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High turnout, heat mark Pinkerton's first event of the school year

By Ryan Lessard
Union Leader Correspondent

August 07. 2018 10:46PM
Jason Holder of Adventurelore speaks to incoming freshmen in a wooded area near the Pinkerton Academy campus where they found refuge from the sun during Tuesday's Freshman Field Day. (Ryan Lessard/Union Leader Correspondent)

DERRY — An estimated 600 to 700 new students visited Pinkerton Academy in Derry during its Freshman Field Day on Tuesday, where incoming students participated in some team-building exercises, toured the school, met teachers and got to know some of their fellow students.

The associate dean of freshmen, Suzanne Trice, said the number of students is the highest she’s ever seen in the past seven years she’s coordinated Freshman Field Day. She said usually about 80 to 85 percent of the freshmen enrolled come to the event.

Trice thinks part of the reason for the higher turnout is that this is the first year of a new 20-year sending contract for students from Candia.

The office of School Administrative Unit 15, which includes Candia, Hooksett and Auburn, estimates 44 freshmen from Candia will be entering Pinkerton in the fall.

Based on existing enrollment at Pinkerton, they expect there to be 36 Candia sophomores, 22 juniors and 14 seniors in the 2018-2019 school year.

Matt Woodrow, the chairman of the Candia School Board, said he thinks Pinkerton has done a great job as a school so far and that the new sending contract seems to reflect a great relationship. Parents are giving positive feedback.

“Everyone seems very excited,” Woodrow said.

In addition to admitting Derry and Candia students, Pinkerton also has sending arrangements with the towns of Hampstead, Auburn, Chester and Hooksett.

Trice said Freshman Field Day is the first opportunity for the kids from those communities to meet.

“This is the first time that all six towns are together,” Trice said.

Throughout the day, students came in four waves that lasted close to three hours each.

The Danville-based company Adventurelore organized half of the day’s activities, including team-building exercises such as “the boardwalk,” in which students are challenged to step on small wooden squares laid out on the field. Some of the students are handicapped with blindfolds. The idea, according to Adventurelore director Jason Holder, is to see how the kids choose to jump ahead, help others and communicate with those in the blindfolds.

The exercise teaches lessons on teamwork, empathy and taking on new challenges.

“That’s what they’re going to experience, particularly in their freshman year in high school,” Holder said.

At some point in the day, the high-80s-degree heat was proving problematic so the school staff moved the activities from the softball field across the street to a shaded area under some trees just north of the field.

Holder remarked that while it’s a challenge for the staff to be flexible and change locations, it’s a good lesson for the students on how to adapt to challenging circumstances.

Trice said she had help, with some of the roughly 50 student council members and class officers running tours and engaging with kids about some of the clubs, sports and other programs they can get involved with.

“One of the things that Pinkerton is really big on is mentoring,” Trice said.

Freshman orientation day is Aug. 27.

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