NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – Seniors Andrew Simone and Patrick LaCroix are in the home stretch, near the finish line of an eventful four years at Narragansett High School.
Simone, 17, is the school’s Class of 2021 valedictorian while LaCroix, 18, is salutatorian for the Mariners class. They’d recently just attended a Top 10 ceremony, a banquet for seniors, where they’d each received a special plaque honoring their achievements.
But maybe awards should go to the entire class just for getting to the end of a tough, unusual year.
“Honestly, this has been probably the most difficult year of high school,” Simone said. “And not just because it was a year like no other. Senior year with college applications and all that, it was all different. Nothing ever slowed down until now.”
The class is set to graduate later today on the football field at Narragansett High School. Fortunately, many COVID-19 restrictions the school had to follow have been eased.
Simone is looking ahead now, to when he’ll enter the University of Maryland in the fall. He called the entire process of applying to eight schools, and being rejected at four, “humbling” for someone always known as the “smart kid.”
“I thought I could get in anywhere,” he said.
Simone plans to study aerospace engineering, a field he said will enable him to one day “build rockets and stuff that goes to Mars.”
LaCroix said he had a similar experience. He applied to 10 schools, visiting Brown University, the University of Rhode Island and Ohio State (he’s an Ohio native who came to Narragansett as a freshman).
“I couldn’t really go take tours everywhere. I had to do it on the computer,” he said. He did drive to Ohio state over spring break to check it out.
He’s enrolled at URI on a pre-med track, hoping to become a physician assistant.
“That’s my plan right now,” he said.
LaCroix said one of his favorite courses over the past two years was AP Biology, with teacher Adam Reis.
“He challenged us really. It’s like an eight-credit college course. It was a fun class,” he said.
Simone gravitated toward “dorky” classes such as calculus and physics, he said.
“Just because it’s very logical and makes a lot of sense to me, and I excel at that. That’s one of the reasons I want to go into engineering,” he said.
He said his sophomore year English teacher, Robert Shields, had a big impact.
“It wasn’t necessarily the course, it was how he taught. He was very funny, sarcastic, kind of like me. I was a weird kid until sophomore year and didn’t really start to come out of my shell. That class taught me, ‘hey I’m actually funny.’” he said.
LaCroix ran cross-country as a sophomore, as well as indoor and outdoor track. Simone ran indoor track for three years too.
“Probably the biggest extra-curricular I had was robotics,” he said. He helped to found a high school team after competing in a Lego Robotics team in middle school.
“Really we were kind of self-dependent,” he said. “It was a very rookie team, we didn’t have much experience, but we went to states my sophomore and junior year. We won a few awards. We just worked well as a team and accomplished a lot.”
Both students were also members of the National Honor Society. LaCroix is the vice-president.
“We all helped organize various community service projects. Our main one was with the Scallop Shell Nursing Home. We did virtual meetings with them the entire year. We also made greeting cards and gave them out to the entire school,” he said.
Simone has been a member of the student council all four years, and served as treasurer. Soon, he’ll start work at the Dunes Club as a summer job. LaCroix is a camp counselor in the summer.
The pair said they have a lot of good memories from Spirit Week, even though it was a bit different this year because of COVID.
“We had the powder puff football against the girls. We won in 10th grade, that was good,” LaCroix said.
“Never won again,” Simone quipped. “But Spirit Week has been one of the more memorable parts of school.”
Simone dressed up one year as Bill Clinton – complete with spray-on gray hair – for 90s Day.
“That looked a bit more blue than gray,” he said. He also faked a southern accent.
“That came out awful,” he added.
This year for Spirit Day, Simone especially remembers being outdoors with friends, blasting “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“It was sunny and honestly, it kind of felt like we were in an early 2000s coming of age movie. It was probably one of the best days of my high school career.”