Lawrence Academy (Groton, Massachusetts)

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Lawrence Academy
26 Powderhouse Road


Coordinates42°36′14″N 71°33′58″W / 42.60389°N 71.56611°W / 42.60389; -71.56611Coordinates: 42°36′14″N 71°33′58″W / 42.60389°N 71.56611°W / 42.60389; -71.56611
Head of schoolDan Scheibe
Campus typeExurban
Color(s)Red and Blue

Lawrence Academy at Groton is a private, selective, nonsectarian, coeducational college preparatory school located in Groton, Massachusetts, in the United States. Founded by a group of fifty residents of Groton and Pepperell, Massachusetts in 1792 as Groton Academy, and chartered in 1793 by Governor John Hancock, Lawrence is the tenth oldest boarding school in the United States, and the third in Massachusetts, following Governor Dummer Academy (1763) and Phillips Academy at Andover (1778).[1] The phrase on Lawrence Academy's seal is "Omnibus Lucet": in Latin, "Let light shine upon all." As of 2019, Lawrence Academy had a reported acceptance rate of 25%.[2]

Lawrence Academy faced widespread media scrutiny in 2018 for covering up sexual abuse of its students by an employee in the 1990’s. The school is yet to make amends for choices made by former and current administration regarding the incidents. See Scandal.

Incorporation as Groton Academy[edit]

On April 27, 1792, residents of the towns of Groton and Pepperell, Massachusetts[3] influenced by the growing "academy movement" in the young republic, which sought to provide a broader and more practical education than that available in the traditional Latin Grammar Schools,[4] formed an association "for the purpose of erecting a suitable building, and supporting an Academy for superior educational purposes at Groton, Massachusetts."[5] The association received its charter from Governor John Hancock on September 28, 1793.[6]

For the academy's first schoolmaster, the trustees selected Samuel Holyoke, a prominent composer, who was himself a graduate of Phillips Academy and Harvard college.

The trustees announced the opening of their academy (somewhat prematurely, as the charter was not to be secured for another four months) with an advertisement in the May 25, 1793 edition of the Columbian Centinel, a Boston newspaper. The advertisement expressed the values of the academy movement, reading in part:

This is to give notice, that a Public School is now opened in Groton, for the education of youth, of both sexes—in which School are taught the English, Latin and Greek Languages, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, the Art of Speaking and Writing, with Practical Geometry, and Logic.[5]

Classes commenced in 1794, with an enrollment of seventy-three students, primarily from Groton and the surrounding towns, but with some, such as Thomas and Wyriott Alderson of Bath, North Carolina, from farther afield.[5]


In 1838, alumnus Amos Lawrence, a son of founder Samuel Lawrence and a prominent Boston merchant and industrialist, began his patronage of the Academy with a gift of "books and philosophical apparatus," followed in 1839 by "a telescope and Bowditch's translation of Mécanique Céleste by Laplace," and $2,000 for enlarging the schoolhouse in 1842.[7] In 1844, Amos's brother William donated $10,000 to the school's endowment "for the advancement of education for all coming time."[7]

The First Parish Church is a landmark on Main Street in Groton, set at the northern end of Lawrence Academy's campus, though it is not associated with the school.

By 1850, the school's library, established with a purchase of 86 new books in 1828, comprised 2,650 volumes, of which 2,400 were gifts of Amos Lawrence.[8]

Over the course of their lives, Amos and William Lawrence donated a total of nearly $65,000 in cash, scholarships, and property to the school (roughly equivalent to $1.83 million in 2013 dollars).[7] In recognition of their significant generosity, Groton Academy petitioned the Massachusetts legislature in 1845 to change the school's name to honor their benefactors. On February 28, 1846, Governor George N. Briggs signed into law an act formally changing the corporate name of "The Trustees of the Groton Academy" to "The Trustees of the Lawrence Academy at Groton."[6]

