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Lawrenceville School

Coordinates: 40°17′39″N 74°43′30″W / 40.29414°N 74.72494°W / 40.29414; -74.72494
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The Lawrenceville School
, ,
United States
Coordinates40°17′39″N 74°43′30″W / 40.29414°N 74.72494°W / 40.29414; -74.72494
TypePrivate, independent, day and boarding, college-preparatory
MottoVirtus Semper Viridis
("Virtue Always Green")
Established1810; 214 years ago (1810)
CEEB code310680
NCES School ID00869171[2]
PresidentMichael S. Chae
Head of schoolStephen S. Murray[1]
Faculty117.1 FTEs[2]
Enrollment818 (as of 2021–22)[2]
Student to teacher ratio7:1[2]
Campus700 acres (2.8 km2)
Color(s)   Red and Black
Athletics conferenceMid-Atlantic Prep League
New Jersey Independent Schools Athletic Association
Sports21 sports teams
MascotBig Red
RivalThe Hill School
AccreditationMiddle States[3]
Endowment$632.9 million (as of July 22, 2021)
Tuition$79,500 Boarding
$65,420 Day (2024-25)

The Lawrenceville School is a coeducational preparatory school for boarding and day students located in the Lawrenceville section of Lawrence Township, in Mercer County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey. Lawrenceville is a member of the Eight Schools Association and the Ten Schools Admissions Organization.



19th century


One of the oldest preparatory schools in the United States, Lawrenceville School was founded in 1810 as the Maidenhead Academy by Presbyterian clergyman Isaac Van Arsdale Brown. It had several names, including Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School[4] and Lawrenceville Academy.[5]

In 1883, the John Cleve Green Foundation purchased the school from its aging headmaster Samuel Hamill and renamed it The Lawrenceville School.[6] Green, who had died in 1875, was born in the village of Lawrenceville and was one of Maidenhead Academy's original students.[7] A successful merchant, he amassed a large fortune investing in railroads, importing tea and textiles, and exporting opium to China.[7] With no surviving children, much of his estate went to charitable causes.[8]

The trustees of the Green Foundation, including Green's widow Sarah, brother Caleb, nephew Charles, and friend John T. Nixon, aimed to turn Lawrenceville into a college-preparatory institution "with a more elite student body."[9] With $1.25 million to spend (approximately $40 million in 2024 dollars),[10] they hired Presbyterian minister James Cameron Mackenzie to study the public schools of the United Kingdom, and later appointed him Head of School.[8] Mackenzie's British-inspired innovations included Lawrenceville's house system, "the [first] small-unit housing plan ... in America."[8][11] He argued that a "home-like atmosphere was better for an adolescent boy and made him a better student."[8] Upon his return to the United States, the trustees commissioned a new campus from Frederick Law Olmsted and Peabody and Stearns, which has since been designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark District.[8][12]

The 1883 reorganization of Lawrenceville successfully elevated the school's profile and turned it into nearby Princeton University's most reliable feeder school. Princeton president James McCosh had been searching for a Mid-Atlantic alternative to New England boarding schools, which he thought funneled their best students to New England schools such as Harvard.[13] He used John Cleve Green's fortune to fill this gap. Green had been one of Princeton's most important donors;[7] his great-great-great-grandfather Jonathan Dickinson had founded Princeton in 1746.[14] Accordingly, the new Lawrenceville School was established "for the express purpose of preparing students for Princeton."[15]

Lawrenceville was a large success; the school sent 20 students to Princeton in 1886 alone, and enrollment leaped from 112 students in 1883 to 362 by 1898.[16] The school's successful relaunch marked the start of a large boom in the American boarding school industry, which also included Groton (founded 1884), Taft (1890), Hotchkiss (1891), Choate (1896), St. George's (1896), Middlesex (1901), Kent (1906), and Loomis (1914).[17]

20th century


In 1932, Lawrenceville sent 62 students to Princeton, nearly ten percent of the freshman class and more than the next two schools (Phillips Exeter and Mercersburg) put together.[18] In the 1950s, the College Entrance Examination Board tested an early version of today's Advanced Placement program at Lawrenceville, Exeter, and Andover, with input from Princeton as well as Harvard and Yale.[19][20]

