By HERALD STAFF
1. Samuel Latzman
Samuel Latzman, valedictorian of Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Brown University this fall. He plans to study biochemistry and molecular biology.
Latzman was involved in a range of groups and activities during his time at West, including Science Olympiad, Math Team, Academic Decathlon and Science Bowl – serving as a captain for all four – as well as Freshman Mentors, Peer Tutoring, Class Council, Student Council, Teen Leadership Club, National Honors Society and Model UN. He was vice president of the Red Cross Club, and outside of school, he taught Hebrew and religious school at his temple.
His list of special awards and honors is also lengthy. He has received the Rensselaer Medal, Heart of a Mathematician Award, Science Department Award, Social Studies Department Award, Harvard Book Award, Jae S. Lim Excellence in Science Award and the Outstanding Achievement in AP US History Award. Additionally, he was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Merit Scholar Finalist, and a member of both the National Honors Society and the Rhode Island Honors Society.
What will Latzman remember most from his high school career?
“The people; I will remember my friends most,” he said. “Aside from making long study sessions immeasurably easier, my friends made high school fun. In class, at meetings for extracurricular activities, or somewhere outside of school, I was always lucky enough to have a friend nearby. Some of my fondest high school memories take place in classrooms after school, laughing with my friends about all the beakers we broke in chemistry class or fighting to win that week’s practice Science Bowl round. I may forget some – or most – of the material I learned in class, but I can only hope I will never forget the people with whom I learned.”
Asked who has been most responsible for his success in, and enjoyment of, high school, Latzman cited his “family, friends and teachers.”
He added: “Thank you, Mom, for providing a nurturing, loving environment for me to grow. Thank you, Dad, for always pushing me to be the best at everything I do. Thank you, Nate, my brother, for always keeping me on my toes. Thank you, Nana, for teaching me to read before kindergarten and forging a lifelong love of learning. Thank you, Papa, for teaching me to be a kind person. Thank you to my teachers for providing the information – and friendship – I need to succeed. Lastly, thank you, each and every one of my friends, for making the past four years of my life fun. I could not have made it this far without all of you.”
In terms of his motivation to excel, Latzman said that since a young age, “I have striven to always do everything to the best of my ability.”
“I have made it a point to avoid comparing myself to others; I believe I am motivated by the desire to be a better student than myself the day before, not a better student than anyone around me,” he said. “To me, school was not simply a means to an end. My goal was not to ‘win’ or end up somewhere in particular; I wanted to learn as much as possible, and I am proud to report that I am making limited progress.”
Latzman also reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the class of 2021 and his own plans for the future.
“This year has been mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging for all of us,” he said. “I did not experience a so-called normal school day until the last day of senior year when I finally attended in-person class to bid farewell to my friends and teachers. To cope with remote learning and isolation, I spent an unhealthy amount of time talking to my friends this year, whether via text, discord message, or FaceTime.”
He added: “With regards to my future plans, the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed my aspirations to become a physician. I watched from home as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers saved the lives of thousands of COVID patients, communicated public health information to the world, and helped us recover as a society. I decided I, too, want to be a part of that group, and I am excited to see what the future holds for me.”
2. Catherine Consiglio
Catherine Consiglio, salutatorian of the Cranston High School West class of 2021, will attend Duke University this fall to study biomedical engineering.
A member of the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center’s Pre-Engineering and Robotics program, Consiglio’s time at West has included involvement in a number of activities and groups. She played on the varsity cross country, soccer and track teams, served as a tutor and Freshman Mentor, and earned a state bronze medal in the SkillsUSA competition. She served as president of the Student Council and as a member of the National Art Honor Society Executive Board.
Consiglio has received numerous awards and honors for her academic and extracurricular pursuits, including the Rhode Island Interscholastic League 2020-21 Student-Athlete Leadership Award, 2020 Civic Leadership Award, Massachusetts Maritime Future Women Leaders in STEM Award, Stonehill College Book Award, Society of Women Engineers Award, Bausch and Lomb Excellence in Science Award and 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Leadership Award. She was additionally named to the 2020-21 Girls Soccer Academic All-Division team, earned All-Division track honors, and received the RI Cross Country Coach’s Award.
Consiglio said as she moves on to the next chapter in her life, she will remember “the people in the Cranston West community.”
