Souhegan, how do you feel? 

I never thought this day would come. And admittedly I’m a little afraid to say it. But. Here we go. I…miss high school.

I know, I know. I’m going to be a senior in college and here I am missing a time in my life where I was literally counting down the days until it was over.

Now for my reasoning. I went to a great high school. We’ve won various awards throughout our 23 years or so of existence. We’re what outsiders might call an “alternative school” because of the ways we do things.

Students call the teachers by their first names because the learning philosophy is that teachers are more like coaches and equals to students which creates a better learning environment. Some may find this disrespectful, but I found that it knocked down that formal barrier many experience between teacher and student, creating a more casual and relaxing environment for learning. For someone who needs time and one-on-one teaching on occasion, I found this extremely helpful.

We don’t grade on an A,B,C,D,F scale. We have what’s called learner expectations. Examples of these are complex thinker, knowledgable person, self-directed learner, etc. You get graded on a 4 point scale in these varying areas. At the time, I found this super annoying. Like please just give me a normal grade. But it wasn’t until after I graduated that I really understood how this helped me. I was able to grow in different aspects of learning not just certain disciplines.

We don’t have homeroom. We have advisory. Advisory is actually a concept that has been integrated into many other schools and I’ve learned that from talking to my friends from UNH and other places. But it’s basically a group of 10-12 randomly placed students who are overseen by their advisor. It changes every year but if an advisory bonds particularly well they can stick together. The concept sounds abstract to some and perhaps a bit intimidating. But after a few weeks you learn to appreciate things you never really thought about. Being in such a small group of students gives everyone a voice which is incredible. I think more people are more comfortable opening up to a smaller group rather than a big group and advisory allows this to happen. We did everything from having life discussions to ordering Chipotle to going Apple picking to helping others with homework and much more. Again, I didn’t appreciate advisory until I realized how much I needed it. In the end it reminded me that I’m not alone. I wasn’t the only one feeling lost among a sea of thousands of colleges and universities to choose from. I wasn’t the only one feeling the pressure of society asking me what I want to do with my life at only 18. I wasn’t alone in feeling confused on the stats exam we had next period. We’re all in it together. Even if I didn’t “like” or get along with certain people, all those feelings were lost in advisory for some reason. It was 20 (maybe?) minutes of my day where I could put school, work, sports, whatever aside and just be myself. It was a chance to form a relationship with a faculty member I wouldn’t otherwise talk too. Advisory was one of the best things about Souhegan and I’m kicking myself for not realizing that until it was too late.

Another thing that I think is pretty common at most schools but still great is that we could leave campus during lunch. Souhegan cafeteria food wasn’t horrible but a teenager isn’t going to pass up the opportunity for Chipotle or Dunks when it arises. So after passing Scotty on his golf cart, we were free to roam the surrounding area as long as we were back in time for our next class (unless you were on Scotty’s good side. Then you had a few extra minutes). The trust that Souhegan instilled in kids 15-18 was incredible. And we were so fortunate to have that opportunity.

There are so many other reasons why Souhegan was amazing, Fangfest, Run for Hope, Hope for Gus, spring afternoons outside, no bells, no hall passes, Wintercession, Senior Project…I could spend all day talking about it. Half of those things you wouldn’t even know if you didn’t go to Souhegan!

But why I miss Souhegan is because it was the time in my life I still had the support of my friends and family but also had independence. It was a time when I felt like I could do my best because of the learning environment. I miss forming relationships with teachers where I could be myself around them. I’ve found out the hard way that college professors don’t really do that.

I miss being able to go to a friends house after school and gossip about fellow classmates and have a good laugh while attempting to get homework done all at once. I didn’t realize until I got to college how much those friends meant to me. Most of my friends have stuck with me through elementary school, my horrible awkward middle school days, and even my bad decision high school days. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We were all raised on the same values and learning ways and that’s what makes us such good friends. One of my favorite memories of all time was sitting between the main building and the annex in the early fall/early spring months and eating lunch, laughing, driving to get coffee, etc. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

I might’ve hated high school at the time. But part of me misses it and took it for granted. We had an incredible public school that taught us life lessons in a non-lecturey way. Whatever sorcery they figured out to teach us these things is beyond me but they did a damn good job.

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