In 1936, Lawrenceville adopted the Harkness system of seminar-based classes. Time magazine reported that Edward Harkness offered the school "a blank check" to adopt his preferred system, which Exeter had previously adopted in 1930.[21]

When Ivy League schools refocused their admissions practices on academic excellence in the 1950s and 1960s, the admissions director at Yale University was R. Inslee Clark Jr., a former Lawrenceville faculty member.[22][23]

Lawrenceville admitted its first African-American student in 1964,[24] and began admitting girls in 1987.[25]

In 1999, the student body elected its first female student body president, Alexandra Petrone; in 2003, Elizabeth Duffy was appointed the School's first female headmaster; and in 2005, Sasha-Mae Eccleston '02 became Lawrenceville's first alumna to win a Rhodes Scholarship.[citation needed]

21st century


In 2001, The New York Times wrote that Lawrenceville was "[o]nce - and perhaps still - as much a symbol of the establishment as Far Hills or the Social Register," but was currently trying "to reinvent itself as an instrument of meritocracy rather than aristocracy."[26] The school's admissions rate was 20.5% in the 2017-18 school year.[27] Applications increased nearly 20% during the COVID-19 pandemic, "with part of the increase driven by Black applicants and families seeking financial aid."[28]

In 2010, Lawrenceville set the world record for the largest custard pie fight.[29]

In the 2021–22 school year, the school reported an enrollment of 818 students, of which 45.4% (371) were White, 19.4% (159) were Asian, 9.7% (79) were Black, 6.1% (50) were Hispanic, and 19.4% (159) were multiracial.[2]

Heads of school


Heads of school include:[6]

Tuition and financial aid


From 2010 to 2014, Business Insider ranked Lawrenceville as America's most expensive private high school.[31] However, the school offers need-based financial aid and commits to meet 100% of an admitted student's demonstrated financial need.[32]

Tuition and fees for the 2024-25 academic year are $79,500 for boarding students and $65,420 for day students.[32] In the 2023-24 school year, 34% of the student body was on financial aid.[33] The average boarding aid grant was over $60,000 and the average day grant was over $44,000.[33]

Endowment and expenses


Lawrenceville does not publicly report the size of its financial endowment. However, from 2016 to 2021, Lawrenceville's endowment increased from $381.1 million to $632.9 million.[34][35] In its Internal Revenue Service filings for the 2021-22 school year, Lawrenceville reported total assets of $1.06 billion, net assets of $937.7 million, investment holdings of $631.0 million, and cash holdings of $78.0 million. Lawrenceville also reported $65.0 million in program service expenses and $15.5 million in grants (primarily student financial aid).[36]

Lawrenceville has attracted several major donors in the 21st century. In 2017, Alibaba founder Joseph C. Tsai '82 and his wife Clara contributed the largest gift in school history.[37] The exact size of the gift was undisclosed, but it was larger than the $60 million donation from Janie and Henry Woods in 2007.[38]


Lawrenceville School
Woods Memorial Hall at The Lawrenceville School
Lawrenceville School is located in Mercer County, New Jersey
Lawrenceville School
Location in Mercer County, New Jersey
Lawrenceville School is located in New Jersey
Lawrenceville School
Lawrenceville School (New Jersey)
Lawrenceville School is located in the United States
Lawrenceville School
Lawrenceville School (the United States)
LocationMain Street, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Coordinates40°17′42″N 74°43′45″W / 40.29500°N 74.72917°W / 40.29500; -74.72917
Area17.74 acres (7.18 ha)[40]
ArchitectPeabody & Stearns; Frederick Law Olmsted
Architectural styleQueen Anne, Romanesque
Part ofLawrence Township Historic District (ID72000799)
NRHP reference No.86000158[39]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 24, 1986
Designated NHLDFebruary 24, 1986[41]
Designated CPSeptember 14, 1972

Lawrenceville has a self-contained campus, separated from central Lawrenceville by U.S. Route 206 (Main Street). The campus is a 15-minute drive from Princeton, New Jersey.

