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Class of 2017 graduates from the Marine Science Magnet High School

New London — Valedictorian Bethany Arabic urged the Class of 2017 graduates at the Marine Science Magnet High School to measure their success by their service to others and the happiness they spread, not by the money they earn.

“We cannot allow the current to drag our boats,” she said. “We must choose the direction we wish to travel."

The Groton school’s 68 students graduated Tuesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Principal Nicholas Spera credited the students for their many academic accomplishments. The graduates were awarded a collective $2 million in scholarships, finished second in the state in the Connecticut Academic Performance Test and finished third in the state in the Scholastic Achievement Test.

Emily Powell, president of the student council, recalled how she went from a “shy and incredibly awkward” teenager to a student leader. The school is truly like a family, she said, one that believes anyone can "have a do over.”

Spera, referred to as "school dad” by the graduates, advised the class to find work they love and have passion for.

“Follow your passion, your drive, your goals. Because no matter what happens, happiness is the key to success. Not money,” he said.

Salutatorian Sara Klimek spoke about the growing intolerance in the world, and what the class has learned by being part of a successful school with students of all backgrounds.

“Let these lessons in acceptance become fundamental in your continued growth and achievement,” she told the graduates.

Skyler Pearse, the senior class president, said the school's most important tradition is never giving up.

“I know we’ll make an impact at whatever school we go to,” she said. Graduates from the class will attend universities including the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., Simmons College in Boston, Mass., and the University of Vermont.

Spera told the students they'd always be part of the Marine Science Magnet High School family. "Learn from every obstacle," he said. "You all have the tools to be successful."



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