EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

June 11, 2014

Graduation requires lots of pre-planning

Graduation requires a lot of work from a lot of people

Caps and gowns are arriving. Diplomas are being signed and sorted. Chairs and stages are getting set up. Some students are eager to walk the stage, some others aren't sure if they're walking.

Five area schools — Salem, Windham, Sanborn, Londonderry and Pelham— will hold commencement exercises Friday night. Timberlane's is Saturday morning and Pinkerton Academy graduates Monday.

A lot of work goes into planning the big event.

"It's a team effort," Windham High School registrar Diane Figaro said. "It truly takes a village to get this off the ground."

Everybody gets involved, Figaro said — from front office staff coordinating year-end activities to teachers grading exams so students can get their diplomas.

One principal compared the process to planning a wedding.

"You put in all this work ahead of time and once you walk down the aisle, it is what it is," Sanborn Regional High School principal Brian Stack said. "Anything that happens is going to happen."

Many schools start planning graduation in the fall when they put in orders for chairs and the stage, if they're running their own show.

Others start talks with the venues that do it for them, like Pinkerton Academy's ceremony at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, Dean of Students Glenn Ahrens said.

Then it's business as usual until early spring, when many schools launch into graduation planning.

Most schools divide responsibilities among several staff members.

"It's a lot of checks and double-checks to make sure everything has been done," Londonderry High School secretary Pauline Engler said. "There are a lot of things that have to get done. It's way too much for one person to handle."

By June, things ordered months in advance start flowing in. Planning shifts into high gear, Engler said.

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