Northfield Mount Hermon School
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|Northfield Mount Hermon|
|Seal of Northfield Mount Hermon
Discere et Vivere
Learn and Live
|Mount Hermon, MA, USA|
|School type||Private, Boarding|
|Founder||Dwight L. Moody|
|Head of school||Peter B. Fayroian|
82 percent boarding
18 percent day
|Average class size||11 students|
|Student to teacher ratio||7:1|
|Campus||Rural, 215 acres (core campus), 1,565 acres (4.5 km²) (total land holdings)|
|Color(s)||Maroon & Dark Blue|
|Athletics||21 Interscholastic Sports|
|Endowment||$134 million (as of June 30, 2013)|
Northfield Mount Hermon, commonly referred to as NMH, is a selective, independent, co-educational, non-denominational, college-preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9–12 and postgraduates. The school is located on the banks of the Connecticut River in Gill, MA, adjacent to the town of Gill, Massachusetts.
Originally two neighboring schools—the Northfield School for Girls, founded in 1879, and the Mount Hermon School for Boys, founded in 1881—NMH merged into a single institution in 1972 and consolidated on one campus in 2006.
NMH is a member of the Eight Schools Association, established in 1973 comprising Phillips Academy (known as Andover), Phillips Exeter Academy (known as Exeter), Choate Rosemary Hall (known as Choate), Deerfield Academy, Hotchkiss School, Lawrenceville School, and St. Paul's School.
NMH’s mission is to provide students with an education “for the head, heart, and hand,” engaging their intellect, compassion, and talents and empowering them to act with humanity and purpose.
NMH offers a balanced, multi-dimensional academic experience, with nearly 200 courses, including AP and honors classes in every discipline. Each semester, students take three major courses, each of which is 80 minutes long, as opposed to five 50-minute classes which are more typical of high schools. This “College Model Academic Program” allows students to spend more time with their teachers and immerse themselves more deeply in academic subject matter. NMH employs 95 teaching faculty members, 66 percent of whom have advanced degrees. The average class size at NMH is 11 students; the student-to-teacher ratio is 7 to 1.
Each student works with his/her faculty advisor—as well as teachers, coaches, dorm advisor, and college counselor—to chart an appropriate path through the curriculum and meet NMH’s requirements in English, mathematics, the sciences, world languages, the arts, and religious studies and philosophy. An international education center serves both NMH’s international students, who make up 25 percent of the student body, and also students enrolled in interdisciplinary courses with travel components. These programs recently have included study trips to Brazil, Russia, China, India, New Zealand, Uruguay, and Turkey. NMH’s Model U.N. program also sends students abroad, with regular trips to conferences in Qatar, Italy, and the Czech Republic.
Students are required to participate in co-curricular activities every semester; the options include athletic teams, performing-arts ensembles, volunteer work on and off-campus, and activities such as working for one of the school’s four student publications. There also is an extensive array of extracurricular clubs, organizations, and affinity groups that students may join.
Students involved in visual and performing arts courses, as well as NMH’s dozen performing ensembles, are supported by the Rhodes Arts Center, a 65,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) Gold LEED-certified facility that opened in fall 2008. The RAC houses two concert performance spaces, a black-box theater, two dance studios, an art gallery, art classrooms/studios, music practice rooms, and offices.
In early 2013, NMH announced that it would build a new facility to house its science, math, and technology programs. The facility will contain laboratories, classrooms, and lecture and common spaces. The project is expected to cost at least $45 million, with construction slated to begin during the 2015–16 academic year.
With more than 60 athletic teams in 21 interscholastic sports, NMH offers one of the broadest athletic programs among secondary schools in the U.S. and currently holds the national prep championship title in boys’ basketball and New England championship titles in girls’ crew, wrestling, and numerous individual swimming and track and field events. NMH offers an extensive outdoor education program in addition to its competitive teams.
Each student is required to hold a job on campus, working four to five hours a week for a total of 120 hours each school year. This contribution to the operation of the school stems from the school’s founder, Dwight Lyman Moody, and his desire for students to understand the value of manual labor. The “workjobs” that students hold include washing dishes and preparing food in the dining hall kitchen; managing sports teams or performing arts groups; tutoring peers in various disciplines; leading campus tours for visitors; doing administrative office work; and caring for animals and performing other chores on NMH’s working farm, such as making maple syrup and apple cider.
