeleine said, I just did my homework. When I came here, I didn’t think about being first or second. I figured I just shoot for the top-10 percent, and go for that. I tried to do my best and hoped I do well. It kind of just happened. There were never any expectations or pressure put on me by my parents. It was just about trying to do well.”
Each said they did well in choosing to attend East Providence High School, none having any second thoughts or regrets about staying in public school.
“My parents really wanted to move back to Maine at one point, but I talked to kids I knew up there about going to school and never for a second did I wish I went to another high school,” Miss Carroll said.
Said Mr. Danehy, “I actually got into Wheeler for my freshman year, but didn’t go because of the money. As I look back at it now, if I had to make the choice again, 100 percent I would go to East Providence. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”
“The main thing for me is the people here, the teachers and the students. You can find good people at other high schools, but they are great here,” Miss Duarte added.
All three will address their fellow classmates and their families during the EPHS commencement ceremony Friday evening, June 13, at Pierce Memorial Stadium. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.
As is custom, each will speak in ascending order about their past, present and future experiences.
“I’m just going to bring up a couple of memories that come to mind, the funnier things,” Mr. Danehy said.
Miss Carroll, using the words of Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges written when he was 85, said she plans on imparting some of his “pieces of advice that could work well for us today.”
And Miss Duarte, speaking of the road ahead, said she plans on making sure her fellow graduates “dream big… We should remember all the great things we’ve done, but we should also look forward to all the great things we can do.”