Historic recognition

Memorial Hall in 1886

In 1986, the old campus core of Lawrenceville School (built in 1884–85) was declared a National Historic Landmark.[42][41] The landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted planned the campus and grounds, and the Peabody & Stearns architectural firm designed the buildings, including Memorial Hall (now Woods Memorial Hall), which the National Park Service cited for the "richness of [its] materials" and "the high quality of the decorative details."[8][43] The campus core also includes a gymnasium, the headmaster's house, the Circle House dormitories, and a chapel. The landmark covers 17.74 acres;[8] the present-day campus includes over 700 acres.[44]

In 1972, the village of Lawrenceville, including parts of the school campus, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, as part of the Lawrence Township Historic District.[40]

Residential life


Lawrenceville utilizes a house system, similar to many British schools.[45] Students reside in four distinct groups of Houses—the Lower School, the Crescent (girls), the Circle (boys), and the Fifth Form (Senior) Houses.[46] Faculty members are associated with each House.[47]

The Circle Houses were designed by Peabody and Stearns, as part of the original campus plan, and are part of Lawrenceville's National Historic Landmark.[48][49] Four Crescent House dorms designed by Short and Ford Architects of Princeton, New Jersey, were opened in 1986; a fifth opened in 2010.[citation needed]


Edith Memorial Chapel

There are 38 major buildings on Lawrenceville's campus, including the Bunn Library, which has space for 100,000 volumes.

Lawrenceville has 18 athletics fields, a nine-hole golf course which is currently closed due to construction, 12 outdoor tennis courts, 14-mile (400 m) all-weather and indoor tracks, a boathouse, a hockey arena,[50] and a ropes and mountaineering course. During the summer, Lawrenceville is a popular site for youth sports camps and several academic programs for students and teachers, including the New Jersey Scholars Program. The school is currently building the Tsai Commons and Field House, which comprises a new dining hall and additions to existing athletic facilities; the school plans to open the facility in spring 2024.[51][52]

In the spring of 2012, the school began to draw its energy needs from a solar farm, which consists of a nearly 30-acre, net-metered, 6.1-megawatt solar facility.[53]

The school operates the Big Red Farm, a working agricultural facility with three greenhouses, 4 acres (1.6 ha) of farmland, 20 acres (8.1 ha) of pastureland for the school's sheep, chickens and pigs, and several honey-producing beehives.[54]




Lawrenceville is a member of the Eight Schools Association, a group of leading American secondary schools informally founded during the 1973–74 school year and formally established in 2006.[55][56] Lawrenceville is also a member of the Ten Schools Admissions Organization.[57] The school was formerly part of G20 Schools, an international group of secondary schools.[citation needed]

Lawrenceville is affiliated with The Island School in Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas, to which it sends students for semesters abroad.[58] Island School was founded by a former Lawrenceville teacher.[59]

The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.[3]



In the fall of 2014, L10 News, the school's weekly ten-minute newscast, was founded on Lawrenceville's YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Other student-run publications include The First Amendment, a monthly political magazine founded in 2010; The Ledger, a semesterly business magazine; LMAG, a semesterly fashion magazine; In the Margins, a Diversity magazine; The Contour, a newspaper on global issues; The Lawrenceville Historical Review, the school's annual history periodical; El Artículo, a Spanish publication, and The Lit, a literary magazine published three times a year. The Lit was founded in 1895 by author Owen Johnson, who went on to write the Lawrenceville Stories.[60] Also published annually are the Olla Podrida, the yearbook; Lawrencium, the science research journal; and Prize Papers, a compilation of the best academic work in the English Department by that year's IV Form (junior) class. There is also a WLSR radio club.[61]

The Lawrence


The school's weekly, The Lawrence, is the third oldest secondary school newspaper in the United States, after The Phillipian and The Exonian. The Lawrence has been published regularly since 1881. Students make up the editorial board and all decisions for the paper, consulting with two faculty advisors at their discretion.[62]

The Lawrence has won numerous awards, including the Columbia Journalism Award in consecutive years.[61] In 2019, The Lawrence also won an editorial award from Youth Journalism International.[63] Notable contributors include sportswriter Bob Ryan in 1964[64] and businessman Joseph Tsai.


