Avon Old Farms

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Avon Old Farms School
Avon Old Farms Seal.png
Aspirando et Perseverando
Aspiring and Persevering
500 Old Farms Road
Avon, Connecticut, United States
Type Private, boarding
Founded 1927
Headmaster Kenneth H. LaRocque
Faculty 60 teachers
Gender All-boys
Enrollment 406 students (9–12, PG)
81% Boarding
Average class size 11 students
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus 900 acres (3.64 km²)
Color(s) Maroon and Navy Blue
Athletics 15 varsity interscholastic sports teams (36 interscholastic teams total)
Mascot Winged Beaver
Rival Salisbury School
Average SAT scores 1835 (2012)
Endowment $47 million
Acceptance Rate 32% (2013)

Avon Old Farms School is a prestigious and selective single-sex boarding school for boys located in Avon, Connecticut. It was founded by Theodate Pope Riddle. It opened in 1927 and closed for a period during World War II to serve as a convalescent hospital for blind veterans. The current headmaster is Kenneth H. LaRocque, a Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University graduate.

Avon Old Farms competes in the Founders League alongside Choate Rosemary Hall, Hotchkiss, Kent, Loomis Chaffee, Kingswood-Oxford, Taft, Trinity-Pawling, and Westminster. Avon Old Farms is noted to be one of the most athletically competitive schools in the Founders League and has won over 30 league and New England championships over the last 15 years.

The school's mascot, the "Winged Beaver" embodies the motto of "Aspirando et Perseverando". The beaver represents perseverance and the eagle's wings represent aspiration. Along with this motto, students are expected to uphold the Avon's core values of integrity, scholarship, sportsmanship, and brotherhood.

Avon's academic program is anchored in the liberal arts and requires the students to fully explore the major disciplines in order to prepare for the intellectual rigor of college. The diversity of the student body consists of students from some 22 states and 22 foreign countries.

Famous Avon Old Farms alumni include musician Kristian Bush, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, folk singer Pete Seeger, NHL player Jonathan Quick, former NHL player Brian Leetch, NFL running back Michael Cox, and former MLB player Juan Nieves.


Avon Old Farms School was founded by Theodate Pope Riddle, Connecticut's first licensed female architect. Theodate's imaginative genius as an architect and her vision and determination to create a school for boys, combined with her personal wealth, made possible the founding of the school in 1927. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and the ideals of the old New England farm, Theodate designed and supervised the building of her vision over a span of 10 years, from 1918–27, which cost her over $7,000,000 to complete. The original stone and oak architecture is modeled after English Cotswold and Tudor styles using traditional English methods with many of the materials hewn from the school's property. The school sits upon 900 acres of rolling woodland, with the Farmington River to the east and picturesque Beaver Pond laying just a short walk south of the core campus. The center of campus includes a beautiful vista overlooking the Farmington Valley toward Avon Mountain.

In the founding years, Avon combined the best of English and American secondary school traditions with a daring and radical modern curriculum, and the school found many early successes despite facing the challenges of being a young institution. However, Mrs. Riddle, a passionate patriot and personal friend of FDR's, closed the school during World War II so it could serve as an oasis for blinded Army veterans. The Old Farms Convalescent Hospital, as it was called, gained national prominence for Mrs. Riddle's architectural masterpiece. Avon re-opened as a boys' school in 1948. However, with no money, no endowment, no students, and no faculty, the institution faced major obstacles. Through the leadership of headmasters of Don Pierpont, George Trautman, and Ken LaRocque, and Board Chairmen F. Reed Estabrook Jr. '36, Peter Aron '65, Rolf Olson '59, and Dean Graham '84, in addition to the efforts and support of countless board members, alumni, parents, and friends of the school, Avon Old Farms continues to stand strong and proud as a boys' school today. The school has grown from 48 boys at its opening in 1927 to a full capacity of 400 boys in grades 9-12 and postgraduates. The campus offers superb facilities, including a new student center and athletic field house as well as an NHL-quality ice hockey arena. The Ordway Science and Technology Center was completed in 2002, and the new Beatson Performing Arts Center opened in March 2007. The school mascot is the winged beaver, which reflects the school’s motto, “Aspirando et Perseverando,” from the Latin, to aspire and to persevere. As Peter Aron '65, then Board Chairman, wrote on occasion of the school's 75th anniversary, "We have filled and overflowed Mrs. Riddle's original buildings, and have continued to build. By any measure, we are very different today - academically, athletically, socially - as a reflection of a very different society. Yet certainly Mrs. Riddle would recognize her school, and I like to think that she would recognize her boys. The young men of Avon are recognizable, not just by the winged beaver on their blazers, but by their direct and friendly gaze."


