MSMHS Grads Illustrate Curiosity and Tenacity

MSMHS Grads Illustrate Curiosity and Tenacity
MSMHS grads

At Commencement on Tuesday, June 11, the Marine Science Magnet High School (MSMHS) Class of 2019 demonstrated the curiosity and perseverance that has driven its academic excellence. 

Groton-based MSMHS held its graduation ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard for 62 students. The entire class will move onto college in the fall, with several students attending elite colleges and service academies on significant scholarships.

LEARN runs MSMHS, a marine science-themed interdistrict magnet high school that has earned accolades as one of the best public schools in the state. Based on student performance, MSMHS has been named a Connecticut School of Distinction, achieved Gold Medal status from U.S. News & World Report, and garnered top tier scores on SATs.

LEARN Executive Director Dr. Eileen Howley, reflected on the wisdom of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during her address to graduates. She said that Marine Science has been a safe and innovative school that had prepared the students with the skills they’d need and provided them with great teachers and guidance. Now, the time had come to leave the port and set sail.

“Marine Science has readied you to head out into the world,” Howley said. “But to reach a port, we must set sail. Sail, not tie an anchor, and not drift.”

Salutatorian Anthony DiPasquale, of Old Saybrook, told his classmates that the school had done will to prepare them all for college classes through the mission and curriculum at MSMHS.

“Lessons such as effort create ability, our core values that promote respect and responsibility, as well as pride in achieving academic greatness like have,” DiPasquale said. “With all the lessons, I’m confident that each of us will be outstanding in college.” 

Valedictorian Hannah Roby, of Griswold, has transferred a lifetime of curiosity into a passion for understanding the ocean. She thanked her MSMHS teachers for not only listening to the many questions she had, but also encouraging her and her classmates to seek out answers for themselves.

“Did you know 95 percent of the ocean is still unexplored?” Roby said. “As stewards of the ocean, that fact should not only excite us, but encourage us to figure out the unknown.”

Class President Scott Davidson, of Voluntown, faced challenges that went far beyond academics. He was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer as a child, yet persevered not only to graduate, but earn multiple scholarships.

Davidson credited his class for setting record highs in SAT scores and enrollment in Advanced Placement and college prep classes. However, he admitted his time spent in an oncology unit taught him greater lessons about perseverance and appreciating the good days. In essence, he said, his experience fit perfectly with the Class of 2019’s theme of “no limits.”

 “Never let anybody put a limit on your determination for success,” Davidson said. “Never let anybody allow you to limit your capabilities because of diagnosis, disability, or discrimination. Never let anybody limit your enthusiasm for life. Never let anybody limit the kindness or compassion you bestow upon others.”

MSMHS Principal Dr. Nicholas Spera called the class the most academically successful in school’s history The 62 students earned collectively more than $5 million in college scholarships. Recognizing the mission of magnet schools, Spera also recognized that almost 40 percent of the members of the class were the first of their families to graduate from high school.

Spera reminded the students that through all their challenges to come, a positive attitude – and healthy sense of humor – will help them through their obstacles and lead to new successes beyond high school.

“During these accomplishments and disappointments, you have to be able to laugh,” Spera said. “Whether it’s a happy laugh with a friend or just being able to laugh at yourself because you made a silly error or mistake, it’s just important, if not therapeutic, to laugh.” 

Befitting the setting at the Coast Guard Academy, Spera recognized students from military families graduating on Tuesday. Earlier in the ceremony, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Commandant of Cadets, Capt. Richard Wester, presented student Mia Cost with fully funded scholarship $400,000 and Academy appointment. Spera also recognizes Class of 2019 grad Cooper Olson, who will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Group shot of members of MSMHS Class of 2019.

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