A Letter From CHSAA Executive Director, Donna Criscuolo

Happy September, Classicalites!

Welcome to the new installation of our newsletter. Each month we will be bringing you articles to keep you connected to CHSAA, the school, events, and to one another. You will notice that our Calendar of Events is expanding to create more opportunities to bring us together. CHSAA is proud to be an inclusive association. We are even creating some family friendly events in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Each month you will be hearing about what is going on in the school directly from a student in our “Classified” article. Sonia Ritcher ‘18 is our student reporter and is a wonderful addition to our editorial team. Her insight and access will keep you connected to CHS in a way we have not had before.

Another feature we are proud to launch is the “Alumnus of the Month”. This article is intended to help you stay connected to one another. Each month we will spotlight an alumnus just so you can get to know a fellow Classicalite or stay up to date with your classmates. There are no criteria for being the Alumnus of the month other than your willingness to participate!

I hope you enjoy the newsletter and find it both informative and entertaining. Please feel free to send me your feedback so that we can continue to make improvements. Remember, this is YOUR alumni association. Your voice matters, and we are listening. Together we can make a difference and “Keep Classical Strong”.
Donna Criscuolo
Executive Director

Meet Sonia Richter ’18 – CHSAA Student Writer! 

A Q&A with the Classical Alumni Newsletter’s Newest Student Writer Sonia Richter!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Well, my name is Sonia Richter. My legal name is actually Sophia but my mom is a Russian immigrant so I’ve gone by my Russian nickname since I remember. I’m a senior at Classical High school! I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, but moved to Providence less than a year later. My mom’s side is made up of Russian immigrants, most of whom live in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn now, and my dad is of French-Canadian and Native American (he presumes) descent. I’m quite the cocktail.

What classes are you taking this year? Which is your favorite?
This year I definitely have my toughest schedule. I’m taking AP Calculus BC, AP Latin, AP Literature and Composition, AP Environmental science, film studies, and ceramics. I went for a more challenging senior year but so far it’s been manageable. Usually English is my favorite class, but this year ceramics has been a blessing in disguise. I have it for the last period of the day and we just turn on music and make pots. It’s such a relaxing hour at the end of a long day, one of the few things that keeps me sane during the college process.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Driven, honest, and original.

What do you consider your passion?
My passion has always been writing, anything from poetry to essays. I try to do it as much as I can just for pleasure. Beyond that, I’d definitely say music. I’ve grown up watching my mom, a beautiful singer in multiple languages, and my dad, a prodigy guitarist, pass in and out of band after band. Even my brother works a synthesizer like no 19 year old I know. Although I had only a brief affair with the saxophone, examining different tracks with my dad and sharing my finds with anyone willing to listen is something I greatly value.

If you were to be late to a meeting, what would the reason be?
Oh goodness, I’d probably be eating. I have a pretty unhealthy love for restaurants, which unfortunately doesn’t cooperate with my bank account. I actually work as a waitress at one of my favorite breakfast places, Louie’s Family Restaurant, in the heart of Brown. I get free food whenever I want so to say it’s the perfect job is a vast understatement.

What’s your favorite thing about Classical?
My favorite thing about Classical is indisputably the student body, which is truly what makes Classical the success it is. Not only is it incredibly diverse, Classical is filled with the most passionate kids who work so hard to succeed despite their abundance of responsibilities. We’re competitive like most high schoolers, but we never fail to applaud the achievements of our peers and offer help whenever it’s needed, and that’s what makes our students so special.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
As of now, I see myself as either a journalist/writer or a lawyer. My parents have encouraged me for quite some time to pursue law purely because I have always taken a very diplomatic approach to arguing with them, often attacking the logic of the “because I said so” rebuttal. Yet, writing is what I love to do. So, I’m hoping to find a middle path between the two by then. I also hope to be fluent in Russian so I can finally have real conversations with half of my family.

How has your time at Classical taught you?
Classical has taught me so many things that it may be easier to just make a brief list of them.
1) Stay on top of current events!
Something I found in a good amount of classes and even outside of class at Classical is political discussion. We are a school of strong opinions and advocacy, which is something that I’ll definitely take with me to college.
2) Diversity is IMPORTANT
As a white female living on the East Side, middle school came nowhere close to giving me the cultural perspective that everyone needs. Classical, on the other hand, is full of different cultures and voices that join to create this beautiful home of acceptance. Not only has my high school experience made me more open-minded, it has introduced me to fascinating cultures that I never knew existed.
3) You are never alone
This school is far from a walk in the park. Nearly every class is difficult and time consuming and sometimes it seems like teachers aren’t aware of your massive workload. What I have found over my four years here is that asking for help is the smartest thing you can do. Teachers and counselors are such valuable resources, whether it’s for clarification or a pat on the back. Without some of the teachers I’ve encountered, I wouldn’t be the student I am today.

