PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Members of The Prout School’s class of 2019 celebrated the formation of lifelong friendships and the start of an exciting new part of their lives during the high school’s 51st commencement, held Tuesday evening at the majestic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence.
Ninety-five graduates from the Roman Catholic school in South Kingstown received diplomas.
Greeting a large gathering of friends, faculty and family assembled in the pews, Sarabeth McClain said coming to Prout from a smaller school far away was a big adjustment for her.
“I knew about three other people entering the freshman class and was very nervous,” she said. But it was during her years there, she said, that she discovered what she wanted to be, met some of her best friends and stepped out of her comfort zone.
There were challenges and difficulties, she added, but the students got through it all.
“With every passing day, we became closer as a class,” she said.
Class President Isabella Bianco looked back on high school goals she set in eighth grade. Some she met, while others are yet to be accomplished.
“Growing up, I had this expectation that high school was the time to find myself,” she said. As the years passed, she worried that the window to do that was closing fast. But then she had a realization. “Even though I wasn’t able to finish my high school bucket list while I was actually in high school, that doesn’t mean I’ll never do those things,” she said.
She also shared an F. Scott Fitzgerald passage that seemed appropriate.
“For what it’s worth... it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”
Valedictorian Greg Violet described high school as a journey of exciting and sometimes stressful moments.
“But with the help of our families, teachers and friends, we persevered and readied ourselves for the next chapter in our lives,” he said.
Violet had four simple words he wants his classmates to live by.
“Live as an individual,” he told them.
The Most Rev. Robert C. Evans, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Providence, presented diplomas to the graduates. After each senior’s name was called, a short profile of some of their school achievements and activities was read to the audience while the graduate stepped forward to receive his or her diploma and have their picture taken near the altar.
Evans said the graduates benefited from an exceptional education in the Prout School.
“It has formed you as well as informed you,” he said. “Because that’s what a Catholic school does. It’s not just information, but formation, and you have the rest of your lives to share that formation with others whom you will meet.”
The class of 2019 has much to be proud of, administrators said.
State championships in hockey, tennis, softball and robotics were among the accomplishments, Principal David Estes said. The students won recognition in the arts and sciences and established clubs that have never before existed at the school, he said.
“Moving forward, the ups and downs of high school, no matter what, you always were there for each other,” he said. They also showed great care for the world around them and the environment, he said.
Students took on recycling and beautification projects, held electronics disposal events and built gardens to attract more bees.
“That is a good thing. We need the bees,” Estes said. “Except for me and at least one of your teachers who is allergic to bees.”
Of the 95 graduates, 12 are full International Baccalaureate diploma candidates and 76 are International Baccalaureate certificate candidates. Prout is the only high school in Rhode Island that offers the IB Diploma Program.
Collectively, Prout seniors have been offered more than $14.4 million in scholarship money over a four-year period.