Besides “workjob,” NMH has many other cherished traditions, some of which date back nearly a century. Among the annual favorites: the Bemis-Forslund Pie Race, a 4.5-mile course that is among the oldest footraces in the country and which rewards the top 200 runners with a homemade apple pie; Rope Pull, a giant tug-of-war between juniors and seniors; and Mountain Day, a day when classes are cancelled and students and faculty hike either Mount Monadnock or Northfield Mountain.
The school was originally founded by Protestant evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody as the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879 (later called the Northfield School for Girls) and the Mount Hermon School for Boys in 1881. Moody built the girls’ school in Northfield, Massachusetts, the town of his birth, and the boys’ school a few miles away in the town of Gill. Moody’s goal was to provide the best possible education for young people without privilege, and he enrolled students whose parents were slaves as well as Native Americans and people from other countries, which was unprecedented among elite private schools at that time. Moody viewed Christian religious education as an essential objective of his schools. Under subsequent administrations, the schools grew more theologically liberal and ultimately became non-denominational. Today, NMH offers diverse ways to pursue religious studies and personal spirituality.
The two schools merged in 1972 to become Northfield Mount Hermon, with two coeducational campuses. In 2005, the school consolidated its students and classes onto the Mount Hermon campus. This decision by the board of trustees stemmed from a belief that students would receive the best possible education in a smaller, more close-knit community, and from a desire to focus the school’s resources on educational programs and maintaining one campus instead of two. Before consolidation, the school enrolled approximately 1,100 students per year; the student body has now settled at 650, making the admission process even more selective.
NMH’s head is Peter B. Fayroian, who joined the school in 2012.
NMH sports programs include:
- Field Hockey
- Soccer ('06, '10 New England Champions)
- Girls Volleyball
- Dance (co-ed)
- Outdoor Team (co-ed)
- Alpine Skiing
- Nordic Skiing
- Basketball ('12 New England Champions, '13 National Champions)
- Ice Hockey
- Wrestling ('08, '10, '11, '12, '13 New England Champions)
- Dance (co-ed)
- Track ('07 New England Champions)
- Ultimate Frisbee ('07, '08, '12 New England Champions)
- Boys Volleyball ('05, '08, '11 New England Champions)
- Dance (co-ed)
- Outdoor Team (co-ed)
The 65,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) Gold LEED certified Rhodes Arts Center (at right) opened in fall 2008. The RAC, as it is known on campus, is the home of all of the arts programs at NMH. It houses two concert performance spaces, a black box theater, two dance studios, an art gallery, classrooms, art studios, practice rooms, and faculty offices.
Performing groups include:
- Symphony Orchestra
- Chamber Orchestra
- Concert Band
- Concert Choir (performs two Christmas Vespers concerts every year, on campus and in either Boston or New York)
- Jazz Ensemble
- World Music Combo
- Three student-run a cappella groups: Northfield Mount Harmony (co-ed), Hogappella (all male), the Nellies (all female)
- NMH Dance Company and Junior Dance Company (three major productions each year)
- NMH Singers
- Select Women’s Ensemble
- NMH Pianists
- Theater: Three major plays a year, one musical, and a student-directed one-act festival
NMH also produces an annual arts and literary magazine, Mandala, as well as two student-run newspapers, The Bridge and The Hermonite.
Co-curricular and extra-curricular groups, classes, activities
Many of the activities that NMH students get involved in are considered classes or part of the work program; others are organized outside the curriculum. NMH's Student Activities office provides support, services, and resources for student organizations, including places to meet, materials, and funding. Organizations are listed below.
General leadership positions include Resident Leaders (RLs), who help run the dorms and serve as role models and mentors to dorm residents; International Ambassadors (IAs), who mentor international students and work to promote diversity throughout the year; peer mediators, who help settle student conflicts; and Student Congress representatives, who are elected by their peers and work directly with the school administration to propose new rules or improve existing ones.
Clubs and organizations There are dozens of clubs on campus, many of which are launched by students and which vary from year to year, depending on student interest. A sampling:
- NMH Outreach: The umbrella program, overseen by school staff, for many volunteer efforts that occur on and off campus.
- Robotics Club: The club participates in annual RoboCup Competitions and, as the 2011 American champion team, competed in the international RoboCup 2011, in Istanbul.
