Portsmouth High awards diploma to the late Connor Peckham

Senior who died suddenly in April honored at graduation

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/8/19

PORTSMOUTH — Connor Peckham couldn’t physically be with fellow members of the Class of 2019 Friday night, but he marched with them in spirit during commencement exercises at …

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Portsmouth High awards diploma to the late Connor Peckham

Senior who died suddenly in April honored at graduation

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Connor Peckham couldn’t physically be with fellow members of the Class of 2019 Friday night, but he marched with them in spirit during commencement exercises at Portsmouth High School.

Connor, a longtime drummer in the concert and marching bands and a popular student at PHS, passed away April 1 while on a trip to Walt Disney World Resort with the rest of the school band.

According to PHS Principal Joseph Amaral, Connor had completed the necessary coursework to qualify for his diploma, which was the first to be awarded Friday.

His parents, Patricia and Dwayne Peckham, received a huge ovation as they made their way to the stage to receive the framed diploma from Mr. Amaral.

Connor, who was known for his silly jokes, infectious smile and thoughtfulness toward others, was also memorialized by David Silvia, the senior class treasurer, when he announced the Class of 2019’s gifts to the school community, an annual tradition. 

“Connor was a gentle, charismatic, and loving person that had great impact on every member of our class,” Mr. Silvia said. “He made the best of every situation, and always had a smile on his face.”

Connor was also a considerate and charitable person, he said.

“Every year, with the help of the National Honors Society, he led a fund-raiser in our school, selling paper shamrocks in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year, he raised over $600, surpassing his goal of $500. He worked extensively to raise money for an organization that helped people like him, and was devoted to improving the lives of others.”

Connor was also a passionate and talented drummer — the “heart and soul” of the band program who “never failed to brighten a bandmate’s day,” Mr. Silvia said.

Connor was also fanatical about sports. “He made a great teammate and announcer for the unified basketball team, electrifying the new gym, and hyping up fans and his fellow teammates,” he said.

Most importantly, Connor was a great friend, he said.

”No matter the day or circumstance, if you saw Connor Peckham in the hallways, he would always say hello, deem you a goofy, inexplicable nickname, then give you a fist-bump or high-five,” Mr. Silvia said. “Connor was a unique and special person in all of our lives, and will live on in our memories forever.”

The student council decided to donate two gifts on behalf of Connor. A $500 donation will be made to the Connor Peckham Memorial Scholarship Fund, and a bench will be installed on school grounds “in memory of all he did as a student, musician, teammate, hype man and friend,” Mr. Silvia said. 

“We are all lucky to have known him, and been able to call him our friend. Rock on, Connor!”

For its other gifts, the Class of 2019 is also donating a tree that will be planted on school grounds — the first of an annual tree procured by the Green Club that each graduating class will contribute. The class will also donate $250 to the Kate Grana Music & Arts Association to assist with upcoming renovations to the school auditorium.

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