MANCHESTER — Smiles, tears, waves from families and friends, and the usual number of beach balls highlighted Pinkerton Academy's 194th commencement exercises, held Monday, June 18, at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
The 726 graduates were led into the arena by a student marshal carrying a cane that belonged to Academy founder Maj. John Pinkerton.
This was the second year commencement has been held in Manchester.
As commencement began, it was time for speeches and farewells from faculty and friends.
Class valedictorian and salutatorian, Renee Hensiek and John Keisling Jr., respectively, spoke to their classmates and offered their take on what lies ahead after high school.
Joining Hensiek and Keisling at the top of the class list were Nicolas McNeill, third honors; Amanda Gagne, fourth honors; and Matthew Dennehy, fifth honors.
In his salutatorian address, Keisling told classmates a good friend once told him that nothing worthwhile is easy.
"I truly believe that," he said. "Nothing in life is just handed to you; you have to work for it."
At the top of her class, valedictorian Hensiek said it took exactly 12 years, 2,160 days and 51,840 hours to get to this point.
"No matter how you calculate it, it's been quite a journey," she said.
Hensiek told her classmates to always make good choices.
"The independence we all have been waiting for also comes with a huge responsibility to make the right choices," she said. "These choices may be tough, but in the end you will be glad you made them." Headmaster Mary Anderson told the graduates she was impressed with their potential, kindness and hard work.
"The faculty and staff at Pinkerton provided the Class of 2012 with a platform — a platform from which graduates can go up, up and away," Anderson said. "Our greatest wish is always that each of our students will leave us with the tools, skills and maturity to be whatever they want."