Dalton School

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Dalton School
Dalton School logo.png
Middle & High School:
108 East 89th Street
First Program:
53 East 91st Street
Physical Education Center:
200 East 87th Street
Advancement, Business, and Communications Offices:
1065 Park Avenue 2nd Floor

TypePrivate, day, college-preparatory
MottoGo Forth Unafraid
FounderHelen Parkhurst
CEEB code333580
Head of schoolJames "Jim" Best[1]
FacultyApprox. 250
EnrollmentApprox. 1300
Color(s)Royal blue and white
MascotIvan the Tiger
AccreditationNAIS, NYSAIS
NewspaperThe Daltonian
EndowmentEstimated at $65 million
Ivy Preparatory School League
New York Interschool
Global Online Academy
Literary magazineBlue Flag
Political journalRealPolitik, The Compass
Technology journalTechFluence

The Dalton School, originally the Children's University School,[2] is a private, coeducational college preparatory school in New York City and a member of both the Ivy Preparatory School League and the New York Interschool. The school is located in four buildings within the Upper East Side of Manhattan.


The Dalton School, originally called the Children's University School, was founded by Helen Parkhurst in 1919. Parkhurst's "Dalton Plan", to which the school still adheres, reflected the Progressive Education movement of that had begun in the late nineteenth century.[1][third-party source needed]

After experimentation in her own one-room school with Maria Montessori, Helen Parkhurst visited other progressive schools in Europe including Bedales School and its founder and headmaster John Haden Badley in England. She developed what she termed the Dalton Plan, which called for teachers and students to work together toward individualized goals. The Laboratory Plan was first put into effect as an experiment in the high school of Dalton, Massachusetts, in 1916. The estate of her benefactor Josephine Porter Boardman, was also near the town of Dalton and from this beginning the Laboratory Plan and school eventually took their names.[3]:15f[third-party source needed]

In 1919, Helen Parkhurst relocated to New York City, where she opened her first school on West 74th Street. Larger facilities soon became necessary; the Lower School was moved to West 72nd Street, and the High School opened in the autumn of 1929 in the current building at 108 East 89th Street. Eleanor Roosevelt admired the work of Helen Parkhurst and played an important role in expanding the population and resources of the school by promoting a merger between the Todhunter School for girls (founded by Winifred Todhunter) and Dalton in 1939.[citation needed]

Enlarged and modified through the years, Dalton still celebrates many of the school-wide traditions begun by Helen Parkhurst, including the Candlelighting Ceremony (the last day before winter break), Greek Festival (performed by sixth graders), and Arch Day (the last day of school).[citation needed]

The Dalton Plan[edit]

91st Street "Little Dalton"

Inspired by the progressive education movement that began in the late 19th century, educational thinkers such as John Dewey, Helen Parkhurst devised what she called the Dalton Plan. Aiming to achieve a balance between each child's talents and the needs of the growing American community, Parkhurst created an educational model with three objectives: to tailor each student's program to his or her needs, interests, and abilities; to promote both independence and dependability; and to enhance the student's social skills and sense of responsibility toward others. The Dalton Plan continues to definine the school's approach to education, encompassing House, Assignment, and Lab.


Dalton School's main building for grades 4-12, nicknamed "Big Dalton"

With regard to elite college admissions per dollar of tuition, Dalton ranked 8th in a 2004 Wall Street Journal survey.[4]

Over the years, the Dalton Plan has been adopted by schools around the world, including schools in Australia,[5] Austria,[6] Belgium,[7] Chile,[citation needed] the Czech Republic,[8] England,[citation needed] Korea,[citation needed] the Netherlands,[9] and Japan.[10]

Arts and artists in residence[edit]

Dalton also offers many programs in the arts, particularly the visual arts and music, dance, and theater.[citation needed] At least two full-year arts credits are required for graduation, but many students take art for all four years;[citation needed] moreover, students are encouraged to pursue their interests outside of their academic curriculum.[citation needed]

Dalton has various artist-in-residence programs; Carmino Ravosa was Dalton's composer-in-residence for 21 years.[citation needed] Dalton's "Original Minds Scholar" program has included other artists such as sculptor Sarah Sze (2003–2004), poet Natasha Tretheway (2006-2007), and author/illustrator David Macaulay.[11][third-party source needed]

Athletics and other co-curricular activities[edit]

The Dalton School is a part of the Ivy Preparatory School League in athletics. Some teams, such as varsity football, participate in different athletic conferences. Dalton offers 23 varsity teams (including a cheerleading squad) and nine junior varsity teams in the high school athletics program. The school colors were historically gold and blue, although they have been changed to blue and white (based on common misunderstanding). The sports range from high class ones such as horseback riding, alpine skiing, and sailing, to classics such as soccer and lacrosse. The school's mascot is a tiger whose name is Ivan.

The Daltonian is Dalton's official student newspaper and is published every 2–3 weeks by the High School students. Middle and High School students also produce other publications, including the political journal Realpolitik, literary magazine Blue Flag, visual art magazine Fine Arts, photography magazine Shutterbug, and a middle school blog, the Dalton Paw. Additionally, Dalton has one of the best Model Congress teams in the nation, routinely placing first at top conferences including Princeton, Yale, and Harvard.


Dalton is known for the diversity of its staff and students.[citation needed][verification needed] As of this date,[when?] admission to Dalton was according to the following criteria. For kindergarten to third grade, admission is based on school records, ERB testing, and interview.[citation needed] For grades 4–12, admission is based on school records, writing samples, an interview, and standardized testing (e.g., the Independent School Entrance Examination and the Secondary School Admission Test).[citation needed] Candidates receive notification of acceptance, rejection, or wait list in February.[citation needed] As of early 2013, the overall acceptance rate for grades K–12 at Dalton was reported by Peterson's to be 14%.[12][needs update]

Parental anxiety created by the highly competitive admission process was the subject of press coverage from 1999-2001.[13][14][15][needs update]

Long seen as a bastion of privilege, Dalton's efforts to broaden its mandate for diversity have met with some difficulty.[citation needed] In 2010, a financial aid budget of $6.5 million supported an outreach program for socio-economic diversity at the school.[16] As of this date,[when?] students of color made up 38% of the Dalton First Program.[citation needed] In the 2008–2009 school year, the kindergarten was composed of 44% children of color.[citation needed][needs update] Articles in The New York Times and The Atlantic have described difficulties experienced by some African-American children at the school.[17][18]

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′53.6″N 73°57′18.2″W / 40.781556°N 73.955056°W / 40.781556; -73.955056