By Julie Huss
---- — MANCHESTER — Following tradition, the bell tolled and Pinkerton Academy’s founder’s cane led the parade of 741 graduates yesterday afternoon at commencement exercises at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The cane, which belonged to school founder Maj. John Pinkerton, was carried by junior class marshal Natalie Fabrizio as the ceremony began.
Since the ceremony moved to the Verizon Arena three years ago, a recording of the Academy’s famous bell tolls while the graduates walk in.
This was the 195th annual commencement for the Derry high school.
Kelsey Kresge, ranked fourth in her class, led off the afternoon with words of wisdom for her fellow graduates.
“These four years have been stressful,” she said, “but graduates should take pride (and thank) everyone who has supported the Class of 2013.”
Salutatorian Patrick Doolittle of Hampstead followed with his speech telling classmates not to fear the future, but to always believe they can succeed.
“We only truly fail when we stop believing that we can succeed,” he said. “Failure is settling for less than what you originally defined as success.”
Patrick’s good friend, valedictorian Dylan Mahalingham followed, saying the four years at Pinkerton were like a web of intricate connections between teachers, students and friends.
He said there were many in his own class he didn’t know, his circle of friends was intimate. He urged graduates to always be aware of the many networks and connections that lie ahead.
“There are all the relationships we haven’t made yet,” he said, “with all the people we haven’t gotten the chance to meet. There are so many of those strings in the web that are yet to be tied, and there are so many that will be eventually cut.”
Headmaster Mary Anderson quoted Walt Disney and told the Class of 2013 they should always wish upon a star and make good things happen.
“All of your dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them,” she said. “Find what you love and become lifelong learners. There is no better future than that.”
She told graduates to always remember where they came from, remember their years at Pinkerton, and remember to come back and visit.
“Take what you learned,” she said. “And you will always have a home at Pinkerton.”
In addition to awarding diplomas, Pinkerton announced longtime trustee Harry Burnham Jr. as the recipient of the annual Trustees’ Meritorious Service Award for his many years serving Pinkerton.
There was no hint of controversy at commencement although the community was stirred up last week with the news that senior Brandon Paquette of Hampstead would not be allowed to participate in graduation.
Paquette, 18, is a cancer survivor. However, he didn’t survive geometry and was one credit short of meeting the school’s graduation requirements.
He hoped to walk with his class yesterday, if only to receive a blank piece of paper in lieu of a diploma, but school officials stood by their policy and denied that request. Paquette will take geometry again this summer.