Pinkerton Academy Graduates Its 200th Class

Harry Burnham Jr., president of the Pinkerton Academy Board of Trustees, looked out over a sea of crimson and white graduation gowns, as many mortarboard hats, and a Verizon Wireless Arena that was packed to the rafters. As plastic beach balls flew among the graduates, Burnham made himself clear as only a father of seven and longtime commencement speaker could do.

“We will continue,” he said, “when the beach balls are put away.”

And they were, and they did.

Pinkerton Academy sent off its 200th class of graduates this past Monday night. In addition to their personal milestone, the 690 young adults were also the last class to receive congratulations from Headmaster Mary Anderson, who will retire at the end of the month. The Class of 2014 bore the responsibility of the historic occasion with smiles, tears, and just a few beach balls.

Chattering relatives filled the stands at the Verizon. They carried souvenir Teddy bears, cellophane-wrapped flowers and smaller siblings of the grads. As they took their seats, a video of the graduates marching down the Senior Steps at Pinkerton played on the Jumbotron.

The crowd quieted at the sound of a bell. The Trustees, the Rev. Marc Gagne, and

the school administration marched in and took their seats. Then the graduates filed in, led by Class Marshal Samantha Potter. To direct the graduates Potter used a cane that had belonged to Major John Pinkerton, one of the founders of the school.

The students’ mortarboards were decorated with slogans, an American flag, sunflowers and a glittered smiley-face. Camera phones flashed across the Verizon and a few graduates looked up and waved, while others marched on to their seats.

Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens gave a welcome and introduced a quartet of male seniors, Collin Coviello, Stephen Cunniff, Matthew McGinnis and Tyler Pascucci, who sang the National Anthem a cappella. The anthem was signed by Micayla Pica and Samantha Welch. The Rev. Marc Gagne, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Hampstead, gave the invocation and was introduced by Zinyuan Zhang, the fifth-ranking senior in academics.

Karla Accorto, third-ranked senior, gave a welcome. “Four years ago, it seemed as if this day would never come,” Accorto said. “Each of us faced a moment where we thought this would never be reached.”

Dean of Faculty Beverly Lannan told the students, “You should be proud of yourselves,” and introduced Salutatorian Natalie Kukshtel. Kukshtel traced the past four years at Pinkerton and some of the changes, including the Freshman Academy concept and the Freshman Building.

“We were the last class to roam the campus freely with upperclassmen,” she said. “We were also the last class to remember the portable classrooms.”

Kukshtel reminded her classmates, “We won’t necessarily be able to solve the world’s problems, but we can keep our eyes open to opportunities that exist.

Academic Dean Chris Harper introduced Valedictorian Ian Vossoughi, who noted that in such a large class, there were few shared memories for the entire group and compared the four years to a bag of potato chips. “This date seemed far away in September 2010, but like the bottom of a bag of potato chips, it’s tasty when reached,” he said.

He encouraged fellow graduates to “add your individual pigments to the great palette of life.”

Anderson took the microphone to give her last commencement talk. She spoke about dreams and quoted Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

One “dreamer” was Alan B. Shepard, who graduated Pinkerton with the Class of 1940. In the 1930s, she said, he used to go out to the old Grenier Field in Manchester and watch the biplanes land. His dreams brought him into outer space twice, as the first American in space and the one of the first men to walk on the moon,.

She quoted William Arthur Ward, “If you can imagine it you can achieve it and if you can dream it you can become it,” but warned that dreams, ideas and ideals are wasteful if not translated into effective action.

Anderson’s voice broke as she gave her final exhortation, “Godspeed to you and go live your dreams.”

The Associate Deans of students announced scholarships and awards, with Associate Dean Kevin Yahanian noting that the combined total of scholarships and awards for the Class of 2014 was $9 million.

Fourth-ranking student Kinsey Manchester introduced Burnham, who said, “You are a special and historic class. This is your day in the history of this great institution. Two hundred years ago, the settlers of this area realized that in order to lead prosperous, meaningful lives, their youth needed to be educated.”

Burnham exhorted the students to never be afraid to ask a question, and to come “home” to Pinkerton when they needed advice or resources.

He was assisted in giving the diplomas by Senior Class deans Sharon Clute and John Vaccarezza. He invited Anderson to the platform to greet students, and finally said, “By the powers granted to me by the state of New Hampshire, I now grant diplomas to the Class of 2014.”

“Let the procession begin,” Burnham concluded with a smile.

The Academic Top 10 for 2014 were Vossoughi of Derry; Kukshtel of Atkinson; Accorto of Chester; Manchester of Derry; Zhang, of Derry; Diana Calvetti of Chester; Ariana Moran of Atkinson; Nicholas Messina of Derry; Paige Welch of Hampstead; and Sarah Lambert of Auburn.

Class officers were President, Natalie Fabrizio; Vice-President, Haley McMullen; Secretary, Margaret Mulrennan; Treasurer, Daniel Reschberger; Historian, Kinsey Manchester; Communications Coordinator, Jacob Konstant; Social Services Coordinator, Brooke Kirby; Fundraising Coordinator, Eva Murray; Community Service Coordinator, Skyla Gorman; Publicity Coordinator, Kylie Lowell; and officers-at-large Benjamin Foley, Matthew King, Connor Kwiecien, Sheilagh Linehan, Michael Luppold Jr., Austin Maylor and Samantha Welch. Abrielle Plummer was Student Council Liaison. Advisers were Kristen Abbott and Jonathan Fowler.