Rivers School

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The Rivers School
Rivers School Crest red.jpg
333 Winter Street
Weston, Massachusetts, 02493
United States
Coordinates 42°19′23″N 71°19′34″W / 42.323°N 71.326°W / 42.323; -71.326Coordinates: 42°19′23″N 71°19′34″W / 42.323°N 71.326°W / 42.323; -71.326
Type Independent, Day, Coeducational
Motto "Excellence with Humanity"
Established 1915
Head of school Ned Parsons
Grades 6-12
Enrollment 489 (2014-2015)
Average class size 12 students
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus Suburban, 52 acres
Color(s) Red, white, black
Mascot Red Wing
Endowment $22.3 million
Tuition $41, 850

The Rivers School is an independent, coeducational preparatory school in Weston, Massachusetts.

Rivers' Middle School program includes grades 6-8, while its Upper School program includes grades 9-12. As of 2014, 489 students are enrolled from 70 Massachusetts towns. The Rivers School's endowment was $22.3 million for the 2014-2015 academic year.


Middle school[edit]

Over the past decade there have been several changes and improvements made to the Middle School, including the addition of a 6th grade. Students in the Middle School are required to take science, math, and foreign language in addition to a double period Humanities course that integrates English and social studies. For example, in the 8th grade, students explore the history of the civil rights movement while reading relevant literature of the era such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Core classes in the Middle School also include yearlong visual and performing arts courses, as well as a half year drama class in 6th grade and a half year media literacy class in 7th grade. All middle school students participate in human development and wellness seminars. Students participate in the Rivers athletic program through a number of interscholastic and some intramural sports.

A middle school student's day starts at 8:00am and ends at 3:45pm, after 1 hour and 15 minutes of sports.

Upper School[edit]

In addition to core classes in English, history, science, math, and foreign language, Rivers offers electives such as robotics, alternative energy sources, sports medicine, journalistic writing, ethics, Mandarin Chinese, and filmmaking. The Interdisciplinary Studies Department with courses such as The Enlightenment, Adaptations and Interpretations, and Dante's Divine Comedy, challenge students to make connections across the disciplines.

Rivers was one of the pilot schools for the innovative Big History Project and history teacher Dave Burzillo serves as a Master Teacher responsible for curriculum development, teacher training, and program feedback.[1]

Students are required to take classes in the visual and performing arts. Visual arts classes include ceramics, drawing, photography, sculpture, printmaking, painting and computer graphics. Performing arts includes drama classes as well as a collaboration with The Rivers Conservatory that allows students to participate in orchestra, chorus and various jazz combos.

During junior and senior years, students are encouraged to create a schedule that best reflects their interests, expertise, and passions. Each senior also presents a speech to the entire community on a topic of personal significance. As a culminating experience to their high school careers, seniors design a project that allows them to pursue a passion and transition to life beyond Rivers. These senior projects serve as work-learning experiences that students are able to continue after graduation in many cases.

Rivers offers the following Advanced Placement classes:

  • English literature and composition
  • United States History
  • United States Government & Politics
  • Modern European History
  • Latin
  • French Language & Culture
  • Spanish
  • Statistics
  • Calculus AB and BC
  • Microeconomics
  • Environmental Science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Computer Science
  • Music Theory
  • Chinese


Rivers competes in the Independent School League. The Rivers School campus has more than 12 acres (49,000 m2) of playing fields that includes Waterman Field, a 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2) multi-sport synthetic turf field, as well as six outdoor tennis courts.

Indoor athletic facilities include The Haffenreffer Gymnasium with a full size basketball court and the 78,000- square foot MacDowell Athletic Center which contains:

  • The MacDowell Ice Arena hockey rink, which during the fall, spring and summer transforms into a 70 x 40 yard indoor synthetic field
  • The Benson Gymnasium
  • The Benson Fitness Center
  • Sports medicine office
  • Team rooms
  • Locker rooms

Rivers has boys and girls varsity teams in the following sports:

  • Football (boys only)
  • Field Hockey (girls only)
  • Soccer
  • Cross Country
  • Basketball
  • Ice Hockey
  • Skiing
  • Lacrosse
  • Baseball (boys only)
  • Softball (girls only)
  • Tennis
  • Track

Each year there are approximately 55 teams at various levels from middle school, thirds, junior varsity and varsity.

In recent years, Rivers’ athletic teams have experienced a great deal of success. The girls’ soccer team reached the NEPSAC Class B championship in 2012 and 2013, earning a share of the title in 2013. The boys’ soccer team earned a share of both the Independent School League and NEPSAC Championships in 2012. The football team won the ISL championship in 2010, earning a bid to the Norm Walker Bowl at Gillette Stadium. The field hockey team earned the NEPSAC Class C championship in 2011.

