Breck School

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Breck School
Breck logo.png
Coordinates44°58′52″N 93°20′35″W / 44.98111°N 93.34306°W / 44.98111; -93.34306Coordinates: 44°58′52″N 93°20′35″W / 44.98111°N 93.34306°W / 44.98111; -93.34306
MottoPerpetually learning
Religious affiliation(s)Episcopal
Head of SchoolNatalia Rico Hernández, Ed.D.[1]
Average class size16
Student to teacher ratio10:1
Campus1 campus, suburban setting
Color(s)Blue and Gold
AthleticsIndependent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC)
NamesakeJames Lloyd Breck

Breck School is an independent college-preparatory preK–12 school in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. It was founded in 1886 and is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The school includes a Lower School consisting of grades preschool through four, a Middle School consisting of grades five through eight, and an Upper School consisting of grades nine through twelve. Breck School is accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools.


The Chapel of the Holy Spirit on the Breck School campus

Breck was established in 1886 in Wilder, Minnesota and named after Episcopal missionary the Rev. James Lloyd Breck. The school moved to 2095 Commonwealth Ave in Saint Paul under the direction of the Rev. Charles Haupt, in 1916. In 1920 it moved to 2102 Carter Ave., just a few blocks away in Saint Anthony Park. Then, in the fall of 1922 it moved a few more blocks west to Como and Hendon (now a part of the Luther Seminary). In 1938, the school became an exclusively boys' school, and military curriculum was added. This military aspect was eliminated in 1959. Girls were reintroduced in 1952 in grades one to three, and eventually throughout the school in 1967. A fire destroyed the original Chapel of the Holy Spirit at the school's River Road location in Minneapolis in 1979. In 1981, the school moved to its present location in Golden Valley at the campus of that city's former middle and high school, which were closed after a school district merger. Breck celebrated its centennial in 1986. That same year, John C. Littleford was succeeded by interim headmaster Kathryn C. Harper. Sam Salas served as headmaster from 1987 until retiring in June 2007. Edward Kim succeeded Salas as Head of School in July 2007. In January 2017, Natalia Rico Hernández was named 16th Head of School, beginning her tenure in July 2017.


Breck has enjoyed particular success in science, history, language, and the performing arts. Numerous students have gone to colleges such as Harvard University, Yale University and Stanford University. Seventeen percent of the classes of 2002–2006 were National Merit Scholars.[2]

Advanced Research programs[edit]

Breck features Advanced Research programs in its Science, History and Mathematics departments; these programs offer students the opportunity to do graduate-level work at institutions such as the University of Minnesota and present their results at national and international competitions. In the class of 2007, two Advanced Science Research students were semifinalists in the international Intel Science Talent Search competition; more students have gone to other prestigious events.[3] Advanced Science Research students also have the opportunity to meet prestigious researchers, such as Norman Borlaug, the 1970 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.[4] The new science research program has a website which has all the student research projects are accessible at their official website.

The Advanced History Research Program, the only one of its kind in Minnesota, offers talented history students the chance to conduct cultural research around the Minneapolis metro area; through this program, they gain experience writing publication-quality papers and giving seminars on their results.[5]

The Advanced Mathematics Research Program, new in 2011, combines sophisticated quantitative research with service. Students work at a nonprofit or government agency on problems that benefit society. In its first year, students are working with the City of Golden Valley on questions related to housing assessment and with a nonprofit agency that serves Iranian-Americans.


Breck School was one of the first schools in the Minneapolis area to adopt a full "one-to-one" laptop program. In the 2006-2007 school year, each student received an Apple laptop computer for use at school and home; these laptops are used on a daily basis in Breck Middle and Upper School classrooms, and to a lesser degree in fourth-grade classrooms.[6][7] Most Breck classrooms are equipped with Smart Board technology that enhances the learning environment.

Language programs[edit]

Breck School has one of the most well-established language programs in the state. Breck's language programs, including Spanish, French, and Chinese, extend from preschool to 12th grade.[8][9] The Mandarin Chinese program, the first in the state, was created by Margaret Wong; her accomplishments have received high praise from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which states that "Wong has been the most influential figure in developing and spreading Chinese language education in Minnesota."[10]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Performing Arts[edit]

Breck's theater department presents four official shows per year, as well as various student-directed performances. Students from fifth grade and up have the opportunity to participate in Breck's theatrical productions, as well as Breck's music and dance performances. Up until 2017, the theater department was run by Tom Hegg, an award-winning drama teacher and author of the well-known books A Cup of Christmas Tea and Peef. The department has produced numerous accomplished actors and theater staff including actors Wayne Wilderson, Marisa Coughlan, and comedian Erik Stolhanske, a member of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe.

