DERRY | Success is measured in many ways, and students participating in Pinkerton Academy's Work-to-Learn, Alternative Comprehensive Training program really make the grade.

There's so much success, in fact, the 37-plus participants in the school's program received accolades and honors for their efforts during the annual Success Night at Pinkerton on June 7.

ACT and Work-to-Learn offer students with varying degrees of learning challenges an opportunity not only to prepare themselves academically for after graduation, but also a chance to get jobs and gain valuable experience.

In addition to honoring students, Work-to-Learn/ACT business partners in the community received thanks for their help. Thirty-five job sites in the Greater Derry area and surrounding communities offer jobs to the students throughout the year.

Business partners recognized on Success Night included Dollar Bill's, Derry Village School, Shaw's, Hannaford, Build-a-Bear, Wal-Mart, Benson's, TJ Maxx, Pinkerton Academy's cafeteria and Saltmarsh Library, the Derry Early Education Program, Sports Authority, Big Lots, Petco, Betley Chevrolet, Barka Elementary School, Sonshine Preschool, Applebee's and T-Bones, among others.

Through years of participation, businesses logged a collective 216 years with the Pinkerton program.

Work-to-Learn program coordinator Jay Morgan said the students learn not only about the job world, but they "learn about life," too. He offered congratulations to the students, their families, and all who worked together, including businesses, bus drivers, student peer volunteers and Pinkerton staff.

Students participating in Special Olympics events received jackets and a special banner. Student volunteers also were recognized for their help, including members of Pinkerton's Just Like Us Club, who work all year to plan social events for the ACT/Work-to-Learn students, offering friendship and acceptance along the way.

"A year ago, we started this club with five freshmen," faculty adviser Mike Welch said. "Now, it's up to 160 people and is one of the largest clubs at Pinkerton."

Club president and founding member Eddie Zaremba said it is all about acceptance and a wonderful feeling to meet a lot of great people and help out.

"It's awesome," he said. "A lot of good things have come out of it."

Pinkerton physical education staffer Betty Shepard was honored with a plaque for her many years assisting the program and hosting a physical education program for 14 years. Shepard is retiring this year and said she will miss being a part of the process.

"I will miss all of you," she said. "This was the class that made me come into the school in the morning."

Shepard said 140 people participated in Pinkerton's annual field day event where students with a wide range of learning and/or physical challenges can participate in a variety of sporting and physical education events.

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