The Air of Success

From the multiple Mount Prospect Academy programs throughout New Hampshire, this year’s graduates totaled seventeen (17). As a group they are diversified by age, gender, ability, personality, hopes, desires, and dreams. Yet together they are united by maturity and determination, confidence, and adaptability. They arrived together on these graduation days having emerged from personal hardships, overcoming adversity, and risen above learning difficulties to don the vibrant blue “Cap and Gown” of Mount Prospect.


One keynote speaker, the famous skiing personality Dan Egan, told attendees of his life’s great successes, and of his great personal struggles. He explained to the graduates that life’s “path for most is hardly ever straight”, but to seize life, “to take chances on their hopes and dreams, to be relentless in reaching their goals.” In a message that resounded with those assembled, he urged graduates to always continue to move forward and make life something worth pursuing, no matter the twists and turns that may appear.




Another speaker, a recent Mount Prospect graduate, made clear the value of their achievement at Mount Prospect Academy. His candid, deliberate, and personalized message to the graduates was that “we are normal.” He emphasized that while MPA schools are different, and the students’ individual challenges can be unique – they are not dissimilar to the experience of any number of teens. In his view, the steadfast connections with staff, the opportunity to focus on both his academics and his well-being, plus the small class sizes and creative learning pathways offered at MPA were the keys to his current success.


In their time at MPA the graduates of 2024 left their mark. MPA Faculty spoke compassionately of the students as individuals. They spoke of the graduate who saved their money to collect sneakers, and the graduate who had a sweet tooth for gourmet chocolate- of the graduate who was a “people person” and conversationalist, to the graduate who enjoyed the great freeing feeling of ice skating. They spoke of the graduate who could repair anything mechanical that had been broken, and the graduate whose painting and drawing abilities led him to design and direct a school-wide art lesson. They spoke of the graduate whose writing ability was distinct from a young age, and who had just recently completed an Advanced Placement Course in Writing at UNH. They spoke of another whose motivation had led to them graduating early, and they spoke of those graduates who found purpose showed and integrity by offering support to their schoolmates that were struggling.

From the north campuses of Pike, Plymouth, and the Karen Langley Learning Center, of the twelve graduates, many have already entered the workforce while students, others are enrolled in Automotive and HVAC Tech Programs, and one will be attending Plymouth State University in the fall.

From Ashuelot Valley Academy, Keene, of the four graduates, two have plans to pursue careers in the medical field, another in construction, and the last graduate plans to use their artistic abilities to open a tattoo studio.











From Squamscott River Academy, Hampton, the graduate will be attending UNH to study Criminal Justice and Psychology.






















For each, their time at MPA is noteworthy for the special talents found and nurtured in a safe supportive environment where their pasts may linger but their life began to blossom.

MPA Principals and Directors noted that while the MPA graduates of 2024 have built the ‘hard’ skill sets applicable to ensure independent living, career readiness, and/or to continue formal educational pursuits, they have also shown themselves to have acquired the ‘soft’ skill sets that bring an important social-emotional balance to their lives. “They have learned social skills, to express and manage their feelings and emotions, to develop and maintain caring relationships, and to begin to understand and create their own identities.” One last time, they told the graduates of the need to stay true to themselves and to be diligent in their efforts beyond the boundaries of Mount Prospect Academy.

The connectivity and sense of community forged by the graduates with their schools was self-evident to any observer of the ceremonies. The mixture of tears and smiles from fellow students, the lingering hugs from MPA Faculty, and the emotional and enthusiastic reactions from siblings and families was an inspirational reminder for those in attendance of the journey each graduate took to get here this day.

We wish the Mount Prospect Academy Graduates of 2024 the greatest luck in all their future pursuits, knowing that their time with us, however brief, was time well spent, the goals achieved, and the dreams created.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Mount Prospect Academy Graduates of 2024!!!

