2018-06-14 / Front Page

NERONHA IS N.K. VALEDICTORIAN

Fourth Jamestowner in six years to earn honor
BY RYAN GIBBS


Josh Neronha gives his valedictorian speech during North Kingstown High School’s graduation ceremony at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center. He highlighted the class of 2018’s sense of community in his remarks. Josh Neronha gives his valedictorian speech during North Kingstown High School’s graduation ceremony at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center. He highlighted the class of 2018’s sense of community in his remarks. For the fourth time this decade, a Jamestowner is the top senior at North Kingstown High School.

Joshua Neronha graduated as valedictorian of the class of 2018 during Monday’s ceremony at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center. The 17-year old Ranger Court resident learned about his ranking at a special breakfast for the top-10 seniors in February.

“It was exciting,” he said. “I’ve worked hard. I’ve also really enjoyed my time learning and everything else that goes along with high school. It was really a proud moment for me.”

Neronha is the second member of his family to graduate at the top of his class. His older brother, Zachary, was valedictorian at Prout School in 2015. He also joins a growing list of Jamestowners who have been named North Kingstown valedictorian, including Noah Simmons in 2016, Sam Hollister in 2014 and Nathan Lambert in 2013.


Neronha accepts his diploma from principal Denise Mancieri. 
PHOTO BY FERNANDO MELINO Neronha accepts his diploma from principal Denise Mancieri. PHOTO BY FERNANDO MELINO Being the valedictorian represents a special significance to Neronha. It’s not simply a designation of the smartest student, he said, but it is proof of the hard work he’s accomplished during his four-year tenure.

“After all the hours that I worked and late nights doing homework, it’s nice to have some validation,” Neronha said. “It shows that you put in the effort. At the end of the day, it has to be someone. I’m happy that it could be me.”

At the ceremony, Neronha gave a speech that reflected the high school’s sense of community.

“Our years here have not only taught us how to do trigonometry or how to analyze a poem, but that we should always value and love our communities,” he said. “Our experience as the North Kingstown High School class of 2018 will always remind us to love being part of something larger, why it’s worth it to work with others towards a greater good. With this principle guiding us in the years ahead, I am confident that each one of us can, and will, change the world in our own unique ways.”

It took Neronha about four hours to write his first draft of the speech. After that, he sought input from his friends and teachers for the editing process. He then spent three weeks writing multiple revisions before settling on his final copy.

During his tenure at North Kingstown, Neronha was involved everywhere. He was the president of the student government his senior year, a member of the mock trial team, and played saxophone in the jazz band. He also arranged the school’s involvement in the March for Our Lives protest in support of gun control in March.

“I was very busy,” he said.

Neronha, a native Jamestowner, is the son of Peter Neronha and Shelly Johnson. His father, a former U.S. attorney who is running for Rhode Island attorney general, said he was proud of his son for challenging himself in high school.

“It’s a tribute to his hard work,” he said. “He really worked hard to get involved in as many things as he could.”

In September, Neronha will attend Brown University in Providence. He has yet to decide his major, but students at the Ivy League college do not have to declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. The school’s appeal was its open curriculum in which there are no credit distribution requirements and students can take whatever classes they wish.

“I have a lot of very diverse interests that don’t really match up,” he said. “I think I might want to do engineering, but I also like chemistry and economics and Spanish literature. It really gives me a very interesting way to go, and be able to take all the classes I want to take with no limitation.”

Neronha said Lawn School graduates planning to attend North Kingstown should reach out and meet their new classmates. He also told them to take classes that interest them and consider joining a club. Going from Jamestown to North Kingstown, he said it was “incredible” to have the prospect of studying software engineering or joining a mock trial team.

“There’s just so many different opportunities that I could never imagine as a middle-schooler,” he said. “The most important thing is to get involved.”

Thirty-eight Jamestowners graduated Monday. Along with Neronha’s valedictory address, the commencement featured speeches from Phil Auger, who is superintendent of the North Kingstown school district, and guest speaker Robert Weygand, a former Rhode Island lieutenant governor. The head of Jamestown’s school department, Ken Duva, was proudly in attendance.

Among the Jamestowners graduating were Moira Flath and her twin sister, Katie. The day before the ceremony, Moira said she was looking forward to hearing her friend give the speech.

“We’ve been friends for eight years now, and I’m really happy for him,” she said. “I’m so excited to see all his hard work pay off.”

Return to top