PROVIDENCE — Empowering young women to make a difference in the world is an important part of the mission at St. Mary Academy-Bay View, a mission that the Class of 2010 took very seriously.
Bay View’s new alumnae will attend some of the nation’s top colleges and universities and have received more than $4 million in scholarship awards. Principal Colleen Gribbin shared that the 145 graduates are individually and collectively remarkable.
“They are outstanding examples of the mission of Bay View,” said Gribbin. “They are smart, organized, and ready to make their mark on the world. We are proud of each of them and look forward to monitoring their future success.”
To many, graduation can seem like the end of the road, but graduate Alexus Lee sees it more as a beginning, she said.
During the graduation ceremony, Lee, with fellow graduates in the Bay View Chorale, sang a medley under the direction of Christine Kavanagh and Diane Gualtieri. Lee, who participated in the recent Cabaret performance, said that Kavanagh has always challenged her to do more.
“She has given me parts that weren’t always easy,” said Lee, who will be attending Berklee College of Music in the fall. “She is continuously opening up doors.”
This year, Lee also helped to plan a talent show, which raised close to $1,000 for Haitian relief.
“It was a big group effort,” she said. “It was very successful and we got to see some new talent. We were able to raise money for Haiti and do our part.”
Valedictorian Ariana Santopietro offered her classmates assurance that they are prepared to step forward in their lives.
“Bay View has prepared us in terms of both strong education and enduring relationships,” said Santopietro. “I am confident that there is no group of women better than our class to take on the world.”
The accomplishments of Bay View graduates are diverse and significant. Graduate Kelsey Petrie of Seekonk, Mass., has been named a Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia, where she will be studying this upcoming semester. The Scholars program includes full tuition, room and board for four years, funds for books and travel and a year of study abroad.
“Graduating was amazing,” said Petrie. “I feel like I’m ready for the world now and ready to move on to new and incredible things. It is great to have closure to my days at the Bay. Now I’m ready to move forward.”
In the past year, Petrie has helped form the teen-run organization Greenlight Rhode Island, which installs energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs in low-income homes, and partnered with Project 20/20 of Brown University.
“It was a very personal experience,” she said. “It helps them with the electric bill and it helps the environment by saving energy.”
Salutatorian Gina Roberti said that her classmates have given her hope for the future.
“After four years of growing up in a world of blue lockers, tile floors, and Otis Spunkmire cookies, we have become a family,” she said in her address. “I have witnessed your intelligence, experienced your compassion, stood in awe of your talent. Shaping the future may seem impossible now, but in truth, I’ve already glimpsed the beginnings of change.”
Roberti, who has raised $6,800 for Project Have Hope, an organization that supports women in the Acholi Quarter of Uganda, said that Bay View helped her to learn to take initiative.
“Bay View has taught me to live the mission in today’s world,” she said. “That really shaped my perspective. I think Bay View gives us that mindset to get out and pursue things.”
Graduate Molly Alves will soon be studying wildlife and fisheries biology at the University of Vermont. In October 2008, Alves was selected to represent Roger Williams Park Zoo at a camp sponsored by the organization Polar Bears International. The camp brought her south of the Arctic Circle in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to study polar bear migration, an experience she shared with her Bay View family.
“The experience really shaped my ideas of what I wanted to do and the school was very supportive,” said Alves. “It opened my eyes to being a research biologist and taking action to protect endangered species.”
Great responsibility awaits the graduates, said Bay View’s President Mercy Sister Elizabeth A. McAuliffe.
“You are vibrant young women, you are phenomenal women, you are women of Mercy, you are women with talent. And to those who have been given much, much is expected,” said Sister McAuliffe. “You are a child of a God who loves you above all measure and has given you unimaginable gifts of freedom.”
Many graduates felt a sense of accomplishment from their Bay View education, prepared to go out into the world to make a difference.
“Graduation was an uplifting time when I felt true pride in not only my own accomplishments, but those of my class as well,” said Lee. “High school was definitely a great ride, but I am now ready to see what else is out there.”
CLASS OF 2010
SoYoun Hannah Lawson
Kweon Simone Labine