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Twin Sachem Scholars

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Sisters Kristina and Katelyn Italiano excelled in the classroom, in Saugus High sports, as class leaders and on the 2017 graduation stage

At the outset of her Salutatory address, Kristina Italiano took about two minutes to thank a small circle of family and friends for helping her become the second-best student in the Saugus High School (SHS) Class of 2017.

“Rachel, you got me beat this time,” she said in a public tribute to “best friend” and Valedictorian Rachel May – the straight A student who was tops among the seniors who received diplomas during the school’s 146th commencement exercises last Friday night at Stackpole Field.

Kristina thanked her parents – Kerry and the late Richard B. Italiano, Jr. “for guiding me through all of these years and watching over me.”

“I wouldn’t be able to make it here, especially without your love and support, mom,” she told her mother.

Kristina offered special words of praise to her 17-year-old twin sister Katelyn, one of two graduation marshals and the fourth highest ranking student in the class. “Katie, thank you for always being right by my side through thick and thin,” Kristina told her sister.

Then she took a playful swipe at the student she nosed out for the Salutatory honors. “I’m standing up here today because I always wanted to be just like you – if not better,” she said, drawing some chuckles from classmates who recognized she was talking about the sibling rivalry.

Some family competition

Last spring Katelyn finished her junior year by winning the Yale Book Award – for being second in the class. Meanwhile, Kristina earned the Dartmouth Book Award for being third in the class up through that point.

The fraternal twins continued scholastic excellence in their senior year. But Kristina earned the better grades to edge ahead of her sister and finish with 4.43 grade point average (GPA) for runner-up to her best friend, Rachel May. Katelyn’s 4.37 GPA ranked fourth in the Class of 2017.

But as president of the Student Council, she still earned a trip to the graduation stage to give the welcoming address. “We are a class full of such motivation and talent,” Katelyn told her classmates.

“... 2017 … Do what others think is impossible,” she implored classmates, chanting the words that became a slogan for this year’s graduation class.

Later, when the twins embraced for photos, Katelyn smiled when asked whether there was a little intra-family competition between her and Kristina for top grades. “Yes, we’re competitive. But we’re still very close,” Katelyn said.

Kristina told The Saugus Advocate this week that she and her sister are nearly inseparable in whatever they do – as students, scholar athletes, class leaders and in their personal lives.

They were co-captains of the girls’ basketball team that won a Northeastern Conference Championship – becoming the first Lady Sachems basketball team to win a conference crown in 37 years. The Lady Sachems finished with a 16-6 record and made the tournament. That was a huge improvement of their season two years ago, when they won just one of 22 games.

“Me and Katie are fraternal twins and the bestest of friends … We’ve done everything together since we were little – same friends and everything,” Kristina said.

 

Mom gets the credit

The sisters credit Kerry Italiano – a 1980 SHS graduate and a veteran Everett schoolteacher, with being an inspiration for their scholastic achievements. “Regarding where the smarts come from, my mom has been a teacher my whole life – so she has been a huge motivator and inspiration for Katie and I to always excel in whatever we do,” Kristina said.

“My mom has been a teacher for Everett Public Schools for 23 years. She graduated from Saugus High, too,” she said.

The twins’ mother – the former Kerry Donohue – is a 1980 SHS graduate. Though not a top-ranked high school student like her daughters – she has had a remarkable career as an educator, which helped to reinforce good study and learning habits, according to her daughters. “She taught third grade for 20 years and is now a math interventionist,” Kristina said.

The twins also said their mom’s dedication to their getting the best education they could was even more remarkable because the family had to overcome the tragic death of their father, who passed away more than four years ago after battling pancreatic cancer. Though he died at the age of 41 before they reached high school, the twins said their dad had a strong influence on their lives. He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He appeared in several movies filmed in Boston and loved playing the piano, inspiring his daughters to be creative and always striving to learn.

Next year, they embark on their own careers. Kristina plans to study nursing at Boston College and wants to use that education to help other people. Katelyn plans to attend Saint Anselm College in the fall. She will start as a Biology major on a premed track and is considering a possible career in oncology for a career goal.

 

Their Saugus High School achievements

Here are the highlights of their individual scholastic and athletic achievements at Saugus High School:

Kristina “Krissy” Italiano

• Class of 2017 Salutatorian

• 4.43 GPA ranked second in class

• 13 honors classes, 10 AP Classes in the Academy Program at SHS

• Two-year National Honor Society member, Executive Board in senior year

• Student Council Secretary in senior year, three-year member.

• Four-year Class of 2017 Executive Board Member

• Four years of Varsity Outdoor Track (captain in senior year)

• Three years of Varsity Basketball (captain in senior year, played total of four years)

• Two years of Varsity Field Hockey (played a total of three years)

• Earned 10 Varsity Letters over the last four years

• In junior year earned the Dartmouth Book Award for being third in the class up through that point

• MIAA Student Ambassador/Student Rep for School Committee

• Three-year member of the Student Athletic Leadership Council (SALC)

• Two-time Athlete of the Month: for Cross Country in her freshman year (before the program was cut in her sophomore year) and Basketball in her junior year

• Student of the Month in senior year

• NEC All Star for Field Hockey and Basketball in senior year

• NEC Student Athlete Award Recipient and Agganis Scholarship Recipient, among others

• North Shore Honor Scholar

Katelyn “Katie” Italiano

• Class of 2017 Graduation Marshal

• 4.37 GPA Ranked 4th in the Class

• 12 honors classes, 10 AP Classes in the Academy Program at SHS

• Two-year National Honor Society member, Executive Board in senior year

• Student Council President in senior year, Executive Board member two years, four-year member total

• Four-year Class of 2017 Executive Board member

• Four years of Varsity Field Hockey (captain in junior and senior year)

• Three years of Varsity Basketball (captain in senior year, played a total of four years)

• Three years of Varsity Softball (played a total of four years)

• Earned 10 Varsity Letters over the last four years

• Yale Book Award for being second in the class up through junior year

• MIAA Student Ambassador/Student Rep for School Committee

• Three year SALC member

• Two-time Athlete of the Month: for Basketball in her sophomore year and Field hockey in her senior year

• NEC All Star for Field Hockey in junior year, NEC All Conference (top 11 players in league) in senior year for Field Hockey

• North Shore Honors Scholar and multiple scholarship recipient

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