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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    Three Rivers Middle Magnet senior has her sights set on a career on the water

    Annalea Parker, a senior at Three Rivers Middle College, speaks while on a half tour with Evan Ericson, 12, his sister, Autumn, 8, and their father, Carl, of Ledyard, and other passengers aboard the historic steamboat Sabino on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at Mystic Seaport Museum. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Annalea Parker, a senior at Three Rivers Middle College, with the Brant Point Lighthouse Replica in the background Saturday, May 25, 2023. Parker has been working on the historic steamship Sabino this season. (Dana Jensen/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.

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    Norwich ― On any given weekend, 18-year-old Annalea Parker can be found aboard the steamboat Sabino reciting for Mystic Seaport visitors a bit of history as they pass the museum’s fleet of vessels docked along the Mystic River.

    Her job as a tour guide is a weekend gig for the artist, Mystic native and outdoor lover. During the week, Parker has been hard at work at Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School in Norwich charting a course for a future that might well include more time on the water.

    Parker will graduate this month not only as a standout student and member of the National Honor Society but with a pocket full of college credits on her way to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Mass. Once a merchant marine college focused on training cargo ship officers, the school is now home to a host of maritime-focused degrees.

    Parker, the daughter of Raymond and Ashley Parker and the youngest of three siblings, initially planned to pursue a degree in marine biology.

    “I took environmental studies last and year really enjoyed the class. I’ve always been interested in biology and preservation of our natural environment,” Parker said.

    But Parker changed the possible focus of her college studies after visiting the Cape Cod campus of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. She’s now got an eye on the school’s marine transportation program which could allow her to graduate with a license to work on most types of vessels, from a container vessel and cruise ship to a tugboat or ferry.

    The academy’s maritime transportation program includes 50 days of shipboard training and graduates in the bachelor program earn a U.S. Coast Guard certification. The school has a host of training vessels and expected to receive a new government funded $300 million vessel later this year.

    “The career outlook is really great,” Parker said.

    Erin McEntee, English teacher and National Honor Society adviser at Three Rivers, said she knows Parker through her commitment to and participation in National Honor Society. Parker, McEntee said, has consistently contributed ideas and participated in meetings and service events with the group.

    “She has always been one to step up and get a task done, to encourage others, and to offer friendly conversation,” McEntee said. “I think her kindness and drive, not only to succeed herself, but to help others do so as well, are part of what make her such an excellent person and exceptional student. We have been lucky to have her as part of our school community and NHS chapter.”

    Parker is considering a career with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s NOAA Corps., one of the nation’s eight uniformed services whose missions include things like mapping the seafloor, monitoring oceanic and atmospheric conditions and supporting fisheries research.

    “There are a lot of options right now. I haven’t really decided, but I Iove the ocean and I love boats,” she said.

    If she decides on a career on the water, Parker would be following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. Her grandfather served with the U.S. Merchant Marines and her father is retired from his 24-year career in the U.S. Navy.

    Parker moved to the Three Rivers in her junior year, not so much because she disliked attending Stonington High School, she said, but she was attracted to the idea of earning college credits. Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School is a a dual enrollment school that allows students to take classes that can count as college credits. It is located on the campus of Three Rivers Community College.

    “I’m glad I made the move. I just wanted a change. I love it here … good people, good classes and teachers who work really hard to have what we have,” Parker said.

    g.smith@theday.com

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