Garrison Forest School

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Garrison Forest School
300 Garrison Forest Road


United States
Coordinates39°24′43″N 76°45′56″W / 39.41194°N 76.76556°W / 39.41194; -76.76556Coordinates: 39°24′43″N 76°45′56″W / 39.41194°N 76.76556°W / 39.41194; -76.76556
MottoEsse Quam Videri
(To Be Rather Than To Seem)
Head of schoolChristopher A. Hughes
Color(s)Light Blue and Dark Blue
MascotGrizzly Bear
Team nameGarrison Grizzlies
AccreditationMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Association of Independent Maryland Schools (A.I.M.S.)
TuitionGFS Tuition and Fees
FounderMary Moncrieffe Livingston

Garrison Forest School (GFS) is a college preparatory school, in Owings Mills, Maryland, near Baltimore, with a nationally distinctive educational model. The school offers a day school for girls, kindergarten through grade 12, as well as a coed program from ages two through Pre-K. The national and international residential program is for girls in grades 8–12. For Fall 2018, total enrollment is 550 students across four divisions: Preschool, Lower School, Middle School and Upper School. The school averages about 60 boarding students per year.

In 2017, Chris Hughes was appointed Head of Garrison Forest School.

Located on 116 acres (0.47 km) outside of Baltimore, the school has academic, athletic, arts, residential, and student facilities. Garrison Forest School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools.


Garrison Forest School has a 1:1 Tablet PC program for grades 4–12. The campus is fully wired, and classroom technology includes a mounted wireless projector in each classroom. Faculty members also use Tablet PCs to sync with students’ Tablets and to provide interactive learning in the classroom.The Upper School and Middle School each have Media centers with iMac computers, scanners, and color printers. The school offers a robotics program for grades 4-12, and teams compete at the local and state levels.


All Garrison Forest students are required to participate in the athletics program. The school's athletic facilities include the Elizabeth B. Searle ’74 Athletic Center (opened in 2002), four athletic fields including two turf fields, and six tennis courts. The school's mascot is the "Grizzly Bear", and the school colors are Light Blue and Dark Blue. The Garrison Forest "Grizzlies" field 13 sports with 42 teams, including three levels of Middle School teams.

Garrison Forest teams compete in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, (a recently established women's sports private/religious schools league), which mirrors the boys' Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, both of which succeeded the old Baltimore metropolitan area's public/private schools league, the old Maryland Scholastic Association, (MSA) (of which Garrison Forest School was a member), founded 1919 until 1993 when the public high schools of Baltimore City withdrew to join the competing statewide Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).

The school's equestrian facilities include the D. & J. Smith Equestrian Center and the Sheridan Indoor Polo Ring. Garrison Forest has a long tradition of excellence in equestrian sports including Equitation, Showjumping, Eventing, and Polo. The school is one of only two girls' schools in the nation to offer Polo.

The polo team has won the 12 national titles since 1990. Beginning in 1995, six Garrison Forest Varsity Polo Team players have won the Polo Training Foundation Interscholastic Player of the Year Award.


Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, a teacher from New York, founded the school in 1910. She moved to Maryland to found a primary through 12th grade school for the local community. Garrison Forest then was an all-girls’ day school, Kindergarten through 12th Grade, with a residential program for older girls and a coed primary program. Miss Livingston chose the motto, Esse Quam Videri—To Be Rather Than To Seem.

In 1929, Jean G. Marshall and Nancy J. Offutt became co-head mistresses of the school and founded the school's riding program.

In 1960, the School hired its first male headmaster, Archibald “Tad” Montgomery IV. Lawrence “Larry” L. Hlavacek served as Headmaster from 1968 to 1978. In 1975, Garrison Forest merged with the nearby Valley School, a local, coed independent preschool and elementary school.

From 1978 to 1989, Agnes “Aggie” C. Underwood served as headmistress.

After interim head Alexander A. Uhle's year-long appointment, Elsa “Midge” M. Bowman was named Headmistress.

In 1994, G. Peter O’Neill, Jr. joined Garrison Forest. He began as an interim but was soon appointed to the position permanently. Mr. O'Neill led the School's largest campus expansion and the establishment of an experiential learning program for girls, the Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) program, an academic partnership with Johns Hopkins University. O'Neill retired in 2014.

Following O'Neill's retirement, the school named Kimberley J. Roberts, Ph.D., as the 10th Head of School. Dr. Roberts served from 2014-2017.

Following an interim year by Lila Boyce Lohr, Christopher A. Hughes became the school's 12th Head of School. He began his tenure in July 2018.


The school flower is the blue cornflower or bachelor's button, Centaurea cyanus, was chosen by Miss Livingston. Graduating seniors during her era wore white dresses and carried arm bouquets of the simple blossoms. The tradition has continued with each graduating senior carrying a bouquet of the blue flowers wrapped in flowing blue ribbons, which the school called “Ragged Robins.” At Garrison Forest, the term “Ragged Robins” applies to three longstanding traditions—the school flower, the yearbook, and the student a cappella group.

The Garrison Forest Alma Mater has lyrics written by founding headmistress Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, which are sung to the tune of, God, the Omnipotent by Alexis Lvov (1798–1870).

Adopted in 1929, the original Garrison Forest School crest depicts a tree upholding a lamp, the symbol of education, with Garrison Forest's motto emblazoned beneath: Esse Quam Videri. The large tree in the seal resembles a White Oak, Quercus alba.

The school colors of light blue and dark blue inspired the at least 90-year-old tradition of sorting the students and faculty into spirit teams of Light Blue and Dark Blue.

Garrison Forest School's Service League, was founded by students in 1942 as a response to helping on the home front. Decades earlier, students helped in the local fields while farmers were fighting in World War I. Since 2005, the GFS faculty, staff, and administrators have sponsored a Habitat for Humanity house in Baltimore, an annual project that grew out of the school's initial reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The first GFS Habitat house was given to a family who relocated from New Orleans to Baltimore post-hurricane.

Notable graduates[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

The 1990 film Metropolitan references Garrison Forest as "one of those horsey girly schools."

External links[edit]