November 2017
Letter from Executive Director, Donna Criscuolo

The Return of Glory

A few weeks ago, the Alumni Association hosted the first annual Homecoming Tailgate at CHS. It was a great day with sunny skies and lots of Purple Pride. We watched the game from the roof of the cafeteria overlooking the field. There were alumni in attendance from classes ranging from 1967 to 2006, as well as a few current students. We all had a good time and it was a great way to experience Classical.

However, while I was watching the game, I also saw a story of two public schools. On one side of the field was the opponent, Middletown High School, a suburban public school from a middle to upper middle class town. On the other side was Classical, an urban public school in a city with limited funding. The difference between the two was stark to me, so much so that I felt compelled to write this article.

I am not here to critique anything about either school. I simply had an experience that touched my heart. I was looking for the glory and spectacle of Classical to be on display. I did not find it. I was not alone in that assessment. One alumnus, a former football player, said he used to leave the locker room during half time just to watch the majorettes and band perform. A few others mentioned that they were waiting for the cheerleaders’ big display of school spirit, with routines in time with the band playing. Sadly, these things never happened. I was saddened that our band was without uniforms and never got to march onto the field at halftime to play. All of this led me to believe that Classical has been through some very hard times that show in ways you may not expect.

In truth, with the support of the Alumni Association, Classical is making a comeback from deep budget cuts. The school does an amazing job with its limited resources. As someone said, “They make so much from so little.” The school itself has so much pride. You can feel it when you are in the building or speaking with anyone from the administration, faculty or student body. But what happened to the spectacle? Isn’t that a part of the Classical experience too?

For those of you who felt the glory and spectacle of Classical during your time there, you need to know that it does not show itself in the same way. What you experienced was cut away through dwindling budgets and diverted funding. The marching band is making a comeback through a revitalized music program but it still has a long way to go. Its members are in t-shirts donated by the Alumni Association and are in need of real uniforms. Where the band should be playing there is now a DJ hyping up the crowd. There are no more majorettes. The cheerleaders do not have choreography with cheers at the ready and in sync with the band.

We need to help Classical make a return to glory. We need to support efforts to overcome budget deficits. Think about ways in which you can help. Go to a game and see for yourself. Walk the hallways and experience the decay of the building. Then look at the students and experience their pride. How can we help them express this pride in public and represent what we all know to be true?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I didn’t expect to walk away from the homecoming game with a sense of heartache for our students. They do not know what they do not have. They do not understand what has been lost. What I do know is that the kids are smart, talented and hardworking. They deserve a full and rich experience at Classical. The high school experience is not just about the strength of the academics and athletics. It is also about the clubs and programs that are supporting the players. If you feel loyalty towards Classical then please turn it into action. I’ll be here waiting to hear from you. It truly does take a village. The Classical community is strong and proud. Let’s put it on display for the rest of the world to see.

Donna Criscuolo
Executive Director

Alum of the Month: Tolulope Olasanoye ‘02

Name: Tolulope Olasanoye

Class Year: 2002

Post High School Education
University of Rhode Island, Class of 2007 BA Political Science and History
Roger Williams University School of Law, Class of 2012 Juris Doctor

Career Highlights
Staff Assistant, Office of Senator Jack Reed June 2007- August 2009
GOTV Director, Obama for America 2012
Assistant City Solicitor, City of Providence December 202-July 2015
Associate Director of Purchasing, City of Providence July 2015-June 2017
Executive Director, Rhode Island Democratic Party June 2017- present

What do you remember most about your time at Classical and how has your time there shaped you?
I am tremendously grateful for all the time I spent in the halls of Classical. I would not have gone to law school had it not been for the good times I had in Mr. Barr’s Law and Society Class or Mr. DiRissio’s AP US Government Class learning about how our government works and talking about social issues. I remember where I was when the world changed on September 11, 2001 and a trip we took to NYC the following spring. Instead of hanging out at the Metropolitan Art museum we went to visit that day, myself and a couple classmates skipped out to visit the make-shift memorial that was built on Ground Zero. Seeing that made me think about what I could do to make the world around me a batter place and helped put me on the path I’ve been on since then.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments or struggles to date?
Graduating from law school was a major accomplishment for me. Coming from where I grew up, the odds were stacked against me for sure. I had a bunch of good people encourage me and steer me in the right direction and with their advice, and God’s grace, I was able to walk across that stage.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Determined. Trustworthy. Jovial.