Prom Day

The “Prom Day” is a tradition started at Squamscott River Academy in 2021. Since then, the occasion has blossomed into the biggest annual event of the school year.  This year, for our small school of 22 girls, May’s Prom Day ensured that our students could relax and enjoy a normative American high school tradition that some MPA students could possibly miss out on. As in past years, the girls have the opportunity to dress up, ride in a limo, dance to a live DJ and enjoy a fine meal. It’s a chance for students to let loose and enjoy themselves with friends. Instead of worrying about what might happen in the future, prom day is all about the present moment and enjoying the experience.


Over the past three years, Squamscott River Academy has collected donations of prom dresses, shoes, and jewelry for the students. This year the Elks Lodge of Portsmouth donated the use of their gorgeous banquet facility to accommodate the event.  Salon De Vai, in North Hampton, volunteered some lady-hours to provide updos for the students to have fancy hair for the event this year. Lastly, Candid Cliques of New Hampshire donated their photobooth services to help capture the magic for everyone who came.

To get ready for the end of the school year event, MPA Faculty staff go all out for the day, helping the girls in any way possible, tending to last minute needs, and most importantly putting the girls first – letting them know that they are the focus of the day.  Of course, all of the staff dressed up as well which made the events’ formality an affair to remember.





This year included a Prom Court, complete with crowns and sashes, and a photo booth that captured the wonderful memories of the day for the students to cherish.  The tradition of Prom reminds our students that while being young can be stressful at times, it can also be thrilling!

Show Time

The months of effort on the part of Mount Prospect Academy students were on full display at the annual Pike Fair on Saturday May 18th, 2024. On what was a lovely spring day, the event celebrated the effort, dedication, and compassion of MPA students for their achievements connected to the farm animals they take care of each day.


(Left to Right)
Principal Carl Chambers,
Teacher, Pat Underhill,
Academic Youth Counselor, Kayla Keith

As in past years, teamwork, and collaboration between MPA Faculty and Administration across programs produced an all-day experience that was welcoming, enjoyable, and appreciated by the students, their families, and the invited guests.

With onlookers cheering the procession, the day began with an Animal Parade that featured each animal and their handlers moving to the fairground pens for fitting prior to the showmanship contests. Snacks and drinks, a facepainting table, coloring contests, animal husbandry information booths welcomed participants, visitors, and MPA faculty to the Hall Farm location.


Paraeducator, Amy Peters-Basch and Teacher, Eric Underhill


The Goats and Miniature Hereford showmanship contests headlined the morning events, with MPA students showing their animals in the ring to the gathered crowd and judges.










The showmanship contest focused on the preparation of animals for show, the degree of apparent training, and the management and behavior the exhibitor displayed during the presentation.

The annual show helps MPA students build a passion for working with animals while teaching responsibility.

Together with MPA’s wildlife preserve/outdoor recreational center and the MPA Adventure Therapy program, the Pike Fair promotes students’ fitness and competency, while acting as a means to develop their fine and gross motor skills in a safe, therapeutic, and supportive environment.

One MPA Faculty member stated that the show is always successful because it serves as a public acknowledgement and affirmation for the long hours of work on the part of the students. All students were presented with an award.


The variety of commendations ranged from a Herdsmanship Award, a Peer Support Award, a range of ‘Shepard’ Awards, a Stepping-up Award, and a Perseverance Award, in addition to others.

“The sense of pride and responsibility are obvious. The growth of self-confidence and the improvement of their abilities, and watching their excitement during the day, and the passion they have for the animals for which they care is truly inspiring.”

A student competes in the Hay Bale Toss Contest

Following a grand cookout under an enormous tent the community of students, families, and faculty continued the daily events with a dunk tank, cornhole competition, hay bale toss, and a drone obstacle course.

Dean of Students, Dan Carbee on the Grill


Dean of Students, Jerod Florentine into the Dunk Tank









MPA Faculty operated the various festive activities and even took turns taking a splash down into the dunk tank. An ending ceremony and few more awards brought what was a fully enjoyable and celebratory day for all to a well-received conclusion.

Outdoor Adventures

Students from Mount Prospect Academy at Warren enjoyed a camping experience like no other in the great north woods of New Hampshire. The overnight trip was facilitated by the Upper Valley Stewardship Center. The trip was designed to be social, educational, and therapeutic for the students. Under the guidance of their instructors, MPA students learned outdoor survival skills throughout the trip. The trip encouraged students to make safe and responsible choices for themselves and the group throughout the activity.



