Sewickley Academy

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Sewickley Academy
Sewickley Academy Crest.jpg
Amici, Honor, et Virtus
Friendship, Honor, and Achievement
315 Academy Avenue
Sewickley, PA 15143 Coordinates: 40°32′38″N 80°11′27″W / 40.54389°N 80.19083°W / 40.54389; -80.19083
Type independent, secular, coeducational preparatory school
Established 1838
Headmaster Kolia John O'Connor[1]
Head of school

Mark Hansen (Lower School)
Jeff Zemsky (Middle School)

Jonathan Cassie (Senior School)
Dean Ken Goleski (Senior School)
Evan Kurtz (Middle School)
Grades PK-12
Enrollment 770[2]
Color(s)      Red
Athletics conference PIAA, WPIAL, Midwest Prep Hockey League
Mascot Panther
Endowment $40 million[3]
Tuition $14,625 Pre-Kindergarten
$15,565 Kindergarten
$19,850 1st-5th
$23,110 6th-8th
$24,655 9th-12th[4]
Affiliations National Association of Independent Schools

Sewickley Academy is a private coeducational college preparatory day school located in Edgeworth, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Located approximately 12 miles (20 km) north of Pittsburgh, Sewickley Academy is the oldest independent school in the Pittsburgh area dating back to 1838. The school began as a boys only school, which struggled to survive through the American Civil War years, and was closed for a short time while many students fought in the war, both for the Union and for the Confederacy. The school reopened in the 1870s as a school for boys and girls. Sewickley Academy would close for a short while as a result of the departure of their headmaster. When the school was reopened, it was named after the headmaster Miss Maude Munson. In 1925, Miss Munson's school and the nearby Miss Dickinson's school combined to form a new Sewickley Academy. The 1960s brought change as the Academy introduced a Senior School to meet the demands of local families. The Academy remained mostly a community school until the 1980s when an emphasis was put on increasing diversity, which has resulted in a student body from more than 50 school districts in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia.

Currently, Sewickley Academy enrolls approximately 900 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The Sewickley Academy Senior School enrolls approximately 300 students each year, with the majority of new students entering in the freshman year.

Sewickley Academy provides academic, athletic, and art programs, along with extracurricular activities.


Sewickley Academy has all three schools located in a single location in Edgeworth. The school comprises 8 different buildings on a 16-acre (6.5 ha) campus with an additional 14 acres 3 minutes away with extra athletic fields and tennis courts.[5]

  • Sewickley Academy: 315 Academy Avenue Sewickley, PA 15143; Phone:412-741-2230
  • Athletic Fields: 624 Beaver St Sewickley, PA 15143 Phone:412-741-2230

The Campus consists of nine science labs, Planetarium and telescope, two greenhouses, darkroom, a media center, two libraries with a total of 33,600 volumes, and two student publishing centers.

Sewickley Academy Campus


In 1838, John Champ and William Nevin opened a school for boys in Sewickley Bottoms¸ PA. They used local patron Squire John Way’s brick home as the first official school building. Despite heavy marketing, the school could not stay afloat financially, and closed in 1841. The Reverend Joseph Travelli re-opened the Academy in 1843 and classes were held in the Fife House, formerly located on the corner of Grove and Grimes Streets in Sewickley. 1860 brought the outbreak of the Civil War and many of the Academy's students were drawn into the conflict. The Reverend Joseph Travelli's son was killed in action and the school was ultimately closed. After the conclusion of the Civil War, community members rallied together to reopen the school. Its headquarters at that time were in the old Presbyterian Church in Edgeworth, Pennsylvania.

Advertisement for School in 1860

In 1892 after a series of different iterations of the Academy, Sewickley education is handed over to two educators, Miss Munson and Miss Dickinson. Miss Munson's school primarily served male students while Miss Dickinson's classes were all female. There was a potent rivalry between these two institutions.

By the mid-1920s, both Miss Munson and Miss Dickinson were nearing their retirements and concerned about the future of their schools. Working with the community, they consolidated their separate schools to form the fifth and current Sewickley Academy in 1925. The Academy opened its doors on the cusp of the Great Depression and the school was not immune to the national financial crisis. In 1933, Alexander C. Tener, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Sewickley Academy at that time, wrote to all of the trustees asking each to underwrite $300 of the operating deficit for that year, so they could close the books and keep the school open. During WWII, Sewickley Academy once again falls into deficit. SA alumni fight hard in the war and contribute to the war effort back at home. The Academy's trustees also pitch in, once again reaching into their own pockets to curb the school's deficit. In 1944, continued concern from the community prompts a reorganization of the Academy. With an entirely new board of trustees with expanded responsibilities, the school began to become the academic and social powerhouse standing it continues to carry today.

