I graduated from PA nine years ago, so my experience may be obsolete at this point. However, I just wanted to address a few things. Yes, Pinkerton is a big school; this means that they can provide lots of different classes, clubs, and sports. It really is like a college campus and, with about 3,000 students, it's about the same size of a small liberal arts college. At least in the mid-2000s, all the classes were stratified by learning level. The people I graduated with in the honors and AP classes are all doing amazing things now.
I went to UNH for my undergraduate degree and I can honestly say that Pinkerton's A-level/honors courses had greater rigor than the majority of the college classes there. Even in graduate school, I still use a lot of what I learned in those four years.
However, the stratified class system meant that kids in one level often didn't mix with the kids of another level, except in places like art and band. I always got the feeling that those in C classes became a little stuck there, surrounded by unmotivated troublemakers that certainly didn't help create a learning atmosphere. Being in all A classes, there was a different issue...never feeling good enough among all the other high performers.
I also made life-long friends, many of whom I still see. I met my husband in band and I can count at least four other Pinkerton-high-school-sweetheart marriages.
I don't want to bash the good teachers because they are in an environment where mediocre is the normal and just being good enough to get by is praised. There are teachers at the school who deserve more than being rated by the school as a whole. There just aren't enough of those teachers to make the school anything more than 'somewhat effective'
Too much of all the trivial classes the school offers. And not enough of the things which help for college, interact in the real world and a profession. This country has a shortage of skilled labor. These aren't glamorous jobs but are high paying jobs. why isn't the school pushing for more interest in these areas instead of hair styling, etc. People complain about jobs going overseas or to labor brought here. Truth is we are FAILING to provide competent workers for businesses.
Only when it comes to promoting itself. They certainly push the sports and special interest groups that get them noticed. A friend has a daughter who was on the soccer team. She's a really nice girl and plays well. She was mistreated by some of her teammates and then found out the coach was part of it. Students have told me personally that the kids there don't care about others. However, if you need drugs, they know who can get you anything you want. My daughter witnessed one kid getting his head beaten into the curb while others laughed and encouraged the assailant. that is the kind of development PA does well.
As a Derry resident of nearly 40 years, I have seen and been involved with 4+ generations of PA students. PA is overrated and over priced. They are living off their reputation from pre-80s. In a federal report of 5000 high schools countrywide, highest rating is 100, PA scored 48. That is a FLUNKING grade and describes what PA is today. Other smaller NH towns with less costly and more concentrated education, got much higher ratings. Sure some kids out of the 3100 will be treated well at PA, ie sports and outgoing kids mostly. However, the majority will get a mediocre education and basically just moved through the system. When my daughters attended PA, there were over 4k students. Most of the students are from Derry. Now we have an alternative to PA and the attendance is down at PA as those lucky enough to get into the alternative school has been increasing. I sure wish it had been around when my girls were in HS. One had health issues and missed a lot of time her jr year. PA picked a teacher to tutor her during the summer. The 'teacher' handed me the packet of material for ME to teach my daughter as she, the 'teacher', was away for the summer and PA knew it. Case of being paid for work not done and providing the 'teacher' a summer income. I had to fight to get another tutor. In spite of PA, my daughter graduated with GPA 3.75. In college she graduated summa cum laude.. no thanks to PA in the least. All PA did was get her through the system so they could claim a graduate. PA also has one of the highest drop out rates in the country. There are some good teachers and some worthwhile classes. Unfortunately, there are plenty of bad teachers and ridiculous classes which appeal to kids and are useless in the real world. Too many 'graduates' can't read, write, do basic math, or know history. Those commenting positively on PA haven't been around PA/Derry very long, have a student who is popular or into sports, or attended PA in the good ole days when the concentration was on education not finances.
Pinkerton offers a lot of choices and opportunities, and I regret not taking advantage of that and being more involved. Because it is more independent than other high schools, it has a lot of freedom with changing education in a good way. The entire school is moving away from worksheets and memorization to project and skill based learning. Out of the 7 teachers I had this year, all were very good. Guidance is also very supportive. It is a great school overall, and I consider myself lucky because many students can't say that about their school.
Our family relocated here this year. We have a senior who transferred into Pinkerton Academy. Our experience has been very good so far and I would recommend this school. The teachers and guidance counselors are quick to respond to questions and my student likes all the teachers. They are fair, consistent and encourage my student to be challenged and learn. This will be a good final year before higher education. The campus is very nice and it gives students a glimpse of what they will do when they head to college (running from building to building to get to their classes:) As many school administrations today, it doesn t always seem like they are working with the parents to the level they should/could be, however, my hope is that all school districts will remember that when a great learning climate is created and it extends out beyond the walls of the classroom, into the community, majority rules and parents will rave about their students' school!
PA has been resting on its laurels for too long. It is not an Academy, just another high school. It is run by a group who do not accept inputs from the community and whose concerns in descending order (and in wrong direction) seem to be: 1. Maintaining legacy; 2. Building development; 3. Student s future educational success. For such a large school, it rarely is noted for academics, taking a back seat to sports. NECAP results prove that it is an average high school. In academic comparison to other high schools, it does not seem to be on par. There are good/great dedicated teachers at PA? Some are incredibly committed to their students and their profession. Also on a positive note, it is a fairly safe school. Because PA is such a large school it has needed to support the majority of student needs. It does not do well with marginal students either with lower or higher skill sets. If the goal of high schools is transition to higher education . I d give PA a C . Good, average. PA s shotgun approach of trying to be everything to everyone by developing skills in everything from dog grooming and the trades to a general education lessen it's legacy.
Pinkerton Academy is a wonderful school, my child has Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Counselors, Teachers and Special Ed has been very supportive. They have provided me with information, sends me weekly progress reports. Just because it is a large school, every child is treated as an individual and is acknowledged by staff. The staff motivates the students to be their best and succesed at school and at life. This school has a wonderful reputation, many families move to this town because of this school. I attended this school and every year it gets better, they are there for the kids and many people have stayed in this town for this school, I hope that more generations of family members of mine and others do the same, the only complaint I have is there is not enough parking.