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Mt. Hope graduates 222 in virtual commencement

Kickemuit Middle School parking lot hosted Friday night event

By Ted Hayes
Posted 6/15/20

It wasn’t what anyone could have expected months ago, but Mt. Hope High School’s 222 graduating seniors got a rousing  - and, given the recent months, appropriate - send-off Friday …

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Mt. Hope graduates 222 in virtual commencement

Kickemuit Middle School parking lot hosted Friday night event


It wasn’t what anyone could have expected months ago, but Mt. Hope High School’s 222 graduating seniors got a rousing  - and, given the recent months, appropriate - send-off Friday night, when graduation ceremonies were held at the Kickemuit Middle School.

School officials turned the school’s large parking lot into a temporary drive-in, inviting seniors and their families to drive in, park and sit back as a complete graduation ceremony was projected onto a giant screen along Asylum Road.

The two-hour ceremony, a sharp, well-produced affair, covered all the bases, including rousing speeches by students and staff, photos and jokes and music, and concluded with footage of every student receiving his or her diploma. All parts had been recorded well in advance.

“The one thing we all learned” during our high school careers is “you can’t plan in advance, because you never know what life will bring,” class president Sloan Simpson said in his recorded speech.

“If there is any case where we have learned this, it’s our senior year, the year famously known as the best of our lives. So many of us spent so many moments thinking about what’s next, when in reality this is what none of us expected. But there are so many things we can take away from this and be thankful for.”

For salutatorian Nathan Silveira, that included the special bond the last few months have created among his classmates. Though they missed out on the prom, sports, last semester parties and nearly everything else they’d looked forward to, “I’m forever thankful for having each other to get through it all,” he said.

Valedictorian Ella Hanley echoed his comments, saying at the start of her speech that while she didn’t want to talk about the coronavirus, she is thankful for the calamities in her life that have helped her grow.

Ella, who in the summer teaches youngsters how to sail in Bristol, spent much of her speech talking about a particularly harrowing day on the water two years ago, when she and three young students succeeded in colliding with one of the Mt. Hope Bridge piers on a training run. Talking in detail about the collision and the resulting impact it made on her life, she said it taught her that things that seem like disasters often take on a different perspective with time.

“You need to give yourself a little time to freak out,” she said. In time, “I started to see the positive in the situation, and eventually the humor.”

“It’s so important to push through these calamities,” she said. “I learned that I could handle these situations. (So) come back and work harder every day. No matter what the calamity is, never lose your determination to get better. Life is full of these little calamities; how you handle these will define how you live.”

In her remarks, Mt. Hope Principal Deb DiBiase took a similar tack, talking about accidents, mistakes and curveballs, and why they should be embraced:

“On your journey you’re going to have ups and downs. Life is unpredictable, so plan to fail. You may fall or even get knocked down, but that is when you reach out. Learn from it. Laugh about it.”

One of her favorite words is “serendipity,” she said, and it’s a good thing to keep in mind as members of the Class of 2020 go out into the world. Some of the greatest inventions scame from mistakes or failures - the Slinky, microwave ovens, ice cream cones, chocolate chips, potato chips among them, she said.

“In each case, something didn’t go as planned, but something good came out of it.”

“You are champions,” she told the graduates. “You are my heroes, so remember when things don’t go as planned, remember who you are, and that I believe in you.”

