Freshmen Pledge to Graduate
Freshmen at Pepperell High Pledge to Graduate
Posted on 01/24/2011

Story by: Sarah Sandidge and Brooke McCoy, students at Pepperell High School

The freshman class at Pepperell High School gathered recently for the fifth annual Freshman Hand-print Ceremony to pledge to graduate in 2014. The freshman class officers and the guest speaker Joshua Brooks presented inspiring messages about goals and choices to the gathered freshmen. Joshua Brooks, a 25 year-old, graduate of Alabama A&M and an engineer, spoke on the impact an individual’s choices made today can have on their future. Quoting the poem “Invictus” by the poet William Ernest Henley, Brooks said, “You are the master of your fate. You are the master of your soul.” He encouraged the students to make wise decisions now and to refuse to let friends be the master of their souls. Brooks challenged students to set themselves apart from the competition by making choices that will lead to success. He said, “Your competition is bigger than other students at Pepperell High School. Your competition will be students from across the United States, China, and Japan.”

The students each placed an ink handprint on a large banner to represent their commitment to graduate from Pepperell High. The banner will be hung in the hallway at the school to serve as a daily reminder of that promise. Danielle Alexander, the freshman class secretary, said, “This ceremony means that we will try to come together as a class and achieve our goals as one.” Freshman teacher Jeremiah Veillon added, “As teachers we set goals for our students and to see them set a goal as a class is truly inspiring. We give them something to strive for and hope and pray that they reach their goal.” 

PHS started the handprint ceremony with the beginning of the Freshman Academy program at the school. The Freshman Academy seeks to provide extra support to freshmen to make sure they get their high school career off to a good start. PHS administration and faculty recognized a trend that freshmen who fail their freshman year are more likely to not make it to graduation day. Freshman Academy was developed to address issues to help the new high school students be more successful. The community has gotten involved in keeping students in school until graduation day and several representatives were involved in the hand-print ceremony. John Pillsbury, a retired local business leader and current community coach at PHS, was one community leader involved in the event. “I’m thrilled to see the positive attitude and enthusiasm on behalf of the students and teachers,” Pillsbury said. “It’s been a lot of fun and we give the students not only what they need to succeed but also an extended network of contacts for the future.” 

The hand-print ceremony at Pepperell High has become an essential part of the freshmen experience. The ceremony and the hand-print banner serve as a reminder to the freshmen that with hard work and wise choices, they can achieve anything.