Souhegan High School
|Souhegan High School|
|Amherst, New Hampshire, NH, USA|
|Average class size||~25 students|
|Color(s)||Gold, White, Black|
Coordinates: Souhegan High School (// sow-HEE-gən) is a Coalition of Essential Schools high school located in Amherst, New Hampshire. Students from Amherst and Mont Vernon attend Souhegan for 9th through 12th grades. There are about 870 students and over 160 faculty members. The name is derived from the Souhegan River, which adjoins the school property, and the Souhegan Valley region of New Hampshire (which was, in turn, also named for the river). The word Souhegan comes from the Algonquin language, meaning "waiting and watching place".
Amherst had long sought to apply economies of scale through a cooperative high school in partnership with adjoining towns, and made several overtures in the late 1950s and early 1960s to neighboring Milford and other towns, but found no support. A proposal for a cooperative district with Bedford came to a vote in 1961, passing overwhelmingly in Amherst, but being defeated in Bedford. In November 1964, Amherst and Milford entered into the state's first Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (or "AREA") agreement, a long-term tuition agreement under which Milford would retain ownership and absolute control of the high school and Amherst would pay tuition to Milford based upon Milford's per-pupil costs of the preceding year, plus a share of the school's capital debt, but had no voice in the school's governance; the agreement was irrevocable while the debt was carried. Mont Vernon joined the AREA agreement and additionally sent its middle school students to Milford. Amherst was dissatisfied with the high school and its lack of voice, and "Milford felt that Amherst had educational ideas too rich for Milford's blood." The school boards of Amherst and Milford tentatively planned in 1976 to not renew the AREA agreement in ten years' time when the high school's capital debt was anticipated to be paid off. The Amherst School District appointed a committee to examine the alternatives, including building a high school of its own. The committee commissioned a study by an architectural and educational planning firm, which was published in 1982.
Beginning in 1984, the two towns were each permitted to send one non-voting delegate to the Milford School Board, as was the high school's student body. Despite the tentative plan from nine years earlier for the towns' school districts to go their separate ways, negotiations for a prospective new AREA agreement began in 1985 with Amherst and Mont Vernon seeking significant improvements to the high school. The debt and the AREA agreement expired as expected at the end of the 1985-1986 academic year while negotiations continued; its tuition terms continued under annual tuition agreements in the interim.
A regional school district was proposed and put before the voters of all three towns in 1988. The proposal was defeated at the Milford School District's special deliberative session. Days later, the Amherst School District held its special deliberative session where Amherst voters established the Souhegan Co-Operative School District. Mont Vernon followed suit within the week.
The school opened in 1992, on property previously owned by the Amherst School District, adjoining the Amherst Middle School and sharing some outdoor facilities. The school added a second building in 2003, called the Annex.
The school is part of the SAU-39 school district, which includes the middle and elementary schools in Amherst and Mont Vernon.
The school's mission statement, as painted on the front wall of the main entrance, states:
"Souhegan High School aspires to be a community of learners born of respect, trust and courage.
We consciously commit ourselves:
To support and engage an individual's unique gifts, passions and intentions.
To develop and empower the mind, body and heart.
To challenge and expand the comfortable limits of thought, tolerance, and performance.
To inspire and honor the active stewardship of family, nation and globe."
At Souhegan, all teachers are primarily situated within a room for either Division 1 or Division 2. Outside of class periods, teachers spend their time in the Division rooms. Each teacher has their own desk within Division 1 or Division 2.
Souhegan was established as part of the Coalition of Essential Schools, based on a "teacher as coach" philosophy where students and teachers are treated as equal. As such, Souhegan is known for not having bells, students addressing staff members by their first names, and no hall passes.
School year start
Sophomores and Juniors at Souhegan typically start on a Thursday, while Freshmen and Seniors typically start on a Wednesday. The first week (usually only a half-week) is considered a "practice week". Teachers focus on getting to know students and team-building activities. The first day of school for Freshmen and Seniors consists of introductory activities, such as meeting fellow advisees and getting to know the campus. The first day for Freshmen is a half-day and culminates with the Freshmen being walked through the school while the Seniors and Staff cheer them on.