It Takes A Village and Our Village Responded’ 

On Saturday, August 5th 2017 the Class of ‘87 celebrated their 30th reunion in Providence, RI. While reunions are a fun way to reconnect with classmates, the Class of ‘87 used their reunion as a platform to give back to the school.

We reached out to Marc Lavine ‘87, who initiated the charitable project, to find out more about what prompted him to fundraise for the school and how he went about it. Marc draws the inspiration for this project back to March 2017 when his brother, Jonathan Lavine ‘84, was notified of his nomination for our Distinguished Alumni Award. Curious about how Classical has changed since ‘84 Jonathan reached out to our Executive Director, Donna Criscuolo, to discuss the current demographics of the student body and how the needs of the student body have changed since Jonathan was a student. Jonathan and Marc discussed the changes the Classical student body has undergone and the challenges today’s Classical student faces. This information moved Marc to initiate a reunion fundraiser for the school.

Marc reached out to fellow classmates Robin Goldstein Jones and Patty Buchanan to structure and execute their charitable project. Robin, whom Marc describes as an invaluable ‘leadership resource’ and true partner in this venture, wrote an appeal letter which was posted to a Facebook group dedicated to the Class of 1987’s 30th reunion. Utilizing the Facebook group and word of mouth, the Class of ‘87 successfully raised $3,120 in cash to be disbursed in food and clothing gift cards, brought in 45 new backpacks, and $205 in gift cards.

The Class of ‘87 serves as inspiration to alumni and as a testament to the true character of Classicalites. When we asked Marc if he had a special message for our readers, he responded: “I’d like everyone reading this to know that the students at Classical are a special bunch and that at one point we were that special bunch and someone helped us. Now it’s our turn to help this group of Classical students be their best. This is their chance. Our job as alumni is to let people know what’s out there waiting for them and encourage them to keep going. If you need a little help along the way, that’s okay. When you’re 27 and you’re out in the work force for 5 years, just remember it and pay it forward.”

Thank you, Class of ‘87, for giving back to the school that gave so much to us. A great effort is required to rally people together and inspire them to contribute and the Class of ‘87 has done both. To quote Robin and Marc, “It takes a village and our village responded.”

Written by Leila Chammas ‘06

Alumnus of the Month: Marc Lavine ’87

Name: Marc Lavine

Class Year: 1987

Post High School Education
BS in Business Administration – Boston University Questrom School of Business ’91 – Concentration in Finance
MBA – Columbia Business School ’95

Career Highlights
Simon Baron Development – Director / Head of Capital Markets: November 2016 – Present
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. – Managing Director Leveraged Finance Sales: April 1997 – October 2016
Nortek Inc – Auditor: August 1991 – May 1993

What do you remember most about your time at Classical and how has your time there shaped you?
I remember my teachers’ commitment to my education. I still speak Spanish today thanks to Ms. Criscione and Mr. Gentile. One of my favorite books is still “A Tale of Two Cities” because of the way it was presented to us in 10th grade English. I remember the buzz in the cafeteria during homecoming and the excitement of a Classical basketball game. We all had our subset of friends but we were always a community.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments or struggles to date?
I am still working on my greatest accomplishment which will be my kids growing up to be upstanders in our world. Cycle for Survival’s growth is one of my greatest personal accomplishments to date. Cycle for Survival is an indoor cycling event which raises money for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. We have raised over $140 million over our 12 year history with 100% of that going to the research. A friend of mine and her husband founded it and I joined not long after it launched. It has been an incredible journey to help grow a charity that now makes such an impact.
My greatest struggle is time. It is a challenge to balance the time for my work, my family, workout time and time for things like Cycle for Survival. I am always wishing my day had 25 hours. My wife Lori deserves an article about her for being so supportive.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Join the battle.

What do you do for fun?
For a very long time it was martial arts. Now, I love family hikes, long bike rides and watching my kids try anything new and adventurous.

You’re running late for a meeting, what’s the most likely reason why?
I was deep in concentration on a project and never looked up at the clock on my computer.

What was the last song you listened to?
Sky Full of Stars by Cold Play – this morning.

What motivates you?
The chance to be greater than I was the day before. I wake up everyday believing I have the opportunity to grow and be more.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I feel fortunate to call myself a member of the class of ’87. I am part of a special group of people that has chosen to make it’s footprint in humanity. We have journalists, educators, military leaders, a presidential speechwriter, incredible physicians and many others who have taken their craft and bettered our world with it. Our fundraiser was about more than raising money. It was about sending a message to our alumni base and the current student body that this proud Classical High School community stands together.