Before heading into the woods, a pre-trip briefing took place that included: winter camping safety instructions, behavioral expectations, the gear acquisition process, and the packing of essential items.






The students were educated on outdoor survival skills, including setting up a tent/ hammock, tricks for maximizing heat retention, building a fire, filling and using a gravity water filter, using a camping stove to boil water, cooking MRE meals, and using knowledge of the weather to maintain gear functionality.


The evening consisted of stories about wild animal encounters, some burnt but delicious marshmallows, and the bonding that happens while sitting around a fireside with friends.










One aspect of the mission of Mount Prospect Academy is to provide opportunities for our students to grow and acquire skills that promote their ability to self-regulate and to gain self-confidence. Like other Adventure Therapy Programming activities at MPA, an overnight trip into the cold woods of New Hampshire seems to have fit the bill.



No matter the preparation, MPA students were challenged to move beyond their comfort zones and to adapt to what can sometimes be unexpected situations and circumstances that occur during a camping trip.


Throughout the trip, students were educated on the importance of responsible camping and to be conscious of their potential environmental impact. Instructors emphasized that “leaving the site better than we found it” was also a part of their duties.



During the post-trip debrief, when students were asked if they would do another trip- attached to a longer more challenging canoeing experience- the response from one student was simply, “Don’t even ask. Just sign me up!”



Thank you to the MPA Faculty, and the crew at Upper Valley Stewardship Center for this activity and the amazing work they do with MPA students.




A Stellar Event

At a quiet, hand-picked lookout post on the edge of Ewell Pond in the Green Mountains of Vermont students and Faculty from Mount Prospect Academy shared a moment with countless others across the nation to watch a natural phenomenon that will not reoccur for 20 years- the Solar Eclipse of April 2024. A two-day Science lesson had preceded the adventure and laid the groundwork for the trip. Yet, the long drive through winding backroads to the viewing location, coupled with the one-hour wait time until totality had seemed to slightly dull the student’s interest.

Predictably however, as the mid-day sun disappeared leaving the corona, and a still darkness rolled over the area the temperature dropped. Amid the peak of Eclipse Totality, the students were both ecstatic and captivated. According to MPA Faculty members, Chris Mohan and Dewitt Lightsey the students “never looked away”. Like us all, they were consumed by the strange mix of light and darkness together at the same moment. (photos by Chris Mohan)

photo by Chris Mohan

photo by Chris Mohan

student artwork at Mount Prospect Academy

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Students in MPA’s Hampton Art Program have long expressed themselves using the hallway walls. The great value in using art as a form of expression to communicate one’s thoughts, emotions, and ideas creatively. For MPA students, art allows them to explore their imagination, develop their skills, and express themselves in unique ways. It can be a powerful therapeutic tool for self-discovery and personal growth.

student artwork at Mount Prospect Academy



Students are provided a “space” on the wall to work together or as individuals to produce a work of art of their choosing. Guided by MPA Faculty, the activity and the artwork are continually evolving. New students and current students alike have found a “place and  space” of their own on the walls of the Hampton residence.



student artwork at Mount Prospect Academy



The artwork on the walls is conceived and designed by the students themselves. Artistic skills or abilities are not required to contribute to the walls – here there are no judgements, no measurements, no comparisons, no criticisms. Like all displayed artwork, decorating the walls is a process that requires a person to share a bit of themselves and their lives with others.




student artwork at Mount Prospect Academy



Whether the work invokes a past remembered, a future imagined, a thought to be shared,  or an inspiration for the moment.



student artwork at Mount Prospect Academy



As a viewer of the work, we are reminded that a person’s contribution calls for respect, and a recognition of the unique experiences and journeys that have brought that each student to Mount Prospect Academy.


student artwork at Mount Prospect Academy




Like the cat in this painting, the MPA students in residence walk their halls each day and can see, for a moment, the world through another’s eyes.

quilt project at Mount Prospect Academy

We Are All Woven Together

“Fun-Fridays” at Mount Prospect Academy are designed to offer students a chance to engage in learning activities that serve a clinical and educational purpose. Last month, students at Mount Prospect Academy’s Ashuelot Valley Academy Day School began what was initially designed as a hands-on project that used a multi-disciplinary approach to learning about people and topics relating to Black History Month.

