Garrison Forest School
|Garrison Forest School|
|300 Garrison Forest Road
Owings Mills, Maryland, 21117
|Motto||Esse Quam Videri
(To Be Rather Than To Seem)
|Head of school||G. Peter O'Neill, Jr.|
|Color(s)||Light Blue and Dark Blue|
|Team name||Garrison Grizzlies|
|Accreditation(s)||Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Association of Independent Maryland Schools (A.I.M.S.)
|Tuition||Three-Year-Olds (Three mornings a week) $4,650
Three-Year-Olds (Five mornings a week) $6,800 Pre-Kindergarten $10,505 Kindergarten $21,720 Pre-First $22,050 Grades 1-5 $22,670 Grades 6-8 Day $23,490 Grades 9-12 Day $23,990 Grades 8-12 National/International Boarding $43,860 Grades 8-12 Regional Boarding $34,600
|Founder||Mary Moncrieffe Livingston|
|Website||Official GFS Webpage|
Garrison Forest School (GFS) is a college preparatory school, in Owings Mills, Maryland, near Baltimore, with a nationally distinctive educational model. The school offers a day school for girls, pre-first through grade 12, as well as a coed program from ages two through kindergarten. The regional, national, and international residential program is for girls in grades 8–12. For fall 2009, total enrollment is 683 students across three divisions: the Lower Division (preschool and elementary grades), Middle School, and Upper School. The school averages about 60 residential students per year.
Garrison Forest School was founded in 1910 by Mary Moncrieffe Livingston. Montcrieffe adopted the motto Esse Quam Videri—To Be Rather Than To Seem for her then-fledgling school. Nearly 100 years later, those words encourage students to be who they are, not who they think others want them to be. G. Peter O'Neill, Jr. has been the Head of Garrison Forest School since 1994, and has been serving as a head of independent schools for 24 years. A nationally respected educational leader and advocate for girls’ education, Mr. O’Neill was recognized as one of the country's most outstanding school heads in 2006 by the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University.
Located on 116 acres (0.47 km) outside of Baltimore, the school’s park-like campus offers collegiate-quality academic, athletic, arts, residential, and student facilities. Garrison Forest School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools.
Garrison Forest’s academic program balances high standards within a welcoming, spirited atmosphere that enables each student to flourish intellectually and individually. With a student to faculty ratio of 8:1, the classroom environment focuses on personal achievement and collaborative learning. The school requires all students to follow a college preparatory track, and all students matriculate to a four-year college. Advanced Placement (A.P.) courses are offered in every discipline.
Garrison Forest’s program has been innovative throughout its history. In 1950, the school closed its coed primary department to focus on the education of girls, creating a separate program to focus on the unique intellectual, social, and emotional needs of middle-school-aged girls, fifth through eighth grades. At the time, and for the next few decades, such a program for middle grade students was nearly unheard of in private, parochial, or public education. By the early 1970s, several of Baltimore’s independent schools had middle school programs, and in 1974, Baltimore City Public Schools introduced its first middle school. In 1975, a nearby preschool and elementary school, the Valley School, merged with GFS, thus returning the school to its founding roots of offering a preschool program. With Valley School came its pre-first curriculum, which was among the first in the country.
Experiential learning, an early 21st century educational buzzword, has been part of the Garrison Forest program since 1969 through the Independent Senior Project (ISP), among the first of its kind in the Baltimore region. Expanding the hands-on learning opportunities for students in the early 2000s includes the introduction of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) in 2005. A partnership between Garrison Forest School and Johns Hopkins University created as a response to the United States’ lack of female scientists and engineers, WISE offers GFS juniors and seniors the opportunity to enjoy a mentored internship in a Hopkins lab. WISE students are culled from a national and international pool of applicants, and students live at Garrison Forest for their WISE semester. They work weekly with professors and graduate students in the Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences. In 2008, WISE expanded to include Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In 2008, Garrison Forest also received one of five innovative leadership grants from the Edward E. Ford Foundation to establish the James Center: Programs and Partnerships with a Public Purpose. Named for trustee Amie Boyce James ’70, who matched the Ford Foundation’s challenge grant, the James Center is a “center without walls.” The James Center encompasses the school’s programs in community service, WISE, leadership training, and newer programs in financial literacy. Directed by Whitney Ransome, one of the founding co-executive directors of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, the James Center also coordinates the Elsie Foster Jenkins ’53 Fellows, competitive summer fellowships funded by Garrison Forest to enable students to participate in community service projects at home and abroad. Each year, five Jenkins Fellows spend the summer in countries such as China, Honduras, India, Israel, Malawi, Peru, and Senegal
Garrison Forest School has a 1:1 Tablet PC program for grades 4–12. The campus is fully wired, and classroom technology includes a mounted wireless projector in each classroom. Faculty members also use Tablet PCs to sync with students’ Tablets and to provide interactive learning in the classroom. In addition, each division (the Upper School, Middle School, and Lower Division) has its own Media Center with iMac computers, scanners, and color printers. The school offers a Robotics program for grades 4-12, and teams compete at the local and state levels.
