Saint Raphael Academy Welcome to the Saints family. Welcome home.

Arnold and Calise are Head of the Class

May 20, 2021

They have followed such a close path over their four years that the lines have blurred at times. Both are committed to serving the public good, armed with their gregarious personalities. Saints know them as the voices behind the school’s daily morning announcements. And when they are not covered by masks, their smiles engage you immediately.

Meet the Class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian: Cooper Arnold and Isabella Calise. As the class’s highest-ranking students, with 116.16 and 115.89 GPA, respectively, the race to the top was a close one.

“When I found out, I was pleasantly surprised and grateful to be awarded salutatorian,” said Isabella. “I know Cooper and I worked extremely hard these past four years, so I was delighted that we were both recognized and celebrated.”

“They’re ‘APists,’” joked Mrs. Judy Baxter, Vice Principal of Academics, referring to their full courseloads of AP and honors classes. Isabella even received the AP Scholar Award, given for receiving a score of 3 or higher on three AP exams. Yet Mrs. Baxter admired how unique the two are in their well-roundedness, as Cooper and Isabella participate in a host of sports, the arts and community service.

Cooper, who is from Johnston, plans to attend University of Virginia, while Isabella, from Wyoming, will stay closer to home at Boston College. Both intend to study political science, with an eye on future careers as lawyers and then judges.

Not a surprising career choice for the two, who have a great interest in history and government, as evidenced by their participation in the Mock Trial Club and Student Government, where they both have held president positions over their four years at Saints. They were also chosen to participate in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY), a seminar to develop leadership skills and put them into action.

Cooper was awarded the State of Rhode Island Civic Leadership Award, Congressman Cicilline’s Youth Advisory Council, and was a state representative in the U.S. Senate Youth Program, while Isabella’s focus combines her faith with service, as a Community Outreach Leader connecting Saints with volunteer opportunities, involvement with Lasallian Youth and the Lasallian Youth Leadership Team and volunteering within her church’s parish ministries.

Giving also figures into one of Isabella’s fondest memories at Saints: “My favorite memory of my time at Saints was definitely Saints Olympics, specifically collecting donations. Seeing our class come together and grow in generosity was beyond remarkable, and I felt fortunate not only to be a part of the outcome, but also to be a part of a class that promotes compassion and respect. It certainly was a great way to ensure another Olympic win for our class, and I will always remember the comradery and kindness that helped us get there,” she said.

Both students even had time for sports. Isabella was on the golf team for three years, while Cooper played on the baseball team. (Their junior year spring seasons were cancelled in 2020 because of COVID.) And they found time for drama, serving on the Drama Council. Cooper was also a constant fixture in Saints’ drama productions and is a member of the Thespian Honor Society.

The Class of 2021 will graduate on Sunday, June 13. Admission is by ticket-only. The ceremony will be livestreamed.