Charlie Korsmo, who starred in movies such as What About Bob?, Dick Tracy, Hook, and Can't Hardly Wait, was an active member in the Performing Arts Department, and part of the 1996 Breck Class. Korsmo retired from acting while attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later went on to work for the United States Government in Missile Defense technologies, and also for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jimmy Stofer, a 2001 graduate, went on to play bass for The Fray for 2 years, and is now a member of the band Rose Hill Drive.

String Music[edit]

Breck is home to an outstanding string music department led by Claudette Laureano, co-Artistic Director of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. All orchestras, from fifth grade through twelfth grade, require an audition, private music study, and nightly practice. The Breck Chamber Players is one of the best ensembles in the state, with several recent Chamber Players continuing their music studies at the nation's top conservatories.

Visual Arts[edit]

Breck has a large Visual Arts department, including numerous studios and art staff. Notably, artist Michal Sagar teaches Upper School art at Breck, as does respected potter Jil Franke. Art at Breck begins in preschool and can extend all the way to the 12th grade; Numerous Breck students in the Middle and Upper Schools have been recognized by national art institutions for their work.

Student newspaper[edit]

Breck's high school newspaper is The Bugle. In 2004, it received 3rd Place in the Star Tribune/Minnesota State High School League Newspaper Challenge. Breck's middle school also has a literary magazine, The Stampede. This features art and papers from students in the Middle School.

Mock Trial[edit]

Breck is home to one of the top mock trial teams in Minnesota. In the state tournament, they placed fourth in 2007, second in 2009, and won in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The 2010 team went on to win the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Philadelphia, PA and remained undefeated while competing against teams from 42 states and six countries. The team continued their success in 2011, where on March 9 Breck defeated Edina for their second straight state title, earning a spot to go to Arizona to defend the national championship, where after losing 6 seniors from the national championship team, they finished as the 8th best team in the nation. On March 7, 2012, Breck became the first team in Minnesota mock trial history to win three consecutive state championships. In 2012, Breck finished as the 3rd best team in the nation. After failing to get out of regional qualifying in 2013, Breck became champion of Minnesota mock trial again in 2014.

Other programs[edit]

Breck School also has a Breck Summer Program, which begins during the first week of summer vacation.

Community involvement[edit]

2008 U.S. Senate debate[edit]

On Saturday, October 11, 2008, Breck hosted the second debate between U.S. Senate candidates Republican Norm Coleman, Democrat Al Franken, and Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley. The debate was aired locally on KARE-11 TV and nationally on C-SPAN. Several hundred local community members watched the debate live inside the Breck Cargill Theater and more than 200,000 Minnesotans watched the debate on television. Barkley won.

Wednesday service[edit]

Upper School students travel to various service sites across the metro each Wednesday. Wednesday service gives students an opportunity to serve the community and gain a new perspective on local issues. The students spend two hours of the day helping the elderly and the inner city youths of Minneapolis and the surrounding areas.


The Breck School Anderson Ice Arena is located a short distance north of campus and hosts Varsity and JV teams for both boys and girls hockey. During the off-season, it is open for non-school events.

Breck School is part of the Independent Metro Athletic Conference in the Minnesota State High School League and has won 25 state championship titles in 11 sports. Several players from the hockey and football programs have gone on to play for Division One programs. The boys hockey team won the state championship in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2010. The girls' hockey program was established in 1994; it won the Minnesota state consolation tournament in 2007, and second place in the state tournament in 2008 and 2010, and won the state championship in 2012 and 2018.

Season Sport State Championships Year(s)
Fall (B) Cross Country 0
(G) Cross Country 0
(B) Football 2 1996, 2003
(B) Soccer 1 2005
(G) Soccer 0
(G) Swimming and Diving 0
(G) Tennis 2 1996, 2013
(G) Volleyball 0
Winter (B) Alpine Skiing 0
(G) Alpine Skiing 0
(B) Basketball 0
(G) Basketball 1 2004
(B) Hockey 4 2000, 2004, 2009, 2010
(G) Hockey 2 2012, 2018
(B) Nordic Skiing 0
(G) Nordic Skiing 0
(G) Gymnastics 0
(B) Swimming and Diving - co-op with Blake School 3 2009, 2010, 2017, 2018
Spring (B) Baseball 0
(B) Golf 1 2004
(G) Golf 0
(B) Lacrosse 0
(G) Lacrosse 0
(G) Softball 0
(B) Tennis 7 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016
(B) Track & Field 0
(G) Track & Field 2 1996, 1997
Total 27


School Award Year
Lower School U.S. Department of Education "School of Excellence"[11] 1988
Middle and Upper Schools U.S. Department of Education "Blue Ribbon School"[11] 1993

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]