The senior athletic banquet is a tradition at North Kingstown High School, and the current Skippers got at least a taste of the capstone event last week.
The school’s athletic department and booster club teamed up to create a virtual banquet, which aired on YouTube in a live, premiere broadcast on Thursday night. Featuring recorded messages from speakers, award announcements and recognition for each of the 160 senior student-athletes, the banquet represented an effort to make the best of a bad situation.
“We felt it was important that we recognize these senior student-athletes for their contributions in what has been a very difficult season with EEE and Covid-19,” said athletic director Dick Fossa.
The banquet is typically run by the booster club. This year, with no possibility of an in-person event, the club’s leadership approached Fossa and video technology teacher Aaron Thomas about utilizing the school’s studio and technology to take the banquet to the online realm. Thomas, who is also the school’s boys basketball coach, took on the task.
“The true star is Aaron Thomas,” Fossa said. “He was the person who had to edit all the separate sections of the evening. Obviously this was not done in one take. Getting people scheduled – especially with social distancing requirements – was not an easy task. We had a number of takes and retakes. Aaron was able to edit it all to make the event flow.”
Booster club president Kara Martone, vice president Lisa Bowe, Kathy Brown and Fossa worked on collecting information from students for the program, presentation and plaques, which are being distributed after the fact. Rob Silveira, photography teacher and North Photography teacher advisor, provided links to senior pictures and the action shots of athletes seen throughout the presentation.
Martone opened the proceedings with a message to the graduating class.
“The booster club would like to offer our sincere gratitude to the class of 2020,” she said. “You have brought us some of the most exciting sports moments over the past four years. While we missed the end of the winter season and your final spring season, this graduating class will always have a very special place in our hearts.”
And Fossa highlighted the successes of the school year, from championships for volleyball and football, to milestone achievements for Clay Brochu, Keri Spitler and James Osmanski. The year also brought the debut of the school’s new athletic field.
“Despite all of the obstacles, it’s been another banner year for our athletes and teams,” he said.
Maggie Schwab and Eddie Cardarelli were named the Outstanding Male and Female Athletes. Bruce Brown Unsung Hero Awards went to Charlotte Simmons and Shane Kenyon. Providence Journal Student Athlete Honor Roll Awards were presented to Lauren Ulisse and Theo Simmons. The Jeff Monica Memorial Scholarship went to Jake Froberg and the Darren Schongold Memorial Scholarship to Cardarelli. The booster club also announced its scholarship winners.
The Dedication Award was presented to longtime booster club volunteer Trisha Poirier. The Faculty Booster Award went to outgoing football coach Joe Gilmartin, who had a parting message for the class of 2020.
“No matter what, don’t let this define you,” Gilmartin said of the challenging end to the school year. “Define yourself by all the greatness that you achieved. Define yourself by personal bests, by the championships you won, by the teams you played for, by the friendships and bonds you’ve built with your coaches, players and teachers in the school. Let those things define you.”