Hooksett Residents Get Introduction to Pinkerton

Marcel Labonville of Hooksett liked what he saw of Pinkerton Academy. He had one request: “I’d like it more,” he said, “if they moved it 20 miles closer.”
Labonville and about 100 other Hooksett parents found a lot to like Monday night, when they and their eighth-graders attended an information session at Pinkerton. While the distance between some Hooksett homes and the semi-private school didn’t strike a harmonious chord, parents and students agreed that the Derry school has a lot to offer.

Hooksett, which was released from its contract with the Manchester School District earlier this year, is exploring Pinkerton as an option for its high school students.
“It is very impressive,” Labonville said.
His son Coleton had one word, “Wow.” But he followed that with, “It’s more than I expected.” Coleton said he was interested in several programs, including the auto body shop and FIRST Robotics.
Hooksett parents filed into the Stockbridge Theatre, greeted friends and watched a brief trailer for Pinkerton’s China Exchange program before Headmaster Mary Anderson took the podium. She gave a brief virtual tour of the school, pointing out buildings dating from 1814 to last year and their functions.
“That, to me, is Pinkerton,” she said as the screen showed a slide of the red brick Pinkerton Building and its tower. She also injected humor, noting that the new Cosmetology/Animal Sciences building is nicknamed “All Things Hair.”
Academic Dean Chris Harper took the stage to talk about course offerings. He chose one phrase from the school’s mission statement, “Ensuring the growth of all students,” and wove that through a discussion of Math and Writing Centers, Special Education, the Freshman Program and Freshman Seminar, Career Pathways, Career and Technical Education (CTE), honors and AP (Advanced Placement) classes, and 316 courses, some of which “some junior colleges don’t have.” He explained that students in the Air Force Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program could complete Aviation Ground School at Pinkerton, and discussed the Five-Year Plan, which helps students determine what they want to do when they get out.
Harper explained that 22 credits are required for graduation, but that most students pick up 24 and some earn as many as 32 or 33. He discussed leveling, pointing out that the A, B and C levels, which increase in complexity and rigor, are not intended “to thwart the growth of students, but to encourage them. We want them to be challenged, not frustrated.”
Anderson and Harper threw the meeting open to questions. “Can you speak to the level of security?” one woman asked.
Anderson said there are campus monitors throughout the day and 24-7 security on nights and weekends. “There is also a School Resource Officer,” Harper said.
A Hooksett dad asked, “If the town does not release its student to Pinkerton, is there an option for private pay?”
Anderson responded that Pinkerton can take up to 75 students from non-sending towns.
Another man asked if Pinkerton had adopted the Common Core Standards. Harper said it had, but reminded parents that “Common Core is a set of standards, and we design the curriculum.” For example, he said, Pinkerton will continue to teach classics such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” in its English classes.
“We build the curriculum on the resources we feel a student needs, to be college and career-ready,” he said.
To a question about the tuition rate, Anderson said it was $10,292.49 in 2013-14. The new tuition rate has just been released as $10,796.96, she said.
Anderson said, “We look forward to having a relationship with Hooksett. We’ll see what happens.”
After the meeting, parent Mark Somerville said, “I like the fact that they have a number of choices, and I like the sense of community.”
“I love it,” his son Jonathan, a potential freshman, said. “I met someone who went here and they told me about it. I can’t wait.”
“It is,” his father said, “all he talks about.”
Jonathan said he was interested in welding, robotics and engineering, for a start.
“You will never come home,” his father predicted.
But how far “home” is remains a sticking point, Hooksett mother Guylaine Robidoux said, adding, “It’s very impressive, it’s just so far from home and that’s an issue.”
Some Hooksett students already attend Londonderry High School, Robidoux said, and they catch a bus at 6:15 a.m. She would have to leave the house at 6 a.m. to get daughter Lisa to a bus stop.
Her two older children attended Manchester Central High School, and their classes began at 10 minutes of 8, rather than Pinkerton’s 7:15, she said.
But the program itself is attractive, Robidoux added. She and Lisa expressed interest in the Culinary Arts program, with Robidoux saying, “She’s my little Martha Stewart.”