MANCHESTER, NH — More than 5,400 seniors from 84 high schools across the state celebrated NH Scholars Day Thursday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, the largest class of graduates in the initiative’s 13-year history.
More than 35,000 high school seniors have graduated now from the New Hampshire Scholars initiative since it began in 2006 when only three high schools participated.
Alisha McDevitt, news director of WMUR News 9, gave a keynote address in which she encouraged the students to follow their “passion and your heart and keep your eyes and ears open for experiences.”
She told the students she attended the University of New Hampshire with the intention of later becoming a pediatrician. Her sophomore year, however, she took a journalism course “and I never looked back.”
An internship opened up at WMUR and she got it, not having a clue about the television news business. Twenty-six years later, she is still at the news station.
Speaking briefly, while offering the students their congratulations, also were Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig; Sister Paula Marie Buley, President, Rivier University; Bill Quigley, Vice President, NH Motor Speedway; Frank Edelblut, NH Commissioner of Education; and Tom Raffio, President/CEO, Northeast Delta Dental.
Video messages from U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, Congressman Chris Pappas, and Congresswoman Ann Kuster were aired on the stadium’s jumbotron
Prior to the speeches, a DHART helicopter landed on the baseball field, bringing Tyler “Zick” Zickel, the director of promotions and entertainment for the Fisher Cats, to the event. Zickel is also the minor league team’s broadcaster and is known as the on-field emcee, revving up the crowd with his sometimes crazy antics as the hot dog guy and other characters.
After the speeches, the students were able to take in a baseball game between NH Fisher Cats and the Altoona Curve (AA Pirates). A photo booth also was available on the concourse for candid pictures.
The scholars’ program encourages students to take challenging classes and a broad course of subjects focusing on lab sciences, foreign languages, math, engineering and language arts.
“Nearly 100 percent of these NH Scholars graduates head straight to college,” said Scott Power, Director of NH Scholars, in a prepared statement. “Due to their dedication and hard work and devotion, a college degree is not only within reach, but they have raised their own expectations in the process. We are so proud of these young men and women, and they deserve recognition for their hard work.”
Students take part in one or more pathways which include Core Course of Study, STEM, Arts and Career Pathway.
The founding organization for New Hampshire Scholars is the New Hampshire College & University Council (NHCUC), a consortium of public and private colleges and universities in the state of New Hampshire.