Saint Raphael Academy proudly announces that Cooper Skenyon is the Class of 2023’s valedictorian and Ethan Wright is the salutatorian.
The announcement was made last week at the annual honors night. The students were chosen based on their overall GPAs during their four years at Saints.
The identity of the valedictorian and salutatorian is a closely guarded secret at Saints, but both seniors had their suspicions when they were invited to the honors night, which mainly focuses on awards to underclassmen.
Come this fall, these two will take their talents to two of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Massachusetts: Harvard University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
And while their academic paths are similar, what is most interesting is that their differences are representative of the range of students enrolled at SRA and how they are successful.
Meet SRA’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian
Cooper, a Seekonk, Mass., resident, earned a 117.82 GPA and plans to study international relations at Harvard University.
Ethan, who lives in Riverside, earned a 114.18 GPA. He will double major in computer science and interactive media and game design at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
As one would expect, both students received numerous academic recognitions in the last two years. They were inducted into the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society, and each won a junior book award (Harvard University and Brown University for Cooper and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Award for Ethan). Both have been consistently on SRA’s highest honor roll.
Both students were in Moore Scholars their junior year. The Moore Scholars program challenges high-achieving students to consider how they can improve the quality of life at Saints and the community at large. They research the chosen topic—climate change—and present their ideas to a panel of faculty adjudicators.
A Valedictorian “for the People”
Cooper is very outgoing and has been a fixture in SRA’s performing arts program, acting in various theatrical productions and the Saints Gala over his four years. He is also a member of the dance team and was named captain this year. He recently won an Ocean State Star Award from the Providence Performing Arts Center; he was selected as Outstanding Dance Performer for his role as Neleus in Saints’ production of Mary Poppins Jr. He is also a member of the Thespian and Dance Honor Societies
As busy as that sounds, Cooper has also found time to be editor of the school newspaper, and a member of the Kindness Club and the steering committee of SRA Cultures Club. He was also class treasurer his freshmen and sophomore years.
Finally, Cooper practices taekwondo and has a second-degree black belt. He works part time at a local karate school.
Salutatorian Cuts His Own Path
Ethan’s interests focus on fewer activities and more quality time with friends. At Saints, Ethan enjoys the Bowling Club and Games Club, and even tried Archery Club as an underclassman.
Outside of school, Ethan learned fencing and did some cosplay performing. He also studied self-defense karate. In his free time, he likes to hang out with friends and play video games. That passion is what he hopes will become a career in game creation. “I want to give people that happiness that I have when I play a game,” he said.
He had the freedom to take a variety of courses his senior year, and challenged himself to try new classes that he may not have the chance to take again. These included creative writing, AP Psychology, Intro to Computer Programming, and statistics. He discovered that he really enjoyed his psychology class.
Memories of Saints
Leaving Saint Raphael Academy will be bittersweet, but Cooper and Ethan have their favorite memories. For both, Spirit Week and the Homecoming dance their freshmen year in the fall 2019 made a lasting impression. The dance was a chance for each to get to know their classmates in a deeper way. They formed strong friendships that have endured, through covid shutdowns and virtual learning. Said Cooper, “That event represented finding my people here. That’s what makes SRA so special to me.”
Ethan agreed. “It’s more fun to find people who are different from you,” he said. “Everyone is so lively, passionate and expressive here.” He encouraged incoming students to dig deeper into people’s personalities and find the real person.
Cooper supports getting involved in activities and added this advice: “Go above and beyond just participating in academics. The social aspect is very important.”
Saint Raphael Academy’s 96th commencement will take place at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday, June 10, at 10 am.