Left to right: Gateway valedictorian Alexi Bonenfant, of Westfield, stands at bat for the Gateway varsity softball team.

Reminder Publishing submitted photo

HUNTINGTON — Alexi Bonenfant of Westfield is the valedictorian for the Gateway Regional High School class of 2024.

Bonenfant is the daughter of Matthew Bonenfant, Gateway’s athletic director. She started attending Gateway schools in first grade, riding in with her father, and has been very active through all her years in school sports. She has been a member of the varsity soccer, basketball and softball teams for all four years of high school, and served as captain of all three teams in her junior and senior years.

Asked which is her favorite sport, Bonenfant said she has always played soccer, basketball and softball, but said she has a soft spot for soccer.

“I always have a fun time with soccer. I’ve been playing since I was 4 or 5, and have played a long time with the same girls — since the second grade. We have a really strong bond,” she said.

Bonenfant is also the president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Student Council, a member of the Culture Committee, vice president and drum major in the band, and a member of the Girl Scouts of America Leadership Council,

Her volunteer service includes working for the Gateway athletics department, the Littleville Elementary School field day, Gateway Education Foundation trivia night, the Westfield River Wildwater Races, and the Hilltown Holiday Boot Drive.

Bonenfant plans to attend Smith College, where she will begin without a declared major,  but is interested in film and media. She said she used to be a “big-time history nerd,” but in recent years really started liking math and science.  She is excited to get a feel of the campus, and take some introductory courses before deciding. 

She has also not signed up for a sports team yet.

“I will turn in the form — come the fall, I’ll be trying to figure out my footing. I could see myself doing intramural and club, if not NCAA. I’ve been playing sports since I was 4,” she said.

On the day before the May 31 graduation ceremony, Bonenfant was happy about the fair weather forecast after last year’s thunder and lightning. She had just learned the day before that she was valedictorian, and had not yet finished writing her speech, which she was discussing with her friend Kaitlyn Maynard of Huntington, the class of 2024 salutatorian.

“Try to experience it to the fullest. My ‘to the fullest’ was on occasion staying up until 1 a.m. after a game. My experience was playing sports for three seasons each year. Whatever that is for you, find it and experience it while you can,” was some of the advice she said she’d give to the next class entering the high school.

Asked what she likes best about Gateway, Bonenfant said it is the community.

“I love the community. We are a very small class. We are tight knit — everyone knows each other’s names,” she said, from staff members she’s never had as teachers to eighth graders who know who she is. “I know everyone here,” she said, at softball practice. “It’s really comforting and so welcoming.”

Bonenfant was also nominated for the Golden Achievement Award, which she called the the highest student award that went to her “dear friend” Joseph Pisani of Russell.  “He was so deserving of it,” Bonenfant said.

Distinguished Service Award

Joseph Pisani of Russell received the Gateway Regional Distinguished Service Award.

Joseph Pisani, of Russell, is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award at Gateway Regional High School.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

Throughout his time at Gateway, Pisani has been a member of student government and the Student Council. He served as student representative to the School Committee, on the Governor’s Youth Climate Council and the Massachusetts Association of Student Representatives. Pisani was also an intern for Paul Mark’s successful campaign for state Senate, and an intern in Mark’s district office. He has also been an active advocate of rural school aid. This past fall, he served as a beekeeping intern./

Pisani’s volunteer service includes the Gateway Education Foundation Trivia Night, the Gator Gallup 5K and Walk, Westfield River trash pick-up, the Prospect Hill Easter egg hunt, and serving as the manager of the Gateway varsity softball team.

“Gateway has been what has fueled my heart and soul for years and it’s been my continued goal to leave Gateway better than how I found it, so to receive this award seriously means so much to me.” Pisani said. He now plans to attend Suffolk University and major in political science.