Community Calendar

Westerly-Pawcatuck Farmers Market
10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Westerly

Community Artists Program
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Charlestown

E-Reader Help
10 a.m. - Noon Charlestown

Drop-in Knitting Group
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Charlestown

Basic Wilderness Land Navigation Explained
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Charlestown

Apple Gadget Group
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. Charlestown

Westerly Youth Basketball League Sign-ups
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Westerly

Writers' Workshop
6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Charlestown

Farmers Market
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Westerly

GED Preparation Classes
9:15 a.m. - Noon Wyoming

... View all of today's events

Stay Connected

Stonington High School 2014 Valedictorian Matt Fields
Stonington High School 2014 Salutatorian John Dong

Top Stonington students had their eyes on goal early

STONINGTON — At last, Matt Fields can relax.

The 18-year-old has spent four years getting to the top of his class at Stonington High School — a goal he set for himself after, at 6 years of age, he watched a graduation.

“I always saw myself speaking at graduation,” Fields said. “It’s a big deal. Whether I needed to spend my entire existence devoted to homework and studying, well, I’m not sure.”

Regardless, Fields will address the SHS Class of 2014 during commencement exercises Thursday as the valedictorian. John Dong, 17, is the class salutatorian.

Less than a week before receiving his diploma, Fields, who lives in Mystic, reflected on his high school career.

“I would freak out if I got an A minus,” he said. “That’s kind of dumb. You shouldn’t be in school to get a grade but to learn.”

Fields was the committee chairman of the National Honor Society, a National Merit Scholarship winner, the treasurer of the Students Without Borders Club and a member of the SHS band for four years.

“Band was a lot of fun, one of the best things I’ve done at high school,” said Fields, who plays the clarinet. We got into some challenging music.”

Fields also founded the Magic and The Gathering Club that centers on an intense strategy card game.

“It had nothing to do with academics,” he said, “but it builds brain power and diversifies your mind.”

Dong, a Pawcatuck resident, competed on the Bears’ tennis team and was co-captain. Tennis, he said, helped him balance his life during high school.

“I spent hours during the season playing tennis and I was more productive in academics,” Dong said. “It releases tension so you can go back home and study.”

Dong “always hung around the top of the class, but wasn’t as dedicated as Matt,” he said.

“You have to have that mindset to devote yourself to academics,” Dong said. “It takes a lot of hard work. But there are things I had to give up, like band. I played alto saxophone in middle school and didn’t in high school.”

Dong was vice president of student government and his class, a member of the National Honor Society, the co-editor of the yearbook, and he participated in drama.

He plans on attending New York University in the fall and majoring in international relations and economics.

Fields plans on attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and majoring in aeronautical and mechanical engineering.

Both have clear messages for their classmates.

“Make your time in high school worth it,” Fields said. “It means exactly nothing if you don’t use it.”

Added Dong: “You can be anything you want in life. Decide and then do it. No matter what path you do choose, go to the end. Don’t just go halfway.”

SHS Class of 2014 commencement exercises are Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Stonington High’s Donald E. Palmer Field.

Back to LatestNews
Top Stories of the Week

Man sought in morning bank robbery …
MYSTIC — Police are looking for a suspect in a bank robbery this morning at the Citizens Bank branch on Broadway in Mystic. The suspect … more ...

Car crashes through Westerly storefront …
WESTERLY — Sonia Patel, visibly shaken, gestured at the table where a man sat just minutes earlier playing Keno — that was just before a … more ...

Man killed after he falls into wood chipper …
STONINGTON — A man was killed today when he apparently fell into a wood chipper on the Ogden Farm property at 117 South Anguilla road, … more ...

Westerly man, 84, crashes into Main Street convenience store …
WESTERLY — Police have identified the driver of a 2006 Ford Taurus that slammed into windows in front of the Stop N’ Go Food Mart … more ...

Police Logs: Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 …
Stonington Ronald Pratt, 47, of 52 Robinson St., Pawcatuck, was charged Saturday with operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; disobeying the signal of … more ...