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Murphy and Bateman Earn Top Spots in Class of 2020

May 18, 2020
It is a graduating class like no other in Saint Raphael Academy’s 96-year history.

While traditionally the announcement of the class valedictorian and salutatorian is made at the end of the annual Honors Night in May, the reality of life during a pandemic made that tradition impossible. So Principal Dan Richard opted for a more intimate – and technology based – setting of a Zoom meeting with the senior class.

The valedictorian for the Class of 2020 is Stephanie Murphy, of Rumford, and salutatorian is Jeanna Bateman, of Providence.

“With everything going on, I wasn’t thinking about that at all,” said Stephanie. I didn’t really expect him to announce anything, and when he did, I was surprised.”

Even though the future remains uncertain for the senior class, most all are moving ahead with plans to attend college in the fall. Stephanie will attend the College of Charleston and study international business. Jeanna will be staying closer to home, to attend Providence College and major chemistry and secondary education.

Both describe themselves as driven students who worked very hard for their grades (Stephanie earning a 115.04 GPA and Jeanna with a 114.77 GPA) and had the goal of finishing in the top of their class, but not necessarily in the top one-two spots. Jeanna admits she may have felt a little more pressure to achieve high grades, as her brother Anthony was valedictorian of the Class of 2017.

In fact, both are “legacy students” at SRA; in addition to Jeanna’s brother, her father graduated Saints in 1993, while Stephanie’s mom (Malaina Murphy ’85, a guidance counselor at SRA) and uncle are also graduates.

Both girls are in the Moore Scholars program, the National Honor Society, foreign language honor societies (Spanish for Stephanie and French for Jeanna) and on the SRA honor roll. But their time at Saints was not all academics. Stephanie said she will remember volunteering at the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen and Lasallian Youth activities, such as Christmas caroling at the senior center. Jeanna especially enjoyed choreographing the Saints Gala her sophomore year and being a writer and editor for the school newspaper this year.

As they reflected on their last days as seniors at the Academy, Stephanie and Jeanna had this advice for the Class of 2024.

“Go to all the events you can and try your best with grades and don’t stress over it,” said Jeanna. “As long as you’re happy with your grades and your parents are happy, too, that’s all you really need to worry about.”

Stephanie urged them to make memories of their time at Saints because sometimes things don’t always go as planned. “Try to take advantage of all the opportunities, because now since it ended so abruptly, I’m definitely a lot sadder than I would have been if it had just been a normal end because now I’m saying, ‘I wish I did this, I missed out on this,’” she said.