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Photos: Toll Gate’s Class of 2017 Grads Celebrate Hurdles Overcome, New Challenges

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High School's Class of 2017 listen to speakers during their graduation at CCRI Wednesday night.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High School’s Class of 2017 listen to speakers during their graduation at CCRI Wednesday night.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Austin Bell's mortar board makes a call out to his mom, who he promised that he'd graduate. "This is for her," Bell said.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Austin Bell’s mortar board makes a call out to his mom, who he promised that he’d graduate. “This is for her,” Bell said.
WARWICK, R.I.  — Toll Gate’s Class of 2017 reflected on the sudden death of Principal  Stephen Chrabaszcz and merging with Warwick Vets students Tuesday night at CCRI, as well as hard-won good grades and personal loss as they savored their final high school hours thinking on the freedom to sleep in and the opportunity to serve others.

Outside CCRI’s Knight Campus, parents, friends and the grads themselves walked solo, in pairs and groups toward the building, hurrying for seats or their place in line for commencement.

Alina Jencks, her daughters Lisa and Abbey and sister Lee-Ann Bruhn were there to see Wyat Jencks graduate. Alina said she was nervous and excited for Wyatt’s immediate future. But that was just typical parental nerves, she said. She’s confident Wyatt has a bright future.

Graduate Bianca Cozza was looking forward to studying business administration at Salve Regina, with two scholarships.

“I worked really hard these four years,” Cozza said.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s like a surreal bliss.” — Nicole Mascia

Ana Costa carried a bouquet of flowers for her graduate daughter, Victoria.

“I’m extremely excited that I got them ready for this,” Costa said, referring to Victoria and her younger brother, who is on track to graduate himself in a few years.

Near the side of the building, Kellie Mascia helped her daughter, Nicole, with her cap and gown as grad Brittney Larkin looked on.

“We’re nervous but excited,” Nicole said.

“Yeah, nervous but excited,” Brittney said.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s like a surreal bliss,” Nicole added.

Nicole said she hopes to be a nurse, and Brittney said she plans to study psychology at Johnson & Wales.

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[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High School's Class of 2017 take their seats during graduation at CCRI Wednesday night.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High School’s Class of 2017 take their seats during graduation at CCRI Wednesday night.
Inside, graduates crowded onto the first two ramps spiraling to the top of CCRI, joking and chatting while parents and guests took their seats in the field house next door. Among them was Pilgrim Principal Gerald Habershaw, principal at Warwick Veterans High School before it was closed as part of school consolidation.

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Pilgrim Principal Gerald Habershaw and Toll Gate Assistant Principal Tim Kaine, former principals at Warwick Veterans High, during graduation at CCRI Wednesday night. "I'm here for the Vets kids," Habershaw said.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski]  Toll Gate Assistant Principal Tim Kaine, and Pilgrim Principal Gerald Habershaw, former principals at Warwick Veterans High, during graduation at CCRI Wednesday night. “I’m here for the Vets kids,” Habershaw said.
“I’m here for the Vets kids,” who transferred from their old high school to Toll Gate, he explained.

A few feet up the first ramp, Austin Bell waited with friends, his thoughts on his late mother, Colleen Bell, who he promised he would graduate.

“I’m doing this for my mom,” Austin said. The mortar board on his cap read, “As promised,” and RIP, Mom.”

“I’m doing this for her,” Austin repeated. After graduation, he said, he’ll be training in the US Army to drive the 88 Mike All Wheel Troop Transport. He said he and his family, including his dad, Capt. Robert K. Bell of the North Providence Fire Department, have lived in Warwick for 50 years.

In the field house, the graduates took the front rows and listened as speakers took their turns at farewell remarks.

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High School's Class of 2017 have varied aspirations, with service a recurring theme, including nursing.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High School’s Class of 2017 have varied aspirations, with service a recurring theme, including nursing.
Zach Colon, Senior Class President at Toll Gate High, teared up as he thanked principal Candace Caluori for stepping into the principal’s role following the sudden death of Principal  Stephen Chrabaszcz in September.

“You got the title of principal in a way no one expected or wanted,” Colon said, visibly overcome, clearing tears from his eyes with his hand.

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“We move forward after difficult situations and we move forward after happy situations. You may have experienced both of these while you were at Toll Gate, but you kept on moving,” Caluori told students shortly before Colon’s remarks, referencing the loss of Chrabaszcz, the students who persevered while moving from Warwick Veterans High to Toll Gate, and the students who eased their transition.

“Although he is not here today, I know he is looking down upon us with a big smile saying how much he loves his kids,” said Valedictorian Elizabeth Carcieri.

“We are all Toll Gate, and we are all Titans. We all have limitless opportunities before us. Good luck in all of your future endeavors,” Carcieri said.

“Don’t let fear stop you from living a wild, crazy, exciting life. Take risks. Be brave. Make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. It’s gonna be a fight to live an amazing, interesting life, but it’s definitely a fight worth fighting,” Salutatorian Madeline Axtmann told her fellow graduates.

The final moments of the ceremony delivered what the graduates had been working toward through 13 years of school. They lined up as their names were called to accept their diplomas from Caluori, to cheers, applause, and waiting hugs.