Mt. Hope High School 2020 Graduates

# National Honor Society

* Rhode Island Honor Society


Thomas Abendroth*

Rachel Achilli

Skyla Aguiar

Mallory Alves

Morgan Alves*

Nuno Amaral

Morgan Arruda

Jason Bailey

Carolina Barboza*

Lily Barker*

Philip Barresi Jr

Joshua Bartoszuk

Sophia Becraft

Johnathon Bernard

Alexandra Beskid

Nicole Black*#

Sofia Bonvegna

Jordan Borge

Luke Borges

Alexander Botelho

Stephanie Botelho

Hannah Boyd

Sofia Brum*#

Brandon Bryant

David Buonfiglio

Collin Cabral

Kaya Caetano

Nicholas Calenda

DeAnte Calhoun

Zoe Cambra

London Camelo*#

Lillian Carleu

Olivia Carleu*#

Justin Carmo

Scott Castigliego

Jack Charpentier*

Abigail Charves

Alexander Cole

Mitchell Conte

Madison Cornell*

Trey Coroa

Cierra Costa

Michael Costa

Tatum Costa

Xavier Costa

Kahleal Cruz

Jasmine Cunningham*

Liam Cupolo

Robert DaCosta

Colby Dagwan - Santos

Jaden DaLuz

McKenzie Damasio

Kyle DaSilva*#

Christopher DeCosta

Maya DeMello*#

Jayce Dodge

Meaghan Dolan*#

Austin Drobish

Dylan Duarte

Moses Duarte

Jacob Dumkuski

Bryan Dupras

Mason Dutra

Connor Ehlinger

Janiece Esquilin

Derrick Fazzi

Alexandre Ferreira

Benjamin Ferreira

Caleb Ferreira*

Carly Ferreira*#

Brian Francis

Spencer Francis

Samuel Gayer*

Mellodie Gibson

Margaret Godfrey*#

Amanda Gonzalez

Angelina Goodwin-Carrion

Colby Gorman

Jenna Goulart*

Alexandra Groff

Angelique Grundy

Christopher Guerriero

Ella Hanley*#

Kayla Hanuschak

Nikolas Hanuschak

Isaac Hart

Jacob Heroux

Julianna Hughes

Dwight Hunt

Allison Johnson

Jonathan Jones

Andrew Kallman

Jillian Kenny*

Christopher Kirby

Sophia Kneath*

Ellee Kopecky*

Jalen Kopecky

Eddy Kutter*

Griffin Lautieri

Elysia LeBeau

Joseph LeBrun

Zoe Lefebvre*#

Jae'wan Leonard

Roeandy Leone

Joshua Lima

Samantha Lima*

Nicholas Little

Dylan Loiselle

Caleb Lomax

Ava Lombardo

Lauren MacDonald*#

Georgia MacDougall*#

Lidia Mancini*

Erika Marshall

Joshua Martin

Mercedes Martin

Samantha Martins

Samantha Mathias

Courtney Matos

Sierra Maturi

Patrick McGovern

Jake McShane

Jacob Medeiros

Olivia Mendonca

Carlos Mendoza

Christian Molina Perez

Harrison Molloy*#

Desiree Moniz

Joshua Moore

Zoe Mouligne

Makyia Murchison

Meghan Nerney

Aidan Neves*

Zoe Nygaard

Caeleb O'Blenis

MacKenzie O'Donnell

Sarah Oliveira*#

Nathan Ouellette

Erica Paccotti

Colin Pacheco

Justin Pacheco

Lyla Pacheco*

Zachary Pacheco

Niya Palmer

Sean Palumbo

Mason Paon

Jillian Parker*#

Sarah Pavao

Evan Payne

Peyton Perroni*#

Hailee Perry

Kevin Pimental

Seth Pires*

Leo Powers

Brett Ramella

Jackson Reis

Paulo Reis

Liam Rocha*

Madison Rodriques*#

Taylor Sanford*#

Kodi Saotome

Tyler Savinon

Lauren Serbst

Owen Shaw

Lucas Shears

Jaden Siembab

Grace Silva

Nathan Silveira*#

Sloan Simpson*#

Isaac Skac

Christopher Slusarski*

Brennan Soares

Dylan Soares

Makayla Soares

Brady Sousa

Jacob Sousa

Kaitlyn Sousa

Katherine Sousa

Tyler Sponseller

Krista Squatrito

Caleigh St. Angelo

Casper Stallings

Gage Stephenson

Shawn Teixeira

Sophia Teixeira

Benjamin* Teves

Molly Thibaudeau*

Allie Toumasian

Drew Tyska*#

Kylie Valliere

Olivia Vezina*#

Nicholas Vitorino*

Michael Viveiros

Rachael Ward

Colin Weldon*

Deven White*

Sarah Withers*#

Meet Mt. Hope’s Top 20
1. Ella Hanley, Valedictorian
2. Nathan Silveira, Salutatorian
3. Madison Rodriques
4. Sarah Oliveira
5. London Camelo
6. Taylor Sanford
7. Meaghan Dolan
8. Carly Ferreira
9. Kyle DaSilva
10. Nicole Black
11. Lauren MacDonald
12. Jillian Parker
13. Olivia Vezina
14. Margaret Godfrey
15. Zoe Lefebvre
16. Eddy Kutter
17. Sloan Simpson
18. Seth Pires
19. Peyton Perroni
20. Sarah Withers

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.