“One thing that has been the most important to me during my time at West is making meaningful relationships with everyone around me,” she said. “Cranston West is filled with some amazing teachers, faculty, staff, and students, and over my four years, I’ve tried to learn as much as possible from all of them. Although I’m graduating and moving on in my educational career, the relationships I’ve worked so hard to build are pieces of high school I will never lose and will have for the rest of my life.”
Consiglio expressed gratitude to several family members, coaches, educators and friends. She thanked her parents, Mike and Alyson, and younger sister, Michaela, “for all of their love and encouragement”; Mrs. Velino and robotics teacher Mr. Spidell, “who have invested so much time and effort into me”; Coach Soscia and Student Council advisor Ms. Barlow “for their constant support”; and “my best friend of 18 years,” Isabella Corso.
“I’ve used the last four years to challenge myself in as many ways as possible,” Consiglio said. “I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t have to choose one avenue of high school. I think that’s a message that can easily get lost in translation for a lot of people, but being able to graduate as a well-rounded community member is something that I’ve strived for, and can only hope it sets an example for the underclassmen behind me.”
In terms of how the pandemic shaped her senior year and future plans, Consiglio said: “It’s been really hard spending the majority of my senior year apart from a lot of my classmates, as this is the final year we all have to share together. However, being someone that’s made on-the-go a personality trait, I think that taking a step back and having normalcy put on pause definitely presented itself as a blessing and a curse. I’ve been able to use that time to reevaluate my perspective before I begin the next chapter of my life, and I think it’s caused me to grow up a lot quicker.”
3. Samah Alam
Samah Alam, who ranks third in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Brown University in the fall. She has yet to choose a major.
At West, Alam took part in an array of extracurricular pursuits. She was captain of the Science Olympiad and Academic Decathlon teams, a participant in the Science Bowl, a member of the Math Team and a peer tutor. She sang in the Chamber Choir and was selected for the All-State Choir.
Her academic achievements earned her membership in the National Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. She has also been honored as a National Merit Scholarship finalist and Presidential Scholar semifinalist. She received the Math Team Award and Jae S. Lim Scholarship in Mathematics, and has been recognized for Excellence in Spanish 5 Honors/EE, Excellence in Choir and Excellence in AP United States History.
“I will remember my incredible teachers, who were thoughtful and understanding, and all the hard-working faculty who assisted students and made Cranston West a welcoming space,” Alam said of her high school career. “I will also remember my interesting classes and clubs, where I had the opportunities to travel around New England and meet extraordinary people. I will keep the valuable lessons and memories from these experiences with me.”
Who contributed most to Alam’s success during, and enjoyment of, high school?
“My friends and family kept me grounded and pushed me to do better,” she said. “They made school something to look forward to and enjoy. Without their continuous love and support, I would not be where I am today. I will cherish all the laughs we shared along the way.”
Alam said her parents’ experience has been a significant motivating factor in her approach to her studies.
“The people around me and my desire to make them happy motivated me to excel,” she said. “My mom and dad immigrated here from Bangladesh, and continue to work hard and sacrifice so much to provide me with a good education. Their dedication to academics has been a huge inspiration for me to try my best. I hope to make them, as well as my teachers and friends, proud. “
Asked how the pandemic affected her class and her plans for the future, Alam said: “I try to keep a positive mindset in face of hardship, and feel the support of the people around me. I hope to use my education to help anyone in need and work towards a more equitable and just future.”
4. Marc Cabral
Marc Cabral, the fourth-ranked member of Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall to pursue a doctorate at the College of Pharmacy.
While at West, Cabral took part in Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad, Math Team and marching band. He received a silver medal in the Decathlon’s essay competition. His other recognitions and honors include the Science Department Award, AP Calculus Award and Excellence in Band Award.
What will Cabral remember most from his time at West? “Playing yard games in the quad during recess with my friends,” he said. “Most notably hacky sack.”
Cabral credits his success to his mother and said his friends made high school enjoyable. His primary motivator to excel, he said, “was fear of being left behind and fear of not being good enough for others and myself.”
Asked how the pandemic has affected his future plans or changed his outlook, Cabral said: “COVID-19 has not changed my plans. I still plan on attending college and becoming a pharmacist in the future. As for outlook, I see how vulnerable humans are and why it is important to always take care of yourself and others.”
