Pinkerton Academy Headmaster Griffin Morse had a cold Thursday night, Jan. 14, but that didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the first half of 2016.
There is a lot going on at the semi-private high school, as Morse showed in his “State of the School” presentation during the Winter Meeting for Trustees and Sending Towns.
Representatives of the five sending towns, Auburn, Chester, Derry, Hampstead and Hooksett, gathered in the Astro Café for a meal prepared by Culinary Arts students.
Morse pointed to several highlights of this year, including an induction two days before of students into the National Technical Honor Society.
He has been going on the road with Career Coordinator Doug Cullen, promoting ELOs or Extended Learning Opportunities, with local businesses. “Some of these ELOs are credited, some not credited,” Morse told the group. The collaboration with business continues to be important, he said, noting that, “Two-thirds of the jobs that are available do not have the talent available to fill them.”
Morse noted that the China Exchange Program, in which Pinkerton students travel to a school in China, has been cancelled for this year, with parents and students concerned about China’s pollution. However, he said, Chinese students are expected to visit Derry this fall, as they have for several years.
The Pinkerton yearbook, “The Critic,” once again received first-place honors in the American Scholastic Press Association. And a public service announcement on child safety seats made by Video Production students has been shown on WBIN television, among other places.
Over the holidays, the Pinkerton community was generous to its homeless and indigent families, Morse said, including a ninth-grade penny drive, a collection of 140 pairs of eyeglasses for a Manchester Community College project in Ecuador, as previously reported in the Nutfield News, and currently, a winter coat drive.
Restructuring special education is a focus for this year, Morse said, and a current focus is on providing tablets for the paraeducators. The department is also in the process of streamlining its Medicaid reporting process.
Matt Cahoon, manager of Pinkerton’s Stockbridge Theatre, and a committee of three faculty and two Fine Arts students traveled to New York City to review possible artists for the Stockbridge, Morse said.
The school is also taking a closer look at safety, with Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens appointed as the “Safety Czar.” Morse said Ahrens has formed a 9-1-1 group to streamline the process for making 9-1-1 calls in emergencies. In addition, Morse said, Ahrens is making sure the crosswalks are safe, well-painted and well-lit. A newly-formed Sidewalk Safety Committee is looking for Federal funds to help with building sidewalks in areas where they are lacking, such as near the crossing at Hoodkroft.
The school will see some schedule changes, including a “fourth lunch” beginning at 10 a.m. to ease overcrowding in the Underclassmen Cafeteria. In addition, Morse said, the school is considering “shaving off” one minute from the passing time from class to class, from seven to six minutes, beginning next year. The new minimum standards, if approved, require students to be educated 990 hours instead of 180 days, Morse said, and 180 days is not equal to 990 hours.
“We could gain almost three school days by doing this,” Morse said.
A teacher in-service day Feb. 10 will focus on competency-based learning and Pinkerton has invited faculty from the sending schools, Morse said.
Morse also said that Academic Dean Chris Harper has met with the superintendents of the sending districts to discuss the “prickly” issue of summer reading. Some parents have objected in the past to “homework” in the summer.
“We don’t think of it as ‘homework,’” Morse said. “We consider it a skill for life.”