East Providence’s Bay View holds 2014 commencement

East Providence’s Bay View holds 2014 commencement

Photos by Lori DesVergnes: Members of the Bay View Class of 2014 perform the traditional "caps in the air" toss on graduation day.

PROVIDENCE — On the evening of Monday, June 9, the 115 members of Bay View Academy’s Class of 2014 donned white robes, gloves and caps and received their diplomas at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.

They were asked to turn their tassels and join the rank of distinguished Bay View alumnae by fellow alumna, Kirsten Brown Harvey (East Providence, RI), who was a member of the first class to graduate from Bay View at the Cathedral in Providence, 30 years ago. It’s a tradition that the Academy has honored and enjoyed ever since.

East Providence resident Corinne Harvey graduates in the Bay View Class of 2014.
East Providence resident Corinne Harvey graduates in the Bay View Class of 2014.

Emily Sulanowski, of Cranston, Valedictorian of the class of 2014, addressed the crowd of students, families, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Trustees, with a moving speech about what it means to “be Bay View,” a reference to the Academy’s often used phrase, “I am Bay View.”

She told her classmates what “I am Bay View” means to her: “Being Bay View is holding yourself and those around you to higher standards of achievement and character…We don’t just win championships and deliver breathtaking monologues; we also fill the bleachers and give the standing ovations…Being Bay View is also about being courageous. It is about recognizing that every risk is a chance to soar, and that every challenge is an opportunity to prove that we are stronger than anyone thought we could be.”

Emily also spoke of the abundance of advice that she and her fellow graduates have been and will continue to receive. To that abundant amount, Emily added her own sage advice: listen to all of it, but don’t necessarily follow it.
She said, “When it comes down to it, advice is no substitute for your own conscience, your own confidence, and your own convictions. And as Bay View women, we have an abundance of all three–enough to live memorable lives, achieve our dreams and change the world.”

Emily is a National Merit Scholar and has received numerous other academic awards including the Harvard University Book Award and the Rensselaer Medal of Honor for excellence in math and science. From Bay View she won the Creative Achievement Award, the Excellence in Humanities Award and the Sister Mary Donald Egan Award for excellence in the study of language and literature. She is a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, Excalibur Science Honor Society, and the National Honor Society. Outside of Bay View, Emily has been a competitive gymnast since 2006 for Gymnastics Rhode Island and is a trained classical pianist. As a well-rounded student both in and out of the classroom, Emily has been a member of the Bay View Math Team since her freshman year and has also been recognized for her artistic talents in writing, music and visual arts. In the fall, Emily will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study architecture.

The top three students in the Bay View Class of 2014 included Shannon Coffey, Emily Sulanowski and city resident Alexandra Scala.

Bay View President Vittoria Pacifico-DeBenedictis followed Emily in addressing the crowd. Her impactful speech opened with a reference to the recent Time magazine article (April 2014) that challenged the perception that boys are better students in math and science than girls, while girls are better in language and reading. The article references a study published in the American Psychological Association journal, Psychological Bulletin. Professors at the University of New Brunswick in Canada compiled data from over 308 different studies, including more than one million boys and girls, to conclude that not only is the perception of male superiority in math and science wrong, in fact girls have been outscoring boys in all subjects and have as far back as the earliest study reviewed from 1914.

President DeBenedictis, who was all-girls educated from grade school through graduate school, asked the crowd to consider the implications for Bay View students. “If girls outscore boys in all subjects and have for 100 years,” she said, “just think how well girls do when they are single-gender educated and encouraged to pursue the very fields that stereotypes have long led us to believe are just for the boys.”

She encouraged the graduates to carry with them one of the core values of the Sisters of Mercy–concern for women and women’s issues. “Take that concern not just into your communities, but also into the workplace,” she said, speaking of the importance of women helping other women to get ahead through mentorship.

Referring to the wage gap that exists between men and women of equal education and backgrounds, President DeBenedictis advised the graduates: “We women need to stick together as sisters to move the world forward, so that women and men may walk side by side as equals — neither in front, nor behind. The success of women in the past has paved the road for you today. Let your success pave the road for the next generation.”

With the Bay View Chamber Choir’s triumphant singing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, the Class of 2014 became alumnae of Bay View Academy. In the fall they will head off to colleges and universities both near and far, such as Brown University, the United States Naval Academy, Bryant University, Boston College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Providence College, The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Purdue University, Salve Regina, the University of Virginia, Colgate University, University of California at Los Angeles and much more.

In addition to the celebration at the Cathedral, Bay View honored the Class of 2014 at the Senior Awards night on June 5 at the West Valley Inn. The following are a few of the top academic and character-based honors bestowed on graduating seniors of Bay View Academy.

Shannon Coffey, of Warwick, was named Salutatorian for the class of 2014 and was given the Secretary of State Award. She was the University of Rhode Island Book Award recipient last spring and is a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, and the National Honor Society. A leader in the classroom, community, and on the court, Shannon was captain of the Varsity Volleyball team this past fall. In addition, Shannon has been a contributing member on both the Indoor Track team and the Lacrosse team. She has also represented Bay View as a class delegate and as a student ambassador for the past four years.

Shannon has dedicated much of her time to service, both at Bay View and her church. She participated in the Homeless Sleep Out for the past two years and recently traveled to the Dominican Republic during February vacation to participate in service learning. At her church, St. Gregory the Great, Shannon has been a counselor at the Bible Camp for the past five years. In the fall, Shannon will attend Fordham University. 