In 1963, the Senior School was built at Sewickley Academy and in 1966, SA graduated its first 12th grade class. In January 1970, a fire of unknown origin ravaged Sewickley Academy. An outpouring of community support ensured that much of the Academy's belongings were saved and the school would be rebuilt.

Campus fire of 1970

During the 1980s period, the Academy experienced a period of great expansion. The campus grew physically and teachers began to incorporate new technologies into their curriculums. This culminated with the building the Oliver Science Center on campus.

Sewickley Academy in 1986

The 1990s were years of strategic planning, campus expansion and increased diversity. The Academy began to shift from a community school built on strong traditions and a proud history to what many considered the "school of choice" in the greater Pittsburgh area. To accommodate growth in the student population, Headmaster Ham Clark and the Board of Trustees implemented a new Master Plan for campus expansion that included many new academic spaces on campus.

In 1993, as a means of contributing to the Pittsburgh community, Sewickley Academy established its Summerbridge Pittsburgh program, a six-week, tuition-free academic enrichment program for middle and high school students facing limited opportunities. The 1997 boys' basketball team won the PIAA Championship, which was the Academy's first-ever state championship in any sport.

In 2004, a strategic plan was developed that included input from 700 members of the Academy community. Centered on these strategic goals, the PICTURE THIS Campaign was launched in 2007 as the most ambitious fundraising effort in school history. The campaign added $15 million to the school's endowment - funding many innovative projects that enhanced the educational experience for all students. [6]

In 2013 Sewickley celebrated its 175 year anniversary.[7]


Sewickley Academy Lower and Middle School operates on a trimester system, dividing the year into three thirteen to fourteen-week terms. Classes begin each year before Labor Day in late August and finishes with Commencement exercises in early June. Second Term begins in late November, and Third Term begins in early April. At the Senior School the school year is broken into semester system, regular classes begin each day at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:10 p.m., punctuated by a late-morning assembly period. The academic day is divided into eight periods filled with at least five classes, a lunch period, and intermittent free periods. Athletic practices follow the school day from 3:45 p.m. to late afternoon.

Sewickley uses the student's GPA and effort grades each term and at the end of the year to award academic Year and Term Honors, ranging from "Honors" (B+ average) to "Highest Honors" (A average), as well as other school and departmental prizes. Established in 1913, Sewickley Academy's chapter of the Cum Laude Society elects members from the top fifth of the graduating class based on academic performance in the junior year and in the first two terms of the senior year.[5]

The Average class size is 15 students bringing the Student to teacher ratio to approximately 7:1. Sewickley teachers boasts 57% with advanced degrees All faculty and staff participate in annual professional development mandated by the school.

The SAT average for the Classes of 2010-2013 is 1918 on the 2400 scale. 418 points above the national SAT average.[8]

Linsly Outdoor Center[edit]

All freshmen participate in a two-day residential program at the Linsly Outdoor Center in Raccoon Creek State Park. The outdoor center is a division of the Linsly School. Activities include a confidence course, group problem-solving and initiatives, backpacking, and environmental education. The purpose is to integrate the class into a cohesive, cooperative whole, while strengthening the individual student's self-esteem and self-confidence.

Academic and Personal Counseling[edit]

The Senior School campus offers college, academic, and personal counseling through a variety of resources. In the second semester of Grade 11, each student enrolls in a weekly College Seminar class and begins individual college counseling sessions with his/her college counselor. Topics and activities of the College Seminar class include taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, creating a college list, scheduling campus tours and interviews, creating a resume, attending the Pittsburgh College Fair, writing the college essay, SAT/ACT testing, athletic recruiting, and financial planning for college. Every Senior is assigned a personal college counselor to navigate the college applications process. College counselors help students write applications and choose between offers of admission through regular meetings. Every student graduating from Sewickley proceeds to study at a four-year college or university.[9] 92% of seniors were admitted to one of their top-choice colleges or universities. More than $4.1 million in merit scholarships was offered to the Class of 2013 In the last 4 years, over 50% of Academy graduates have been recognized as an AP Scholar by the College Board.[9] Academic and personal counseling is offered at the Middle School. Students are assigned an advisor and meet in homerooms regularly, as well as in weekly all-school assemblies. Each term a conference with the student, parent(s) and advisor is held to discuss the student's progress, achievements and challenges.

