Pepperell High freshmen started the process yesterday to make their commitment to graduate in four years. The new high school teens put their hand print in ink that will be added to a hand print banner created for the Class of 2019. The banner is created as part of Pepperell’s annual “Hand Print Pledge” ceremony signifying each student's pledge to graduate. The hand print and signature of each teen will be placed on a banner that will hang in the hallway of PHS until the graduation ceremony in four years. Pepperell High has used the hand print ceremony to encourage freshmen to work hard and make smart decisions so that they will be able to graduate on time. The project is part of the school's commitment to "Destination Graduation for every child."
Jeremiah Veillon, the director of the Freshman Academy, said “The pledge doesn’t sink in for them until they see the senior banner being taken down, and they realize theirs won’t be here forever.” Graduating classes have their hand print banner hung in The Forum downtown when they walk across the stage on graduation day. “There’s not a day that goes by where you won’t see a student stop and look for their hand print or a friends handprint” Veillon added, “It’s the voice when we don’t have a voice in their ear.”
Students also participated in a “Pep Rally practice” yesterday to teach them about the traditions of a PHS pep rally. Teachers in the Freshman Academy want to make the freshman experience one the teens will never forget. Veillon said, “We want freshmen to feel at home while a student at Pepperell and we want them to get involved in high school activities.”
Members of the Kiwanis Club of Rome were on hand working as volunteers to help get every freshman's hand print in ink. The area civic club has been a regular participant in the Pepperell hand print project.
The school will hold a special “Hand Print Pledge Ceremony” when the new banner for the class of 2019 is finished and ready to hang in the school. The ceremony features guest speakers and the students standing and taking the pledge to graduate in 2019. Pepperell High School has held the ceremony since the inception of the school’s Freshman Academy more than a decade ago. The Freshman Academy provides extra support to incoming freshmen to make sure they get their high school career off to a good start.