STONINGTON — Valedictorian Caroline Morehouse and salutatorian Christian Donovan, who are both planning to go on to medical school someday, said Stonington High School prepared them well for their new educational journey.
“I have a great group of friends who I’ll obviously miss,” Morehouse said. “I’ll miss the sense of community that I have here, because I’ve grown up with the same friends and grown up with the same support system. And there’s a few favorite teachers that I love, that I get into intellectual debates with and just like talking to.”
Morehouse said she chose Oberlin College in Ohio over all the others because she likes the smaller student population and its creative atmosphere.
“I feel like when you go to a really big school, you tend to gravitate toward people who are really similar to you just to find comfort in that,” Morehouse said. “But when you go to a smaller school, you’re forced to interact with different groups of people and I definitely will get that at Oberlin.
“It felt more at home than any place else, and I felt I could find friends and do really well,” Morehouse said. “It seems like they have a lot of opportunities.”
Morehouse said it will be a little scary to be going so far away to college.
“I wasn’t originally planning on going that far,” Morehouse said. “All my other schools were in the Northeast. Oberlin was the place where I felt most at home.
“I think (going to Oberlin) will move my center a little bit so I’ll be more open to moving other places,” she said. “I’d like to live abroad because I love speaking Spanish, and I want to go to med school, and I have to be open to going anywhere because it’s hard to get into med school.”
Oberlin does not have a pre-med program, so Morehouse will major or minor in Spanish, and also choose a science, possibly biology.
“It will be a growth adjustment,” Morehouse said, “But I’ll miss coming here every day and know that I’m going to learn and be thoroughly safe and surrounded by people I love.”
Morehouse said she and others in the Spanish Honor Society started a program in which they went into local fourth grades and taught them eight weeks of Spanish.
“I remember I had always really wanted to start Spanish in fourth grade,” Morehouse said.”I started that program and now three years later it runs like clockwork.”
She was also president of student government senior year.
“We did wellness week this year,” Morhouse said, “which was focused on mental health awareness. So for a week we brought in a variety of guest speakers ... just to raise awareness, and we brought in people from human services just to provide their own resources. ... I just think a lot of kids just don’t ask for help because they don’t know those resources exist,” Morehouse said.
Morehouse says she also learned the social and team aspect of running, as a result of being on the cross-country team.
“Most people don’t know it comes down to your fifth runner and how well they do.” Morehouse said. “A lot of my favorite memories come from cross-country.”
Donovan said he finished every year in high school with straight As, but it wasn’t something he really tried to do.
“I put the effort in but it’s more like it’s not the letter that matters,” Donovan said. “it’s kind of what I got out of the class. It’s more a consequence of me being interested in what I’m learning and trying to make the best out of my time at Stonington.”
“I think my favorite classes this year were both AP calculus and AP computer science,” Donovan said. “I’m really happy I took those classes and I feel like I really learned a lot.
Donovan said he is not sure what his college major will be, but pre-med is a path he is considering.
For his senior project, he chose to shadow a doctor at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London.
“I wanted to learn about hospital medicine and see if it would be a good fit for me and my interests,” Donovan said. “It was a really interesting experience I had. I spent two 8 hour shifts in the ICU there. I got to see a lot of different stuff.”
Donovan said he feels very lucky to be going to Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in the fall.
“It’s such an amazing place because it's got the benefits of both the Ivy League, where you’ve got that top tier of American schools,” Donovan said, “and you’ve got those kind of connections and heritage and legacies, spanning back to the 1800s and beyond.”
“You need more than grades, especially these days,” Donovan said. “It was the extracurriculars I was worried about going into it.”
Donovan said he chose rowing with the Stonington High School Crew as his sport when he was a junior.
“I never used to be very good at sports,” Donovan said. “But with crew, I started to develop and win and do better. I’ve been captain for two seasons now. It’s been a great experience helping guide the team.”
Since freshman year, Donovan has also been a member of the Stonington Community Center Junior Leadership Program.
“Our main responsibility has been running the COMO summer camps,” Donovan said.”We do a lot with the kids, we run a lot of classes, we chaperone them, we run trips to the beach and things like that. It kind of taught me how to be independent and how to lead myself and other people in order to get something done.”
“We have 60 kids in the program,” Donovan said. “Beyond the summer camps, we’ve done lots of food drives with Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, trash cleanups around town, and we help run the Stonington Borough Village Fair.”
Donovan said he also played upright and electric bass in the SHS jazz band with Morehouse, who played baritone sax.
“It’s great because it has just the best people in it,” Donovan said. “(Band instructor) Mrs. Gottlieb is probably my favorite teacher by far. I’ve had her for four years now doing jazz band.”
“It’s no coincidence that jazz band has some of the best students and best athletes and the most involved people at Stonington High School who do band,”he said. “They choose to do it because they have passion, and that passion carries over into every area of your life.”