GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Thames River Magnet School opened its doors for the first time about three weeks ago.

Jamie Giordano is the principal and told News 8, “You come into this space, it’s absolutely beautifully designed.”

It was all part of the Groton 2020 project. The district was working to downsize from seven to five elementary schools. Thames River Magnet holds 525 students.

Despite only being a few weeks old, it’s a Blue Ribbon School. Superintendent Susan Austin told News 8, “The Mary Morrison School closed down. The principal retired and the assistant principal is here.”

When Mary Morrison closed, a lot of the staff and students came to Thames River Magnet so the title of Blue Ribbon transferred over.  

Austin added, “This is the second Blue Ribbon School that Groton has had in five years.”  

A lot of planning went behind every detail of the building ahead of the school opening. For example, its theme is Marine Life Sciences, so a lot of their STEM magnet courses focus on marine life.  

Assistant Principal Ada Allen wanted to make sure the school community was strong despite being new and so many of the students being from all over the district. She surveyed the staff and everyone came up with the school mascot, a turtle.

Allen explained, “By starting the year with a mascot the kids are making a connection with it and it gives them a sense of ‘that’s who my school is.’”

A major focus for the administration is creating a community and sense of belonging. Principal Giordano worked with staff to come up with a mission statement that would represent a sense of belonging.   

As they continue adding courses and opening new classrooms, they can’t help but thank their community partners for continued help in offering students the best opportunities and learning experiences.

So far they’ve worked with Project Oceanology and New England Science and Sailing. These partnerships will provide hands-on experiences for their students and take their learning to a new level.