History, biography, ELA, and mathematics were brought together as students learned a life lesson – as they noted on their wall- “We Are All Woven Together.” Using what is known as “hexagonal thinking” the projects provide a way for MPA students to enhance their social and emotional abilities as well. Students chose their own topics, in this case important people, and were asked to connect their individual topic to the larger group’s topics however they chose. To create those connections between the people, topics, and ideas requires interaction verbally amongst themselves and with Faculty. While producing the physical pieces of the “hexagon” allows for individuality and creativity embedded in the educational process, the “wall” of connections is a team effort. Only after the “team” had established those commonalities could the “wall” of hexagons be created. The connections to others, the respect for each person’s point of view, and the need for accountability to the group are the clinical hallmarks that created this wonderful exhibition.

quilt project at Mount Prospect Academy quilt project at Mount Prospect Academy

MPA Faculty Gail Hummel and Jenn Burr among others explained what happened next. “The hexagon wall became the starting point for something we hadn’t thought of- something that simply took on a life of its own.”

The “wall” became a “quilt”.

What was paper imbued with connectivity and individuality became a living physical entity that expanded student expression and self-identity in a safe communal environment. As the Faculty noted, “The quilt made itself. We did not weave this quilt to make a community. The MPA community at Ashuelot Valley already existed, and the quilt simply showed that reality.

quilt project at Mount Prospect Academy

As we step back to the original lesson plan designed to teach about Black History, the connection is clear.

The author, Deanna Parenti wrote that, “for African Americans quilting gave them a sense of a safe place to gather…quilting helped Black women gain a sense of accomplishment and identity by piecing the fabric together, stitch by stitch, each quilt is an individual like its maker.”

quilt project at Mount Prospect Academy

One look at this quilt and a person can unquestionably see a fabric born of the love, self-awareness, ingenuity, compassion, and teamwork that exists in the MPA community.

3D printed Native American Village

Imagining the Past

Mount Prospect Academy students from Campton, Plymouth, and Rumney proudly displayed their individual projects last week at the campus locations. Students at MPA campuses learn using a variety of traditional and nontraditional modalities to gain academic skills. These projects provide an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge, develop essential skills, and foster creativity. To further MPA’s Mission, student’s academic competencies and sense of connection, the projects presented by students reflected their own interests and subject.  Thematic and processing guidance provided MPA Faculty continuously encouraging students throughout the multi-step and multi-week projects.

One of the key advantages of student school projects at MPA is the hands-on learning experience.

3D printed medieval dragon

Some students used a 3D printer to create an amazingly detailed life-like display of a medieval dragon overwatching a field. Others produced a finely scaled model of a Native American Village.

3D printed Native American Village

Additionally, more traditional backboard displays highlighted the role of African Americans in the Second World War, and the innovative armaments and weapons developed during the war.

weapons used during second world war

When reflecting on the student’s final projects, MPA Faculty members Juliano Bigio, Dewitt Lightsey, and Derek Plichta, among others, explained how the projects served as foundation for additional learning. The students spent the weeks prior researching their topics, reading literature, stories, rulebooks, and character analysis, in addition to the history before moving on to the actual physical displays.

“Getting our students to understand the whole picture of an event, the scene, the people, and characters involved, and the connections between them is critical to the learning process. The therapeutic environment of MPA is a place where we want our students to have the opportunity to grow and acquire the skills needed for life. As such, for our students, the process itself is as equally important to the learning experience.”

The variety of projects was extensive, and it was clear after speaking with the MPA students that completing these school projects had instilled a sense of accomplishment. Their eagerness to discuss their projects and their sense of pride in their effort was evident to all who viewed them.