5. Cheyenne Chin
Cheyenne Chin, who ranks fifth in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Northeastern University this fall to major in biology on a pre-med track.
Chin’s extracurricular pursuits at West included musical, athletic and academic activities. She was a drum major in the Marching Band, a member of the Chamber Orchestra and a player on the varsity girls hockey team. She was a member of the Science Olympiad, Academic Decathlon and Science Bowl teams, part of the Multicultural Student Union, a Class Council delegate, a freshman mentor and peer tutor, and a member of the Math Team.
In Science Olympiad, Chin was honored with several medals, including silvers in the Boomilever and Geologic Mapping competitions and a gold in Forensics. Musically, she was recognized for Demonstrated Excellence in Solo and Ensemble Festival, Highest Honors. She received a bronze medal and honorable mention on the National Spanish Exam and was named an AP Scholar with Honor.
“The most prominent memories that come to mind when thinking about high school definitely have to do with the extracurricular activities I was a part of,” Chin said. “Traveling to UConn for Science Bowl, having Science Olympiad competitions at RIC and Brown, being in the stands and running cheers, leading the band downfield during halftime, playing hockey as both an offensive player and defenseman, marching down Main Street in Disney, and so much more. These events have truly played an integral part to my core memories at Cranston West.”
Who contributed most to Chin’s success and enjoyment of high school?
“Though my parents haven’t put much pressure on me to excel in school, I truly wish to make my family and friends proud through my hard work and success,” she said. “Being able to have such brilliant friends to turn to when I have a dumb question about biology or calculus – thanks, everyone – has been truly remarkable as they take the time to truly help me understand anything academically. And of course, the hard work my teachers have put into their classes to truly teach me the nuances of each subject is irreplaceable.”
Asked what motivated her to excel, Chin said: “For me, I find it very important to give it your all in everything you do.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, Chin said while it has been an “unconventional year” that involved spending most of her time at home, the experience “has taught me that perseverance is key to maintaining success in difficult circumstances.”
6. Liandro Feliz
Liandro Feliz, who ranks sixth in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will study neuroscience this fall at Princeton University.
Outside of the classroom, Feliz took part in a range of activities during his time at West. He was a member of Science Olympiad, the Math Team and Academic Decathlon, as well as the varsity tennis team. He spent three years in the Chamber Orchestra, serving as first violinist and principal violinist, and four years with the All-State Orchestra as first and second violinist.
Feliz’s academic achievements earned him membership in the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. He is a National Hispanic Recognition Program Awardee, a 2020 National Spanish Exam bronze medalist, a 2021 Science Olympiad gold medalist in Forensics and Sounds of Music, and a 2020 Academic Decathlon bronze medalist in Interview and Mathematics. He has received the 2021 American Mathematical Society Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics Award, the Cranston West Excellence in Chamber Orchestra Award, the 2021 Ken Hopkins Mayoral Scholarship and the 2021 Picerne Family Scholarship. He additionally earned “Superior Level” honors in the Rhode Island Music Education Association Solo & Ensemble event.
“I will always remember being able to go into the quad during lunch and being able to relax with casual games of hacky sack and badminton,” Feliz said. “I will also always remember the videos I would make for Spanish class and the how fun they were to make. Of course, I will also never forget the bonds I have been able to forge with my teachers and classmates.”
Feliz attributed his success to his teachers, as well as the leadership of Cranston Public Schools.
“I’m lucky to have had such great teachers throughout my years to guide my intelligence as a way to grow and learn,” he said. “I’m also lucky to have a great school administration and school board; I’ve had the opportunity of being able to take part in many new classes and experiences because of these people.”
He added: “Most of all, my friends have always been a beacon of hope by my side. I’m glad to have classmates such as Sam Latzman, Samah Alam, Marc Cabral, Cheyenne Chin, Isaiah Fernandez and Pallavi Kamsani by my side to both help me with my studies and to help me grow as a person. Not only have they been great classmates, but they have grown to become the greatest friends one could ask for.”
Feliz also spoke of how his parents’ story has driven him to excel.
“All of my motivation to succeed comes from my parents,” he said. “Both my parents emigrated to the U.S. from small villages in the Dominican Republic. They came for a chance at a better life and family. They instilled in me the importance of learning, community and respect – ideas that resonates with CHSW’s identity. Every day, I am grateful to see how far we came from our humble beginnings.”
