VHS sends seniors off with success foundation
June 10, 2013
By Julie Lucas
VICENZA, Italy -- With a small graduating class of just 50, Vicenza High School seniors make up in possibilities what they may lack in numbers.
If you were to look at the list of colleges these seniors have been accepted to, you might think it is the annual list of top colleges. Norwich, Citadel, Texas A&M and Old Dominion are just a few of the schools that have sent letters welcoming VHS graduates to their prestigious campuses.
"I think that this shows the level of education and the quality of students we have attending our schools," said Annette Allen, senior class guidance counselor.
It is estimated that nearly 85 percent of the senior class has plans to attend college. Of course none of this has come easily to these students. A few of this year's seniors attended a fifth year in order to complete the necessary classes to graduate.
"I think this is unfortunately common in military children, constantly changing schools," Allen said.
For the first time ever, VHS held a senior recognition night in which students received scholarships and other recognitions for classes and clubs. The guest speaker at the event was John-Luca Harbeson, a 1998 graduate of VHS who now works as the Youth Center director.
"You begin high school as a child and leave an adult," Harbeson said. "Leave your heart wide open and try to excel in everything you do. All choices will impact your future."
The night kicked off with Joshua Lessard receiving the VFW scholarship from Commander Corey Kertzmann, who urged the seniors to tell underclassmen to apply for everything they can.
The Vicenza PTSA awarded $3,500 in scholarships to six seniors: Earl Denmon, Ann Marie Francis, Robert Alex McKenzie, Ashley Neill, Will Pagan and Ian Tramm. The VHS Booster Club awarded $7,500 to eight seniors. Two ROTC scholarships were awarded to Ben Owens and William Pagan by Col. Robert McKenzie, father of 2013 graduate Robert Alex McKenzie, who joked about not only assisting with the scholarship process but feeding the future leaders in his home.
Two VHS seniors have been accepted in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which accepts 1,200 per year. Both Rima Gasparini and Liam Manville have earned full scholarships to the Army's premier university, having received appointment from either the president, the vice president or a member of Congress.
Robert Alex McKenzie also received the Defense Commissary Agency scholarship.
All participating seniors were called to the front and had their activities and achievements read. Teachers from different departments selected outstanding students from their classes to receive awards, including club awards from Future Business Leaders of America and Model United State Senate, and Italian and Spanish honor society students received cords to wear on graduation day.
Nine students with grades of 85 or above in math or English on the Terra Nova tests, and a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above received a presidential award signed by President Barack Obama.
Honors diplomas for those who took four or more Advanced Placement classes with a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or above went to Gasparini, Manville, McKenzie and Pagan. In addition , Principal Awards were given to Pagan and Francis, and Cougar awards were given to Gasparini and Kate Panian.
The senior class recognized two mothers who had helped with numerous activities.
Assistant Principal Bernie Camuso delivered the closing remarks, asking everyone to do the math and figure out how much scholarship money had been awarded to this year's graduates. The total came to $378,500.
The VHS Cougar senior class of 2013 will conduct their graduation ceremony June 8 at the Teatro Olimpico in downtown Vicenza. Other upcoming year end activities will include a baccalaureate ceremony at the chapel, a music banquet and a senior picnic and pool party.