On 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.
Nermin Hasanovic will graduate from West High School with one of Manchester School District’s first-ever seals of multi-literacy. It’s a distinction that recognizes students’ proficiency in English and at least one other world language. For Nermin, those languages are Spanish and his first language, Bosnian.
Nermin came to New Hampshire from Bosnia as a young child in 2000 with a story familiar to so many in our city.
“Civil war eliminated economic opportunities for my family,” he said. “My uncle had moved here, so my parents followed.”
Sixteen years later, Nermin’s school transcript reads like any other well-rounded, scholastic and extra-curricular high achiever at an American high school.
“It’s hard to capture what a special student this young man is,” said Linda Thompson, Nermin’s Spanish teacher. “He is a truly unique and talented individual who is capable of great success.”
It was Señora Thompson who encouraged Nermin to apply for the school district’s multi-literacy award, which was designed to acknowledge the rich cultural and linguistic assets of Manchester’s students. He finished Spanish 5 at West and says he will continue with that language in college and also try German. Languages seem to come easily for Nermin, who sees their commonalities and recognizes the advantages being multi-lingual can have in the workforce. For students who receive a seal of multi-literacy award, it is an official verification of their fluency.
Nermin has challenged himself academically in other aspects during his four years at West. As a sophomore, he took honors chemistry, a course normally taken by juniors. He’s taken all three AP science classes (“I doubled up every year in science.”), and this year he was a lab assistant to chemistry teacher Cornelia Reisman, a teacher Nermin says helped influence his interest in science by balancing textbook information with engaging and innovative lab experiments.
Nermin didn’t stop when the school year ended, enrolling in a UNH program every summer.
“I like when I’m busy and productive,” he said. “I wanted more experience beyond the high school classes I was taking.”
There will be no summer school after graduation, however. Nermin is letting himself take a break and relax before heading to Harvard University, where he will study molecular and cellular biology.
“UNH gave me an inside look at what professors and scientists do,” Nermin said. “I love research. It’s fun to discover new things.”
His enjoyment for learning carried over into his role as president of West High School’s National Honor Society chapter. He developed the idea for SPRITZ, a day of free mini classes taught by NHS students on a Saturday in May. SPRITZ offered more than 40 fun courses in a variety of academic and creative subjects for students of all ages in the community to try out things they don’t experience in their classes at school every day.
The arts are just as important to Nermin as academics. He’s taken lessons at Manchester Community Music School for seven years, playing piano and violin. Nermin is a member of the West High School jazz ensemble and chamber orchestra, as well as the community music school’s NH Youth Symphony.
He also performed in eight productions over his four years with the West High School Theatre Knights, one of the most decorated youth theater troupes in New Hampshire.
“Aria da Capo was a favorite one act play we did,” Nermin said. “It was very musical, and I got to do some recorded music for it.”
His interest in the arts won’t end with high school. He plans to check out the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and theatre opportunities when he gets to Cambridge.
As the first in his family to attend college, Nermin says he’s prepared to handle the rigor of higher education.
“I understand what my parents wanted for me. I’m always doing the best I can.”