Student Life

The atmosphere at Hammonasset was more college-like than many other high schools in the area. Students were there because they wanted to be there, not because they had to be. Teachers did not breathe down student's necks to complete assignments - either the work was done or a grade of F was given. At the end of each semester, each student wrote a self-evaluation on his/her performance. Although these evaluations did not affect the grade assigned, it was a valuable excercise, allowing the student to reflect on the past semester and find opportunities for improvement.

Students were allowed privileges that were not typical of other schools. They were allowed to smoke and / or leave campus during free class periods (with parental permission, of course).

From the 1987 Student Policies and Procedures handbook:
"Hammonasset does not have many rules for it's students, compared with other schools. For the most part, the conduct that students and faculty members expect from one another is based on the principles of mutual respect, consideration, and kindness. We don't believe that there must be a lot of specific rules to ensure these principles are carried out. In fact, it is part of the school's goal of fostering independence in students that we hope they can decide for themselves how they should behave in various circumstances."

There were no "hall monitors" (or halls for that matter, as classrooms consisted of a large open space without walls). Students could move about the campus at any time of day and not be hassled. If you cut class, you were marked as absent and had consequences similar to those of a college student, rather than silly slaps on the wrist, such as "detentions".

Attendance Policy: Take a look at Hammonasset’s attendance policy from the late 1980’s. Complete with stick figure illustrations.

Students had a say in the operation of the school. Whole school community meetings were held each week where current issues were discussed in depth. There was no set agenda - anyone (faculty, students, administrators) who wished to bring up an issue had the opportunity to do so, and be heard. A student trustee was named each year, who regularly attended board meetings as a voice of the students.

The school facilities included a large open area called "the commons", which featured large soft chairs and a working fireplace. When not in class, this was where many students spent their time. It was the social nerve center of the campus. Also included in the commons was a conversation "pit" (a large, sunken, section of open floor space) where the whole school meetings were held.

Other school facilities, such as the gymnasium, Arts Barn and tennis courts were always unlocked and open to all students when they were not being used for scheduled classes.

There were two retail operations, just off the commons. The first was the school book store where students could purchase textbooks, paper, pens, art supplies and school logo apparel. (The latter now available on this site). The other retail outlet, opened during the school's later years, and operated by the yearbook committee, was a small snack stand, serving donuts, candy, bagels and an assortment of other easy-to-prepare food items. All profits from this operation went to publishing the yearbook.