NASHUA — Students at the Academy for Science and Design celebrated a major accomplishment on Monday as the school was named New Hampshire’s top high school for 2019.

The charter school at 486 Amherst St. was chosen by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Awards (EDies) selection committee as the 2019 Secondary School of Excellence, and the honor was announced during a surprise assembly.

“We know that we have a really special place here,” said Director Jennifer Cava, adding she is honored to be part of such a special journey.

Cynthia Freyberger of the selection committee said one major factor helped make the Academy for Science and Design stand out among other high schools in the state — a sense of community.

“On top of that you have done something even more special — you have personalized it,” Freyberger told the students and staff, congratulating them for their hard work and dedication to creating a top-notch school.

The selection committee visited the local charter school in January, along with many other schools in the state, to narrow a list of finalists for the coveted title of New Hampshire’s high school of the year.

When met with a flash mob during its visit, Freyberger said the committee knew it was in for a special treat.

It is apparent that the school community revolves around learning, individual passions and the interests of everyone involved, she said.

Students told the committee that they could not imagine attending school anywhere else, Freyberger said.

“Our kids are really our strongest advocates,” Cava said.

The Excellence in Education initiative recognizes New Hampshire public schools that meet high standards of excellence and can serve as representatives of the many schools throughout the state, a release states.

McDonald’s is a sponsor for the initiative.

“Each year it’s a true pleasure to recognize educators and schools that go above and beyond to help our students learn and grow in exciting ways,” Peter Napoli, New Hampshire McDonald’s owner and operator, said in a statement.

Other schools recognized on Monday with EDies awards were Somersworth Middle School and Barrington Elementary School. Alton Central School will be honored on Tuesday, and a special awards ceremony has been planned for June 8.

“Our teachers, staff and administrators work hard each and every day to not only teach our students, but to mentor and guide them, and receiving this honor validates all of their efforts,” Amy Bewley, coordinator of marketing and communications for the local charter school, said in a statement.

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