By Jonathan Bissonnette
PROVIDENCE – Graduates from Central Falls High School’s class of 2015 during their commencement exercises Saturday were implored find their Warrior spirit, prove what a Warrior is, and inspire the next generation of Warriors.
More than 150 graduating seniors, or Warriors — the moniker of the school’s athletic teams — clad in red and blue caps and gowns, made their way into Roberts Hall at Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon, led by a procession of flags representing 28 countries, which displayed the diversity seen in the class of 2015.
School Superintendent Victor Capellan said that the students earned their diplomas and the right to be called “a Warrior for life.”
“Go out there with your heads held high and with the ambition to succeed,” Capellan continued. “Never settle … challenge yourself to achieve new heights. Always remember that you have an entire community that is rooting for you and will always be there to support you.”
Capellan also implored the students to remember their root.
"Just as you stand on the shoulders of those that came before you, there are many little warriors who will now walk the path that you are paving today," he said.
Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said the students have made the city very proud through their hard work and achievements. He called on the students to "prove what a Warrior is. Do the best job in a respectful and honest manner."
Diossa noted that some of the graduating seniors will go on to be extremely successful, even saying that "there are some of you who are going to come back and take my job, which is OK."
However, Diossa wanted the students to remember their community, and while they will move on to the next chapter of their lives, he wanted them to know that they will "always, always have a loving home in Central Falls."
Principal Joshua Laplante said that the seniors came to the high school "when our schools needed to be inspired the most, and you have done just that, you've inspired each and every one of us."
"Our image now has become on e of hope and promise, of equity, social justice, and high acheivement," Laplante said, which was followed by a rousing ovation from the capacity crowd in the auditorium.
"From the first day you arrived... you have led and created a new path for Central Falls High School. You have become the model for students to follow, the standard for all to challenge," he continued, later adding, "You have led with integrity and honesty, diminishing the myths of negativity and promoting and inspiring the truth of positive experiences and incredible learning opportunities."
"You have proven that you could, that you can, and that you can make a difference in the lives of many," Laplante's address concluded.
District 56 state Rep. Shelby Maldonado delivered the ceremony's keynote address. A graduate of Central Falls High, Maldonado said that she saw herself in the graduates.
"I learned the most valuable thing anyone can give you is time. Time comes and goes... but what time does not define is how we use it," she said.
"Be proud of what you have just accomplished, because as you embark on this new beginning into a world that I promise you will bring challenges and barriers to prevent you from completing your journey, but this moment is living proof of how strong and capable you are in fulfilling your purpose," Maldonado added.
"You are the the answer, believe it or not, to the worlds problems," she continued. "As you cross this stage today, I want you to think and determine how far you are willing to go to find your purpose."
Salutatorian Adamaris Villar said that the seniors will always be connected. She also said that through her endeavors on the school's track team, she found her "Warrior Spirit."
"Each and every on of you sitting here has that fire, and we all carry the Warrior spirit," Villar said. "Just the fact that we are here in caps and gowns, it's proof that we're remarkable... We have achieved so much more than we all thought possible."
She also called on her fellow graduating seniors to "set the bar so high that the persons behind you have to work twice as hard to be on the level of performance that you have set."
"Set a standard and lead by example... that is what the class of 2015 has done. We came into the school and made a name for ourselves and that is what we will continue to do," her speech concluded
Valedictorian Marijose Escobar said that is is easy to get caught up in the concept of time.
"In the grad scheme of life, we can do whatever we wish to do," Escobar said. "The complicated part is making the most of the time we are spending, figuring out how to get where we want to be, and pushing your way through the limitations that you will encounter."
"This is the day your life really begins," the valedictorian said.
Full story appears on page A1 of Monday's Times.
Online version here.