Berkshire School

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Berkshire School
DerkshireSchool seal greenn
Green Berkshire School Seal
Buck Valley during fall, Berkshire School
245 North Undermountain Road
Sheffield, Berkshire, Massachusetts 01257-9672
United States
Coordinates 42°6′56.88″N 73°24′50.04″W / 42.1158000°N 73.4139000°W / 42.1158000; -73.4139000Coordinates: 42°6′56.88″N 73°24′50.04″W / 42.1158000°N 73.4139000°W / 42.1158000; -73.4139000
School type Co-ed, Private, Boarding and Day school
Motto Pro Vita Non Pro Schola Discimus
("Learning — Not just for School, but for Life.")
Established January 1, 1906 (1906-01-01)
Opened 1907
Founder Seaver Burton Buck
CEEB code 221900
NCES School ID 00603723[1]
Head of School Pieter Mulder
Faculty 91
Grades 9-PG
Enrollment 400 Students; 90% Boarding (2017)
International students 33 countries (2017)
Average class size 12
Student to teacher ratio 4:1
Classes offered 144
Campus size 680 acres (2.8 km2)
Campus type Rural
Color(s)          Green and Gray
Song All Hail to Berkshire
Athletics conference New England Prep School Athletic Council, District 4
Nickname Bears
Average SAT scores 1870
Newspaper Green & Gray
Yearbook The Trail
Endowment $134 million
School fees $19.3 million
Tuition $62,200
Revenue $34.3 million

Berkshire School is a private, co-ed boarding school for grades 9 through 12 located in Sheffield, Massachusetts, USA.


1907–1943: Founding and early years[edit]

Berkshire School (for boys) was established in 1907 at the foot of Mount Everett, one of the highest mountains in Massachusetts, by Seaver Burton Buck, a Harvard graduate who had previously taught at Hackley School.[6] Buck led the school until 1943.

Seaver Buck 1930s

His educational philosophy is reported as a "Victorian disciplinarian [who] was sometimes subverted by a pixieish manner."[7] It is also reported that during this period the school "lacked the prestige of top-drawer prep schools."[7] Despite this fact, when Albert Keep became headmaster in 1943, the school instituted an Education with Wings program, which enabled students to gain a high school diploma and simultaneously prepare for World War II.

1943–1970: Rapid growth[edit]

In 1943, Delano de Windt, a 1911 graduate of the school, became headmaster. He was soon followed by John E. Godman in 1951, who increased the school's enrollment to 330 boys and expanded the faculty to 35 teachers. In 1964, an arts and science wing was added to Berkshire Hall.[8] In 1969, Berkshire also enrolled nine girls as day students in what Godman described as "an experiment" in coeducation. This led to full-scale coeducation.

1971–1987: Changes[edit]

At the beginning of the 1970s, Robert Minnerly took over as headmaster. Under his leadership, the school restructured its scholastic mission and added new programs in computer science, ethics, health, and environmental science.[9] His successors built on these changes and added new programs of their own. Under James Moore (1979 - 1987), Berkshire constructed a 35,000 square foot athletic center and renovated the gymnasium to house a modern library which today boasts 40,000 volumes.

1988–2003: Dilemmas of a new decade[edit]

In 1991, Richard Unsworth whose previous experience included being the headmaster at Northfield Mount Hermon School became headmaster.[10] During Unsworth headmastership the school introduced co-curricular programs in Chinese and outdoor education though the school's "reputation for being lax about drugs" remained an issue.[10]

Whilst Unsworth incorporated drug-awareness and counseling programs[10] after a series of drug-related incidents he resigned his post.[4] The board of trustees turned to Paul Christopher (1996 - 2002), an ethicist and previous head of philosophy at West Point, New York,[4] as the next headmaster to address the renewed public embarrassment around drugs.[4] Drug and alcohol use "declined dramatically" under Christopher.[4] In June 2002 Christopher resigned as headmaster "amidst sexual harassment allegations."[11]

A year later, the board of trustees turned to Larry Piatelli (2003), a Harvard graduate, to reverse the school's decline. The Harvard Crimson described Piatelli as a "strong leader" and noted that Piatelli "caused two administrators and two faculty members to follow him to the Berkshire school from their former positions at Albany Academy."[11]

After being headmaster for only three and a half months, Piatelli died of a heart attack while playing hockey in Albany, New York, on October 19, 2003.[11] Hawley Rogers, a Berkshire graduate, served as interim headmaster for six months.[12]

2004–present: The Berkshire resurgence[edit]

Michael J. Maher became head of school in 2004. During his tenure the school's admissions applications doubled[13] and the endowment rose to upwards of $110 million.[14] The 2011 acceptance rate was 24%.

In 2008, the school's main academic building was reopened after undergoing renovations. A year later, the Jackman L. Stewart Athletic Center was also completed. In 2011, Berkshire added a new music center and renovated its performing arts facilities.[9]

Along with these new facilities, the school instituted a weeklong pro vita program that has enabled students to take elective courses not normally offered in a regular secondary school curriculum. Under Maher's leadership, the school also created a math and science research program for talented STEM students. Since 2010, 7 students in this program have been recognized as semifinalists by the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search.[9][15]

Maher resigned abruptly on April 22, 2013.[16] He was replaced by the school's former dean of academic affairs Pieter Mulder.[17]


The school is reported as becoming 'green'.[18]

Student life[edit]

Students can choose from over a dozen clubs and activities - including Berkshire's own 237-watt radio station (91.7 WBSL), The Dome (student literary magazine), maple syrup program, debate club, Kids for Kids, and Green Key tour program

Interscholastic sports[edit]

Jackman L. Stewart Athletic Center

The school offers 33 athletics.[3]

Berkshire's athletic teams compete with boarding schools and other private schools throughout New England, including Cushing Academy, Choate Rosemary Hall, Loomis Chaffee, Suffield Academy, Kent School, Pomfret School, South Kent School, The Gunnery, Tabor Academy, Taft School, Salisbury School, Millbrook School, Deerfield Academy, Albany Academy, Canterbury School, Brunswick School, Williston Northampton School, Trinity Pawling, Hotchkiss School, Avon Old Farms, Northfield Mount Hermon, and Forman School.


