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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Marine Science Magnet High School’s Kaiden Chandler riding ‘The Current’ to a bright future

    Kaiden Chandler, a senior at Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, poses for a portrait at the school Monday, May 20, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Editor’s note: The Day publishes an annual series of stories spotlighting outstanding seniors graduating from the region’s 16 public and private high schools.

    Groton ― An online subscription to The New York Times’ news content helped focus Kaiden Chandler’s ambition.

    Last year, inspired by the Times’ site, he recruited a team of fellow Marine Science Magnet High School students and launched The Current, the school’s first student publication. A mostly digital enterprise, its only print manifestation is the Fishbowl, a monthly, one-page version of the digital product that’s displayed in the school’s bathrooms.

    Asked how many of his peers read newspapers, Chandler, the MSMHS Class of 2024’s valedictorian, said, “Zero.”

    Chandler, who handles breaking news coverage as The Current’s editor-in-chief, is more interested in graphic design and the ways in which news and information can be conveyed than he is in reporting.

    “I’m interested in the intersection of journalism, graphic design, business ― how it’s packaged and distributed,” he said.

    Chandler will study communications management and design next year at Ithaca College in central New York State, where the Roy H. Park School of Communications has awarded him a four-year scholarship covering tuition and room and board.

    Chandler, a distance runner who has competed for the boys’ cross country and track teams at his “sending school,” Fitch, which he attended as a freshman before transferring to MSMHS, will continue to run at Ithaca.

    Ryan Jones, an English teacher who advises The Current staff, said Chandler deserves credit for the publication’s success.

    “Kaiden knew how to reach out to students through social media and how to blend coverage of events and things that are of interest to students,” Jones said. “It’s in depth on the website, a condensed version on social media and then the Fishbowl. ... It’s very clever.”

    Jones described Chandler as “a strong writer” and “a smart guy who has a reputation for being very nice ― but not to a fault.” Chandler can be tenacious in pursuit of interviews with MSMHS administrators, Jones said.

    In recent editions, The Current has provided coverage of a police response to a false emergency alert; the administration’s shutdown of a “Senior Assassin” water gun tournament, including a link to The Day’s account of the arrest of students involved in similar activity in Old Lyme; and a math teacher’s class pet, a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

    Amanda Mann, who has had Chandler in four of the English and art history classes she teaches, recounted how he turned an assignment on writing genres into a website and ran with another one that involved “writing in the wild,” which was designed to encourage students to think about their audience.

    “I’ve never seen him take an assignment at face value,” Mann said. “He thinks a lot about communicating and clarity.”

    Chandler said he was drawn to MSMHS’s small class sizes, which foster a sense of community first instilled in him by his family.

    His father, Jeff, is a firefighter with the Old Mystic Fire Department while his mother, Erica, is a preschool teacher. His brother Keeghan is a sophomore at MSMHS, his sister Nora a sixth-grader at Groton Middle School.

    “He conducts himself with a level of integrity and professionalism that is rare among adults never mind a high school senior,” Tara Amatrudo, the MSMHS principal, said of Chandler. “I cannot wait to see the amazing things life has in store for him.”

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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