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Peer mentor Emily Wright reviews some anti-bullying procedures as part of Pinkerton Academy's new Academy Mentor Program. (ADAM SWIFT/Union Leader Correspondent)

Pinkerton finds success with mentor program

DERRY - In the past, freshman seminars at Pinkerton Academy sometimes seemed like a good idea that students didn't always give their full attention.

It was the teachers who led the new students through presentations on everything from the culture of Pinkerton Academy to bullying.

Last year, however, teachers Roger Konstant and Brewster Bartlett began laying the groundwork for the school's new Academy Mentor Program, training about 70 upperclassmen to help incoming freshmen make the transition from middle school to high school.

While the two had high expectations for the program, it has been moving along even better than expected, even if it is more of a time commitment than they were originally anticipating, according to Konstant.

'Everything is great,' said Konstant. 'It's better than expected.'

Bartlett said the reception has been excellent from the freshmen, the upperclass mentors and the teachers.

'There was some curiosity from the teachers about how this would work,' he said. 'But now, they've gotten used to the student mentors and they don't want them to leave.'

The interaction between mentors, teacher and students was evident in science teacher Marge Pagliuca's class this week.

Student mentors Caroline Sullivan and Emily Wright led the second part of a program on bullying, answering questions from the freshmen about cyberbullying while Pagliuca added an anecdote about being bullied as a student.

Sullivan and Wright said they both have enjoyed their time as mentors.

'I think it has been helpful for the freshmen,' said Sullivan.

Pagliuca said she has seen a more enthusiastic response from students to the peer mentors than she has seen in the past when teachers have covered the same subject matter.

'Now, the freshman have the perspective of another student leading the seminar who has lived through these things,' said Konstant.

In the recent seminars on bullying, which Bartlett said had the good fortune to align with anti-bullying month in October, one pair of mentors included a student who was bullied in the past and a student who used to be a bully.

'The mentor who was the bully was explaining how she regretted it while the one who was bullied explained what she went through,' said Bartlett.

The seminars also cover topics such as reviewing handbooks and planners, study skills, club information, bullying implications and overall school rules.

With the initial success of the program, Konstant said he and Bartlett will still be looking at ways to tweak it for next year.

Word of the program's success has even stretched out beyond the walls of Pinkerton Academy. Bartlett said faculty from Exeter High School will be visiting Pinkerton next week to look at ways their school can implement a similar program.

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Adam Swift may be reached at

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