Avon Old Farms School - exterior

At Avon, academic excellence consists of thorough instruction in the basic disciplines, the development of sound study habits, and the opportunity to be challenged by increasingly complex subject matter.

With rare exceptions, all seniors go on to college. Thus, Avon’s graduation requirements closely parallel the admission requirements of many colleges. Avon students are expected to complete the following studies:

  • English — Four years
  • History — Three years (including U.S. History)
  • Science — Three years with intensive laboratory work (including Biology)
  • Mathematics — Three years (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2)
  • World Language — Two years of the same language
  • Fine Arts — One course

Each year a student pursues a program of studies consisting of at least five classes, including at least four “core” subjects chosen from the following disciplines: English, history, mathematics, science, and foreign language.

Departmental Honors courses are offered to all students who combine intellectual ability with the desire to study more demanding material. Many of these courses prepare students directly for the Advanced Placement Examinations of the College Entrance Examination Board. Placement in these sections is by student request and teacher recommendation.

Avon Old Farms School reserves the right to withdraw or add courses, and to offer courses in terms other than those designated in the listing.


Avon Old Farms campus consists of a quad of four dorms known as Elephant, Eagle, Diogenes, and Pelican.

Avon Old Farms Campus


Avon Old Farms offers a variety of over forty different clubs. Its oldest is the Nimrod Club.

  • Annual Blood Drive
  • Art
  • Audio Visual
  • Avon Fellowship
  • Avon Record
  • Bike Club
  • Breakdancing Club
  • Camping Club
  • Chorale
  • Community Service
  • Connecticut Forum
  • Creative Writing
  • Cricket
  • Environmental Club
  • Film Club
  • Food Committee
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Hippocrene
  • History Club
  • International Club
  • Irish-American Club
  • Italian Club
  • Japanese Animation
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Model UN
  • Music
  • Newspaper
  • Nimrod Club
  • Red Cross Club
  • Riddlers Choral Group
  • Rock Band
  • Rugby Club
  • Snow Riders
  • Social Activities Committee
  • Spanish Club
  • Spirit
  • Squash Club
  • Stock Market Club
  • Student Council
  • Technology Club
  • The Riddlers
  • Theatre Productions
  • Toys for Tots
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Winged Beaver
  • Yearbook

Baxter Library[edit]

Currently, the library owns approximately 25,000 books, 400 eBooks to enhance the reference collection, a large collection of DVDs, over 70 periodical and newspaper subscriptions, and various online subscriptions. The Baxter Library page of the school’s website has reference databases accessible both on campus and from the student’s home with remote access codes that provide many other resources for learning including the Connecticut Digital Library, EBSCO’s Literary Reference Center, SIRS Knowledge Source, ProQuest Historical NY TIMES, CREDO Reference, eLibrary and more.

The Baxter Library is open to all members of the Avon Old Farms School community during the hours listed or by appointment.


The arts are an integral part of life at Avon; Avon Old Farms believes the performing and visual arts play a significant role in a boys’ education. Avon offers a wide variety of artistic opportunities for artists, singers, actors, and musicians to flourish.

Courses in the arts are designed to engage boys in ‘hands-on’ study; Avon feels that the arts should be explored, developed, and appreciated, and that students should experience the joy and fulfillment gained from playing music and creating works of art together. There are also several active arts clubs on campus.

All students are encouraged to explore artistic interests that appeal to them. One year of study in the arts is required, though many students choose to go beyond this requirement. Each student is encouraged to engage in independent work and to seek his own style of creative expression.


Avon offers a wide variety of sports in the fall, winter, and spring seasons. It is the school's philosophy to ensure that an athletic experience is accessible and enjoyable to all students; therefore, students are offered more than two dozen sub-varsity teams to choose from in addition to intramural activities.

Avon is well known for its ice hockey program, which has won a record eight Division 1 New England Championships (four between 2004 and 2008) and produced NHL players such as Hockey Hall of Fame member Brian Leetch, as well as Jonathan Quick, Chris Higgins, Cam Atkinson, and Nick Bonino=. Coach John Gardner is in his 32nd season as the team's coach and has been with the team for all eight championships. He currently has a record of 603–178–29.[1] On December 21, 2009, Avon played Taft School in the first ever hockey game played at Fenway Park.[2] In 2012 Jonathan Quick joined fellow alumni Brian Leetch (1994) as a winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, making Avon the only American school to produce two NHL playoff MVPs.

Avon has also had a very successful lacrosse program over the years. The program was built by nationally recognized coach Skip Flanagan (selected to coach at the 2008 high school all star game).[3] After Coach Flanagan left the school, Ted Garber became head coach and brought great success to the program. Coach Flangan returned as the Winged Beavers' lacrosse coach in the spring of 2010 and the Winged Beavers were nationally ranked as high as 6th during the season and finished 12th in the nation.

