CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. – Viola Davis addressed graduating seniors Thursday at the high school in the struggling Rhode Island city where she grew up, urging them to treasure “hard times and joyous moments” and telling them that the “privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

The Oscar-nominated actress from the film “The Help” spoke to Central Falls High School’s class of 2012, student actors and members of student government and other alumni nearly 30 years after receiving her own diploma there. She was also inducted into the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame.

A member of the class of 1983, Davis has continued to support the 1.3-square-mile city of 19,000 just north of Providence.

Central Falls has found itself the subject of national headlines over its floundering finances – a state receiver filed for bankruptcy on its behalf last year – and for the mass firing in 2010 of all the high school’s teachers. They were later rehired.

“Central Falls makes up in heart what it lacks in size,” Davis told students on a stage where she once acted.

Davis was a favorite for best actress in this year’s Academy Awards for her performance as a black maid in “The Help,” but she lost out to Meryl Streep, who won for “The Iron Lady.” Streep later made $10,000 donations in Davis’ name to a charter school Davis has supported and to the Upward Bound scholarship fund that the actress established with her sister.

Davis donated $1,000 each last year to the Central Falls library – which had temporarily closed because of finances – and the charter school. In accepting a Screen Actors Guild award in January she told students there to “dream big and dream fierce.”

The high school principal, Joshua Laplante, called Davis a treasured graduate and said she has overcome adversity but remembers where she came from with a “genuine sense of pride.”

Davis was born on her grandmother’s farm in South Carolina in 1965, the second youngest of six children of a factory worker and homemaker mother and a horse trainer father. The family moved to Central Falls when she was a few months old.

Madonna, ‘Queen Esther,’ arrives in Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM – Israelis are gearing up to get down at Madonna’s show as the pop diva landed in the holy land ahead of her world tour which kicks off here next week.

The Material girl’s motorcade entered the Tel Aviv Dan hotel parking lot Friday as guards shielded the superstar from the media.

Fans are dressing up as the superstar at Madonna theme parties in Tel Aviv clubs and bars.

Madonna isn’t Jewish but she has adopted the Hebrew name of Esther and studies Jewish mysticism. She is known here as “Queen Esther,” and Israeli media announced that “the Queen has arrived.”

Madonna is expected to visit holy sites in Israel ahead of her “MDNA” world tour that will kick off May 31 in Tel Aviv.

‘Pirates’ star Knightley to wed musician

LONDON – Keira Knightley, the glamorous star of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is engaged to marry musician James Righton, her publicist said Friday.

Publicist Sara Keene said the couple were not releasing any details of the proposal, and did not have any comment on wedding plans.

Righton is a keyboard player for the rock group Klaxons. He and Knightley, 27, have been dating since early last year. Previously, Knightley dated actor Rupert Friend for several years.

Knightley first won notice for her role as a soccer-playing teenager in “Bend It Like Beckham.”

She went on to star in the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

– From news service reports