The school adheres to six main rules (The Souhegan Six). The students are allowed to chew gum, wear hats, and eat outside. Juniors and seniors may leave campus for lunch as long as they meet the criteria for off-campus privileges.
The "Souhegan Six" are:
"Respect and encourage the right to teach and the right to learn at all times.
Be actively engaged in the learning; ask questions, collaborate, and seek solutions.
Be on time to fulfill your daily commitments.
Be appropriate; demonstrate behavior that is considerate of the community, the campus, and yourself.
Be truthful; communicate honestly.
Be responsible and accountable for your choices."
The school runs an advisory program where approximately twelve students spend twenty-five minutes a day with one staff member. Advisories play games, order food, have discussions, and work together throughout the year to have fun in the middle of the day. The goal is to have a small group where students can get advice from peers they are comfortable with or meet students they otherwise wouldn't talk to.
Students are evaluated based on the Learner Expectations. The Learner expectations consist of:
- "Knowledgeable Person" - assesses the learner's level of knowledge about a particular topic
- "Complex Thinker" - assesses the learner's ability to think through complex problems
- "Skilled Information processor/consumer" - assesses the learner's ability to consume information effectively, including research skills.
- "Effective Communicator/Producer" - assesses the learner's ability to communicate information
- "Self-Directed Learner" - assesses the learner's ability to work on a project without intervention, this includes the learner's ability to stay on-task and stick to a deadline
- "Collaborative Worker" - assesses the learner's ability to work within a group of learners towards a common goal
- "Responsible Citizen" - assesses the learner's ability to be a responsible and productive citizen of the Souhegan Community0
Grading based on these Learner Expectations is on a scale of "Does Not Meet", "Approaches", "Meets", and "Exceeds". These grades correlate to "F", "C", "B", and "A" on a traditional grading scale, respectively. Souhegan does not include "D" in the grading scale, any grade that would be a "D" is automatically an "F" or "NC" (No Credit).
The four grade levels at Souhegan are split into Division 1 and Division 2. Division 1 includes grades 9 and 10.
Division 1 Exhibition
At the end of 10th grade, all students must present their Division 1 binder at a Division 1 round-table . Division 1 binders include work from 9th and 10th grade and are meant to demonstrate the students academic growth in each learner expectation. Division 1 round-tables generally include teachers, parents, and friends of the student. The Division 1 Exhibition is a graduation requirement.
Souhegan offers a week long program for sophomores called Wintercession. Wintercession allows students to work in a small group on a specific project. Oftentimes, a Wintercession option includes a trip. The number of trip options vary, but usually number around two dozen. These trips provide opportunities for group relationship building as well as exposure to the world outside of Amherst. Options in the past have included "Build A Boat", rock climbing trips, and volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity.
Division 2 Includes grades 11 and 12.
Junior Research Project
In the spring of Junior year, all students are expected to create a written research project that demonstrates thorough knowledge of a certain topic. The Junior Research Project is a graduation requirement; any student who does not pass is expected to attend summer school.
All Juniors must create a post-graduate plan that includes elements of financial planning, decision making, and other critical life skills. Juniors will also explore college and career choices throughout the process of creating their PGP.
Senior project is a project created throughout senior year, culminating in a presentation at the end of the year. Senior project is a major focus throughout the year and is a graduation requirement. Senior project presentations are typically 25 minutes in length. With the support of a faculty member, each student selects a topic that they are passionate about for their senior project.
