By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — There was a good sign at Windham High graduation practice yesterday: Class of 2013 T-shirts outnumbered Boston Bruins’ T-shirts.
This week is all about getting priorities straight.
Principal Tom Murphy, speaking to the seniors during a rehearsal, walked through some of them.
“If for any reason they mispronounce your name,” Murphy said, gesturing toward class advisers Jill Bartlett and Jared Cassedy, “today is the day to tell them. Your family will be there and we want to make sure we get it right.”
There are lots of names to get right, 163 of them.
Murphy coached the students on how to get through the graduation line.
“The biggest thing you’ve got to know is who’s in front of you and who’s behind you,” the principal said.
Windham’s seniors are among about 2,300 graduating over the next few days in Southern New Hampshire.
Judging by the mutual applause and cheers as the faculty read their names, they are more than ready.
“I am really excited, looking forward to going to college and doing something new,” Ryan Cleary, 18, said.
He is off to the University of Maine to study athletic training.
Some know it will be an emotional moment.
“I am really excited right now, but I know I will be sad at the time and this will be bittersweet,” Bernadette Connors, 18, said.
She is bound for Bates College to study economics.
Some are reflecting on how high school changed them.
Brandon Neal, 18, recalls football making a big difference. He went out for the team junior year.
“That really broke me out of my shell and I got really good friends,” said Neal, who will attend Nashua Community College with a goal of moving to a four-year university to study psychology.
There are cherished memories.
“Being back-to-back state champs in wrestling,” Jeremy Cocciardi, 19, said.
He will attend Keene State. He is undecided about a major, but may study business.
Assistant principal Bob Dawson said there are five sets of twins in the graduating class. That’s a record for Windham, which is graduating its second class.
Administrators are hoping the second class accomplishes another first for the high school, the first outdoor graduation. That all depends on the weather.
Other schools prepare, too
Pinkerton Academy students practiced yesterday, too.
“Today was the second of three total graduation rehearsals,” public relations director Chip Underhill said. “The final one is Friday. The first was last Saturday, which was unusual, to do it on the weekend, but a ‘Senior Saturday,’ as we called it, was necessary due to the great number of snow days this winter.”
Graduation and practices aren’t the only activities keeping seniors busy this week.
There are celebrations, too.
Windham’s seniors will visit Golden Brook School tomorrow for a breakfast where they began their studies a dozen years ago.
Sanborn Regional High School seniors have a baccalaureate service tonight at 7 at First Congregational Church in Kingston.
In Salem, students last night participated in Senior Safe Night.
Now in its 20th year, the drug- and alcohol-free night attracts most of the class for an all-night session that combines activities including a dance, a hypnotist, pizza and ice cream sundaes, a video yearbook presentation and an obstacle course.
“They love it,” guidance director Heidi Greenlaw said. “About 80 percent of them attend.”
A highlight was a car giveaway.
“I have the keys right here,” Greenlaw said. “It’s a 2001 blue Toyota Corolla sedan, reconditioned. It was donated by Rockingham Toyota.”
Salem’s seniors are also looking forward to college. Greenlaw said students are headed to a diverse group of universities and colleges. They include Boston College, Arizona State, Miami and Purdue.
Some are choosing a more affordable option, she said.
“I think we are seeing an increase in the community college route because of cost,” Greenlaw said.
There are students who are putting country first.
“We do have a few going into the military,” she said.
Gov. Maggie Hassan is participating in graduation in Southern New Hampshire. She is speaking at Sanborn Regional tomorrow night.
Principal Brian Stack said the Sanborn community is excited to have the governor speak at graduation. He said many have wondered how Sanborn pulled that one off. It wasn’t that complicated. “We asked,” Stack said.
Here is a look at the upcoming graduations and estimated number of graduates, which are still being determined in some cases.
Because some schools issue tickets based on venue, friends and relatives should check with the graduates or their school about the policy.
DERRY: Pinkerton Academy graduates at 4 p.m. Monday at the Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, 750 graduates.
:LONDONDERRY: Londonderry High graduates at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, 409 graduates.
PELHAM: 6 p.m. tomorrow, 131 graduates, outdoors on the football field or in the gym.
SALEM: 6 p.m. tomorrow, Salem High, Grant Field, 302 graduates. Rain date is 10 a.m. Saturday.
SANBORN REGIONAL: 6 p.m. tomorrow, Sanborn Regional, in the gym, 160 graduates.
TIMBERLANE REGIONAL: 10 a.m. Saturday, football field or in the gym, 382 graduates.
WINDHAM HIGH: 6 p.m. tomorrow, outdoors on the soccer field or in the gym, 163 graduates.