EAST PROVIDENCE — It's fairly accurate to glean from the top three students in the Class of 2023 at East Providence High School — Gayatri Buchta, Benjamin Fortin and Camryn …
EAST PROVIDENCE — It's fairly accurate to glean from the top three students in the Class of 2023 at East Providence High School — Gayatri Buchta, Benjamin Fortin and Camryn Correira — that they're pretty nonplussed about what lay ahead of them directly in the coming days as they matriculate, including the speeches they'll give at commencement set for Friday evening, June 2, at at 6:30 at Pierce Stadium.
But when you've achieved as much as they have and have shown so much promise, why would you be, actually, at their age?
Buchta is the Class of '23 valedictorian, Fortin the salutatorian and Correira, the uniquely East Providence avedatorian. They seem to share not only "smarts," but a smart sense of humor that has helped them reach such lofty academic heights as well as seemingly being rather well adjusted young adults.
Of where she is in preparing her speech, which annually serves as one of the focal points of commencement, Buchta said, "Not even close, not really, but procrastinating has gotten me through all four years, so I'll figure something out. I need to have something written beforehand at least, but it will be fine. It will work out."
Fortin had a similar take about his. "I was thinking of starting mine out something like this...'blah blah blah blah...blablah blablah blablahblah...blah.'" he said. "Yeah, I really haven't come up with much else at this point, but I think I can really do something with that. But ultimately if I can't think of something better, I'll just go with that."
Correia was the farthest along, but said she may eventually follow Fortin's lead, "I have a very, very, very rough draft, but mostly I think I'm going to focus on the hopefulness of the future for all of the students, and if not, I'll just copy Ben. I thought what he just said was really good. I'll just piggyback off of that."
Buchta has the most diverse background to draw from when she does finally put pen to paper or something like that.
Born in Sweden, the Buchta family came to the United States first in Philadelphia then to East Providence where she was home-schooled before spending a couple of years at Hennessey Elementary then headed to Martin Middle School. She will attend Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in the fall where she plans to pursue a major in Visual Arts with a minor in Translation.
"I'm hoping to become an artist, but I already speak Swedish and Spanish and I want to take Russian in college," Buchta explained of her professional aims. "I see Translation as something I could do on the side. I'm hoping it will allow me to travel the world a little bit."
Fortin is a city native, who attended Oldham Elementary School then went to Riverside Middle. He's on his way to the East Side of Providence and Brown University in the fall with the intention to pursue a degree in Biology at first and eventually get his masters.
"I definitely want to do research, do a project on my own, but I'm definitely interested in Marine Biology as well," Fortin said.
Correira, like Fortin, is an RMS alum and went to Waddington Elementary prior. She's headed up Interstate 95 to Babson College in Wellesley/Boston, where she plans to major in its specialty, Business.
"We have a family business that I want to take over (the Seekonk Grand Prix amusement center in Seekonk), but I also want to start something on my own. I just don't know what yet," Correira said.
In contrast, on what aspect of attending EPHS best prepared her for college and beyond, Correira was quite sure.
"I think it's the teachers. I think there are definitely a few specific teachers for every student who are really supportive like Mr. (Keith) Anderson and Ms. (Eve Nicole) Cleary (both Social Studies instructors) and Ms. (Ozlem) Lamontagne (Math Department chair). There are a bunch of really good teachers here in a bunch of departments."
Said Fortin, "With me, I've had a lot of instances of developing relationships with teachers, interacting with them outside the classroom as well and I think that experience here with like Mr. Anderson and Mr. (Richard) Martin (the revered former EPHS Social Studies teacher), who taught AP Gov (Advanced Placement Government), I think that really helped not just with preparing me for college, but for life in general."
Added Buchta of how the diversity of the school shapes a student going forward, "There are so many people here and there are so many different people here that graduating as a senior there are so many people I've never even talked to. And there are so many different life stories. It gives you a greater perspective."
The trio also reflected on what will be their biggest take-away from their four years at EPHS, what will likely matter most to them as they start the next chapter in their lives.
Said Buchta, "I would say for me, there's been the academic experience, but I've also had the Art classes all four years and I've have opportunities through different galleries and I've actually sold a few of my paintings. So I think getting that experience on the more professional side of things is going to give me a head start in the future."
Said Fortin, "Ultimately, I think out of everything I'm going to look back on the relationships more so than the time I spent studying. It's probably going to the times I spent goofing off in class that I'll remember most. It holds a special place in my heart, the memories I've had with my friends and the relationships I've made and the people I've met."
Added Correira, "I would say definitely the support of the some of the teachers I've had. And then the relationships with the people I've met. But there are just some teachers who have been supportive who I think I'll never lose contact with and that I'll always be able to reach out to them."
And as for a piece of advice they would give some of his younger peers at EPHS and those who will follow in the future, Fortin chimed in, "I would say a great way to start your morning...there's a pond behind the school with a huge pile of rocks around it. Just throw one in there every once in a while...It helps. It's a release."
If you know Ben, you know what that means.