MANCHESTER — Pinkerton Academy is having a big year and so are its recent graduates.
As Pinkerton celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, the bell tolled again Monday afternoon to honor the school’s newest class of graduates.
Diplomas were awarded to 690 graduates in commencement exercises at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Junior class marshal Samantha Potter led the graduates into the arena. She followed a longstanding tradition at Pinkerton and carried a cane that belonged to Maj. John Pinkerton, one of the Academy’s founders.
Since the ceremony moved to the Verizon Arena four years ago, a recording of the school’s bell also tolls while the students walk in.
This was the 196th annual commencement for the Derry high school.
The ceremony began with Collin Coviello, Stephen Cuniff, Matthew McGinnis, and Tyler Pascucci singing the national anthem. Micayla Pica and Samantha Welch performed the song in sign language.
In her final graduation message prior to her retirement this year, Headmaster Mary Anderson often became emotional as she told students to keep their dreams intact and what may lie ahead.
She quoted one of her “dreamers” Walt Disney and told the Class of 2014 they should always wish upon a star and make good things happen.
“His quote I most often think of is, ‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,’” Anderson said.
That was the key message she hoped the graduates would remember — that being a dreamer can accomplish great things.
Anderson also noted one of Pinkerton’s most famous graduates, Alan B. Shepard, the first American in space. She said the Class of 1940 graduate may have been one of the biggest dreamers.
“Alan spent many hours outside the fence at Manchester’s Grenier Field, watching bi-planes take off and land,” she said. “His trips as a teenager were a long way from space travel, but it was where and when his aspirations were born and nurtured. What great things have been accomplished that was not first a dream?”