DERRY — Friendship was the name of the game during Pinkerton Academy’s 21st annual Betty Shepard Unified Field Day.
The day is named for retired Pinkerton Academy faculty member Betty Shepard, a pioneer of Pinkerton’s unified physical education class.
She ran the unified field day event for many years before her retirement in 2007.
Students with varying degrees of physical and academic challenges are paired with their peers for a day of integrated activities like relay races, basketball contests and running events.
The day brought together not only Pinkerton students, but also those representing Londonderry, Salem, Goffstown and Timberlane Regional High School.
Many other schools have modeled their unified integrated physical education programs after what Pinkerton does.
Pinkerton’s Just Like Us Club student members were on hand at the field day, pairing up with other students for competition.
That’s one of the school’s largest clubs.
“It’s a club where kids can come to be together,” said Pinkerton senior Taylor Ferdinando. “We’re like a big team.”
Ferdinando’s team effort was spilling over into the field day; she and her “buddy” Caitlin Jordan prepared to run a race together.
Students lined the race course in Hackler gym and cheered loudly.
Londonderry High School physical education teacher Ann MacLean brought about 15 students to Pinkerton for the unified field day.
She had Shepard as a teacher when she was a student at Pinkerton.
“This is just wonderful,” MacLean said. “It’s a social setting and just a fun time.”
Others gathered at field day and reminisced about how it all started.
Shepard attended the event and met up with former colleague Shirley Hayes, who helped Shepard in the field day’s early years.
“We used to plan this every year,” Hayes said. “We used to make all these signs. This is fantastic, it really is.”