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Published: 07/28/2006    print this story   email this story  

School to many of Atkinson's own

By Jim Montalto

This graceful, southern New Hampshire town is home to the second oldest co-educational school in the country, Atkinson Academy. Adjacent to Town Hall, the academy still functions as a school, but has expanded over the years to accommodate the town's growing population.

"The academy was founded as a boys' school by Reverend Stephen Peabody, General Nathaniel Peabody and Doctor William Cogswell in 1767," explains Atkinson Historical Society President Eleanor Zarembo. "At the time, that was the only school in town. Then Reverend Peabody's daughter was ready for school, so the academy became co-ed in 1791."

The academy burned down in 1802, but thanks to the town's resolve to have a unique school of its own, Atkinson Academy was rebuilt the next year for about $2,500. This building still houses fifth-grade classrooms.

"Everyone in town speaks of the academy with pride because odds are they or one of their relatives went to that school," Zamembo adds.

She says the historical society is currently creating a decoration in celebration of the academy, which it plans to sell near Christmastime.

Some of former President John Quincy Adams' relatives lived in Atkinson, along with other famous politicians and businessmen. More can be read about Atkinson's history in the book Atkinson Then and Now, which can be purchased at the public library and the town's Historical Society. For information contact Eleanor Zarembo, president, 603-362-4704, or visit

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