All Garrison Forest students are required to participate in the athletics program. The school’s athletic facilities include the Elizabeth B. Searle ’74 Athletic Center (opened in 2002), four athletic fields including two turf fields, and six tennis courts. The school’s mascot is the Grizzly, and the school colors are Light Blue and Dark Blue. The Garrison Forest Grizzlies field 13 sports of 42 teams, including three levels of Middle School teams. The school’s teams compete in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland. In the past three years, Garrison Forest teams across an array of sports have won a collective 19 championships. The 2008–2009 achievements include:
Varsity equestrian team: 2008 IEA Champions
Varsity eventing team: Champion, Mid-Atlantic Interschool Event, and Champion, Elkridge-Harford Interschool Event
Varsity field hockey: IAAM A-Conference Regular Season Division Champions for 2008 and 2009; IAAM A-Conference 2008 and 2010 Tournament Champions
Varsity polo: U.S. Polo Association National Women’s Interscholastic Polo Champions, the 12th national title for a GFS Polo team since 1990. Beginning in 1995, six Garrison Forest Varsity Polo Team players have won the prestigious Polo Training Foundation Interscholastic Player of the Year Award
Varsity winter soccer: IAAM B-Conference Regular Season Division Champions and IAAM B-Conference Tournament Champions
Varsity lacrosse: 2008 Regular Season Division Champions and 2008 IAAM B-Conference Tournament Champions
The school’s riding facilities include the D. & J. Smith Equestrian Center and the Sheridan Indoor Polo Ring. Garrison Forest has a long tradition of excellence in equestrian sports including Equitation, Showjumping, Eventing, and Polo. The school is one of only two girls' schools in the nation to offer Polo.
In 1910, Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, a teacher from New York, moved to Maryland with a mission and a vision: to found a much-needed primary through twelfth grade school for the local community. The educational model she espoused remains a nationally recognized program nearly a century later. Garrison Forest then was an all-girls’ day school, Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade, with a residential program for older girls and a coed primary program. Today, the model remains nearly identical with the addition of a vibrant regional, national, and international residential program and two-year-olds as the youngest Garrison Forest students. The motto Miss Livingston chose for her burgeoning school, Esse Quam Videri—To Be Rather Than To Seem, perfectly captured her vision for a school steeped in academic rigor while infused with exceptional character building.
Since its founding, Garrison Forest has redefined itself in response to the challenges of the day. Miss Livingston grew her school in size and reputation, and in 1929, she passed the mantle to Co-headmistresses Jean G. Marshall and Nancy J. Offutt. Under their spirited and firmly grounded leadership, the school not only survived the Great Depression, it thrived, adding new students and attracting a top-caliber faculty. For 30 years, Miss Marshall and Miss Offutt guided Garrison Forest, building a national boarding reputation, excellent academic programs, and a highly competitive riding program.
In 1960, the School hired its first male headmaster, Archibald “Tad” Montgomery IV, who expanded the residential program, campus, and enduring tradition of community outreach. Lawrence “Larry” L. Hlavacek served as Headmaster from 1968 to 1978, shepherding the school through a difficult financial time, played out against the challenging cultural backdrop of the 1970s. As boarding school enrollments dipped nationwide and many girls’ schools shut their doors or merged with other institutions, Garrison Forest held steady by returning to its founding model of educating boys and girls at the preschool level by merging in 1975 with the nearby Valley School, a local, coed independent preschool and elementary school.
From 1978 to 1989, Agnes “Aggie” C. Underwood served as headmistress, leading the school to a higher level of academic excellence. Garrison Forest’s reputation and enrollment grew through achievements such as the increased number of Advanced Placement courses and faculty members with advanced degrees, enhanced student diversity, a depth of arts programming, and Mrs. Underwood’s leadership among national independent school organizations.
After interim head Alexander A. Uhle’s year-long appointment, Elsa “Midge” M. Bowman was named Headmistress. She continued Garrison Forest’s commitment to intellectual achievement and ushered the school onto the global stage with the advent of a formal international boarding program in the early 1990s. Today, 20 percent of the Upper School students hail from countries beyond the United States.
