On June 27, 1821 the State of New Hampshire issued a charter to the school.
On September 17, 1821, the new academy welcomed forty students ages eight to eighteen, including thirteen from Boston who boarded with local families. The first instructor or “preceptor,” was George Richardson, an Episcopalian and Dartmouth College graduate chosen for his ability to deliver a diverse curriculum. While only one room was ready when the doors opened, the schoolhouse was a two-story wood framed building, twenty-four by thirty-two feet. Judging from a surviving 1824 program of an “Exhibition at New-Hampton Academy,” the curriculum was ambitious from the start. The students, young and old (including two of John K. Simpson’s young sons) presented orations in Latin, scenes from The Merchant of Venice, debates on religion vs. superstition, “the Greek Immigrants’ Song,” and “Hannibal’s Speech to the Carthaginians,” among other topics. With Simpson’s tireless recruiting and marketing, it is little wonder that enrollment more than doubled (to eighty-seven) the second year.