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First four-year class graduates from Marine Science Magnet High School

Groton — The first four-year "fish class" graduated from "the fish school" Wednesday, as 53 seniors at the Marine Science Magnet High School received their diplomas in an outdoor ceremony overlooking Fishers Island Sound at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus.

Several speakers alluded to the MSMHS's nickname as "the fish school," and Malia Cordero of Mystic, the class valedictorian, spoke about "the exciting, diverse high school featuring fish" where she and her classmates "learned to take risks, face fears and step outside of comfort zones."

Four years ago when they started, the entire school could fit on one school bus, Cordero said. This past academic year, 272 students from 32 towns attended "the fish school."

The 53 seniors who graduated Wednesday night came from 27 different cities or towns.

Principal Nicholas J. Spera said "this small fish school" now ranks among the state's elite high schools and that combined, the graduating class would be receiving more than $2 million in scholarships toward higher education.

The commencement speaker was Michael Alfultis, the president of State University of New York Maritime Academy and prior leader of UConn's Avery Point campus.

"What does it take to be happy and successful?" Alfultis asked, and then answered his own question.

He told the graduates to pursue their passions, never forget there are multiple paths to goals and to have a flexible plan.

"Do not let storms and hazards along the way knock you off course," he said, adding, "Keep your sails fully set."

Eileen S. Howley, LEARN executive director, told the graduates "effort creates ability and nothing is achieved without hard work."

The class salutatorian and Student Council president, Katherine Green of Stonington, put high school in perspective for her classmates.

Since starting at MSMHS four years ago, they have attended 720 days of classes. If they live to age 85, that will account for 2 percent of their lifetime. But the lessons students have learned at "the fish school" will last them a lifetime, she said.

"We are ready for anything life throws at us," she said. "MSMHS has prepared us."

Despite overcast skies and cool temperatures, family and friends cheered on the blue-and-gold-clad graduates as their names were announced and they walked forward to receive their diplomas.

Some graduates had personal messages written on their mortarboards, some announcing where they would be heading in the fall.

Principal Spera described the class as "53 incredibly talented students" and told them, "Always remember to get your homework done."



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