Feliz said he plans to pursue a career in medicine due to his “passion for community service” and desire to “continue helping and healing others in need of it.”
“I am thankful for the life and opportunities I have been given, and I continue to be motivated by these things every day,” he said.
Feliz said after a year with limited social opportunities due to the pandemic, he has a busy summer plan. On his list? Making a short film, visiting every city and town in Rhode Island, dining out, and making an album of music.
“In regards to changes to my outlook, I’ve become more grateful for life and the things I have,” he said. “Several family passings have shown me that life is precious and you have to cherish every second of it. A bit cliché, but an all too necessary revelation during these stressful and demanding times.”
7. Isaiah Fernandez
Isaiah Fernandez, who co-ranks seventh in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend the University of Rhode Island this fall. He plans to major in cell and molecular biology.
During his time at West, Fernandez played on the boys tennis team, performed with the Chamber Orchestra and was a member of Science Olympiad, Academic Decathlon and the Multicultural Student Union. He earned a silver medial in the National Spanish Exam and won a pair of medals in Science Olympiad – a gold in the Sounds of Music event and a bronze in Chemistry Lab.
“I will remember most the friendships I made along the way and the times I spent with my friends,” he said of his high school years. “I will also remember the strong sense of community and belonging I felt at Cranston West.”
Asked who contributed most to his success, Fernandez said: “My amazing ensemble of friends made going to school an enjoyable experience everyday. My teachers have also contributed immensely, especially my orchestra teacher, Mrs. Richardson. She not only is an excellent music teacher but also provided countless life lessons. My family also contributed to my success. They provided the love and support I needed to do well in school.”
Fernandez said his drive to excel stemmed from a “deep interest in the courses and material being taught” and the “excellent job” his teachers did in “making the material interesting and making me want to do well in their classes.”
Fernandez said during the pandemic, he coped by “focusing on my hobbies such as music and language learning,” as well as by “keeping in contact with friends and family digitally.”
The events of the past year, he added, have “reaffirmed my conviction to become physician in the future.”
7. Abigail Shellard
Abigail Shellard, who co-ranks seventh in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Clemson University in the fall. As a member of the university’s Honors College, she plans to major in graphic communications.
Shellard has been involved in numerous groups and activities during her high school career. She was vice president of the Class Council, a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards District 7950 student leader, a lector and retreat leader for the Holy Apostles Life Teen Program, and a member of the Cranston West Student Leadership.
She played on the girls soccer team, participated in club soccer, took part in Holy Apostles Teens on a Mission in 2020,served as a freshman mentor and served on West’s I.L.P. Committee. She was a member of the school’s Media Club and Advanced Teaching of Modern Science, or A.T.O.M.S., group, and she also earned admission to the National Honor Society.
Shellard’s list of special honors and recognitions is also lengthy. She received the 2020 Rhode Island Civic Leadership Award and earned a gold medal in the Advertisement Design portion of the SkillsUSA Rhode Island competition, giving her a spot in the national competition. This year, she has been awarded the Picerne Family Foundation Scholarship, the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance Scholarship and the Rotary Club of Cranston Community Service Scholarship.
In an outline of her recognitions, Shellard adds: “Additionally, I have been recognized for my efforts in the study of the Italian language (National Italian Exam Achievement Certificate, Level 2 and 3, A Level, grades 9 and 10), in writing (Letters About Literature RI State Semifinalist, Level 3, grade 9), and in media (New England Scholastic Press Association Journalism Award in Scholastic Editing and Publishing- Special Achievement, grade 9).”
“I think what I am going to remember most about high school are all of the little things that make the stress and commotion of high school just a little better,” Shellard said. “Whether it was eating a Culinary breakfast with the Student Leadership team, running to get a calzone at lunch before they sold out, cheering on the football team with my friends at Cranston Stadium, or seeing the coffee cart rolling down the hallways, there were special moments in each day at West that made bad days a little bit better. Those little things are so unique and special to high school and overall made my experience that much more memorable.”
Asked who contributed most to her success and enjoyment of high school, Shellard cited the “amazing teachers that I have had throughout my time in high school, especially my senior year teachers.”