Between 1801 and 1870, Lawrence Academy contributed fifty students to Harvard College, placing it among the dozen schools which supplied the greatest number of students to Cambridge. As the 19th century progressed and more schools catering to the children of the elite ranks of Boston merchants and industrialists were established closer to Boston, that position gradually waned.[9] The Academy also enjoyed close ties to other New England liberal arts colleges — particularly Dartmouth and Williams Colleges — which themselves catered to the region's "older provincial elite".[9] The gifts of the Lawrence brothers established four scholarships each for students to attend Williams, Bowdoin College in Maine, and Wabash College in Indiana.[7] Franklin Carter, president of Williams College, was the guest speaker at the academy's 90th anniversary celebration in 1883.[5]

In 1868, during a Fourth of July celebration, an errantly tossed firecracker burned Lawrence Academy's main schoolhouse to the ground. By soliciting "subscriptions," the building was replaced in 1869 at a cost of $24,000 (more than $406,874 in 2013).[7]

In 1956, amidst commencement exercises, fire once again destroyed Lawrence Academy's academic and administrative buildings. Following both fires, Lawrence Academy rebuilt; however, because of these incidents, it encountered financial difficulties through parts of the twentieth century, until the late 1970s. Lawrence was coeducational until 1898, when it switched to a boys-only student body. It remained single sex until 1971.


Lawrence Academy played an unfortunate role in the child abuse scandals at private boarding schools in the 1980's & '90's, specifically by concealment of abuse on campus. Following two matching reports of child molestation in 1994, school officials chose to keep then-groundkeeper, Peter Regis, employed and living on campus, despite his behavior. The most vocal of these two students was told that there was “no financial aid available for her return”, and was prevented from attending the following year.

In 2016, Lawrence Academy headmaster Daniel Scheibe issued a public statement, asking people with information to come forward. A former student, Vanessa (Fadjo) Osage, ’96, came forward, yet again. She had returned to the school annually, from 1994-2001, to insist on protection for incoming students; school officials were knowingly employing and housing a child molester. Groundskeeper Peter Regis was excused from employment seven years later, on "permanent long-term disability". The decision finally came when Ms. Osage was on her way to Groton, Massachusetts, at age 23, to give a speech in the Lawrence Academy auditorium on December 10, 2001. He was released just days before her arrival. Then-headmaster Steven L Hahn resigned abruptly the following year.

In 2016, following the Boston Globe's Spotlight Investigation of Boarding Schools, Vanessa Osage retained attorney Mitchell Garabedian to represent her in a case against Lawrence Academy. In 2017, she released the attorney, citing a mismatch of principles, and proceeded with positive resolution on her own. A feature article of her story was published in The Lowell Sun on May 27, 2018. Soon afterward, nearly a dozen former students, parents and families began to contact her with stories of cover-ups at Lawrence Academy, with some allegations as recent as 2017.

Lawrence Academy officials offered Ms. Osage 1% and then 3% of the attorney’s demand, with a confidentiality clause and no honest acknowledgement of what happened. She did not accept. Instead, Vanessa Osage created an oversight and transparency model called The Justice CORPS (the Committee to Oversee the Rights & Protections of Students) and incorporated her efforts into a state nonprofit called The Amends Project. The mission is to "mend the loophole that has allowed for the cover-up of child abuse at private schools: implementing The Justice CORPS Initiative."

The school then hired attorneys from Sanghavi Law Firm in the summer of 2018 to create a report, after more former students came forward with similar allegations about Peter Regis. Some former students proceeded with law suits. Notably, Elizabeth Sanghavi was a former associate at Holland & Knight, the law firm currently representing the school. They released their findings in a report on April 25, 2019. Five former students participated in the investigation (with at least five impacted students choosing to not participate, due to lack of trust in the school). Ms. Osage, of The Amends Project, asked for verification that the report would not be edited or abridged, and the school would not provide this.

The former students’ accounts were found to be “credible”, and school officials apologized for the employee’s behavior. Though, there has been no apology for the actions to cover up abuse. Another former student, “Student A” is cited in the report as saying, “There was a backlash against the students who made the allegations, and the school did not address this”. As of August 2019, the school is still yet to settle with Ms. Osage out of court.

