I had the stifling experience last Wednesday of picking up the week’s issue of The Hooksett Banner. Having been away at my first year of college for three months, I forgot the state Hooksett and Manchester were in when I left.
I woke up my first morning back, found The Hooksett Banner on my family’s coffee table and looked at the first page to see a poll on citizens’ opinions concerning the talks between Pinkerton Academy and Hooksett over where Hooksett students will go to high school. In the comments from individuals were scattered passing phrases, such as “Anything but Central” or “Not Manchester,” and these irked me.
I am a former Hooksett student who went to Manchester High School Central. For several years now, I have been told that I was somehow “ripped off” by having taken this path. People say that Central doesn’t educate anymore and doesn’t give its students preparation for college. However, I don’t feel ripped off. In fact, I am thankful for the education Central gave me.
When I sit in the common room of my college dorm, I see my fellow college students struggle with the workload of college and the rigors of the material. But I don’t share these struggles. Through my education at Central, I am completely prepared for the research papers and the independent studies that are expected of college students.
In fact, many of the students I see struggling come from some of the best public schools in the United States and from overseas in the United Kingdom and China. This is a sentiment shared by many other Central alums, many of my friends. I have been fortunate to see many of my Central classmates this break, and I am regaled with similar stories of personal success in college.
Unlike many of the other opinions about this subject, I speak not from a moment of anger, but from one of happiness. I am terribly proud and thankful that my friends and I, these recent Central alums, are doing so well in college. I am glad that every day we are disproving what seems to be an archaic and uneducated assumption that Manchester schools can’t get anything right. I assure you, they can, and they have.
I don’t know the answer to the dispute over what is the best contract for Hooksett to make with a district. All I know is that the populace seems to have a very wrong understanding on what a Central education really is. We, the students, aren’t deaf to this argument. However, it seems like all the wrong voices are arguing.
It seems that many parents and local officials step up to the plate on this subject fancying themselves experts on schools like Central or Memorial. Well, I spent four years as both a student and a student representative at Central, and I can tell you that not once has anybody asked me or my friends what their experience has been. In fact, the people who matter most, the students, have been glaringly left out of the conversation completely. While that may be for lack of our own efforts, there doesn’t seem to be a strong amount of outreach from those who are making the decisions.
Whatever decision is made concerning Hooksett students and the Manchester school district, I am still thankful. I am thankful for the education Central gave me. I am thankful for having had the chance to learn about slam poetry from Ms. Kelly MacDonald, classical literature and etiquette from a classical scholar like Ms. Selma Naccach-Hoff, the applications of math from Ms. Lesley Fallu and physics from Mr. Michael Patten.
I am thankful for the experiences Central gave me, such as going to see and report on President Obama’s visit to Manchester, or making it to the semifinals of Granite State Challenge. I am thankful for both the friendships and connections I made. I am thankful for the real preparation I had for those trying first months of college. In all, I am thankful for Manchester schools, and it would be a real pity if that opportunity weren’t extended to future Hooksett students.
Aidan Connell is a 19-year-old college student from Hooksett.