Groton School

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Groton School
Cui servire est regnare
"To serve is to rule"
282 Farmers Row
Groton, Massachusetts 01450
United States
Coordinates 42°35′36.04″N 71°35′03.23″W / 42.5933444°N 71.5842306°W / 42.5933444; -71.5842306Coordinates: 42°35′36.04″N 71°35′03.23″W / 42.5933444°N 71.5842306°W / 42.5933444; -71.5842306
Type Private, day and boarding school
Religious affiliation(s) Episcopal
Established 1884
Headmaster Temba Maqubela
Grades 8–12
Gender Coeducational
Enrollment 372 (2013–14)
Campus Suburban/rural
Athletics conference Independent School League
Nickname Zebras
Accreditation NEASC
Endowment $305 million

Groton School is a private Episcopal college preparatory boarding school located in Groton, Massachusetts, United States. It enrolls about 370 boys and girls, from the eighth through twelfth grades. Tuition, room and board and required fees in 2014-15 amounted to $56,700 (with books extra); 38% of the students receive financial aid.[1] The school is a member of the Independent School League. There are many famous alumni in business, government and the professions, including Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Groton School was founded in 1884 by the Rev. Endicott Peabody, a member of a prominent Massachusetts family and an Episcopal clergyman. The land for the school was donated to Peabody by two brothers, James and Prescott Lawrence, whose family home was located on Farmers Row in Groton, Massachusetts, north of Groton School's present location. Backed by affluent figures of the time, such as the Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks, the Rev. William Lawrence, William Crowninshield Endicott, J.P. Morgan, and his father, Samuel Endicott Peabody, Peabody received pledges of $39,000 for the construction of a schoolhouse, if an additional $40,000 could be raised as an endowment. The endowment is over $330,000,000, or approximately $890,000 per student today.[2] Groton School received early support from the Roosevelt family, including future President Theodore Roosevelt, and filled quickly.[3]

Peabody served as headmaster of the school for over fifty years, until his retirement in 1940. He instituted a Spartan educational system that included cold showers and cubicles, subscribing to the model of "muscular Christianity" which he himself experienced at Cheltenham College in England as a boy. Peabody hoped to graduate men who would serve the public good, rather than enter professional life. The school's motto is "Cui Servire Est Regnare."

Peabody was succeeded at the end of the 1940 school year by the Rev. John Crocker, who had been for 10 years the chaplain for Episcopal students at Princeton University. He himself was a 1918 graduate of Groton School; 15 members of his family were alumni. Crocker's tenure included the advances of African American civil rights. In September 1951, three years before the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregation in public schools, Groton School accepted its first African-American student.[4] In April 1965 Crocker and his wife, accompanied by 75 Groton School students, marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a civil rights demonstration in Boston. After 25 years as headmaster at Groton School, he retired in June 1965. After Crocker, the Rev. Bertrand Honea, Jr., led the School from 1965-1969; Paul Wright from 1969-1974; the Rev. Rowland Cox from 1974-1977; William Polk from 1978-2003; and Richard Commons from 2003-2013. Temba Maqubela became the headmaster in July 2013.

Groton School has changed significantly since 1884. Originally, it admitted only boys; the school became coeducational in 1975. Although most students in the early years were from New England and New York, its students now come from across the country and around the world. However, some traditions remain, such as the school's commitment to public service, its small community, and its attachment to the Episcopal Church.

The school has been used as a setting for several novels including Louis Auchincloss' Rector of Justin (1964). Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep (2005) has prompted speculation that the fictitious Ault School, the main setting of the novel, is in fact Groton School, as they bear striking resemblances and Sittenfeld herself attended Groton. Media coverage of the school came in the spring of 1999, when three Groton seniors alleged they and other students had been sexually abused by students in dormitories in 1996 and 1997.

Currently, Groton is one of three secondary boarding schools in the country to offer free education to qualified students from families with household incomes below $75,000 a year.[5]


Groton School, as viewed from the top of the chapel.

Groton's 385-acre (156-hectare) campus encompasses rolling forests, expansive meadows, a portion of the Nashua river, and various athletic fields, as well as academic buildings and dormitories. Most of the buildings on campus are situated around the Circle, which is the School's circular common green with a circumference of 13-mile (0.54-kilometre). Tradition prohibits students from crossing the Circle to reach the opposite side of the campus. The School's buildings include St. John's Chapel, the Schoolhouse, Brooks House and Hundred House Dormitories, the McCormick Library (approximately 60,000 volumes and over 100 periodicals), the Campbell Performing Arts Center, the Dining Hall, the Dillon Art Center and De Menil Gallery. Other facilities include the Athletic and Recreation Center, Pratt and O'Brien Rinks and Tennis Center, the Bingham Boathouse, outdoor tennis clay courts and hardcourts, and many faculty homes. The landscape was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who is noted for his design of Central Park in New York City and various other academic institutions.


The students are divided into Forms ranging from Second Form to Sixth Form (8th to 12th grade). Second and Third Formers live in Brooks House, part of Lower School, with their prefects (Sixth Formers); Fourth, Fifth, and the remaining Sixth Formers live in Hundred House, also known as Upper School, and in two dorms in Brooks House. Each dorm has 2–8 prefects, and is headed and named after the faculty member who has an apartment that is connected to the dorm.[citation needed]

For the 2013-2014 school year, Groton admitted approximately 12 percent of the applicants.[6] Eighty-eight new students enrolled from 15 states and Washington, DC, and from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico and Switzerland. Twenty-four students entered the school as part of the new Second Form, 52 joined the Third Form, 11 the Fourth Form, and one the Fifth Form.[7] There are a total of 371 students enrolled, representing approximately 30 states and 15 countries, including 24 students in the Second Form, 82 in the Third Form, 91 in the Fourth Form, 90 in the Fifth Form and 84 in the Sixth Form.[citation needed]

The Form of 2013 median SAT scores were 700 reading, 710 writing, and 700 math.[2] Between 2008 and 2012, Groton graduates attended the following colleges most frequently (in order): Georgetown University, Harvard University, Trinity College, Yale University, Tufts University, Stanford University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.[8]


Groton School is a member of the Independent School League,which has sixteen member schools, but it also competes with schools outside the league. Groton's traditional athletic rival is St. Mark's School.[citation needed]

Abuse allegation[edit]

In Spring 1999, Middlesex County DA's Office began investigating the claim of three Groton seniors. They alleged they, and other students, had been sexually abused by students in dormitories in 1996 and 1997.[9] During the school's investigation of the matter, another student brought a similar complaint to the school's attention. In 2005, the school pleaded guilty in criminal court to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report this younger student's sexual abuse complaint to the state and paid a $1,250 fine. The school issued an apology to the victims, and the civil suit stemming from the first student's complaint was settled out of court.[10][11] In the fall of 2006, as part of the settlement, the School published a full apology to the boy who first alleged the abuse in 1999.

Notable alumni[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Ashburn, Frank D., Peabody of Groton, Coward McCann, Inc., New York, 1944.
  • Cookson Jr., Peter W. and Caroline Hodges Persell. Preparing For Power: America's Elite Boarding Schools (1987)
  • Fenton, John H., "Groton Headmaster Ends 25-Year Tenure", The New York Times, June 13, 1965, p. 80.
  • Hoyt, Edwin P., The Peabody Influence, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1968.
  • McLachlan, James. American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (1970) pp 242–98

External links[edit]