House Football: Griswold vs. Woodhull

Lawrenceville athletics compete in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League.[65] In addition, through the Eight Schools Athletic Council, the members of the Eight Schools Association organize sports events and tournaments among ESA schools.[66][67][68]

Lawrenceville competes with other schools in baseball, basketball, crew, cross-country, fencing, field hockey, football, golf, hockey, indoor and outdoor track, lacrosse, soccer, softball, squash, swimming, tennis, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling. In addition, the School offers a variety of intramural sports, including Ultimate Disc for the girls' Crescent Houses and 8-man flag football for the boys' Circle Houses.[citation needed]

Hill School rivalry


Lawrenceville's rival is The Hill School of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, another member of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League.[65] On the first or second weekend of November during "Hill Weekend," the two schools celebrate the nation's eighth-oldest high school football rivalry and fifth-oldest private school rivalry, dating back to 1887.[69]

Athletic achievements


In the spring of 2015, the Lawrenceville Boys' Varsity Crew team won the MAPL League Championship, beating out Peddie, Hun, and Blair;[70] placed first at the US Rowing Mid-Atlantic Youth Championship;[71] and then went on to place 4th at the US Rowing Youth Nationals held in Camden, NJ. The crew was selected for the Henley Royal Regatta and is widely regarded as the greatest crew in the school's history.[72] Multiple members of this crew either went on to race for the United States Jr. National Team or row at D1 universities such as Cal, Wisconsin, Yale, Georgetown, and Northeastern.[73] or the United States Jr. National Development Team. In the fall of 2010, the Lawrenceville Boys' Varsity Crew team won the Head of the Christina Regatta in Delaware,[74] then placed 14th in a field of 75 at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, Massachusetts, later in the season.[75]

In the spring of 2008, the Lawrenceville Boys' and Girls' Varsity Track and Field team completed its season undefeated, placing first in the NJISSAA and MAPL.[citation needed] In winter 2011, the 4x200 team was the fastest in the nation, earning each one of them the status of All-American.[76] By January 2014, the Lawrenceville boys' varsity track team had won 103 dual meets in a row; the boys' team has not lost a dual meet, a Prep State A championship, or the MAPL championship since 2006.[77] In winter 2014, the 4x55 Shuttle Hurdle Relay team was ranked number 2 in New Jersey and number 3 in the nation.[76]

On November 6, 2005, the Lawrenceville Girls' Varsity Field Hockey team defeated Stuart Country Day School 2–1 to capture their third straight Prep A state championship. On November 5, 2006, the Varsity Field Hockey team defeated Stuart Country Day School 1–0 to capture their fourth straight Prep A state championship. In 2007 they tied rival Stuart Country Day School for a shared victory in their fifth straight Prep A state championship with a 2–2 tie on a late Lawrenceville goal.[78]

On February 12, 2006, the Lawrenceville Varsity Boys' Squash team won the National Championship for the third year in a row.[79]

In May 2006, the boys' varsity baseball team won the New Jersey Prep A championship over Peddie School in a doubleheader (14-0 and 6–1), earning their second state championship in three years.[citation needed] Lawrenceville defeated Peddie again in the 2010 finals to win its second consecutive Prep A title.[80]

In May 2023, the boys' varsity lacrosse team won the Prep Nationals championship game over Brunswick School by a score of 14-13 in double overtime. They finished the season on an 18-game winning streak, to end with a record of 19-1.[81]

Notable alumni


Lawrentians in the arts include writers Owen Johnson, James Merrill, Frederick Buechner, and Bill Berkson; musicians Huey Lewis and Dierks Bentley;[82] and screenwriter Merian C. Cooper. Those active in media and entertainment include author and ecologist Aldo Leopold (1904–1905),[83] socialite & Real Housewife of New York Tinsley Mortimer, and athletes Joakim Noah and Bobby Sanguinetti.

Notable faculty


Lawrenceville was featured in several novels by Owen Johnson, who graduated from Lawrenceville in 1895:

  • The Eternal Boy (1909)
  • The Prodigious Hickey (1910)
  • The Humming Bird (1910)
  • The Varmint (1910), adapted into the 1950 film The Happy Years, which was filmed on the Lawrenceville campus[88]
  • The Tennessee Shad (1911)

From 1987 to 1989, PBS ran the miniseries The Lawrenceville Stories, also based on Johnson's Lawrenceville tales.[89]


