DERRY — Pinkerton Academy is proud of their alumni. One special graduate was honored last week with plenty of school spirit on hand to help celebrate.
As the John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum unveiled its Freedom 7 space capsule display on Sept. 12, Pinkerton students and officials were present to help support one of its own.
Freedom 7 was the iconic capsule that jetted East Derry native Alan B. Shepard into space in 1961, making him the first American to make the journey.
Shepard was a member of the Pinkerton Academy Class of 1940.
Three Pinkerton students were part of the program at the library and presented a Pinkerton banner, featuring the school’s name, the Astros.
The capsule weighs 2,422 pounds, measures about 6 feet in diameter and is a little over 9 feet tall. It is on loan from the Smithsonian.
Freedom 7 will be on public display as part of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s Sept. 12, 1962 speech at Rice University, where he spoke on the importance of the manned space program in America.
“In bringing the Freedom 7 space capsule to our museum, the Kennedy Library hopes to inspire a new generation of Americans to use science and technology for the betterment of our humankind,” library director Tom Putnam said.
Pinkerton teams are named in honor of Shepard. The school also has the Astro Cafe and various other tributes to the famous graduate.
Derry also sports Shepard tributes at the post office, on buildings and in schools.
Following Shepard’s historic flight in 1961, Derry became known as “Spacetown, U.S.A.”
The Derry History Museum on Broadway has a large collection of Shepard memorabilia and family items now on display in a special Alan Shepard room.
For the Pinkerton students, helping remember one of the school’s most famous graduates was important.
“Alan B. Shepard was a leader our country needed and it was his abundant courage and dedication to fulfilling his dreams that helped to inspire our nation to reach new heights,” Pinkerton Student Council president Maggie Doherty said. “Today, in 2012, Alan B. Shepard continues to inspire us at Pinkerton Academy.”
Pinkerton continues to keep Shepard’s name alive.
Alumni relations director Anne Parker said the school will create several displays on Shepard.
“I am creating a display for the new Academy Building, so freshmen will be aware they are walking through some of the same halls as our first man in space,” she said.