St. Paul's School (New Hampshire)

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This article is about St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. For other schools with the same name, see St Paul's School (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 43°11′41″N 71°34′35″W / 43.19472°N 71.57639°W / 43.19472; -71.57639

St. Paul's School
Seal of St. Paul's
Ea discamus in terris quorum scientia perseveret in coelis
(Let us learn those things on Earth the knowledge of which continues in Heaven)
Concord, NH
United States
Type Private, Boarding
Religious affiliation(s) Episcopal
Established 1856
Rector Michael Gifford Hirschfeld ’85
Faculty 114 total
Enrollment 548 boarding
Average class size 11 students
Student to teacher ratio 5:1
Campus Rural, 2000 acres (8 km²)
Color(s) Red & White
Athletics 17 interscholastic, 8 club
Athletics conference ISL
Mascot Pelican
Average SAT scores (2006) 687 verbal
693 math
669 writing
Average ACT scores (2006) not applicable
Endowment $552 million[1]

St. Paul's School is a highly selective college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire, affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The school is one of only six remaining 100% residential boarding schools in the U.S.[citation needed] The 2,000-acre (8 km2) New Hampshire campus currently serves 533 students, who come from all over the United States and the world.

St. Paul's is a member of the Eight Schools Association.[2] It is also a member of the Independent School League, the oldest independent school athletic association in the United States.


In 1856, Harvard-educated Boston Brahmin and physician George Cheyne Shattuck turned his country home in New Hampshire into a school for boys which included his two sons. Shattuck wanted his boys educated in the austere but bucolic countryside. A newly appointed board of trustees chose Henry Coit, a 24-year old clergyman, to preside over the school for its first 39 years.[3]

Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, the school expanded. In 1884, it built the first squash courts in America. During the infancy of ice hockey in the United States, the school established itself as a powerhouse that often played and beat collegiate teams at Harvard and Yale.[4] Its Lower School Pond once held nine hockey rinks.

In 1910, Samuel Drury took over as rector. Drury, who had served as a missionary in the Philippines, found St. Paul’s in almost all aspects–student body, faculty, and curriculum–severely lacking the serious commitment to academic pursuits and moral upstandingness. Accordingly, he presided over, among other things, the hiring of better teachers, the tightening of academic standards, and the dissolution of secret societies and their replacement with a student council. Drury also presided over the school throughout the 1920s and 1930s during what August Hecksher called the school's "Augustan era".[5]

Thirty years later, the 1960s ushered in a turbulent period for St. Paul's. In 1968, students wrote an acerbic manifesto describing the school administration as an oppressive regime. As a result of this manifesto, seated meals were reduced from three times a day to four times a week, courses were shortened to be terms (rather than years) long, Chapel was reduced to four times a week, and the school's grading system was changed to eliminate + and – grades and given its current High Honors, Honors, High Pass, Pass, and Unsatisfactory labels instead of A-F.[6] By the end of the sixties, St. Paul's had begun to admit sizable numbers of minorities in every class, had secularized its previously strict religious schedule considerably, expanded its course offerings, and was poised to begin coeducation. It admitted girls for the first time in 1971.[7]

A new library, designed by Robert A. M. Stern and Carroll Cline,[8] opened in 1991; a $24 million, 95,000 sq ft gym[9][10] opened in 2004. The school celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2006. The school's new $50 million Science and Math building (Lindsay Center) opened in fall 2011.[11]


The Sheldon admissions building, formerly the school's library, peeks out from late spring foliage.

The school's rural 2,000-acre (8 km2) campus is familiarly known as "Millville", after a now-abandoned mill whose relic still stands in the woods near the Lower School Pond. The overwhelming majority of the land comprises wild and wooded areas. The campus itself includes four ponds and the upper third of the Turkey River.

There are 18 dorms, nine boys' and nine girls', which each house between 20 and 40 students and are vertically integrated: every dorm has members of all four forms. The architecture of the dormitories varies from the Collegiate Gothic style of the "Quad" dorms (built in 1927)[12] to the spare, modern style of the Kittredge building (built in the early seventies).[13]

Classes are held in five buildings: language and humanities classes meet in the Schoolhouse; math and science classes in the Lindsay Family Center for Mathematics and Science; visual arts in Hargate; music and ballet classes in the Oates Performing Arts Center; and theater classes, in the New Space black box theater. The Schoolhouse, Moore and the Lindsay Center form a quadrangle, along with Memorial Hall, the 600-seat theater used for all school gatherings not suited to the chapel space.

The Ohrstrom library houses some 75,000 books[14] and overlooks the Lower School Pond. Perhaps the focal point of the campus is the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul, constructed in the late 19th century, also known as the New Chapel.

Boys' dormitories Girls' dormitories
Armour Brewster
Coit North Coit Center
Drury Coit Wing
Foster Conover/20
Kitt I Ford
Manville Kehaya
Nash Kitt II
Simpson Kitt III
Warren Middle

Daily life[edit]

Students throw a "disc" (frisbee) around on the Chapel lawn on a warm spring day.