Berkshire School in 1953

In a 2002 article the Boston Globe reported: "At the foot of Mount Everett, on a serene stretch of woods and fields in an isolated corner of southwestern Massachusetts, sits the Berkshire School. Drive along Undermountain Road in Sheffield, turn up a maple-lined lane and over a little rocky bridge, and there it is: the heart of what must be one of the prettiest campuses in Massachusetts, or anywhere."[4][10]

The school's buildings are reported as "tastefully proportioned ivy-covered buildings [that] flank manicured lawns. Rustic gray buildings tucked behind leafy copses house almost all of the 64 faculty members. Acres of pristine forest laced with trails rise behind the school."[4][10]

Up the mountain is Guilder Pond, the highest fresh water pond in the state.[21]

Campus facilities[edit]

Academic facilities[edit]

Bellas/Dixon Math and Science Center
  • The Bellas/Dixon Math and Science Center is the school's 48,000-square-foot dedicated in 2012 housing math, science classroom/laboratories, and a teaching auditorium.[22]
  • The Fine Arts Center opened 2014 in Berkshire Hall at 14,700-square-foot.[23]
  • The Dixon Observatory which opened in 2000, houses state-of-the-art equipment that gives students and teachers the opportunity to make detailed observations of both solar system bodies as well as deep space objects. In addition, the tracking mount and CCD camera allows students to conduct advanced astro-imaging of faint galaxies and nebulae.[24][25][26]

Governing structure[edit]

In the 1980s the school's board of trustees numbered 30.[27]

Notable alumni[edit]

Artists, poets, and writers[edit]








  1. ^ "Search for Private Schools – School Detail for Berkshire School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ Rower's Almanac 2004 -2005. The Rowers Almanac Inc. 15 October 2004. p. 466. ISBN 978-0-9651327-5-6. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Peterson's (1 July 2011). Master the SSAT/ISEE: High School Entrance Exam Basics: Part I of VII. Peterson's. pp. 683–. ISBN 978-0-7689-3496-0. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Gaines, Judith (13 January 2002). "A Test of Character". Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Kira L. Gould (31 July 2005). Fox & Fowle Architects: Designing for the Built Realm. Images Publishing. pp. 37–40. ISBN 978-1-920744-00-7. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Martin Duberman (4 February 2009). The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-0-307-54967-9. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Martin Duberman (4 February 2009). The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-307-54967-9. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Bunting & Lyon, Incorporated; Bunting and Lyon (1 May 1980). Bunting and Lyon's Guide to Private Schools. Bunting & Lyon, Incorporated. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-913094-03-7. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Berkshire School: History & Traditions Archived June 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b c d e Wren, Christopher S. (26 February 1996). "Drug Incident Shakes a School Campus". New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Oussayef, Nadia L. (23 October 2003). "Harvard Headmaster, Hockey Player Dies at 51". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Mackenzie, Jock (5 March 2005). "From Yale to Flagler County Rogers' route from professor to golfer leads to Palm Coast". News-Journal (Daytona Beach, Florida). 
  13. ^ Boughton, Kathryn (4 June 2010). "Berkshire School's Mike Maher". The Litchfield County Times. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Berkshire School Profile | Sheffield, Massachusetts (MA)
  15. ^
  16. ^ Head of Berkshire School in Sheffield resigns - Berkshire Eagle Online
  17. ^ Berkshire School: About Berkshire
  18. ^ Shirley Sagawa (9 April 2010). The American Way to Change: How National Service and Volunteers Are Transforming America. John Wiley and Sons. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-470-61865-3. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Kush, Bronislaus (19 March 2008). "Brownfields grant prepares city for better days". Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA). 
  20. ^ Lahr, Ellen G. (28 February 2008). "Berkshire County schools add eco-learning to the curriculum". The Berkshire Eagle. 
  21. ^ JoAnna Downey; Christian J. Lau. The Dog Lover's Companion to New England: The Inside Scoop on Where to Take Your Dog. Avalon Travel. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-56691-846-6. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  22. ^ Smith, Jenn (October 6, 2012). "Berkshire School opens $20M science center". Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Gentile, Derek (May 8, 2014). "Berkshire School's Fine Arts Center to formally open Friday". Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "Berkshire School Academic Facilities - Dixon Observatory". Berkshire School. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  25. ^ Smith, Jenn (March 18, 2013). "Berkshire School senior making mark with independent study in astronomy". Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Independent Study News - Advanced Astro-Imaging". Berkshire School. April 17, 2012. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  27. ^ Bunting & Lyon, Incorporated; Bunting and Lyon (1 January 1986). Private independent schools. Bunting & Lyon, Incorporated. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-913094-39-6. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "John H. "Hugh" MacMillan III". Legacy. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  29. ^ Bailer, Darice (10 September 2000). "The All-State Olympic Team". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Kevan Miller and the Bruins | September 29, 2013
  32. ^

External links[edit]