Financial aid[edit]

A strong financial aid program supports Sewickley Academy's commitment to diversity within the student body. Approximately 20% of students receive tuition assistance. the financial budget for the 2013-2014 school year was $1.6 million.[10]>

Grants are awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need. Financial aid is available to students in PK through Grade 12; however, aid is primarily available to families of students enrolled in Grades 6-12. Once a financial aid commitment is made to a family, continuing assistance can be anticipated as long as financial need continues to be demonstrated.

The financial aid program at Sewickley Academy is need-based. When the family of an accepted student demonstrates financial need, the school makes every effort to help offset the cost of a Sewickley Academy education according to that family's particular need. Aid decisions are guided by financial data submitted to Financial Aid for School Tuition (FAST) by Independent School Management (ISM), and by review of the application data by Sewickley Academy's Financial Aid Committee.

There are no merit-based scholarships available at Sewickley Academy. All aid is need-based.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Student-run clubs at Sewickley exist as collaborations between a group of students and a sponsoring faculty member. Numerous language clubs exist both in collaboration with language programs offered by the Languages Department, such as the German, Spanish, and French clubs, and for languages not taught at Sewickley, such as the Italian Club. Nationality clubs, such as the Jewish Student Club and 3AC (African American Awareness), celebrate various global cultures and often present performances during the Academy's annual Annual International Dinner and Performance.[11] There are also many established service and philanthropic clubs, such as Service Learning and Meals on Wheels. There are also religious clubs, activist clubs, academic competition teams, student government organizations, performance groups, departmental programs such as the peer2peer, and publications.[12]


Clubs in the Senior School at Sewickley Academy are student-generated with a faculty advisor. The interests of the student body drive the range of clubs each year and include activist, cultural, awareness, special interest, and leadership clubs. Some examples are the Indian-Awareness Club, Students for Global Progress, Robotics, and Student Council. Clubs sponsor special events for fundraising such as bake sales, game nights, and dances. Clubs can meet before school, after school, during a rotation period, or an activity slot. All clubs must write a goal statement for each year and are reviewed annually for productivity.

The Guild[edit]

The Guild's mission is to encourage students in the pursuit of knowledge and original thought. Students in Grades 10, 11, and 12 are eligible to submit research papers to the Guild. The thesis of the paper should be original in the sense that it brings a fresh and new perspective to the subject matter. Students are required to work under a specific faculty mentor throughout the research paper process. Guidelines for writing a Guild Paper are distributed to students when interest and intent are determined. Final approval of all research papers rests with the Guild. Successful students are inducted into the Guild in a formal ceremony and celebration, attended by other Guild members, their faculty mentors, family, and friends. Guild papers are bound and retained in a special archive room in the Hansen Library.


Paideia is a unique educational program that allows students and faculty to discuss in a roundtable setting some topic of global interest. The entire Senior School first views a movie or reads a book that provides the setting for the discussions that will follow. Although students chair the discussion groups, all members of the community - including administration - are encouraged to participate. A full morning in the fall is devoted to this program.

Student Ambassador Program[edit]

Each year, the Office of Admission selects nearly 100 Senior School students as well as a number of Grade 5 students to serve as Student Ambassadors. Students are nominated by their teachers, Division Heads, or the Admission Office. Ambassadors are responsible for prospective family tours during the school day as well as during All School and Lower School Open Houses. Occasionally, Ambassadors accompany the Director of Admission to community outreach events where they speak about their experiences at Sewickley Academy.

Student Council[edit]

The Senior School Student Council is an elected body of students chosen by their peers. The Student Council is meant to encourage a spirit of cooperation among students, faculty, and administrators, to offer a forum for students' opinions, and to foster student involvement in school activities. It is a place where students work with their peers and their faculty sponsors to enhance of quality of life in the Senior School.The Student Council works on food drives as well as fundraising. It also sponsors activities such as Veterans' Day, the opening day picnic, and Bizarre and Extreme Day at Halloween. Student Council meetings are held on Thursday mornings and meeting minutes on posted on the Student Council bulletin board in the Commons.

Arts, Theater, and Music[edit]

Academy students are encouraged to explore their creativity through participation in visual arts, music, dance, and theatre. Intended to educate both those who participate on stage and those who are in the audience, a variety of performance opportunities during the year give student artists an added and valuable dimension to their studies through the Academy's Fine Arts program. The fine arts program can be broken down into four disciplines: Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Theatre and Drama.