Concerns were also raised in September 2019 when Lowell Sun Managing Editor, Tom Zuppa, suddenly left his job after the discovery of alteration of the most recent online article on the story. A complaint has now been filed with the Federal Communications Commission, and advocates continue to work for the preservation of the original story, as printed on April 25, 2019. Trust in the school continues to decline as cover-up actions steadily surface, years after the original demand letter was sent.


Lawrence Academy is seated upon 100 acres (40 ha) of rolling countryside, in Groton, Massachusetts, thirty-one miles northwest of Boston, eight miles south of New Hampshire. At the bequest of James Lawrence, a Lawrence family descendant, it also shares the meadows and a mansion along Peabody Road and Farmer's Row with the Groton School, another renowned preparatory school. Architecturally, Lawrence's campus features a mix of historic Federalist-Era houses and Neo-Georgian academic buildings. From Lawrence's central quadrangle, one can see the outline of Mount Wachusett to the west, the pastures of Gibbet Hill Farm, (the site of colonial gallows and The Castle), to the north, and the fairways of the Groton Country Club to the east.


Residential life[edit]

There are ten dorms on Lawrence Academy's campus, four for boys and six for girls. Dorms range in size from eight to forty-four students. There is also a dining hall and student center for all students, boarding and day.


Each year Lawrence Academy enrolls approximately one hundred new students, approximately fifty of whom are boarding students. As of 2012, students hail from fourteen U.S. States and twenty-four countries. The student-to-teacher ratio at Lawrence is approximately 5:1, with an average class size of 14 students. Tuition for the 2006–2007 academic year was $49,900 for boarders, $39,900 for day students. Thirty percent of students receive financial aid to attend. Lawrence accepts approximately 25% of applicants. Tuition in 2015-2016 raised up to $49,000 for day students, $60,000 for boarders and $62,500 for international students.

Unique academic programs[edit]

Lawrence Academy's notable programs include Winterim, a two-week program that promotes experiential learning by immersing students in a variety of arts, adventure, and community service sessions. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves by selecting programs outside their realm of experience. Options have ranged from learning to sail the Northwest Passage in British Columbia, to exploring ecology in Costa Rica, to storytelling to local children in New England. The school also has the Independent Immersion Program, which allows students who have met certain academic requirements to focus for one or two years on a single endeavor, as though at a conservatory, with courses or projects completed both on and off campus.


Lawrence Academy's athletic teams compete in the Independent School League.


Lawrence Academy is directed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council. Lawrence Academy has over 3,800 active alumni.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Student media[edit]

Spectrum is the official student newspaper of Lawrence Academy, while multiple other publishings featuring the literary work of students are featured throughout the year. This includes the "Consortium" literary magazine, along with passages in many viewbooks and external use materials.


  1. ^ Boarding Schools with the Oldest Founding Date – All Schools Archived July 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Jubilee of Lawrence Academy at Groton, Standard Steam Presses, 1855.
  4. ^ Inglis, Alexander. Principles of Secondary Education. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1918
  5. ^ a b c d Sanderson, George A., ed. A General Catalogue of the trustees, teachers, and students Lawrence Academy, Groton, Massachusetts, from the time of its Incorporation, 1793-1893. Lawrence Academy, 1893
  6. ^ a b Acts Relating to Lawrence Academy, Groton, Massachusetts. University Press, 1894
  7. ^ a b c d e Financial History of Lawrence Academy, John Wilson & Son, Cambridge, Mass., 1895.
  8. ^ Catalogue of the Library of Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass. 1850, S.J. Varney, Lowell, Mass., 1850
  9. ^ a b "Story, Ronald, Harvard Students, the Boston Elite, and the New England Preparatory System, History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Autumn 1975). Accessed March 4, 2014 (subscription required)

Further reading[edit]

  • Massachusetts Board of Education; George A. Walton (1877), "Report on Academies: Lawrence Academy", Annual Report...1875-76, Boston – via Internet Archive

External links[edit]