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Pinkerton Academy plans more tours for Hooksett residents

HOOKSETT — Chip Underhill and fellow staff members at Pinkerton Academy have already provided hundreds of tours of the school’s Derry campus.

Next Tuesday, March 4, they’ll be offering two additional tours — scheduled for 5 and 6:30 p.m. — for any Hooksett residents who are curious about exactly what they’ll be committing to on March 11 should they vote in favor of a 10-year contract with Pinkerton.

“It’s sort of like picking a college, like picking a high school, like picking a place to hold your wedding,” said Underhill, Pinkerton’s executive director of public relations and external affairs. “To actually see something is a big part of your research.”

Unlike most high schools, Pinkerton’s campus comprises 16 buildings, 13 of which are used for instruction.

“Some people call us a mini college, so we want Hooksett voters to fully appreciate exactly what they’re voting on,” said Underhill. “We’ve already conducted at least 250 tours for interested parents and students, but this is sort of the last chance for those who are still seeking information before they cast their ballots.”

The Pinkerton tuition agreement calls for a 10-year deal, the first five years of which a minimum of 75 Hooksett students would attend Pinkerton. For years six through 10 of the deal, 90 percent of Hooksett students would be required to attend Pinkerton. Roughly 110 eighth-graders have chosen Pinkerton for the 2014-15 school year.

Hooksett School Board member Phil Denbow said most of those soon-to-be freshmen and their parents have already done their research and toured the campus.

The March 4 tours are aimed at parents of younger children and residents who don’t have children in the Hooksett school system but want more information. The tours, said Underhill, take roughly 45 minutes.

“The question I’m asked most often is how far does it take to get from point A to point B, and the answer is seven minutes,” he said. “From the most northern point of the campus to the most southern point, it takes seven minutes to walk, and if my older legs can do it, these younger kids certainly can.”

That detail is important, Underhill said, because many parents are concerned the campus is too large for high schoolers.

“The most common perception of people that come to Pinkerton for the first time is that it’s so big, and it is big compared to most one-building high schools, but by the time we’re done walking around the campus and talking, almost everyone says to me that it’s smaller than they thought,” he said. “That’s why it’s valuable to physically see the campus, and that’s why we’re offering these tours.”

On Monday, March 3, Underhill and more than a dozen faculty members will travel to Hooksett for one last informational meeting at 7 p.m. in the Cawley Middle School cafeteria.

Denbow said the forum is focused entirely on Pinkerton and similar in format to the individual eighth-grade high school information nights that were held for Pinkerton, Manchester Central and Manchester West.

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