After joining GFS in 1994, current Head of School, G. Peter O’Neill, Jr. is enjoying the third-longest tenure as head of Garrison Forest School in its nearly 100-year history. A strong national advocate for single-sex education for girls, he has led the School’s largest campus expansion and the establishment of one of the nation’s leading experiential learning programs for girls: the Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) program, a one-of-a-kind academic partnership with Johns Hopkins University.
Garrison Forest has numerous traditions that speak to and underscore the school’s spirit.
The school flower is the blue cornflower or bachelor’s button, Centaurea cyanus, was chosen by Miss Livingston. Graduating seniors during her era wore white dresses and carried arm bouquets of the simple blossoms. The tradition has continued with each graduating senior carrying a bouquet of the blue flowers wrapped in flowing blue ribbons, which the school called “Ragged Robins.” Actually, the Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, is not a cornflower at all, though like the cornflower, is naturalized as a wildflower in the Northeast. Regardless of any understandable confusion between common names for plants, Garrison Forest’s Ragged Robin is much beloved. At Garrison Forest, the term “Ragged Robins” applies to three longstanding traditions—the school flower, the yearbook, and the student a cappella group.
The Garrison Forest Alma Mater has lyrics written by founding headmistress Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, which are sung to the tune of her favorite Episcopal hymn, God, the Omnipotent by Alexis Lvov (1798–1870):
"Hail, Gladdening Light, Our lamp of wisdom, Hail! Shine with a radiance, Which can never fail. Illumined by thy rays., May thus our motto gleam, And show our desire, 'To be and not to seem.'
Polished and fitted true, May each to each stand fast, Firm as the stones, In Temple corners cast. Strong and enduring be, Our love and loyalty, For School and for Comrades, And for Victory!"
Adopted in 1929, the original Garrison Forest School crest depicts a tree upholding a lamp, the symbol of education, with Garrison Forest’s motto emblazoned beneath: Esse Quam Videri. The large tree in the seal resembles a White Oak, Quercus alba. Known for its majestic stature, wide branches, and longevity, the White Oak is the state tree of Maryland.
The school colors of light blue and dark blue inspired the at least 90-year-old tradition of sorting the students and faculty into spirit teams of Light Blue and Dark Blue. In a friendly competition, these teams compete for points during the academic year through service and leadership participation and during Spirit Days. At the end of the school year, awards are given in each division (Lower School through Upper School) for the winning team and the most spirited class.
Garrison Forest School’s Service League, a comprehensive community service umbrella organization with local, national, and international outreach, was founded by students in 1942 as a response to helping on the home front. Decades earlier, students helped in the local fields while farmers were fighting in World War I. While community service is not required of Garrison Forest students, more than 75 percent of students participate in numerous activities each year. Since 2004, the GFS faculty, staff, and administrators have sponsored a Habitat for Humanity house in Baltimore, an annual project that grew out of the school’s initial reaction to Hurricane Hugo. The first GFS Habitat house was given to a family who relocated from New Orleans to Baltimore post-hurricane.
- Kerri Beiser, Class of 1992, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab senior staff and former NASA project manager.
- Beth Botsford, Class of 1999, Olympic gold medalist in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Won gold medals in the individual 100m backstroke and as a member of the women's relay team in the 4x100 meter medley.
- Sterett Gittings-Kelsey, Class of 1960, internationally known sculptor of dance.
- E. Jane Albert Hubbard, Ph.D., Class of 1977, developmental genetics researcher, Columbia University.
- Sarah LeBrun Ingram, Class of 1984, top-ranked amateur golfer. Eight U.S. Opens, three Curtis Cup teams, World Amateur Team, and won three U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur crowns. Named Golf World magazine's amateur female golfer in 1993.
- Sheila Eaton Isham, Class of 1946, internationally known abstract painter and first American to be accepted to the (West) Berlin Academy of Fine Arts.
- Catherine Coolidge Lastavica, M.D., Class of 1949, Lyme disease specialist, Tufts University School of Medicine in Public Health.
- Eve Pell, Class of 1954, is the author of We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante (Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2009), The Big Chill: How the Reagan Administration, Corporate America, and Religious Conservatives are Subverting Free Speech and the Public’s Right to Know (Beacon Press, 1986), and Maximum Security: Letters from Prison (Dutton, 1972).
- Cassandra Stewart Naylor, Class of 1954, environmentalist and naturalist, is a founding member of Houses Inc., a program to help low-income individuals find housing and access to educational opportunities.
- Adele Smith Simmons, Class of 1959, President of the Global Philanthropy Partnership, senior advisor to the World Economic Forum, editor of Global Giving Matters, and Senior Associate at the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago. The first female dean at Princeton, the past president of Hampshire College, and former president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.