Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.50.28 PMOn this, the day before Manchester’s four high school graduation ceremonies, we are celebrating all that our students have accomplished. Every graduate has much to be proud of when they look back on their high school years and what it took to reach this important milestone. We want members of our community to meet some of the students who will cross the stage tomorrow to received their hard-earned diplomas. These are the stories that we hope will inspire others in the goals they set and the choices they make. It’s our annual reminder of why the pomp and circumstance really matters.

Ali Long
Ali Long

Ali Long was already focused on a career track when it came time to enter high school. With an interest in health sciences, she chose to attend Manchester School of Technology for the program that would help her learn skills related to health professions.

“Then I took a video production class and said, ‘I want to do that!’” Ali said.

Adjusting her focus was as simple as that. And when she took an elective photography class under the instruction of a professional photographer sophomore year, she knew she’d really found her niche.

“I love taking pictures,” she said. “I’ve actually done three weddings for people I know.”

Like the photography teacher, the majority of MST teachers are experts in their fields with career backgrounds in the areas they have come to teach. They become mentors and advisors to the students pursuing an education in that career.

“It’s really hard for me to choose which teacher has been the most positive influence,” Ali said, before naming digital media production teacher Melissa Brayall as a big part of her school experience at MST. “Working together in small groups makes all of us close, and the dynamic with our teachers here is a little different than in a traditional high school.”

Ali had completed enough credits to graduate after her junior year, but she decided to stay one more year and stick with MST High School’s very first graduating class. Having the flexibility in her schedule as a senior meant she could take the academic classes she really wanted to, including two courses – honors expository writing and intro to psychology – at Nashua Community College. Ali will bring those seven credits with her to Southern New Hampshire University in the fall. She’ll major in graphic design and media arts.

As for making that choice to attend MST instead of her neighborhood high school? Ali wouldn’t change a thing.

“I came here for the opportunities to try new things, and I really like being part of a small class where I can get to know everyone,” she said.

Principal Karen Hannigan Machado says that what MST offers can be a great fit for students looking for different ways to express themselves.

“Kids like Ali who have artistic abilities can incorporate those talents into their learning every day,” she said. “The project-based learning that all of our classes focus on means kids can create and add something they love into what they’re doing.”

But don’t assume MST students don’t have a lot of the same experiences as their peers at the other city high schools. Ali served on the yearbook committee, was a class officer, and is a member of the National Honor Society. The Class of 2016 also hosted a prom.

“I would tell eighth graders who are even slightly interested in MST to give it a shot.”