Football alumni Michael Cox went on to play for the UMass Minutemen. Cox was later drafted by the New York Giants football team on April 27, 2013 during the 2013 NFL Draft. Current Boston Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves was a baseball alumni who played primarily for the Milwaukee Brewers. Other notable football alumni include current Chicago Bear Khaseem Greene, current Chargers backup quarterback Mike Hermann, and former New York Giants lineman Jack Calcaterra.

Interscholastic sports[edit]

AOF life 
Inside the Beatson Auditorium 
Village Green 

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Mike Adams, sports talk radio host at Planet Mikey
  • Karl Aschenbach ’62, founder of the Ultra Poly Corporation
  • Cam Atkinson, NHL forward for the Columbus Blue Jackets
  • David Bigelow '44, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO R.C. Bigelow Tea Company
  • Ted Blaine '84, recognized as one of the "Best Doctors of America" (award); now lectures and teaches internationally
  • Jerry Blakeley '62, former president and owner of Extech Instruments Corporation
  • Nick Bonino, NHL forward for the Vancouver Canucks
  • Kristian Bush, musician, member of Grammy Award winning country music duo Sugarland
  • Jack Calcaterra '63, former New York Giants Offensive Lineman in 1968 and 1969
  • Michael Cercone '75, owner and operator of Scollay Square Investment LLC
  • Erich Cluxton ’61, Chairman of the History Department and Academic Dean (former) of the Christ School (North Carolina) and former headmaster of the Asheville School
  • Michael Cox, NFL running back for the New York Giants
  • Chris Davis ’05, professional ice hockey player for Hershey Bears
  • Jared DeMichiel ’04, ice hockey player for Wheeling Nailers
  • John Garvey '78, Garvey Spacecraft; former NASA rocket scientist
  • Khaseem Greene, NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears
  • Jeff Hamilton '96, played in the NHL, AHL and professional hockey leagues of Europe
  • Mike Hermann, former NFL quarterback for the San Diego Chargers
  • Chris Hetherington, former American football fullback in the NFL who last played for the San Francisco 49ers
  • Chris Higgins, NHL left winger for the Vancouver Canucks
  • Alex Hitz '87, celebrity chef, cookbook author, philanthropist and founder of the luxury gourmet food product line The Beverly Hills Kitchen
  • Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO of Meridian International Center, former U.S. Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush
  • Andre Jones, football player defensive back for the Pittsburgh Power
  • Stephen S. Lash ’58, chairman emeritus of Christie's Americas Art Gallery and president of Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and trustee at Museum of the City of New York
  • Brian Leetch, former NHL defenseman for the New York Rangers, enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Scott MacDonald '74, author, founding partner of Aladdin Capital ($3.7-billion-in-assets hedge fund). Chief strategist and researcher.
  • John Gillespie Magee, author of the aviation poem High Flight
  • Robert Mark '80, chief sales officer at Liberty Medical/Medco Health Solutions
  • Matt Martin '90, former NHL player Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Andrew McCalla '87, founder of Meridian Solar
  • Doug McCollough '01, designer/maker of DMDM
  • Brendan McKernan '89, President and COO, Agencourt Bioscience and Courtagen Life Science
  • Kevin McKernan '91, scientist and entrepreneur, honored at the White House for his part in mapping the human genome
  • Seth F. Mendell '52, educator, historian, community servant
  • Jake Menges '87, nationally recognized republican consultant, worked with Giuliani administration in 1992
  • John Mori ’05, professional ice hockey player for Tulsa Oilers
  • Daniel New, professional ice hockey defenceman[4]
  • Juan Nieves, former MLB pitcher Milwaukee Brewers, currently the Pitching Coach for the Boston Red Sox
  • Bill Norcross '89, Texas-Louisana League All-Star 1996, MLB Scouting Bureau
  • Michael Nouri '64, American television and film actor.
  • Allan J. O'Connor '75, founder of "Opportunity for All" organization
  • Donald R. Pete '36, humanitarian and member of National Defense Executive Reserve
  • Jonathan Quick, NHL goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings
  • David Roberts '89, former NHL player St. Louis Blues
  • Andrew Schorr '67, former local and national television reporter; producer of PM Magazine
  • Pete Seeger, Grammy Award winning folk singer, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (1996)
  • Bud Siegel '61, former president and CEO of Russel Metals
  • George Springer, outfielder for the Houston Astros[5]
  • Carl Valimont '84, former NHL player, Vancouver Canucks
  • Christopher Woodrow, movie producer
  • Richard Yates, novelist, author of Revolutionary Road, ghostwriter for Robert F. Kennedy


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°46′43″N 72°50′24″W / 41.7785°N 72.84°W / 41.7785; -72.84