Established in 1992, the Community Council is the main governing body of Souhegan. The Community Council has the power to create and change Souhegan's policies, including but not limited to:
- All other issues of importance to the community
All of Community Council's power is derived from the school board, and although the school board has the power to override any decision made by the Community Council, this has never happened. The Community Council consists of parents, external community members, students, teachers, and administrative faculty, although all community members are encouraged to be a part of the discussions. As of the 2009-2010 school year, the community Council meets directly after school once each week, except for one night a month when the meeting takes place at night. The Community Council consists of:
- 5 Ninth Grade Representatives
- 5 Tenth Grade Representatives
- 5 Eleventh Grade Representatives
- 5 Twelfth Grade Representatives
- 10 Faculty/Staff Representatives (Including CC advisor)
- 1 Dean of Students
- 5 Community Representatives
- 1 School Board Member
- 10 At-Large Representatives
Community Review Board
The Community Review Board is a body of community members that was created to ensure the fairness of disciplinary actions by the school's administration. The Community Review Board only has authority in cases which do not involve outside agencies, such as the police. The Community Review Board consists of eleven members including:
- One student elected from each grade
- One student selected by random, voluntary lottery
- Two elected faculty
- One elected Community Council member
The Community Review Board has the authority to:
- Decide whether or not to hear a case
- Uphold the administration's decision
- Change the punishment set by the administration
- Nullify the administration's decision
In cases where the police department is involved, a student can appeal to the principal,superintendent, and then the school board.
The judiciary board is a group of students and faculty who can create personalized and creative solutions for students who have chosen to violate the Souhegan Six. According to the Souhegan student handbook, "The charge of the Judiciary Board is: To provide students the opportunity for a fair hearing regarding a breach of the Souhegan Six, our community behavioral norms."
Sports, clubs and activities
The girls' soccer team set a state record by winning 9 straight Class I championships between 1992 and 2000.
In 2002, Jen Barnes, captain of the girls' volleyball team, set a school record with 21 consecutive aces against John Stark.
In 2003 the school set a state record with eight teams winning state championships. The softball (thanks to the triple by Jess Morelli), boys' baseball, boys' basketball, boys' track, boys' and girls' tennis and the girls' and boys' lacrosse teams all won state championships.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008 the boys' varsity ice hockey team won division III state championships.
In 2008 the varsity football team went undefeated and won the division III state championship, along with winning the state championship in 2004.
In 2010, the varsity football team again won the division III state championship, totaling an 11-2 record along the way, giving Souhegan football a three-peat (2008,2009,2010)
In 2012, the boys' varsity indoor track, outdoor track, and cross country teams won division II state championship titles.
The clubs and activities as well as the director(s) for each are listed below.
|Name of Club/activity||Director|
|Asian Cultural Club||Viet Pham|
|Book Group||Lisa Petrie|
|Computer Animation club||John Ranta|
|Community Council||Magie Paul|
|National Honor Society||Marina Capen|
|ONE at Souhegan HS||Jenny Deenik|
|Outing Club||John Dowd|
|Peer Outreach||Viet Pham|
|Poetry Club||Frank Gallo|
|Culinary Club||Betsy Wasson|
|Prom Committee||Sarah Laurent & Lauren Cosco|
|Recycled Percussion Club||Bob Rotier|
|Dance Team||Tanya Anderson|
|Dance Company||Amy McGuigan|
|Drama Club||Steve Hodgman|
|Rugby Club||Maureen Greene|
|Fall Play||Steve Hodgman|
|Spring Play||Steve Hodgman|
|Saber Scribe||Marcy Rawitscher|
|Equine Science Group||Randy Floyd|
|Strictly Music||Carl Benevidis|
|Ethics Club||Chris Brooks & Amy Pham|
|Ultimate Disk Club||Dave Saxe|
|Studies of the Quendi and the Tengwar|
|FBLA||Kathy White & Maggie Paul|
|F.I.R.S.T. Robotics team||Bill Price|
|Film & Broadcast Club||John Ranta|
|French Club||Linda Sakellar & Sarah Laurent|
|Gay-Straight Alliance||Dina Karlon & Kim Kamshad|
|German Club||Kim Vitchkoski|
|International/Spanish Club||Bernie D'Amours|
|Marching Band||Carl Benevides|
|Math Team||Amy McGuigan|
|Mock Trial||Dick Vassar|
|Tailgate Club||John Young|
|Composting Club||Terry Berna|
|Souhegan Ocean Bowl Team||Julianne Muller-Northcott|
- Amherst New Hampshire 1881-1982: a sleeping town awakens, The Historical Society of Amherst New Hampshire; Canaan (N.H.): Phoenix Publishing, 1983, p. 224
- Ibid., at 225
- Ibid., at 225
- "The Top of the Class: The complete list of the 1,500 top U.S. high schools". Newsweek. June 8, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2009.