The top 10 students for the Pilgrim Class of 2014 is one of a kind.
“I have to honestly say that this particular top ten does realize how special they are,” Principal Marie Cote said in a recent interview. “As I peruse the names, I would not know they were top ten by just the list. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but a truly positive one. They are the individuals who don’t believe that anybody owes them anything and do not know they stand out because they blend in. Never once did I get the impression that they thought they were better than the next senior in the class.”
Cote went on to say, “The Class of 2014 is kind, caring and accepting of all types of students. The top ten is diverse in their pursuits from pharmacy to art to teaching to forensics and one that is actually taking a year off to develop a portfolio.” Cote added that the senior class as a whole is always willing to help the next person. “You ask anyone of them to help you in anything, they are the first to say yes,” she said.
This year’s class valedictorian, Megan Wilks plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall where she will work on her doctorate of Pharmacy, a six-year program.
Over the four years at Pilgrim, she was part of the Unified Pilgrim Project, captain of the varsity cross country team, and played on the Unified Basketball team that won the state championship this past season. Also, she has been a company dancer at the Carolyn Dutra Dance studio for the last 15 years.
Wilks has received many awards including, the Harvard Book Award, US Air Force Math and Science Award, Outstanding Student in Science for Four Years, AP Scholar Award, Academic All-State for Cross Country Award, Community Service Award, and Pell Medal Award for Social Studies. She also earned admission into the National, Rhode Island and Spanish Honors Societies, and the Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglas Award.
“I will forever remember my unified basketball team’s reaction when we won the state championship,” Wilks said. “Seeing how happy and excited my teammates were made me proud of what I had helped to accomplish.”
Wilks credits most of her success in school to Professor Nick DiFilippo because “his wise words have contributed to my success the most, for his humor and advice have always brightened up my day.” She also acknowledged her unified friends for her success, “they have taught me that perseverance and dedication will pay off and I cannot thank them enough.”
She says her grandmother has always been her motivation to excel. Making her proud has always been a number one priority for Wilks.
Class Salutatorian, Jazeon Johnson plans on taking a year off to work to build a portfolio for art/fashion. Then she says she may take a few courses at CCRI. During her four years at Pilgrim, Johnson participated in many sports including cross country, swim, and tennis. A member of the National Honor Society and Student Leadership, Johnson was involved in many in many clubs and activities including ping-pong, American Field Service, knitting, and art. She has received a Society of Women Engineers Certificate of Achievement in Mathematics and National Sciences. She also earned Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, including the Silver key award and she was the American Mall Model Search Contract Winner.
Johnson said that the things she will remember are “my friends and the amazing teachers I’ve had such as David Fisher, Jessica DiFilippo, Erik Carlson, Anne Baynes, and Michael Xiarhos.”
She says the people that have contributed most to her success are her mom, dad, and friends: Kimberly Shum, Kimmie Lavoie, and Casey Adams, as well as the teachers she mentioned.
Johnson was motivated to excel by her parents and her need to always try her best in everything that she does.
Maddison Caron, Class Essayist, plans to major in biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Captain of the indoor and outdoor track and field teams, Caron was a member of the student leadership, National Honors Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. She was also a stage manager and president of the drama club.
Caron earned many awards including: the Providence Journal Honor Roll Girl, Outstanding Student in Mathematics for four years, Outstanding Student in Chemistry Class Essay 1st, and U.S. Marine Corps Scholastic excellence award.
“ I will remember the people that have changed my life for the better, the ones that made my AP courses a little less terrible, the ones that made my senior year one to remember and the ones that taught me so much, that I will keep with me forever,” Caron said.
Caron says that her parents motivated her the most and that they were the driving force that pushed her to succeed.
She says she owes where the next four years will take her to her parents and to Mrs. Bizragane’s Chemistry, 2 AP class.
“I never would have found my passion and drive for science if I did not take that class my junior year,” Caron said. “This class caused me to push myself and to excel, not just now but in my college journey as well.”
Ranked fourth in her class, Brianna Tuscani will attend Milligan College in Tennessee where she plans to major in Secondary Education with a concentration in either English or Spanish.
A football and basketball player, Tuscani was also captain of the competition cheerleading team since the 10th grade.
She was the National Honor Society President, secretary for the Executive Committee of the Class of 2014 and participated in the AFS Club and she was also a Student Coordinator for R.I. Blood Center Drives at Pilgrim.
Tuscani received many awards including, Principal Leadership Award, Regis College Book Award, and was the RICCA Spirit “Sportsmanship” Award Recipient. She was also a 3-time nominee for RICCA All-Around Individual, and won Competition & State Championships in cheerleading.
“I am so grateful for every person whom I have had the chance to get to know because each of them have made me who I am today,” Tuscani said. “My family, specially my mother, my teachers, and my friends have helped me to succeed and above all, enjoy my time in high school.”
She credits her motivation to excel to her family’s influence, her value of education, and her own personal drive to make herself better so that she will be best equipped to help others now and in the future.
Ranked fifth, Sean Morris will major in Forensic Biology at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. Morris was the Vice-President of his class all four years. He was a member of the National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, Academic Decathlon Team, Eagle Scout for Troop 49 Lakewood and a Student Leader to freshman for two years. He participated in cross country and track and played the tuba for the Concert and Jazz bands.
