EPHS names Class of 2021 top three students

Buchta, Benziger, Charron lead graduates

By Mike Rego
Posted 6/8/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — In the midst of an extraordinary year, one near-completely marred by a global pandemic, East Providence High School was once again still able to produce an exceptional group of …

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EPHS names Class of 2021 top three students

Buchta, Benziger, Charron lead graduates

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — In the midst of an extraordinary year, one near-completely marred by a global pandemic, East Providence High School was once again still able to produce an exceptional group of students in the Class of 2021 led by the top three of Savasvati Buchta, George Benziger and Aileen Charron.

Buchta, EPHS’s first National Honor Society Scholarship recipient in over a decade, heads the group as the Class of ’21 valedictorian. Benziger is the salutatorian and Charron the avedatorian. Each, as expected, has a long list of accomplishments on their resumes from honor societies to class offices to club memberships to other academic and athletic achievements.

That the trio and the rest of their peers were able to wade through the mire of a senior year, and a quarter of their junior term it should be noted, almost entirely engrossed by COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, including the necessity to receive instruction on-line, is a remarkable accomplishment and is among the themes of the speeches each will deliver Friday night, June 11, during the Class of 2021 Commencement Exercises at Pierce Memorial Stadium. The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m.

The essence of Buchta’s remarks will be “perseverance and resilience,” Benziger’s “building a strong community” and Charron’s “embracing uncertainty.”

In the fall, Buchta and Benziger continue their education at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Charron will stay closer to home, attending Bryant University in Smithfield where her older brother, Elliot, an EPHS Class of 2017 alum, graduated from this spring.

Buchta intends to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering. Of her decision, she said, “I’ve always liked the problem-solving aspect of engineering. And I think that climate change, and environmental degradation more generally, is one of the greatest challenges we’re facing.”

Benziger plans to major in Industrial and Labor Relations, saying, “I’m very much into the organization of labor. I’ve always felt that it’s an important pillar of American society and the workforce.”

Charron will study Economics and Applied Mathematics, explaining, “I took Economics my sophomore year and I really enjoyed it.”

They and their classmates have needed to parse the joy and remain optimistic over the last 16 months as their world, like that of us all, was turned on its collective head due to the pandemic. It has affected everyone differently and even positively in some ways.

“I think because of all of the adversity that we’ve collectively faced, we’ve all worked together in a lot of ways to overcome this,” Benziger said of he and his peers. “And I think it shows a strength in character of this class. I think everyone going to school, the teachers and everyone associated with the school, did their best this year.”

Among Buchta’s takeaways from the events of the last year-plus is that it helped her ready for college life.

“Because it was so hard, I’m kind of grateful for the experience,” she said. “It was kind of independent, a lot of it because of us being at home, which I guess prepared me for college and that independence. So I’m kind of grateful for that. I would have preferred to have a normal school year, but you can’t change the past. So you just kind of have to live with it.”

Charron, similarly, acknowledged what was lost, but looked ahead at what she’ll gain moving forward.

“It’s been kind of hard not seeing people as much as you’re used to, not to be able to have that in-class natural interaction that we usually have, but we’ve gotten through it and I’m sure we’ll come out O.K., she said, adding, “I know my campus (Bryant) they’re doing fully in-person. They want to open it up, so I’m excited for that to get a normal freshman college experience. My brother (Owen, a 2020 EPHS grad) was a freshman last year (at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire) and he didn’t have the best experience, so I’m glad I’ll get to have that.”

Much like their predecessors, each of the 2021 top trio are products of their surroundings in the school district and at East Providence High School, especially.

Born in Sweden, Buchta later spent her formative years in Philadelphia before her family settled here and she attended Martin Middle School. Benziger also lived some of his youth abroad, attending school in Budapest, Hungary for a year then returning to the city going to Hennessey Elementary and Martin next. Charron is a “Townie” through and through, growing up in Riverside, attending elementary school at Waddington then going off to Riverside Middle.

Of their time at EPHS, they agreed the city’s multi-cultural, multi-national environment afforded them benefits not accessible to students of their age in other municipalities.

“I think all of the people you’ve met. You meet such a wide variety of people. We’re a pretty diverse city, Buchta said of the things she’s most appreciative of for attending EPHS.

Said Benziger, “Very similar to Sava’s answer, I think meeting such a diverse group of people here helps create community building, and I think we have a strong community here at East Providence High School.”

Added Charron, “Going off what they said, definitely the diversity of the community and the school. And also there are some really great teachers here, especially for the college level classes that I think prepared me for college in a good way.”

Commencement brings to an end a number of eras for the Class of 2021: the conclusion of their secondary level education, the hopeful finals days of the broader COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the existing EPHS.

As Buchta, Benziger, Charron and their mates matriculate to college and the working world, they do so being the last to graduate the second incarnation of East Providence High School. The building that has served the city so well since it opened in 1952 will soon be no more as it is razed shortly after the 2020-21 term ends in a few weeks and construction of the new EPHS behind it on Pawtucket Avenue nears its completion.

The Class Committee, on which Charron serves as vice president and Buctha as treasurer, came up with a novel way of commemorating the moment, covering up a sign on Pawtucket Avenue with a rendering of the new EPHS with another light-hearted one noting the students had received an “Eviction Notice.”

“We just wanted to do something fun that we wouldn’t get suspended for, so we did this because we kind of are getting evicted,” Charron quipped of the Class of 2021 sign.

Said Benziger of being among the final group of seniors to depart the old EPHS. “I think it’s pretty meaningful being the last class to graduate from this school, which has so much history here.”

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.