Souhegan High School

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Souhegan High School
Souhegan High School, Amherst NH.jpg
Amherst, New Hampshire, NH
Type Public
Opened 1992
Principal Rob Scully[1]
Faculty 194
Enrollment 870 (2010)
Average class size ~25 students
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Gold, White, Black
Mascot Saber

Coordinates: 42°49′27″N 71°34′37″W / 42.82417°N 71.57694°W / 42.82417; -71.57694 Souhegan High School (/sˈhɡən/ 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 approximately 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".[citation needed]


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.[2]:224 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.[2]:225 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."[2]:225 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.[2]:225 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.[2]:225

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 current principal of the high school is Rob Scully.[1]


In June 2009 Souhegan was listed #15 in "The Top of the Class", a ranking of the top 1564 public high schools in the United States (approximately the top 6%) by Newsweek.[3]


Teacher life[edit]

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.

Student life[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Souhegan Six[edit]

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."


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 Community

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).

Division 1[edit]

The four grade levels at Souhegan are split into Division 1 and Division 2. Division 1 includes grades 9 and 10.

Division 1 Exhibition[edit]

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. Often, 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[edit]

Division 2 Includes grades 11 and 12.

Junior Research Project[edit]

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.

Post-graduate plan[edit]

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[edit]

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. Students must select an outside expert as well as a teacher-coach to oversee their progress. Senior project presentations are 20 minutes in length. With the support of a faculty member, each student selects a topic that they are passionate about for their senior project.

Student governance[edit]

Community Council[edit]

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:

  • Grading
  • Scheduling
  • Discipline
  • 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.[4] 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[edit]

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.

Judiciary Board[edit]

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[edit]

The girls' soccer team set a state record by winning 9 straight Class I championships between 1992 and 2000.

In 2003 the school set a state record with eight teams winning state championships. The softball, boys' baseball, boys' basketball, boys' track, boys' and girls' tennis and the girls' and boys' lacrosse teams all won state championships.

In 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2014 the boys' varsity ice hockey team won division III state championships.

The football team won state championships in 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

In 2012, the boys' varsity indoor track, outdoor track, and cross country teams won division II state championship titles.

In 2016, the girls' varsity cross country team was the first in school history to win the division II championship title. They also went on to win the New Hampshire Meet of Champions and earn runner-up honors at the New England Championships. The varsity girls team also placed 2nd as the Sabers Running Club at the non-NHIAA sanctioned Nike Northeast qualifier in Wappinger Falls, NY, and became only the third team from New Hampshire to qualify to compete at Nike Cross Nationals (formerly Nike Team Nationals).

In 2017, the girls' varsity indoor track and field team won the DII state championship.


  1. ^ a b "Contact Info". Souhegan High School. Retrieved June 16, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Amherst New Hampshire 1881–1982: a sleeping town awakens, The Historical Society of Amherst New Hampshire; Canaan (N.H.): Phoenix Publishing, 1983.
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2010-03-06.