DERRY — Two years ago Pinkerton Academy assistant boys lacrosse coach Marty Auger approached coach and Athletic Director Brian O’Reilly about the possibility of bringing a turf field to the high school campus.
Auger, a Pinkerton alumnus, also volunteered to write the first check to support that idea.
That first effort and the formation of a committee of parent supporters led to what is now a major capital campaign underway at Pinkerton, charged with examining the best use of space on the campus.
Pinkerton Academy administration, faculty, students, community officials, parents and other supporters gathered May 23 at Memorial Field to celebrate a new turf field, now ready for student-athletes to enjoy.
The field is one part of a multi-pronged $2 million campaign that includes bringing a new multipurpose field to Pinkerton, along with an academic portion to address needs of the faculty, staff and student body.
Supported by private donations from the extended Pinkerton community, the “Open Space, Opening Minds” capital campaign allows the high school to pursue athletic and academic improvements without impacting tuition costs for any of the sending towns that send students to the high school in Derry.
William Nevious, president of Pinkerton’s Board of Trustees, said Pinkerton’s 205-year history is full of traditions from the past and also excitement for the future. The contributions of parents, faculty, students and other supporters made the campaign possible, he said.
“It’s just exciting to be able to say these were donations coming out of pockets from parents and supporters,” Nevious said, adding that also included 100% support from the trustees.
Campaign co-chairman Owen McGarrahan said the idea to bring a turf field to Pinkerton started as a simple idea brought forward by parents, and the end goal is now a top notch field two years later.
“This idea was absorbed into a search for a design firm to help examine open space for the continued growth of Pinkerton,” McGarrahan said.
The bright green, synthetic turf is the first obvious sign of the campaign, allowing for more consistent access for team practice space for football, lacrosse as well as the Pinkerton marching band. Construction on the second field begins this summer that will replace current field hockey and softball fields and will be earmarked for boys and girls soccer, field hockey, girls lacrosse and softball.
O’Reilly has taught at Pinkerton for more than 40 years. He said he could only dream the school would one day have a field like this.
“What we see before us is, beyond any argument, the finest interscholastic football field in the state,” O’Reilly said, adding the new, second field planned will also help create space for all teams to use.
“We will be able to cover everything,” he said. “This is everything to us.”
Pinkerton Headmaster Timothy Powers said saying thank you is such a simple thing for such a grand outcome.
“Those two words seem so small but mean so much,” Powers said.
Powers said decisions are always made with students’ best interests in mind, both in the classroom and out on the fields. The fields are the athletic part of the campaign; there will be the academic piece as well.
“We will do some great things with staff and faculty with the Faculty and Staff Excellence Fund,” Powers said.
That will include enhanced counseling needs, campus improvements, technology instruction assistance and offering help to teachers to enhance their jobs with conferences, seminars, guest speakers and mini-sabbaticals.
Powers noted that he is always impressed when he speaks with Pinkerton alumni.
“The fact they still talk about stories 50 or 60 years ago, like it happened yesterday,” Powers said.
That’s a testament to the school, he said.
Powers said the capital campaign is well on its way, with already half the total amount raised.
“Thank you, enjoy the night, and go Astros,” Powers said.