Pictured, John Mozley of MPA and Pease Library Director Rebecca Whitney

Give a Book, Take a Book

Mount Prospect Academy’s involvement in the Little Free Library movement began as an outgrowth of its Experiential Literature Adventure-based Trauma Informed Treatment program. The concept was simple enough- get students outdoors to explore the beauty, sublimity, and wonder of the New Hampshire woods. Use trail maps, geography, and literature to connect students mentally and physically to nature by challenging their perceptions and behaviors.

According to John Mozely, MPA’s Student Council Advisor, the turn to the “little libraries” was triggered by one student’s interest in exploring more of the literature relating to the NH Woods, particularly poetry.

According to their website, “The mission of the Little Free Library organization (LFL) is to build community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access through a network of volunteer-led book-exchange boxes.” The boxes are “mapped” and registered interactively online- anyone can find one and travel to it using the map. Mozely says he and students in the program began to include the stops on their trail hike days in transit expanding the educational component of the program.

Viola! The idea was born.

Pictured, John Mozley of MPA and Pease Library Director Rebecca Whitney

Pictured, John Mozley of MPA and Pease Library Director Rebecca Whitney

Why not create an exchange box in Plymouth under the stewardship of Mount Prospect Academy?

Paul Guldemond, who leads MPA’s Woodworking Program, together with MPA students, built the exchange box in the shop making the adjustments to match the necessary ordinances.

LFL in PlymouthThe LFL is shared space that brings together people of all ages and creates the opportunity to discover a personally relevant book to read not limited by time, space, or privilege.

The collaboration between Mount Prospect Academy, the Town of Plymouth, and Pease Public library is “on the map”- ready to serve the wider community, residents, and travelers alike.

Thanksgiving meal at Mount Prospect Academy

Let’s Talk Turkey

In a display of community spirit, the Faculty and students of Mount Prospect Academy gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday. This year’s Thanksgiving buffet luncheon was not only a feast for the stomach but also a celebration of gratitude and togetherness. The opportunity to share the meal extended to all students. Those able to gather at the Career Development Center (CDC) in Rumney, New Hampshire with Mount Prospect’s leadership team were able to enjoy each other’s company in a safe, supportive, and festive environment. The annual holiday tradition exemplifies the values of belonging, sharing, and teamwork that defines Mount Prospect Academy.

Thanksgiving embodies the spirit of hospitality and as such members of Mount Prospect’s leadership team decorated and served the meals to the Faculty and students for the event.

Jay Marshall, Head of School, who donned a bicycle emblazoned service apron (see below) for the occasion noted, “The immense value of occasions such as this are in the unifying sense of camaraderie and equity the staff, leadership, and students share together- the connection made is critical to our mission.” In his view, “It really reminds us all why we do what we do- and what we want our students to learn while they are with us- service, compassion, and commitment.”

Thanksgiving meal at Mount Prospect Academy

This year’s classic Thanksgiving dinner was prepared by students in Mount Prospect’s Culinary program. If the line for seconds and thirds was any indicator, the thick slices of turkey and whipped mashed potatoes, hearty stuffing and chilled cranberry sauce, and creamy butternut squash all smothered in hot gravy satisfied all!

Pecan Pie, Apple Pie, Chocolate Crème Pie, dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies washed down with ample amounts of Eggnog and Apple Cider ensured that following dessert each stomach was filled with the delicacies of the fall holiday season. The gathering brought the tastes, smells, and a reminder of the interconnectedness and need to be mindful of recognizing the value of our shared experiences no matter the difficulties we face.

If one listened in on the conversations among the group present, the clarity that events such as this play a critical and equal part in fulfilling the educational and clinical mission of Mount Prospect Academy would be easily apparent. The resounding “Thank-Yous” that echoed from the students as they departed to continue their daily schedule, mixed with the reinforcing well-wishing smiles and “Good-byes” of the Faculty made this occasion far more than just a meal.

We are all aware that sharing a meal can provide support during challenging times. It is a time when people can come together to share not just food but also a social-emotional bond. This annual Thanksgiving feast stood to remind each of the attendees of the transcendent power of compassion, being mindful of others, and the value of service that ties the Mount Prospect community together.