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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Nashua’s Academy for Science and Design graduates largest class

NASHUA – The Academy for Science and Design graduated its largest senior class Friday with 22 students, and every one is pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math.

Student speaker Nicholas Francoeur noted that of his class, “8.7 percent are going to Dartmouth College. … What other New Hampshire high school can say that?” ...

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NASHUA – The Academy for Science and Design graduated its largest senior class Friday with 22 students, and every one is pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math.

Student speaker Nicholas Francoeur noted that of his class, “8.7 percent are going to Dartmouth College. … What other New Hampshire high school can say that?”

Francoeur, a New Hampshire Scholar, graduated with high honors and plans to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy to study biochemistry. He received an academy appointment, meaning he has a scholarship for all four years.

“I always wanted to join the military and serve my country,” Francoeur said during the ceremony at Nashua Community College’s Gregg Hall Auditorium.

Highest honor graduate Dominique Dadekian, also a New Hampshire Scholar, has attended ASD since eighth grade. She spoke at graduation, emphasizing the school’s tight-knit
community and family feel.

“The teachers make us feel like family every day,” she said. “The great thing about family is that it lasts forever.”

Dadekian said she is heading to Dartmouth College to study biology and possibly premed.

She called her time with ASD “amazing,” particularly because of the peer support.

“Everyone worked together and advanced, but wasn’t competitive,” she said.

Director Jennifer Cava said the Class of 2014 was the first to have the chance to pass through every grade level at ASD.

“We were really watching this group, looking to see if college acceptance represents the caliber of student. … We were very pleased,” Cava said. “Almost all students got into their top choice.”

Michael Preminger graduated with high honors along with the seniors, although he’s a 16-year-old junior. Preminger will go to Green Mountain College in Vermont to major in adventure education.

He said graduating early took a lot of hard work.

“I doubled up on math one year,” Preminger said. “I took a number of extra classes. … It was fun, but hard, and worth it.”

He said graduation excited him and made him sad.

“This school’s like my home, my family,” he said. “ASD really fosters those kind of relationships between students; you really get to know your grade.”

Rachel Scaer, a high honors grad and New Hampshire Scholar, already has an engineering internship lined up with BAE this summer.

“The school’s what made me decide to study engineering,” she said. “The school’s changed my life.”

She plans to study electrical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute this fall. She was also one of a group of students to travel to Costa Rica to study Spanish this year.

Sam Hilston graduated as a New Hampshire Scholar with highest honors. She took the opportunity to pursue sports in Merrimack while at ASD.

“I did four years of basketball at MHS and four years of volleyball,” she said. “It’s nice having friends in two different schools. It was tough at times, but I was learning stuff I really enjoyed, surrounded by great people.”

Hilston will study biochemistry at Ithaca.

David Johnson joined ASD in the middle of his junior year. Also a New Hampshire Scholar, Johnson graduated with high honors and plans to study civil engineering at LeTourneau University in Texas.

During graduation, Cava praised students’ aptitude and ambition.

“The most striking characteristic is the kindness you’ve shared with one another,” Cava said, noting that the seniors earned hundreds of thousands of dollars of Merit Scholarship money, and that two out of 15,000 National Merit Scholars in the country are in this class.

ASD has rigorous academics, with students tackling physics, advanced math and world languages by seventh grade.

The Nashua STEM charter school first graduated seniors in 2010 with two students, then one in 2011, three in 2012 and four last year.

ASD was established in 2007 with 32 students, but this year’s enrollment was just below its 450 cap at 444. Next year, the cap will bump up to 500.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com.