“They really made sure to support us in any way possible throughout such a difficult year, but still pushed us towards success each and every day,” she said. “The teacher that had the most lasting impact on my four years, however, was my Graphic Communications teacher, Mrs. Regina Hogan. She was the one who opened my eyes to a career in the graphic design field, and inspired me to develop my passion for the field.”
Shellard also said her family has been a “major source of support in my life, especially my parents these past few years.”
“I also can not forget about my friends, who truly made high school an unforgettable experience,” she added. “Throughout the years, they have stood by my side and cheered me on through all of my endeavors. I truly would not be the person I am today without them.”
Shellard described herself as “self-motivated” and said academic success has brought her “a sense of satisfaction and validation.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, she said: “This year was super challenging for me, not only academically, but emotionally as well. I struggled with accepting the fact that our last year of high school was going to be anything but normal. However, these feelings were able to bring about a new perspective that life can change in an instant, and to make sure to take advantage of every opportunity presented to you … I have learned to live my life with no regrets and look to find opportunities to live life to its fullest potential.”
9. Pallavi Kamsani
Pallavi Kamsani, who ranks ninth in the Cranston High School West class of 2021, will study computer science at Northeastern University this fall.
During her time at West, Kamsani was founder and president of the Cranston West American Red Cross Club, captain of varsity swim team and a member of the varsity girls soccer team, Math Team, Academic Decathlon, Chamber Choir, Hunger Awareness Club, Rhode Island Youth Council and Teen Leadership Committee.
She served as a tutor, was a corporate CFO for a Prepare RI internship and served as social media director for The Empowerment Factory. Her volunteer work has included the Save the Alarm event, Healthy Living Community event, RI Annual Summer Readathon, Providence Thanksgiving Food Drive, Elisha Project, 5K charity runs and park clean-ups.
Kamsani’s academic achievements earned her membership in the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. She has earned highest honors and received the AP Scholar Award, Departmental Award for Excellence in Choir and COVID-19 Innovation Challenge Scholarship. Athletically, she was a state qualified in swimming and played club soccer for Bruno United, which won several titles, including URI College Showcase Champions.
“I will remember the friendships and bonds I made with my classmates, teammates and school faculty who helped me navigate through high school,” Kamsani said of her time at West. “My parents and brother were the major contributors to my academic and extracurricular success through their support and efforts to help me reach my full potential. They always recognize my hard work and I hope to make them even more proud in the future.”
Kamsani said her motivation to excel “came through the people around me who always gave words of advice and encouraged my academic and personal endeavors.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, she said: “Although COVID-19 stripped me of a normal senior year, I still tried to make the most out of the situation. Whether it was during online classes or when I went to swim practice, I always maintained a positive attitude and remembered to appreciate the little things around me.”
10. Ava Santamaria
Ava Santamaria, who ranks 10th in the Cranston High School West class of 2020, will attend Boston College in the fall and major in neuroscience at the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.
During her time at West, Santamaria was active in a number of groups and activities. She was a four-year member of the varsity golf team, being named captain in her senior year, and served as a team leader for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraising efforts. She was also a Class Council delegate, a peer tutor, and a member of the groups Students Against Destructive Decisions, Best Buddies, A.T.O.M.S. and Find a Cure Club.
In terms of honors and recognitions, Santamaria has earned induction into the National Honors Society, Rhode Island Honors Society and Italian Honors Society; received First Team All-State Girls Golf honors in 2019 and 2021; was named Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Student of the Year in 2020; won a bronze medal in the 2019 SkillsUSA competition; and received the Michael J. Palmer and Honey Dew Donuts Scholarship.
“I will remember the strong bonds I have formed with my classmates and teachers and all of the fun football games and spirit weeks that united our school together,” Santamaria said of her time at West. “My success is credited to my supportive teachers pushing me to be the best version of myself, alongside the everlasting encouragement from my parents. In terms of enjoyment, the past four years spent with my best friends certainly made my high school experience unforgettable.”
Asked about her motivation to excel, Santamaria said: “Ever since I was little, I have possessed the drive to succeed academically. I have always truly enjoyed being in the classroom and learning new things, and I think this translates into the hard work I have put forth throughout my high school career.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, she said it has “made a major impact on my graduating class” and “taught all of us to appreciate every moment spent together and not take anything for granted.”
“I am grateful that we were all able to come together with a high school graduation and prom to celebrate our achievements,” she said.