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Alina Jencks, her daughters Lisa and Abbey and sister Lee-Ann Bruhn were at CCRI Tuesday to see Wyat Jencks graduate.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Alina Jencks, second from right, her daughters Lisa and Abbey and sister Lee-Ann Bruhn were at CCRI Tuesday to see Wyat Jencks graduate.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Ana Costa carried a bouquet of flowers for her graduate daughter, Victoria.at CCRI Tuesday.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Ana Costa carried a bouquet of flowers for her graduate daughter, Victoria, at CCRI Tuesday. With her is her husband, Louis.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Linda Sundstrom takes a photo of her graduate son Jonathan, at CCRI Tuesday.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Linda Sundstrom takes a photo of her graduate son Jonathan, at CCRI Tuesday.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Kellie Mascia helped her daughter, Nicole, with her cap and gown as grad Brittney Larkin looked on.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Kellie Mascia helped her daughter, Nicole, with her cap and gown as grad Brittney Larkin looked on.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Allison Godfrey and Tina Demers arrive to watch Kate Godfrey graduate Tuesday at CCRI. "She's a great girl," Godfrey said.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Allison Godfrey and Tina Demers arrive to watch Kate Godfrey graduate Tuesday at CCRI. “She’s a great girl,” Godfrey said.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Scott Morey, Ellen Morey and Gavin Flynn arrive to watch Tyler Morey graduate Tuesday at CCRI. The most exciting part of the day, Scott said, "Just watching my son graduate."
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Scott Morey, Ellen Morey and Gavin Flynn arrive to watch Tyler Morey graduate Tuesday at CCRI. The most exciting part of the day, Scott said, “Just watching my son graduate.”
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Grad Bianca Cozza will study Business Administration at Salve Regina.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Grad Bianca Cozza will study Business Administration at Salve Regina.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate grads Marisa Girard and Courtney Iadevaia wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate grads Marisa Girard and Courtney Iadevaia wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nick Zulla takes a photo of Gwendolyn Kalian, Nick Kazandjian, and Lauren Kellerman as they wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nick Zulla takes a photo of Gwendolyn Kalian, Nick Kazandjian, and Lauren Kellerman as they wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nick Zulla takes a photo of Gwendolyn Kalian, Nick Kazandjian, and Lauren Kellerman as they wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nick Zulla takes a photo of Gwendolyn Kalian, Nick Kazandjian, and Lauren Kellerman as they wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Alexis Beltran and Umair Ayaz wait for to enter the field house Tuesday at CCRI for Toll Gate High's 2017 graduation. "I'm going to help people," after studying psychology, Beltran said. Ayaz said he intends to help rebuild roads and infrastructure as an engineer.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Alexis Beltran and Umair Ayaz wait for to enter the field house Tuesday at CCRI for Toll Gate High’s 2017 graduation. “I’m going to help people,” after studying psychology, Beltran said. Ayaz said he intends to help rebuild roads and infrastructure as an engineer.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Grads, from left, Meghan Flanagan, Karinne Medeiros, Lauren Stamps, Meghan Murray, Katelyn Stamps and Madison Luisi wait to enter the field house for the 2017 Toll Gate graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Grads, from left, Meghan Flanagan, Karinne Medeiros, Lauren Stamps, Meghan Murray, Katelyn Stamps and Madison Luisi wait to enter the field house for the 2017 Toll Gate graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nadia Xavier's mortar board has a spirited hashtag parting remark.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nadia Xavier’s mortar board has a spirited hashtag parting remark.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nadia Xavier is pretty spirited herself while waiting for her diploma Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Nadia Xavier is pretty spirited herself while waiting for her diploma Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Grads, from left, Nik Zulla, Tristan Wyns and Connor Sullivan wait to enter the field house for the 2017 Toll Gate graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Grads, from left, Nik Zulla, Tristan Wyns and Connor Sullivan wait to enter the field house for the 2017 Toll Gate graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate grads Lauren Kellerman, Alyssa Ferreira and Precious Peov wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate grads Lauren Kellerman, Alyssa Ferreira and Precious Peov wait for their diplomas Tuesday at CCRI.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Aurora Palazzo and Marge Matteson waid Tuesday at CCRI to see Aubra Palazzo graduate.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Aurora Palazzo and Marge Matteson waid Tuesday at CCRI to see Aubra Palazzo graduate.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Aubra Palazzo, new graduate, returns to her seat, diploma in hand.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Aubra Palazzo, new graduate, returns to her seat, diploma in hand.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] New Toll Gate Graduates show off their diplomas.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] New Toll Gate Graduates show off their diplomas.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] A new Toll Gate Graduate makes his way to accept his diploma.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] A new Toll Gate Graduate makes his way to accept his diploma.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Bill Weaver catches a photo of his just-graduated daughter, Veronica.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Bill Weaver catches a photo of his just-graduated daughter, Veronica.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Principal Candace Caluori addresses graduates during the 2017 Toll Gate graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate Principal Candace Caluori addresses graduates during the 2017 Toll Gate graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski]
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Valedictorian Elizabeth Carcieri speaks at the 2017 Toll Gate High Graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High Class of 2017 President Zack Colon.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Toll Gate High Class of 2017 President Zack Colon.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Salutatorian Maddie Axtmann speaks at the 2017 Toll Gate High Graduation.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Salutatorian Maddie Axtmann speaks at the 2017 Toll Gate High Graduation.
[pdf-embedder url=”https://warwickpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Elizabeth-Carcieri-Speech.pdf” title=”Elizabeth Carcieri Speech”]

[pdf-embedder url=”https://warwickpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Madeline-Axtmann-speech.pdf” title=”Madeline Axtmann speech”]

[pdf-embedder url=”https://warwickpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Toll-Gate-Grad-List-Key.pdf” title=”Toll Gate Grad List Key”]

[pdf-embedder url=”https://warwickpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Toll-Gate-Graduate-List-2017.pdf” title=”Toll Gate Graduate List 2017″]