Harry Burnham, chairman of the Pinkerton Academy Board of Trustees, stood before a sea of red-and-white mortarboards in the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. “Four years ago, I spoke to you in the Hackler Gym as you entered Pinkerton for the first time,” Burnham said. “You were advised by your parents to work hard, study diligently and have fun. You learned about the changing world, and here you are.”
As Burnham said, “I hope you had some fun along the way,” a beach ball with the Pepsi-Cola symbol floated above the heads of the graduates. The mood in the Verizon on Monday afternoon was a combination of sober reflection and youthful high spirits as the Class of 2013, Pinkerton’s 195th graduating class, prepared to move their tassels and enter the adult world. Speakers looked back and to the future before the 720 young men and women marched onstage to receive their diplomas.
Their families and friends filled the bleachers. They clutched paper-wrapped bouquets and every variety of camera. As the last-minute arrivals filed on to the stands, photos of the graduates-to-be flashed on the Jumbotron over their heads: prom, cheerleaders, band, ROTC cadets, community service projects, or just being silly. There was a little bit of everything to celebrate their four years.
Band Director Mike Adams led the Pinkerton Concert Band in a medley of classical pieces for an overture. The music stopped at exactly 4 p.m. The trustees, administration, faculty and Rev. Adam Houston, father of grad Joshua Houston, filed in to the sound of a lone clanging school chime. Then the first graduates appeared in the wings, and Adams and his band broke into Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.
” The 720 marching grads, part of a class of 740 graduates, filed in. They had decorated the tops of their mortarboards with glitter, slogans, a large “P” and even an American flag. Students Adrianna Bridge, Amanda Crow, Caroline Fleming and Alison Silva sang the National Anthem a cappella, while classmates Victoria Lazzaro and Korryn Lemay signed it.
Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens opened the ceremony. Rev. Houston gave an invocation, followed by a welcome from student Kelsey Kresge. “It has been four stressful, tiresome and amazing years,” Kresge said.
Dean of Faculty Bev Lannan introduced Salutatorian Patrick Doolittle, who challenged the recent assertion of Time Magazine that his generation was “me, me, me.”
“Was it narcissists who made thousands of paper snowflakes to decorate a Connecticut school from which 20 children would never graduate? Were we lazy after peace was disturbed on the streets of Boston, when we raised money for Onefund, signed up in huge numbers to donate blood, donned our ‘Boston Strong’ T-shirts?” he asked.
Doolittle had a GPA of 101, Lannon said.
Valedictorian Krishna “Dylan” Mahalingam was introduced by Academic Dean Chris Harper, who said Mahalingam ended with a GPA of 103.07. Mahalingam spoke of the “strings” that will tie the 2013 grads into the “beautiful network that is the human society,” and said the class would make an impact on humanity, shaping it into something it couldn’t have been without them.
Headmaster Mary Anderson compared Monday’s grads with who they were in September 2009. “You were young, impressionable, overwhelmed,” she told them. “Now you are mature and confident adults.”
Anderson urged the students to “remember where you came from,” and told them they would always have a home at Pinkerton.
Scholarships and awards were announced, with faculty member Kevin Yahnian saying the combined scholarships and awards totaled $9.5 million, the highest amount in Pinkerton history. It was also an evening to celebrate the grownups. Trustee Robert Gorham announced that Burnham had been given the Trustees’ Meritorious Service Award. Burnham, who has sent seven of his own children through Pinkerton, is “one of the most visible trustees,” Gorham said.
The 2013 Pinkerton Hall of Fame inductees were also announced: the late William Cofrin, faculty member; scholar-athlete Maureen Burns Boak, 2002; Brian Thacker, 1963, earner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam; the late John Almy Rider, maintenance superintendent for 32 years; Brendan James Ernst 1998, musician; and Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens. They will be inducted in a ceremony Sept. 27.
The commencement began, with students filing out of their seats at the direction of Marshal Natalie Fabrizio. As their names were announced, they received their diplomas from Burnham, received congratulations from Anderson and their advisers, and stood for a photograph under a cardboard arch. They showed their crimson folders to their fans in the stands before taking their seats, and one exuberant boy high-fived Burnham before leaving the stage.