Living and learning

4,000 square feet of new academic space.

November 1, 2022
A group of people around a Harkness table.

Health and Human Development Department Chair Michelle Soucy gathers with students in one of New Hall's four new classrooms.

To accommodate its expanding academic curriculum, as well as the Academy’s commitment to promoting students’ physical, mental and emotional wellness, Exeter’s Health and Human Development Department has moved into a spacious new home on the lower level of New Hall.

New Hall’s academic space features four Harkness classrooms, a departmental office and a flexible lobby that can be used for group activities such as yoga, meditation and cooking, or just relaxing and connecting when not in class. Bookshelves lining the walls are home to an expanded library of health- and wellness-related books that students can browse and borrow.

While living and learning will be kept securely separate — dorm residents will have to exit the building to access the academic space — every Exeter student will have the opportunity to take classes in New Hall. “It used to be that only ninth graders and new 10th graders took health,” Department Chair Michelle Soucy says. “Right before the pandemic, we changed it, and now students from all four years take at least one class in Health and Human Development.”

In addition to introductory courses aimed at helping all new students acclimate to the school, the Health and Human Development curriculum includes a Teen Health course for each class year, including one designed to help prepare seniors for life beyond Exeter. “We cover finances, learning to cook for yourself, and a bunch of other stuff for what we call the emerging adult phase of life,” Soucy says.

In the courtyard outside the building’s entrance, a circular medallion with the words “youth from every quarter” and an engraving of a lion rampant adorn a stone wall. An anonymous donor intended the medallion, and a soon-to-be- installed stone bench, to serve as a corner of campus dedicated to wellness reflection. The new feature complements one of the department’s long-running fall programs, a positive psychology fair where students gather to paint and decorate rocks with messages of positivity. “We’re envisioning that we’ll have a little rock garden there as well,” Soucy says. “We’re always talking about the psychology of looking at things in the positive, and how you can raise your mental health.”


Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the fall 2022 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.


An old photo of the outside of a building

The Exeter Bulletin

Abbot Hall

New Hall Dorm taken from above.

The Exeter Bulletin

Welcome to New Hall

A mother, father and two sons

The Exeter Bulletin

Faculty in residence