Senior learns she's class salutorian in surprise home visit

Warwick Beacon ·

Bethany Crawford‘s mom, Ruth, kept looking out the window, occasionally suggesting Bethany touch up her hair. “Is she expecting someone?” Bethany wondered. When the police, the superintendent, and principals of Beacon Charter School for the Arts and Founders Academy arrived in front of her home, Bethany knew either a very good thing was about to happen, or a very bad thing.

It was an most unexpected way to usher in the weekend. “I just work here,” she quipped, with a smile under her face mask. borrowing a witticism from her dad, Chris. On the rainy Friday afternoon of April 24th, Beacon Charter School Principal Robin Murphy, with a Warwick Police Department escort, surprised Bethany at home to announce she had earned the award of Salutatorian for the class of 2020, complete with balloons and a special sign presented by Founders Academy principal, Amanda Turcotte, to be planted in her front yard.

“How are you?” asked Superintendent Dr. Michael Sheldon from the other side of the white picket fence.

“A little surprised, I’d say!” Bethany chuckled from underneath her face mask.

Reaching over the white picket fence separating them, he presented Bethany with a small box containing the honor medal for the Class of 2020 Salutatorian.

Her family descended the front porch steps and gathered around Bethany for a photo with the sign, as the wind whipped the balloons, momentarily obscuring her face, to the laughter of the entire group, including Samantha Baffoni, Beacon’s Logistics and Communication Coordinator. The rain could not dampen their spirits.

Now Bethany had a commencement speech to write.

Only the day before, in her Public Speaking course she presented a speech on “the importance of incorporating the arts in a well-funded public education” as her persuasive speech. Together with Public Speaking, Algebra, Psychology, AutoCAD Computer Basics, and Theatre round out Bethany’s classes as part of the Community College of Rhode Island’s “Running Start” program at the Knight and Flanagan campuses where Bethany carries a 4.2204 GPA. Wednesday nights are the only times she is on the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts campus during her senior year, for the National Honor Society meetings.

Having grown up in Warwick, Bethany applied to URI, MIT, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of New Haven. Although only MIT declined, she plans to reapply to MIT for her masters degree after graduating from URI in either mechanical or electrical engineering, “whichever helps me reach my goal,” in redesigning transportation systems.

Bethany has also been involved in her high school’s theatre productions, and is a member of the International Shakespeare Honor Society. She portrayed carpenter Peter Quince in the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which ended its run on March 1st. Bethany marveled at Beacon’s theatre director Jason LeClaire’s vision, set in the 1980s, an atmosphere of “color and magic.” She described the way director and Beacon alumna Kira Hawkridge created not only an ensemble, but a sense of home through community-building experiences. “It felt like home when I got there, just like it feels like home when I walk in my door.” Bethany has previously inhabited the roles of Smee in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and a stone in “Eurydice.” “They’re all challenging in their own rights,” she says of the various characters she’s portrayed.

Bethany appears to thrive on challenges like these. She’s a self-described “nerd,” inspired to do research to develop a car which uses bio-diesel fuel and relies on electromagnetics. Her goal is to transform transportation technology to become more eco-friendly.

During Governor Raimindo’s stay-at-home orders, when Bethany is not studying, or doing homework or chores, she enjoys playing with her three dogs, Stormy, Pandora, and Gandolf, who stands 5‘5“ on his hind legs, towering over her.

Certainly the saying “Good things come in small packages” comes to mind, as this petite young woman is a talented painter as well. Two of her favorite mediums are acrylics and stipple painting, much like Pointillism, in which she uses a fine point marker to create her images. “I donated one for a fundraiser for school.”

Bethany is excited as she embarks on her college adventure. “I’d like to acknowledge the entire faculty and staff at Beacon,” who created an atmosphere where she could thrive, “and my parents.” There’s no guidebook for parents she said, thoughtfully.

If the sign on the front lawn is any indicator, they deserve honors as well.



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