What do you do for fun?
I love spending time with my family and friends, am an avid collector of presidential bobbleheads, and am a huge fan of traveling.

You’re running late for a meeting, what’s the most likely reason why?
Forgot to put the meeting in my calendar. If its not in there, it doesn’t exist.

What was the last song you listened to?
Sky’s the Limit, Notorious BIG

What motivates you?
I want to honor the sacrifices my parents made for me and my brothers when they moved to this country in search of a better life. I also want to make a difference the lives of people in my community and people all over our state and country who are looking for the same type of opportunity to live out their dreams that I have been so fortunate to have been able to do.

November 2017 Newsletter 

Keeping up with the Classicalites
An Interview with 4 Students
By Sonia Richter ‘18
Photos by Jamiere Wilson ‘20

This month, I met with a member of each class to discuss their year so far and expectations for the future. Each of these students convey a different aspect of Classical, from Sophia, a full time athlete, to Ezari, a senior who aspires to be a fisherman like his dad. Over coffee and cider we talked about different struggles that come with each grade, our outside stress-relievers, and all there is to look forward to at Classical and beyond. Without further ado…

Louie Schlaker – Freshman 

Q- How are your classes going so far?

A- So far my classes have been good, I like my teachers a lot. My favorite class and subject right now is biology; I have a really good teacher who helps me get through all the work. My history teacher talks a lot but explains stuff well, but it’s not an easy class. I mainly get my workload from those two classes but its overall not too bad.

Q- What keeps you sane outside of school?

A- Mostly just being with my friends, going on adventures and walking around with them when we have time. They take up most of my life outside of school, just playing basketball and football and messing around. I sometimes fish with my dad too.

Q-What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced this year?

A- I guess being a freshman I’m the lowest and the youngest so after leaving in 8th grade where you’re at the top, it’s a big difference. I wouldn’t say it’s too hard but I’m working on making new friends in the grade and learning how I can contribute to my classes. Figuring out how to manage my time in my first year of high school with my friends has also been pretty tough. Freshman year isn’t supposed to be that hard but it’s a lot compared to past years, so that and just getting to know the school.

Q- What are you looking forward to in the rest of your high school experience?

A- I’m looking forward to getting to know and getting known by more people in the school. I’m excited to work my way up through classes and start to choose more classes I enjoy as well as getting to know my teachers and being able to go to them for help and getting closer to the friends I make. Knowing the community by the end would be pretty cool.

Sophia Fox – Sophomore

Q- How are your classes going so far? 

A- My classes are going pretty well. There’s a lot of work in them so it gets a little stressful when it all builds up because all of my teachers tell me their class is a priority. But it’s pretty manageable!

Q- What keeps you sane outside of school?

A- Outside of school my friends keep me sane. They’re always drama-free so it’s fun to be with them and not be stressed about anything and just talk and laugh and have a good time. Sports also help. I go to the gym aside from school sports and getting out all my stress through exercise really works well. It’s nice to have something that gets out my energy but I also enjoy doing at the same time.

Q-What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced this year?

A-The biggest challenge I’ve faced is dealing with a social life and AP classes and a job and sports and finding time to fit in my homework, just everything going on in my school year combined makes the year kind of a burden. There’s not really time for specifically anything because I’m always just thinking about the next thing I have to get done while I’m doing something- so basically time management.

Q- What are you looking forward to in the rest of your high school experience?

A- I’m looking forward to getting closer to the friends I met at the beginning of freshmen year because there’s always those super good friendships that you know you’re going to be able to keep forever and I’m just excited to know who I’m going to go into my future with. I’m also just happy to have them to help me through my high school experience so it’s not as work-filled and torturous as it could be if there was nothing keeping me sane throughout. So kind of the social connections I gain going through school.

