The Next Step

While talks are just beginning between Pinkerton Academy and Hooksett School District officials, it’s acknowledged that Pinkerton is the only high school able to accommodate the Hooksett students en masse.

With Hooksett’s agreement with the Manchester schools altered by the court to allow sending its students elsewhere, the pros and cons about coming up with an agreement with Pinkerton are beginning to be aired.

The negatives center on Pinkerton’s size, with more than 3,000 students the largest high school in the state, and its distance from Hooksett. But now that Pinkerton has a separate building and structure for its freshmen, the size of the school does not seem so daunting. And students from Chester and Hampstead, long-time sending towns to Pinkerton and whose populations are well below Hooksett’s, are consistently among the top students at the high school. Travel time, too, is not excessive.

The current sending towns also have raised a red flag, saying their views are not being sought by Pinkerton on the potential expansion of the semi-private high school, and that their own students may not have as many opportunities with the influx of Hooksett youth.

But what should be at the forefront is that Pinkerton’s size also makes myriad opportunities for achievement possible that a smaller school cannot afford to provide, and Pinkerton today is smaller than it was a few years ago. Students who do well will rise to the top regardless of the number of peers.

Views change through the years, and Hooksett parents’ concerns today about Manchester schools are different than when the earlier agreement was signed. The burgeoning number of charter high schools in the area indicates parental interest in something different for their children. And Hooksett parents, who already have the right to request their child attend a different high school, have already been choosing Pinkerton – and this year, Londonderry.

Indeed, Hooksett’s fellow SAU towns of Candia and Auburn look to Pinkerton as the high school of choice for their children. This year, Auburn has become an official sending town to Pinkerton.
It’s hard – particularly financially – for a school district to pull its high school students from one district and opt for another. The previous receiving high school, in this case Manchester, loses students and potentially class offerings. But boosting a school district’s finances is not the reason for choosing a high school for one’s child. Enough Hooksett parents want something other than Manchester for their children. Talks between Hooksett and Pinkerton should make it clear whether those desires can be met in Derry to benefit everyone.

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