Alexandra Scala, of East Providence, is the third ranked member of the Class of 2014. Alexa is a three sport athlete, competing in Field Hockey, Ice Hockey and Lacrosse. As a student-athlete, Alexa has received numerous accolades including Bay View Athletic’s Outstanding Athlete award for the past three years and various All-State and All-Division recognition in both Field Hockey and Ice Hockey. She has also served on Bay View’s Athletic Leadership Council. Alexa is a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, the Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, Excalibur Science Honor Society, and the National Honor Society. She was the recipient of the Holy Cross Book Award last spring and will attend Brown University in the fall.

This year, all three of the top students, Emily, Shannon and Alexa, were part of the group of eleven young women who were presented with the Mercy Honor Award. This award is given annually to young women whose attitude and behavior reverence the dignity of persons, who create a spirit of hospitality and who pursue integrity of word and deed. 

The culminating honor bestowed by Bay View Academy is the Catherine McAuley Woman of the Year Award. The recipient is a young woman of singular character and impeccable integrity who leaves an indelible imprint on the fabric of the Bay View community. She possesses a firm commitment to her academic pursuits, as well as a deep, intellectual curiosity. She reflects the unselfish values of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, by improving the quality of life of those with whom she comes in contact. She epitomizes the qualities for which Bay View stands: knowledge, character, compassion and a determination to make the world around her a better place. The recipient of the Catherine McAuley Woman of the Year Award 2014 is Stephanie Labib. Stephanie is from Swansea and will be attending the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth in the fall.

The following 115 students are the members of Bay View Academy’s Class of 2014 listed by town and state of residence:


Carlee Sincavage, Foxboro, Mass., Bridget Clemmey, Mansfield, Mass., Andrea Haddad, Rehoboth, Mass., Shelley Hobson, Rehoboth, Mass., Nicola Kutz, Rehoboth, Mass., Paige Monk, Rehoboth, Mass., Patricia Gauthier, Seekonk, Mass., Wendy Paluch, Seekonk, Mass., Stephanie Labib, Swansea, Mass., Laura Poulton, Westport, Mass.

Rhode Island

Sally Holtz, Barrington, Yeonkyung (Anna) Kim, Barrington, Julia Wessen, Barrington, Madison DaCosta, Bristol, Emily Geoffroy, Bristol, Xinyan (Stephanie) Li, Bristol, Devan Miller, Bristol, Jacqueline Parente, Bristol, Alia Trefrey, Bristol, Autumn Houghton, Clayville, Kristine McCann, Coventry, Cortney Morris, Coventry, Raquel Pederzani, Coventry, Rachel Simoneau, Coventry, Brianna Almonte, Cranston, Catherine Benetti, Cranston, Isabella Cece, Cranston, Gabriela DiNobile, Cranston, Allissondra Dutra, Cranston, Jillian Flaherty, Cranston, Stephanie Jackvony, Cranston, Alexis Machado, Cranston, Stephanie Mattiello, Cranston, Emily Nunez, Cranston, Caitlin Ponko, Cranston, Stephanie Ricci, Cranston, Alison Sherman, Cranston, Ariana Sinapi, Cranston, Emily Sulanowski, Cranston, Sara Therrien, Cranston, Shannon Vallande, Cranston
Molly Burke, East Greenwich, Amelia Lusi, East Greenwich, Alison Maruszczak, East Greenwich, Lexi Santurri, East Greenwich
Stephanie Brown, East Providence, Olivia Faria, East Providence, Rachelle Faria, East Providence, Victoria Furtado, East Providence, Danielle Grace, East Providence, Corinne Harvey, East Providence, Samantha Healy, East Providence, Alexandra Krause, East Providence, Tatianna Medina, East Providence,  Julia Sampaio, East Providence, Alexandra Scala, East Providence, Abigail Smith, East Providence, Meaghan Whittum, East Providence, Xinyi (Serena) Wu, East Providence
Virginia Liberto, Exeter, Samantha Kilduff, Greenville, Talia Giarrusso, Hope, Gabriella Maggiacomo, Hope, Joanna Carlino, Johnston, Olivia O’Connor, Johnston, Bianca Saliba, Johnston, Sydney San Antonio, Johnston, Gabriella Federici, Lincoln, Michaela McGuirl, Lincoln, Rebecca Ortiz, Lincoln, Audrey Robinson, Lincoln, Abigail MacKenzie, Middletown, Katherine McCann, Narragansett, Erin Dolan, North Kingstown, Alexandra Indeglia, North Kingstown, Christiana Layman, North Kingstown, Hillary Pinto, North Kingstown, Marianna Bailey, North Providence, Meghan Cross, North Providence, Lisa Landolfi, North Providence, Johnna Lourenco, North Providence, Cristina Marsocci, North Scituate, Kara Mitola, North Scituate, Britney Evangelista, North Smithfield, Moriah Garzone, North Smithfield
Azzurra Catucci, Pawtucket, Ariana Coyle, Pawtucket, Elyse Dunbar, Pawtucket, Kendall Magill, Pawtucket, Anna Tanalski, Pawtucket, Gabriela Vaillancourt, Portsmouth, Lin (Luna) Guo, Providence, Elliannah Jimenez, Providence, Anne Schreck, Providence, Katherine Schreck, Providence, Margaret Schreck, Providence, Lili Lan Visgilio, Providence, Dingying (Dolly) Zhao, Providence, Gabrielle Smith, Smithfield, Sarah Garrity, Tiverton, Elizabeth Paradis, Tiverton, Cori Sullivan, Tiverton, Ashlee Zeller, Tiverton, Emma Alfred, Warren, Phoebe Belmore, Warwick, Madison Caffrey, Warwick, Catherine Caldwell, Warwick, Shannon Coffey, Warwick, Taylor Coffey, Warwick, Danielle Hattoy, Warwick, Hannah Shea, Warwick, Michelle Taraian, Warwick, Alexandra Weimar, Warwick, Lauren Della Grotta, West Greenwich, Gabriella Venditti, West Warwick,