Greatness can be identified at all ages and it endures. In this article we learn about future leaders and honor a past leader as I review the Woonsocket High School National Honor Society and the Paul Crowley Award.
Sophmore National Honor Society Induction Ceremony
This is the first year that Diane Lafrenaye is the National Honor Society Advisor and the weather did not cooperate for her. This winter we had a string of Wednesday/Thursday snowstorms that cancelled two school committee meetings and actually postponed the National Honor Society Induction Ceremony four times. Although the weather did not cooperate, everyone else did. On March 7, 2011 the ceremony was conducted and it was wonderful. I have received many comments about how nice this event was and how professional everyone involved was.
The Junior Class National Honor Society officers organized the evening. The National Honor Society President, Justyna Pietrus served as the emcee. The Woonsocket High School Air Force JROTC students posted the colors and the Woonsocket Jazz Band performed spectacularly (as always) under the direction of Kevin Plouffe. Each inductee was presented a certificate, membership-card, and a tee-shirt.
The speaking program featured the Woonsocket School Committee Member Linda Majewski, Woonsocket Education Department Director of Instruction and Administration Mark Garceau, Woonsocket High School/Woonsocket Area Career Technical Center Principal Dr. Lynne Bedard, and Woonsocket High School Honor Society Advisor Diane Lafrenaye.
Taking the National Honor Society Oath this year were: Stephanie Arriaga, Benjamin Auclair, Derek Bell, Alex Berrios, Nicholas Bousquet, Victoria Cooper, Melanie Cotnoir, Diana Cruz, Justin Dubois, Latoya Dythe, Richard Gramstorff, Paige Houle, Adam Jarret, Ariana Kithes, Aksonethip Keophakdy, Klaudia Linek, Alicia Mello, Jimmy Nguyen, Kimberly Nguyen, Brian Peloquin, Kara Renaud, Jazmine Roman-Stewart, Moniaek Smith, Natalie Smith, Samantha Smith, Katelyn St. George, Brianna Tavares, and Troy Witter.
This is always one of my favorite school events because of what the National Honor Society stands for. Based on the National Honor Society Constitution, four purposes are said to guide National Honor Society chapters, which are the following: "To create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, and to develop character in the students of secondary schools." Honoring our students who exemplify these characteristics is an opportunity for us to celebrate our successes. These future leaders will be the great achievers of their time!
The Paul Crowley Award
The Paul Crowley Award is given each year by the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association (RISSA) to a Rhode Island citizen who, in his or her professional and/or personal capacity, has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to improving the quality of education for the children of Rhode Island with the same zeal and perseverance as Representative Paul Crowley did throughout his career as a state representative.
Paul Crowley was a representative from Newport for many years and was also the chairman of the House of Representatives Health, Education, and Welfare Committee. The veteran lawmaker was a champion for schoolchildren. Crowley became the point man on education issues as the legislature took on an increasingly active role in financing and shaping the state’s public schools. He championed charter schools, school accountability, improved vocational education and increased aid to poorer school districts years before it became in vogue for other politicians.
Crowley’s distinguished public-service record began early, when he was a student at the University of Rhode Island, and ended with his 27-year tenure as a top legislator in the House of Representatives. He was the longest-serving Democrat in the Rhode Island House of Representatives but he unfortunately passed away all too soon at the age of 57.
RISSA began presenting the Paul Crowley Award four years ago. The first award was posthumously given to Paul Crowley. The second year the award went to former Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Peter McWalters and the following year it was awarded to the former Rhode Island Chairman of the Board of Regents, Jim DiPrete. This year I attended the Paul Crowley Award Ceremony at the Rhode Island State House on Wednesday March 2, 2011.
Elizabeth Burke Bryant was selected for this award and she truly exemplifies the selection qualifications. Elizabeth Burke Bryant is the Executive Director of Kids Count. The Kids Count Annual Fact Book provides invaluable data on children's health, education, safety, and economic security. That information is very helpful for educators, regulators, and legislators when we analyze and prioritize the services we can provide. Her personal advocacy was extremely helpful in getting a funding formula for the state of Rhode Island. I cannot tell you the number of times that I see Elizabeth Burke Bryant at the Rhode Island Statehouse or Board of Regents meetings supporting educational issues.
The Paul Crowley Award not only acknowledges outstanding leadership but also includes a $1,000 scholarship. The criteria for awarding the scholarship is that it must go to a senior in a Rhode Island public high school of the awardees choice. Also, the student must be planning on a career in education in the spirit of this award and all that it represents.
The Paul Crowley Award not only honors great leaders of today but simultaneously allows us to reminisce and learn about service from the late great leader Paul Crowley and his dedication to the State of Rhode Island. As we remember the past and honor the present, it is also exciting to predict the future. There is little doubt that the National Honor Society and the virtues it espouses, help to guide our future leaders toward greatness through the great equalizer in the American Dream, education.
Robert J. Gerardi, Jr., Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Woonsocket Education Department
"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
William Shakespeare, Hamlet