St. Paul's operates on a six-day school week, Monday through Saturday. Wednesdays and Saturdays, however, are half-days, with athletic games or practices in the afternoons. The school has four grades, known at St. Paul's as "forms": "Third Form", which corresponds to ninth grade, up through "Sixth Form", which corresponds to twelfth grade.

For Paulies, as St. Paul's students are colloquially known, the four full days each week begin with Chapel. The mandatory interfaith half-hour meeting involves a reading, speech or music presentation, and community-wide announcements.

St. Paul's conducts its Humanities classes using the Harkness method, which encourages discussion between students and the teacher, and between students.[15] The average class size according to the School's website is 10–12 students.

Rather than having physical education classes, St. Paul's requires all its students to play sports. These sports range from the internationally competing crew team to intramural hockey.

Three Tuesdays a week during the Fall and Winter terms and every Tuesday and Thursday during the Spring term, students attend seated meal, at which formal attire is required. Seven students and a faculty member are randomly assigned to each table for a family-style dinner, and the table is excused only after everyone has eaten. In the winter, students have dinner with their advisors and advisee groups (a group of 5-6 students are assigned a faculty member to be their advisor), either at the advisors home or at the Upper Dining Hall. The school supplies money for one meal in town.

In the evenings, meetings are held for clubs and activities, music ensembles like the Chorus and Band, theater rehearsals, a cappella groups (the all-male Testostertones, the all-female Mad Hatters, and the co-ed Deli Line), the Debate Team, and other extracurriculars.


The Alumni Parade (see below) from all the way in the back

St. Paul's is home to many long-standing traditions. Near the start of the school year, the Rector announces a surprise holiday – Cricket Holiday – in morning Chapel. Classes are canceled for the day and the Rector leads new students and faculty on a tour of the woods surrounding the School. Tuesdays are generally preferred for the holiday by the Rector as students that leave the grounds are forced to return by the start time of Seated Meal. The tradition dates back to the first Rector, Henry Augustus Coit, who preferred cricket over baseball as a "more refined sport".

Academic Year Date of Cricket Holiday
2012-13 Monday, October 1st
2013-14 Tuesday, October 1st
2014-15 Tuesday, September 30th

During February, the Missionary Society (the school's community service organization) plans and announces Mish Holiday. The holiday is announced the day before, the evening is given over to a theme dance, and the next day is a day off from school. The Missionary Society has used extravagant stunts to announce the holiday, including, in recent years, fireworks over the Lower School Pond and a plane trailing a "Happy Mish!" banner.

Students at St. Paul's are assigned to one of three "clubs" for their time at St. Paul's—"Isthmian," "Delphian" or "Old Hundred". Those who participate in "club sports" (intramural) play for their club. Students who participate in crew are also are assigned to one of two "Boat Clubs"—"Halcyon" or "Shattuck". Descendants of graduates are assigned to the same clubs as their relatives.

The annual Inter-House Inter-Club Race, known among students as the "Dorm Run" but now officially named the "Charles B. Morgan Run", takes place late in Fall Term, usually in early to mid-November. Students are invited to earn points for their dorm and club by running in a 2-mile (3.2 km) cross country race. The current student record is 9:48, set in 2006 by Peter Harrison '07.[16]

During a weekend in the Fall Term, the Student Council holds Fall Ball, a dinner/dance known among students as the Cocktails. It used to be each dorm's prefects who would set their new students up with seniors of the opposite sex from other dorms. Now it is mostly that each big sister/big brother is set up with another big sister/big brother of the opposite sex and their respective little sister and little brother go together. On the same night, there is a talent show that focuses on fifth formers (eleventh graders). Fifth former "MCs" are elected by their form to host the show.

During the Winter Term, the school holds the annual Fiske Cup Competition. Each participating dorm produces a student-directed and performed play. Most plays are held in dorm common rooms.

In the Spring, the school holds a school-wide public speaking contest called the Hugh Camp Cup. The finalists' speeches are delivered before the entire school, and the student body votes on a winner, whose name is engraved on the prize. Alumnus John Kerry achieved this distinction during his sixth form year.[17]

On the last night of the term, students gather in the Chapel at 9 p.m. for the Last Night service. At the Last Night service for Spring Term, the last night of school before summer vacation, the faculty lines up outside the Chapel after the service and students shake hands with every member as they exit. On the Sixth Formers' last night on campus, they gather as a class in the Old Chapel. At the conclusion of the service, the rest of the student body waits outside to congratulate them and say their goodbyes.

During Anniversary Weekend, held on the first weekend of June, alumni converge on the school for get-togethers, reunions, and the annual Alumni Parade. Each form (class) marches down Chapel Road in chronological order, starting with the oldest living alumni. In the back of this long column is the about-to-graduate Sixth Form.

