NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy grads told to 'follow what is in your heart'

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The 32 graduates of the New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools Construction & Career Academy’s class of 2019 received their diplomas on June 7, cheered on by family and friends as they crossed the stage at Hope Highlands Middle School.

“No one stands alone … Many, many people share in your glory this evening,” Michael Traficante, a member of the Cranston School Committee and chairman of the school’s Board of Directors, told the students.

Dennis M. Curran, executive director of the Construction & Career Academy, said this year’s graduates “stand out for many, many reasons.”

Nineteen of the students have attended the academy since their freshman year, while the remaining 13 joined after their first year of high school. Half of the graduates are from Cranston, while the remainder come from nine different communities, including Scituate, Central Falls, Providence, Coventry, Johnston, Pawtucket and Warwick.

Curran said nine of the graduates will take part in the Laborers’ apprentice program in Connecticut. Fourteen will continue their studies at the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College or Johnson & Wales University, while one will join the Marine Corps and several others will enter the workforce.

“All of these students have worked tirelessly in the classroom to reach the stage today,” he said. “Much of their success can be attributed to the support of you, their parents, relatives and friends. We can also thank the diligence of our staff, who are always there when needed.”

Curran gave special recognition to Kristal Brown, the “top scholar” in the class. Brown earned a 4.065 GPA and took classes at CCRI this past year. She will attend Rhode Island College and plans to pursue a career as an orthodontist.

During his remarks, Mayor Allan Fung pointed to a balloon floating above the audience, which bore the word “believe.”

“If that one word doesn’t sum up what this night is about, I’m not sure what does,” he said, later adding: “All of us believe in you … You are Cranston at its best.”

“Follow what is in your heart and do what you love … Don’t ever let the fear of failure turn you against what’s in your heart,” the mayor said.

Curran read a statement on behalf of Armand E. Sabitoni, general secretary-treasurer and New England regional manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America, who was unable to attend the night’s ceremony.

“We are now in our 17th year of operation as a public high school, and I’m so proud that our school is growing each year … Remember that the NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy community will always be here to give you guidance and encouragement in all your future endeavors,” the statement read.

Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse spoke of her experience going to work in a pharmacy at age 15, and of the lessons she learned through that job and her subsequent professional endeavors.

“I can’t say this enough – show up on time and every day,” she said. “Treat people as you want to be treated, if not better. Go the extra mile, and do it happily. It’s amazing how good you will make people feel if you do.”

School Committee Chairman Daniel Wall urged the graduates to “always remember to work hard at whatever it is you choose to do.

“Find something that’s important and meaningful to you, and work hard at it … Dare to dream, and dream big,” he said.

The Cranston High School East JROTC Honor Guard presented the colors during the ceremony, while the Cranston East Chorale performed the national anthem.

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