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  35. ^ "New Jersey Private School with $67,850-a-Year Tuition to Tap Tax-Free Bond Market". Bloomberg.com. July 22, 2021. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
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  53. ^ "The Lawrenceville School Signs Six Megawatt Solar Power Purchase Agreement with TurtleEnergy" Archived August 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Lawrenceville School News, September 3, 2010. Accessed July 27, 2011. "Fully operational, the solar array will produce 8,500 megawatt-hours annually of clean electricity or more than 90 percent of the School's needs, offset 5,300 short tons (4,800 t) of CO
    , and provide a setting to teach sustainable energy and the use of materials, land, and water in ways that promote ecological literacy and sustainability. The natural slope of the 30-acre site, currently part of a 268-acre (1.08 km2) farm that is a part of Lawrenceville's 700-acre campus, will make the solar farm invisible from Route 206 and only partially visible from Lewisville Road."
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  77. ^ "Record-Setting Day For Big Red Track & Field" Archived May 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, The Lawrenceville School, January 22, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2015. "With wins on Saturday against the Pennington School, Robbinsville High School, Lenape High School, and Hamilton High School West, the boys' varsity indoor track team secured 103 consecutive dual meet victories for the School's boys' track and field program."
  78. ^ Alden, Bill. "Johnson's Speed Makes a Big Difference as Stuart Field Hockey Shares Prep Crown", Town Topics, November 7, 2007. Accessed July 28, 2011. "Late in the second half, Johnson raced down the sideline past the Stuart bench and split the Big Red defense, helping the Tartans to score and take a 2-1 lead with 7:30 remaining in regulation. Lawrenceville, though, knotted the game at 2-2 with a disputed goal that came with 2:32 remaining in the second half. The heated contest went into overtime and Johnson was stymied as she was carded in the first overtime. After a tearful scene on the bench, Johnson eventually returned to the game and made several runs into the heart of the Lawrenceville defense. But the efforts of Johnson and her teammates weren't enough to break the deadlock and the game ended in a 2-2 tie with the teams being named co-champions."
  79. ^ Staff. "Navy Squash to Open 2006-07 Campaign on West Coast", CSTV, November 2, 2006. Accessed September 4, 2011. "Mattsson, who battled George in the title game of the Barb Trophy, is a product of The Lawrenceville School who also turned out Navy junior squash standout Jeff Sawin (Haverford, Pa.). Mattsson was a member of the 2004, '05, and '06 squash teams that were crowned National Champions and served as team captain his senior season."
  80. ^ Birch, Red. "HS Baseball: Lawrenceville beats Peddie to win second straight Prep A state championship", The Trentonian, May 16, 2010. Accessed September 4, 2011.
  81. ^ "'These Kid's Bought In:' Lawrenceville (N.J.) Finishes No. 1 in Jon Posner's 3rd Year at Helm", Inside Lacrosse, June 29, 2023. Accessed July 4, 2023. "Lawrenceville ended its season with a double-overtime 14-13 victory over Brunswick (Conn.) in the Prep Nationals championship, having trailed 12-9 in the fourth quarter."
  82. ^ "Notable Alumni | The Lawrenceville School". www.lawrenceville.org. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  83. ^ Curt Meine, ed. Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation. New York: The Library of America, 2013, 850.
  84. ^ "Dr. Cochran Dies; Fought Plagues: Retired Medical Missionary to China Was 81 - Founder of Mission in Hwai Yuen", The New York Times, December 28, 1952. Accessed March 29, 2023. "He was medical director of the Lawrenceville School from 1927 to 1932 and director of medical information at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center from 1932 to 1947."
  85. ^ Littlefield, Bill. "Bill Littlefield, Retired Football Coach?", WBUR-FM, September 28, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2017.
  86. ^ Notable Alumni, The Lawrenceville School. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  87. ^ A Study Guide for Thornton Wilder's Our Town, p. 6. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015. ISBN 9781410334961. "But Amos Wilder intervened again and found young Thornton a teaching position at Lawrenceville School, a preparatory school for boys near Princeton, New Jersey."
  88. ^ Levin, Anne (October 11, 2023). "Story Behind "The Lawrenceville Stories" Is Subject of Screening at Lawrence Library". Town Topics (Princeton, NJ). Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  89. ^ Johnson, Malcolm. "Regaining The Spirit Of Prep School Stories", Hartford Courant, November 15, 2001. Accessed May 10, 2015. "The quintessential manifestations of these books for boys, still available and filmed for PBS in 1992, are Owen Johnson's The Lawrenceville Stories, which unfolded in a real prep school and centered on the fictional 'Dink' Stover, who metamorphosed into a hero and a member of Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society of the presidents Bush."