Morris received the RI Secretary of State Civic Leadership Award and the Columbia University Book Award.
“I will remember all of my amazing friends, teachers, and Mrs. Cote for all their help through my four years,” Morris said. I will especially remember the members of the Pilgrim band and the great trips we were able to take.”
He says that both the teachers and his parents contributed to his success.
Morris also says that setting goals for himself really pushed him to do his best throughout school.
“Over the years it has changed many times but having a goal to reach really pushed me to do my best throughout my years of school,” Morris said. “I hope it continues to do so during college.”
Ranked sixth, Alexis Lavallee will attend Keene State College and plans to major in Elementary Education.
She received the Rensselaer Medal Award for excellence in math and science. Over her four years, Lavallee was the Vice-President of the National Honor Society, member of the Travel Club, Student Leadership, and Executive Committee.
She will remember her life long friends and being involved in “some great clubs”.
She credits her success to her friends, family and a handful of inspiring teachers.
She is always motivated to learn and says the reason is “ My love for learning both inside and outside of the classroom as well as my ultimate goal of attending college.”
Alyssa Ford, ranked seventh, will major in Communication Arts at St. Johns University in New York City.
Over her four years at Pilgrim, Ford participated in the French club, travel club and cheerleading. She was a member of the national honor society, French national honor society, student leadership and treasurer of the executive committee.
She received the Middlebury College Book award and when she was in the 8th grade she earned the Language and culture award.
Ford will remember being involved with the school and the many activities she engaged in. “My cheerleading team especially taught me to never give up and that anything is possible when you have a positive mind.”
Ford credits her success to her guidance counselor Sharon Rix. “Mrs. Rix has been there supporting me all four years and is an amazing person,” Ford said. She also said she was lucky to have had all wonderful and supportive teachers and says her friends and her cheerleading team have made high school a time to never forget.
Her mother was her #1 motivation. Ford will be the first one in her family to go to college and all she wants is to make her mom proud and to achieve her dreams. “I am passionate about getting an education and being successful and will not stop until I reach the top,” Ford said.
Eighth ranked, Jennifer King plans to attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall to major in Biology with a focus in Pre-Med.
Her academic achievements include National Honor Society, Spanish Honors Society, High Honor Roll, Gina Raimondo Award, Community Service Award, Rhode Island Honors Society, and Outstanding Student in Spanish.
She was a member of the Executive Committee, Student Leadership, American Field Society, Yearbook Committee, and Travel Club. She participated in Indoor and Outdoor Track, lacrosse and was the soccer captain. (All Varsity).
King will remember her friends, classes and sports the most.
“I will remember all the friendships I have made, the rigorous curriculum path I chose to walk and the varsity sports I played,” King said.
She says her parents contributed to her success because they always pushed her to do her very best and always supported her decisions. She says the teachers have contributed to her success in some form and she owes special thanks to teachers Heidi Bennett, Alison Wallace, Susan Durand and Kelly Harrington Xiaros for “being like mothers for me throughout these four years.” She added that a countless amount of people that she can call friends have greatly contributed to her enjoyment in high school.
Varsity tennis player Casey Adams, ranked ninth in the class, will attend Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in the fall as a pharmacy major.
Adams was captain for the Swim Team for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Leadership, Students Against Destructive Decisions and participated in American Field Service.
Adams earned second place blue ribbon at the State Science Fair for 2010, and the Xerox award for innovation and information technology 2013. She was a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. Adams earned the Girls Swimming Sportsmanship Award for the 2011-2012 season and the Community Service Award for 2013-2014 school year.
Her memories will include all the great people she met along the way including professors Nick DiFilippo and Meredith Bizragane.
“I will remember all of the amazing people I have met whether they were a teacher, friend or teammate. I have made many unforgettable memories,” Adams said. “Also, I will never forget Mr. DiFilippo’s daily words of wisdom and Mrs. Bizragane’s motivational talks in AP Chemistry.”
Adams credits her success to her parents, teachers, and friends, especially: Katherine Carbone, Meredith Bizragane, Richard Marrese, and her friend Nick Peladeau.
Her passion for learning helped her excel throughout high school. She wanted to challenge herself academically in order to prepare herself for college. “I worked hard throughout my high school career in order to get into a pharmacy program in college which will lead to a rewarding career.” She says her parents also motivate her to excel in everything she does.
Nicholas Peladeau, ranked number 10, will attend Massachusetts College of Art and Design in the fall, majoring in Art Education.
Peladeau was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Leadership, American Field Service, Drama Club, Knitting Club, Yearbook, and the PTSA.
Peladeau received: the George Eastman Young Leaders Award, Silver Key in the Scholastics Art & Writing Awards, Community Service Awards, and was a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society.
“I will remember all the fun experiences I’ve had with all of my friends and teachers,” Peladeau said.
Peladeau credits his success to his parents, teachers and friends. Especially: teachers Sharon Katseff, Heidi Bennett, Kim Parente, Alison Wallace, his former Aldrich music teacher and senior project mentor Sandra Brown and his friend Casey Adams.
Peladeau’s dream to become an art teacher has motivated him to excel.