Marie Phiata – Junior

Q- How are your classes going so far? 

A- I enjoy my classes in comparison to last year because my teachers are a lot more open and flexible and the subjects that I’m taking are geared toward what I want to do in college, which is mostly science and physics stuff. So they’re generally better because I more enjoy what I’m doing than in past years.

Q- What keeps you sane outside of school?

A-The first thing is probably exercise because it’s such a stress reducer and in general just makes me feel good, like I accomplished something if I went on a run or did a workout. There’s just something about the feeling of completely forgetting about everything and feeling great even if I’m tired. For the second thing, movies and TV shows definitely help because you just can just get lost in them for a little while and learn so many interesting things. Sometimes people are weirded out by the random weird things I know through them. I also do art, mostly ink pen and watercolor drawings either of people or abstract things, which helps exercise my creativity. I have multiple pieces for a portfolio already, so I’ve found it really helpful to make a habit of drawing and painting a couple times a week.

Q-What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced this year?

A-Probably trying to balance soccer team and all the work, especially during junior year. Soccer is a huge commitment and I wouldn’t want to not give 100%, so managing practice for two hours with homework and team events is a huge challenge. I think it’s worth it though because it teaches me to work under time limits and when I’m tired, which certainly isn’t always best but is helpful.

Q- What are you looking forward to in the rest of your high school experience?

A-Ending junior year, I know senior year will be stressful because of all the college applications, but I’m looking forward to getting to that last year where it’s a lot of fun and there’s not as much work. As a senior you get to do more of what you really enjoy and your teachers and adults take you more seriously because the year after you’re basically an adult. I guess I’m just excited for my life to actually start.

Ezari Maguire – Senior

Q- How are your classes going so far? 

A – My classes are very easy with not a lot of homework and are all going well; so far I’m on honor roll. I’m taking ceramics, AP Environmental science, AP U.S. government, British Literature, and multicultural studies. I kind of wanted this year to be stress-free, so I made my schedule not as difficult.

Q- What keeps you sane outside of school?

A – I hang out with my friends a lot, watch sports. I also really enjoy working. I work on my dad’s fishing boats in New Bedford on the weekends.

Q-What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced this year?

A – Honestly, U.S. government has been pretty hard. The last paper we wrote I asked for an extension on and I barely got in on time. I myself am I kinesthetic learner and it’s more or less lectures, so it’s hard for me to pay attention in class sometimes the way the teachers instructs and not get distracted by my phone or end up falling asleep. I do regret taking the class, it’s just not for me. Other people love it but it’s been my biggest challenge so far.

Q- Where do you see yourself next year?

I see myself at Maine Maritime academy. I always knew growing up that I didn’t want to have a normal job like working in an office; I prefer working outside and near the water so maritime school just seemed like a good choice for me. My father owns fishing boats in New Bedford and he’s been around the water his entire life and my great grandfather was in the navy, so we’ve always just been surrounded by water and we love it. It’s the only thing I could imagine doing.

Featured Student: Jamiere Wilson ‘20

Name: Jamiere Wilson

Class Year: 2020

Career Highlights
Ties with Steer Films
Behind the scenes video for local, signed artist, JDuce
Helped produce many videos for the city

What do you remember most about your time at Classical and how has your time there shaped you?
As a Student at Classical, I’ve learned to balance my time between school and work which doesn’t always necessary mean 50-50. Sometimes it’s a 65-35 relationship and I’d rather not say which is which haha. Classical has also taught me that successful people don’t sleep

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments or struggles to date?
*refer to career highlights*

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Independent, motivated, & wise

What do you do for fun?
Skateboard and Film/edit

You’re running late for a meeting, what’s the most likely reason why?
Spent too much time in the mirror or my Uber driver is clueless

What was the last song you listened to?
Kanye West – Lost in the World

What motivates you?
The fear of failure motivates me. I don’t want to end up working a job I hate. I want to grow as an artist for a living.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Many people sit around waiting for the right moment to attack their dreams. Get out there and do something. A diploma isn’t going to change a thing for you, especially when you’re just getting started so what are you really waiting for?