Three Rivers Middle College graduates can have their marshmallows and eat them, too

Norwich — In a video played at commencement, graduating seniors described their last two years at Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School as "eye-opening," "enjoyable," "challenging," "easy," "life-changing," "adventurous," "stressful" and "fun."

But one of the most common words was "unique."

It's an apt one for a school where 31 students graduated this year, and where 19 of them already earned a year of college credits, and where they collectively earned 934 credits, Principal Brad Columbus said. One of them, Elise Sperry, earned an associate degree last month.

At the 45-minute ceremony Tuesday morning at Three Rivers Community College, Sperry was one of five speakers from the Court of Excellence, a group of eight students who earned at least 30 college credits while maintaining a 3.5 GPA.

Molly Curry said that after her mother applied for and enrolled her at Three Rivers Middle College unbeknownst to her, she was "not thrilled at first" but became grateful.

"We had to choose on a daily basis what to do with the freedoms and responsibilities we were given," she said. She learned how to read a syllabus, order textbooks and write a resume.

Elena Landry also talked about having the "ultimate freedom" and how the uniqueness of the high school made it impossible for her to capture everyone's experiences in one speech.

"We wouldn't have had role models," Landry said of what the experience would've been like had she and her peers graduated from a typical high school, rather than taking classes with college students. "We would've been the oldest students, setting the example for the youngest students. But here that's not the case."

She also referenced marshmallows, of which there was a bowl of 31 jumbo ones sitting on a table nearby.

Columbus told The Day afterward that "Don't Eat the Marshmallow Yet!" is always assigned summer reading. It's a reference to the Stanford marshmallow experiment, a study on delayed gratification.

"We have them up here," Columbus explained of the bowl, "because today's one of the days they can take a marshmallow."

In another speech, Quentin Carr encouraged students not only to follow the refrain of dreaming big, but to dream small.

"Sometimes we can get so focused on our end goal that we forgot about the little things along the way," Carr said. He added, "Don't just think about where you want to be in 10 years, but think about what you can do right now to make the person next to you have a better day."

Kinsley Green listed 10 pieces of advice, encouraging her peers to not "let the train drop you off at the procrastination station," not let perfection stand in the way of good enough, and "listen to your heart and not everyone else's opinions, unless it's your parents."

"We have 99 problems now, and a diploma ain't one," she concluded, "so congratulations to the Class of 2019."

Seventeen of the graduates are continuing at Three Rivers Community College, while others are going to the University of Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut State University, Central Connecticut State University, University of St. Joseph, New England Institute of Technology, University of Maine Farmington, University of Lynchburg, University of Alabama Huntsville and Florida Institute of Technology.

e.moser@theday.com

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