St. Paul's students once had a close relationship with jam bands like the Grateful Dead. Some of the lingo peculiar to St. Paul's originated as the "Pyramid Dialect" among St. Paul's students and alumni who followed the Grateful Dead's 1978 shows in Egypt.[18] Phish played in the Upper Dining Hall on May 19, 1990.[19]


Malcolm Gordon coached ice hockey at the school for 29 years, and noted World War I fighter pilot Hobey Baker played under him. The first squash courts in the US were built at St. Paul’s in 1884.[20][21]

St. Paul's was an early cradle for ice hockey in America.[22] By some accounts, the first hockey game in the United States was played on the ponds at St. Paul's on November 17, 1883.[17][23][24][25] The school was an established leader in the sport in the early twentieth century, playing and beating collegiate teams, including Harvard[26] and Princeton.[27]

St. Paul's crew won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup in the Henley Royal Regatta in 1980, 1994[28] and again in 2004.[29]

The athletic directors of St. Paul's and the other members of the Eight Schools Association compose the Eight Schools Athletic Council, which organizes sports events and tournaments among ESA schools.[30] St. Paul's is also a member of the Independent School League.

Advanced Studies Program[edit]

The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul (also known as the New Chapel)

St. Paul's School founded the summer Advanced Studies Program in 1958 to provide juniors from public and parochial New Hampshire high schools with challenging educational opportunities. The students live and study at the St. Paul's campus for five and a half weeks and are immersed in their subject of choice. Recent offerings have included astronomy and Shakespeare. In addition to the course load, students choose a daily extracurricular activity or sport to participate in four afternoons per week. The program had a 47% admission rate in 2010. In 2009, 273 students from 84 high schools participated in the Advanced Studies Program.[31] According to its website, "The Advanced Studies Program is committed to educating the whole person and preparing students to make contributions to a changing and challenging world. ASP defines education as all of the structured experiences in which students participate: course work, athletics, extracurricular activities, and residential life. These opportunities involve valuable interaction between faculty, interns, house advisers, and students."[32]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of October 2, 2014
  2. ^ Taylor Smith, "History of the Association," The Phillipian (Phillips Academy), February 14, 2008
  3. ^ Hecksher, August. A Brief History of St. Paul's: 1856–1996. Concord, New Hampshire: The Board of Trustees of St. Paul's School, © 1996.
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ SPS Sesquicentennial Exhibit
  7. ^ Hecksher, August. A Brief History of St. Paul's: 1856–1996. Concord, New Hampshire: The Board of Trustees of St. Paul's School, © 1996.
  8. ^ New York Times: "Carol Cline, 72; Added Light to Architecture", 27 Feb 2000
  9. ^
  10. ^ New York Times: "Turmoil Grips Elite School Over Money and Leaders", 21 Nov 2004
  11. ^
  12. ^ Stern, Robert A.M. 'The Architecture of St. Paul's School and the Design of the Ohrstrom Library'
  13. ^ Ibid.
  14. ^ 'Ohrstrom Library in a nutshell' from the library's website
  15. ^ "The Harkness Table: Schools". Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  16. ^ SPS Today: 'School Pride Shows in Annual Club/House Race', 15 Nov 2007
  17. ^ a b New York Times: 'Prep School Peers Found Kerry Talented, Ambitious and Apart', 16 May 2004
  18. ^ Shenk, D. and Silberman, S. Skeleton Key. Main Street Books, 1994
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ US Squash's history of the game
  21. ^ James Zug: 'Barking Elbows: The First Squash Courts in America'
  22. ^ New York Times: 'A Skating Rink/Boxing Ring, And a Wild and Crazy Facade', 6 Feb 2005
  23. ^ New York Times: 'Concord, N.H., Revisiting a Pond Hockey Legacy', 2 January 2011
  24. ^ SPS Today: 'NH Hockey Legends Celebrates School's Role in Sport's History', 29 Mar 2006
  25. ^ Concord Insider: 'Visit "the cradle of American hockey"', 11 Dec 2007
  26. ^ New York Times: 'St. Paul's Beats Harvard at Hockey', 12 Feb 1908
  27. ^ New York Times: 'SCHOOLBOY SEVEN OUTPLAYS NASSAUS; St. Paul's Hockey Team Scores Victory by 9 to 1 at St. Nicholas Rink', 21 December 1917
  28. ^ New York Times: '1994 THE YEAR IN REVIEW; From Archery to Paddleball to Yachting, Winners All', 1 Jan 1995
  29. ^ Henley Royal Regatta results
  30. ^, dated May 2, 2010;, dated May 3, 2009;, dated April 11, 2007
  31. ^ "Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul's School". St. Paul's School. Retrieved March 21, 2011. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ Noel F. Busch (October 4, 1943). "Ambassador Biddle: As multiple envoy to governments-in-exile, he is foremost U.S. expert on postwar plans and problems of Europe's courageous little nations". Life magazine. pp. 106–114, 117–120. Retrieved March 21, 2011. 
  34. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Khan, Shamus Rahman. Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul's School (Princeton University Press; 2011) 264 pages

External links[edit]