A Groton high school is in mourning for a man believed to be on the 790-foot freighter, El Faro, which officials presume sunk in the Atlantic during Hurricane Joaquin.
Groton Supt. Michael Graner said Robert E Fitch High School is planning a memorial for next week to honor Mitchell Kuflik, a 2007 graduate.
Brian Schidley was Kuflik's AP physics teacher and said he was always smiling and laughing, and usually pulling a prank.
"My meter sticks I used to keep in a cardboard tube, so he liked to take the bottom off the cardboard tube, so I picked up the tube and the meter sticks fell out," Schidley said. "Now every time I pick up a meter stick, I think (of) Mitch. Every time I look at my over-extended Slinkys, I think Mitch."
When Schidley saw the reports that Kuflik was one of 33 crew members on the sunken El Faro cargo ship, he thought it couldn't be real.
"You just don't want to believe it," Schidley said.
It's believed the El Faro sank last week while caught up in the Category 4 hurricane.
On Wednesday, the Coast Guard ended its search, saying it's highly unlikely anyone could have survived.
"This community is just in mourning," said Dr. Mike Graner, Superintendent of Groton Public Schools.
When Kuflik was in high school, he already knew wanted to do for do for work. Next to his senior pictures, he said "I want to own my own tug boat company."
After graduating, he went on to Maine Maritime Academy and graduated in 2011.
"I used to teach at the Coast Guard Academy, so I know a lot about tough military academies, and that is really a tough one," Graner said.
The Academy posted a message about the El Faro crew on their Facebook page on Thursday and said TOTE Maritime released the list of the crew members. "The extended Academy community is grieving the loss of another mariner and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones," the Facebook post read.
As families grieve the 33 crewmembers lost, Groton remembers and grieves with them.
"Smart, fun, energetic person," Schidley said. "Obviously the world needs more of them, not fewer."