Fine arts programs are supported by visual and performing art studios, music practice rooms, a black-box theater with seating for approximately 130, Rea Auditorium with 670 seats, and the Campbell Art Gallery.[13]

Sewickley Series[edit]

The Sewickley Series brings authors, speakers, performers, and musicians to Sewickley Academy for the educational benefit and enjoyment of the community. The Series provides artistic and intellectual enrichment, creates a forum for diverse opinions on timely topics, and offers inspiring performances to engage members of the local and school community. [14]


The Academy's campus newspaper, the 7th pillar is written and produced by an editorial staff of Senior School students and releases 14 issues each academic year. It contains campus news, commentary, political opinion, and photographs. The kaleidoscope, the Sewickley Academy yearbook, has been published annually since the time of the school's founding by a committee of student editors. Ephemera, the school's literary magazine, publishes student-written prose and poetry at the end of each academic year. Inkstains, the middle school arts magazine, operates in a similar manner.


The Academy's Athletic Department mandates athletic participation for every student each term as a graduation requirement. More than 80 percent of students in the Middle and Senior Schools participate on at least one athletic team each year, and many students play multiple sports. Owing to the Academy's extensive athletic facilities, the Athletic Department offers a variety of options including intramural sports each term.[15] The School's facilities contain two full size gymnasiums, baseball diamond, softball diamond, 3 full size fields used for soccer and lacrosse, two fitness facilities, squash and tennis courts, and an outdoor track.[16]

Interscholastic sports[edit]






Since 1924 the Academy has been a member of the WPIAL, which contains hundreds of other public and private secondary schools in western Pennsylvania and serves as District 7 of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), a state-level athletic governing body. Although the majority of teams now compete at the varsity level in the WPIAL and PIAA, a minority of programs maintain prep-level affiliations in smaller sport-specific Prep Leagues consisting of other regional independent schools. The Ice Hockey team is a member of the Midwest Prep Hockey League, and also was a former member of the PIHL. The boys lacrosse team participates, in addition to the WPIAL, in the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Association. The Bowling Team participates in the Western Pa Interscholastic Bowling League. Sewickley also boasts the most successful tennis program in western Pennsylvania with numerous sectionals and WPIAL crowns.


Championships and Awards[edit]

MSA Sports Cup

  • Champion: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
  • Runner-up: 2008, 2013

Trib Total Media Cup:

  • Champion: 2013, 2014

WPIAL Team Championships (44 titles, 10 sports)

  • Boys Basketball: 2004, 2009, 2010
  • Boys Cross Country: 2014
  • Girls Field Hockey: 2001
  • Girls Golf: 2014
  • Boys Golf: 2014
  • Girls Soccer: 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Boys Soccer: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2013
  • Boys Tennis: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Girls Tennis: 2008, 2009, 2011
  • Boys Lacrosse :2010

PIAA Team Championships ( 8 titles, 5 sports)

  • Boys Soccer: 1997, 2007, 2013
  • Girls Soccer: 2003
  • Boys Basketball: 1997, 2010
  • Boys Tennis: 2006
  • Girls Tennis: 2011

PIAA Runner Up

  • Boys Cross Country: 2014
  • Boys Golf: 2014
  • Boys Soccer: 1997, 2007, 2013
  • Boys Basketball: 2004
  • Boys Tennis: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2014
  • Girls Soccer: 1998, 2002, 2010

MSLA Champions

  • Boys Lacrosse: 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1991
  • Girls Lacrosse: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Administration". Sewickley Academy. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "About Us". Sewickley Academy website. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  3. ^ "Charitable Organization: Sewickley Academy". Open Endowment. 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Tuition & Fees". sewickley Academy. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Sewickley Academy". Private School Search. Retrieved May 13, 2012. 
  6. ^ Retrieved 2014-02-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Retrieved 2014-02-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Retrieved 2014-02-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ a b Retrieved 2014-02-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Retrieved 2014-02-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Sewickley Academy. "Student Clubs". Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Student Clubs". Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Student Clubs". Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Student Clubs". Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  15. ^ Retrieved 2012-12-16.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "Prospective Athletes". Retrieved 2009-01-0.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ "Distinguished Alumni". Sewickley Academy Website. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 
  18. ^ "Astronaut Bio:Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke". NASA Johnson Space Center Website. March 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 

External links[edit]