The boys’ hockey team, coached by former NHL player Shawn McEachern, won the ISL Eberhart Division championship in 2012 and 2014. The girls basketball team won the NEPSAC Class B Championship in 2009, 2011, and 2012 and reached the Class A final in 2013 while the boys’ basketball team won the ISL in 2014 behind a perfect 15-0 record. The boys’ ski team won NEPSAC championships in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

The boys’ lacrosse team went 14-1 in 2009, earning a share of the league title. The boys’ tennis team won the NEPSAC Class C championship in 2007 and 2010.

Since 2009, Rivers has had four All-Americans, 39 All-New England selections, and 16 All-State selections. In that time, 141 have earned All-Independent School League recognition, and seven have been named ISL Player of the Year and Boston Globe All-Scholastics. In 2013, Maclaine Lehan was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Massachusetts State Player of the Year.[2] Jillian Dempsey '09 and Miles Gendron '14 received the Boston Bruins' Jack Carlton Award, given annually to the best high school ice hockey player in Eastern Massachusetts. Charlie Rugg '09 was the recipient of the 2008 Adidas Massachusetts Player of the Year and Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year awards.

Community service[edit]

Outreach activities, seen as an integral part of the Rivers experience, are coordinated through the Alan J. Bernon Family Center for Community Outreach and Service.

School Wide Outreach[edit]

Each year, the Rivers community participates in a variety of community service projects including:

  • Thanksgiving Food Drive to benefit food pantries in local communities
  • Bi-annual Massachusetts General Hospital Bloodmobile Blood Drive
  • Annual Holiday Basketball Tournament
  • Annual faculty service day (Pine Street Inn, Rosie’s Place, A Place to Turn)
  • Winter Clothing Drive
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Fund-raising Servathon to benefit Rivers Givers
  • Chorus & Jazz Band performances for senior citizens
  • Snack preparation for Framingham Civic League Saturday Lunch Program
  • Preparation of holiday gift packs for people who are in need of homes
  • Environmental awareness and recycling projects
  • Work at local community farms and wild-life sanctuaries
  • Red Key admissions tours
  • Grade 10 Annual Special Olympics Basketball tournament
  • Grade 9 Annual Greater Boston Food Bank service day
  • Service Trips to Romania and Montana

Rivers Givers[edit]

The Rivers Givers Youth & Philanthropy program was established in the fall of 2002 by a young female student at the time, Nicolette Clifford . Her brother Christian Clifford also aided in the start of the program. Now an independent, youth philanthropy program, Rivers Givers is responsible for identifying and supporting a broad range of non-profit organizations in the Greater Boston area that are committed to meeting the needs of children and youth.

The Rivers School Conservatory[edit]

Logo of the Rivers School Conservatory

The Rivers School Conservatory was founded in 1975 when The New England Conservatory of Music closed all of the suburban branches of its preparatory school including its Wellesley school. The displaced families from Wellesley, Weston, and Wayland convinced Ethel Bernard, one of the pioneers of the music school movement, to found a music school committed to excellence in music education and performance. Ethel Bernard approached The Rivers School with the idea of founding a music school in the unoccupied former headmaster’s house on the campus of the then all-boys college preparatory school.

First called The Music School at Rivers, The Rivers School Conservatory has been one of the nation’s leading community music conservatories ever since. In 1978, the Annual Seminar on Contemporary Music for the Young was established and gained Rivers world-wide renown through a WGBH-TV documentary that was broadcast internationally by PBS. Seminar guests have included John Cage (1983). All pieces performed are composed in the 25 year period prior to each seminar. Many were premières and several dozen were commissioned pieces. Recent examples include Matineé: The Fantom of the Fair by Libby Larsen.[3]

Over the past three and a half decades, the Conservatory has grown to over 750 students, including a student orchestra program, jazz and chamber ensembles, music theory and composition, its critically acclaimed Marimba Magic Program, choruses, master classes, workshops, and private lessons on every orchestral and jazz instrument, piano, and voice.

Clubs and Cocurriculars[edit]

  • The robotics team Architechs competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge, having the team number 4176.[4]
  • The Debate and Model UN clubs attend national conferences every year, including the University of Connecticut's Model UN Conference and the New England Region of Junior Statesmen of America debates.
  • The Current, the school's art and literary magazine, was awarded First Place in the 2013 American Scholastic Press Association's national competition.[citation needed]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ History teacher Dave Burzillo named a Master Teacher for Big History Project
  2. ^ Maclaine Lehan '14 and Trevor Davock '15 Named NSCAA All-Americans http://www.rivers.org/page/News-Detail?pk=690293&fromId=164814
  3. ^ Program notes: 36th Annual Seminar on Contemporary Music for the Young, The Rivers School Conservatory, April 4–6, 2014
  4. ^ "Robotics Team Places First at State Qualifier". January 23, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]