Marine Science Magnet School's Emily Tarinelli
Good evening and welcome MSMHS Families, Friends, Teachers, Administrators, Staff Members, and Class of 2021. My name is Emily Tarinelli, and I am humbled to stand before you today to celebrate this momentous occasion. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that today, we gather on the ancestral land of the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, past, present, and forever. We honor with gratitude the Indigenous Peoples who lead us in the stewardship of the land we inhabit and in the building of a just and restorative future. Secondly, I would like to thank Ms. Amatrudo and Mrs. Hardison for their outstanding commitment to our school, and to thank Mrs. Cregger and Ms. Delldonna for their time and dedication serving as our Class Advisors.
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai, an activist for universal education and women’s rights. It is a simple statement — after all, there are innumerable inspiring quotes about changing the world — yet it is powerful nonetheless. I share her words with you today so that we as a class may collectively reflect on our high school education and recognize the immense potential that is bestowed upon us.
One child. How is it that one child, one young person, can change the world? And what does it mean to change the world? To answer these questions, we must first recognize and cherish what makes each and every one of us who we are. We are the Class of 2021; but we are also 69 talented, capable, and multifaceted individuals. We are artists: every year, the creatives of our class have carried us in the art competition on Field Day. We are scholars: our students have been accepted to top universities and are the recipients of multiple merit scholarships. We are athletes, we are musicians, we are scientists. We are diverse, unique, and special — and whether it is tenacity from the field, creativity from the studio, or anything else generated from our interests, we all have a necessary gift to offer to the world.
One teacher, one book, one pen. Without a doubt, we would not be where we are today without our teachers’ kindness, dedication, and perseverance, especially in a year as tumultuous as this. Over the past four years, our teachers have worked tirelessly to guide our learning and thus facilitate the development of our individual interests. We are taught to consider complex ideas with nuance and empathy; to pose and investigate challenging questions; to draw connections; to speak; to hear. Our education does not become valuable in simply solving an equation or interpreting a novel — and its value certainly does not lie in a letter with a numerical value. Rather, our education becomes valuable when we apply what we learn to our lives and the world beyond — to become global citizens and contributing members of society.
To my classmates, I ask you to think of one interest that is close to your heart. Maybe it’s aquaculture; maybe it’s history; for me, it’s creative writing. We enter high school with these interests and hobbies that, over the course of four years, are shaped into passions and wells of purpose just begging to overflow into the world for the better. How has your MSMHS education shaped your interests and informed your purpose? How can you use it to contribute to a larger whole?
Over the past four years, we have experienced a universal reckoning — of public health, of injustice, and even within ourselves. Our spirit has been tested, our courage threatened, our persistence challenged. Still, we have emerged from adversity stronger than ever before. As we say our goodbyes to our beloved school and turn toward the light of our future, let us embrace our potential and know that our education is a vehicle for change. After a high school journey filled with unforgettable memories, trials, and friendships, I am confident that our graduating class is prepared to inspire a more equitable future for all. With that said, let us continue to learn and grow, to stretch our thinking, and to have difficult conversations. While our time at MSMHS may have come to a close, our educational journey is eternal. The ability to make a difference, to advocate for a cause, to contribute to a larger whole, starts with each and every one of us.
Thank you and congratulations to the brilliant graduating Class of 2021.
Emily Tarinelli, of Groton, is the Marine Science Magnet High School Class of 2021 Valedictorian. She plans to attend Mount Holyoke College
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