- Debate Society: Debaters test their skills against one another and in interscholastic competition.
- Science Club/GEECS (Geecs for Electronics, Engineering, Computers, and Science): For students interested in technology and science. Notable projects over the years have included building the school's first email system and hosting its own server (named Ishmael) and website.
- Peer Education: Students are selected and trained to be tutors.
- WNMH: The school’s online radio station broadcasts 24 hours a day around the globe with student and faculty DJs.
- Ecoleaders: Student leaders who organize sustainability projects around campus that educate the community.
Multicultural Affinity Groups
- American Indian Students Association (AISA)
- Chinese Speaking Students Association (CSSA) Club link: nmhcssa.org
- Korean Students Association (KSA)
- Circle of Sisters (COS) – Nurtures the intellectual, social, professional, spiritual and physical growth of women of African-American, Hispanic, and Caribbean descent.
- Gay–Straight Alliance (GSA) – Group interested in equality for all.
- Francophone Organization for More Awareness of Global Equity (FROMAGE)-Group interested in raising money for causes in French-speaking countries as well as general awareness of the surrounding world.
- The Brothers – This group is focused on developing leadership, solidarity and support networks for male students of color.
- Muslim Students Association (MSA)
- Spanish and Latino/a Students Association (SaLSA)
- Whites Examining Racism and Culture (WERC) – An anti-racist group explores the racial and cultural identities of white Euro-Americans in the context of race relations in the U.S.
- Asian American Student Association (AASA)
- Jewish student Association (JSA)
- BREAKAWAY (Christian fellowship)
- Deacons of the Church of Christ (Protestant)
- Interfaith Council
- Jewish Student Union – provides support for Jewish life at boarding school; has weekly shabbat services and celebrates all major holidays.
- Korean Christian Fellowship
- Muslim Student Association
The following is a sampling of notable alumni of Northfield Mount Hermon School, organized by graduation year. NMH has the largest living alumni population among all boarding schools in America—roughly 30,000.
- Lee de Forest, 1893, controversial radio pioneer
- Elizabeth Barrows Ussher, 1891, Catholic missionary
- William G. Morgan, 1893, inventor of volleyball
- Ernest Yarrow, 1897, director of the Near East Foundation
- Pixley Seme, 1902, founder of the African National Congress
- Henry Roe Cloud, 1906, educator and government official
- DeWitt Wallace, 1907, founder of Reader's Digest
- Hudson Stuck, Walter Harper, Robert Tatum, Mountain Climbers, First to reach summit of Mt. Denali
- Monroe W. Smith, 1919, founder of American Youth Hostels
- S. Prestley Blake, 1934, founder of Friendly Ice Cream
- Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1937, poet
- Tad Mosel, 1940, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for All the Way Home
- James W. McLamore, 1943, founder of Burger King
- David Hartman, 1952, television host
- William R. Rhodes, 1953, Chairman of Citicorp and Chairman Emeritus of the NMH Board of Trustees
- June Jordan, 1953, poet, professor of African American Studies, UC Berkeley
- J. Stapleton Roy, 1953, senior United States diplomat and ambassador to China, Indonesia and Singapore
- Edward W. Said, 1953, Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic
- Neil Sheehan, 1954, author
- Frank Shorter, 1965, Olympic runner
- William Ackerman, 1967, founder of Windham Hill Records and 2005 Grammy Award winner
- Natalie Cole, 1968, Grammy Award-winning vocalist
- Amy Domini, 1968, the "first lady of social investing"
- Dore Gold, 1972, former Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
- Valerie Jarrett, 1974, Senior Advisor to Barack Obama
- John S. Chen, 1974, CEO of Blackberry
- Helen DeWitt, 1975, novelist
- Laura Linney, 1982, actress
- Buster Olney, 1982, sports writer
- Dylan Brody, 1982, humorist, author, comedian, playwright, and poet 
- Kim Raver, 1985, actor
- Bryan Callen, 1985, actor, comedian 
- Arn Chorn-Pond, 1986, activist and musician
- Uma Thurman, 1988 (d.n.g.), actor/model
- Misha Collins, 1992, actor
- YaYa DaCosta, 2000, actress
- Kimmie Weeks, 2001, human rights activist; winner of the 2007 BR!CK award
- Dallas Baker, 2002, professional football player
- Spike Albrecht, 2012, University of Michigan basketball guard
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