Graduation 2015: Classical High School

Here are some of the outstanding graduates of our Class of 2015

Karolain De Los Santos was exhibiting some unusual physical symptoms as an eight-year-old girl that at first were chalked up to the quirky habits of a developing child.

Thankfully, her mother knew intuitively that something was not right, and pushed for a second opinion. Numerous tests later, an MRI revealed a brain tumor affecting her muscle movements, and Karolain had to begin a regimen of chemo and radiation. Her treatment was successful in eradicating the cancer, but left her with some lingering physical effects that persist.

Karolain had to re-teach herself to write with her non-dominant left hand. Her muscles still contract, leaving her with an awkward gait and unexpected movements. In a small middle school environment, she found that most of her classmates were aware and understanding of her differences, but when she moved on to Classical High School, where her graduating class is the same size as her entire previous school, she felt self-conscious and worried.

Feeling a bit isolated, Karolain turned her attention to her schoolwork, and her grades showed her careful attention. Gradually, she acclimated to the larger school, and began to make friends, even getting involved with the Providence Youth Center and Young Voices.

Now as a graduating senior, Karolain is a young woman with six Advanced Placement classes under her belt, an impressive resume of community involvement, and a cumulative “A” average that puts her in the top 15% of her very competitive class. Karolain plans to attend Bryant University in the fall to study business.

Newell Roberts has been battling Lyme disease since childhood. He was tick-bitten at two years old, then bitten again at 15, which caused his symptoms to explode. He suffered physical pain, disrupted vision, excruciating headaches, hallucinations, significant weight loss, and extreme exhaustion.

After a relentless search by his parents for a diagnosis, and a relapse in the Fall of 2014, Newell’s family found a new doctor, who finally received confirmation of Lyme. Newell began getting the right combination of treatments to get him back on track. His provider takes an aggressive approach, with medication, physical therapy and intensive monitoring.

After missing the first three months of his senior year, Newell returned to school, and, his mom says, with the help of teachers and administrators at Classical, was able to recoup much of the lost time. Classical worked with Newell to adjust his schedule, allow him to acclimate gradually, and make up his work. By January, his grades had rebounded, as did his weight, and he began training with the track team.

Newell went on to astound many with a standout spring as a pole vaulter. He won an indoor track statewide exhibition, and made First Team All-State. He has been presented with the Cox Sports Award for Boys Outdoor Track and, the weekend after his graduation, he will compete in the New Englands. Newell’s personal best vault, set this season, is 14’3”.

The determination that has carried him through these difficult circumstances will undoubtedly serve him well going forward. While Newell is still in the process of determining his college plans, he is passionate about physical therapy and plans to pursue it as a career.