Midland School, Los Olivos, California

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Midland School
Los Olivos, CA
Type Private, Boarding
Motto In Robore Virtus
Established 1932
Head of School William L. Graham
Faculty 20
Enrollment 90 total (co-ed)
100% boarding
Average class size 11 students
Student to teacher ratio 4:1
Campus Rural; 2,860 acres
Color(s) Green and White
Athletics 5 Interscholastic Sports
Mascot Oak Tree

Midland School is a small, co-ed, college preparatory boarding school near Los Olivos, California, founded in 1932, by Kent School and Harvard graduate Paul Squibb. Squibb envisioned a small, rural community reliant only on the work of its inhabitants to meet its basic needs. This ideal still forms the center of the School's philosophy; every student who attends Midland assumes a responsibility to the community while joining a great tradition of service. Squibb and his wife, Louise, founded Midland in the midst of the Great Depression, believing that the only essentials of education are a student, a teacher, and an idea.

Reflecting Squibb's opinion on the requirements of education, a core philosophy of the school is encapsulated in the phrase "needs, not wants". Additions to the school and its program are evaluated with respect to this philosophy, and only that which is truly essential to the educational mission of the school is implemented.

Campus and surroundings[edit]

The School is located on 2,860 acres (12 km²) of largely undeveloped ranchland characteristic of central California's coastal hill country. Students live in two-room cabins that are heated by small woodstoves. While the library is wired with high-speed internet connections, several campus buildings were constructed decades ago by students and faculty. The campus chapel, a structure that predates the school itself, was converted from its original use as a dairy barn. The campus is located across the road from the former site of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

Student jobs[edit]

An integral part of Midland's philosophy is self-reliance, and students and faculty perform much of the work that goes into maintaining the school. Rather than simply performing "chores," students learn and practice responsibility and cooperation through the maintenance and upkeep of their campus. All students have daily jobs that help maintain the school -- carpenters, cooks, classroom cleaners, plumbers, librarians, etc.

In addition to daily jobs, faculty and students gather on Sunday mornings to hear a senior give a talk on a subject of personal interest. Following this non-denominational “chapel”, the community breaks into small work crews for 2–3 hours. These crews might clean the assembly/dining hall, venture into the hills to gather firewood, harvest vegetables in the garden, brush down the horses or muck the corral.

Organic garden[edit]

One of Midland's distinguishing features is the 8-acre (32,000 m2) organic garden. Students help with planting, cultivating, and harvesting the fruits and vegetables that are delivered to the school kitchen. Grass-fed beef cattle are also raised in the garden, and native shrubs, trees, and grasses are cultivated for use in campus restoration and landscaping projects.


The athletic program is based around fall, winter and spring seasons. Students are required to participate in two team sports per year, in order to promote cooperation and athleticism. Soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, cross-country running, and now basketball are offered as competitive options. Midland School competes in the private college preparatory Condor League. The Midland school's baseball field is known for its pitching rubber, affectionately dubbed "the work bench" for its unusual size and depth. The baseball field is also named "Gopherdome" for the number of gophers (and the holes) within the field.

During one of the seasons, a student may elect to spend time in one of Midland’s alternative programs. Students may work in the campus’ 8-acre (32,000 m2) organic garden, or join the school’s equestrian program of Western and English riding and horse care. As an additional option, students may choose to work in Ranch Management, through which students participate in the upkeep of the infrastructure of the campus as well as the 2,860-acre (12 km2) ranch.

Governance, accreditation and endowment[edit]

The School is a non-profit organization governed by a 16-member Board of Trustees. The estimated value of Midland's property is $15,000,000 and the School's growing endowment is currently approaching $4,000,000. Annual giving generally yields $300,000, the bulk of which helps fund Midland's substantial financial aid program. The School's approach to budgeting and use of financial resources differs from most other boarding schools in that its limited funds are focused on people and programs, rather than facilities. Midland thus teaches its students frugality and generosity by example.

Midland is accredited through 2016 by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the California Association of Independent Schools, the Western Boarding Schools Association, A Better Chance, Inc., The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the California Interscholastic Federation, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Noted alumni[edit]

  • George M. Martin (1917–1999), Class of 1933. Founding editor of the Midland Mirror. Modern broadcast journalism pioneer and recipient of lifetime achievement award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
  • Steve Baer, Class of 1956. Baer is the Founder, Chairman of the Board, President, and Director of Research at Zomeworks Corporation.
  • Michael Clarke Rubel (1940–2007), Class of 1957, builder of Glendora's Rubel Castle, an unconventional monolith of stone and recycled materials.
  • Charles Webb, Class of 1957, the author of the novel The Graduate. Webb donated the principal funds for a wing of the school library in the late 1970s.
  • Billy Childs, Class of 1975, jazz pianist and two-time Grammy winner in 2006.
  • Mathias Craig, Class of 1996, founder of BlueEnergy, a non-profit organization with the mission of providing sustainable, low-cost energy to marginalized communities around the world.

Noted donors[edit]

  • Bill Kimpton, founder of the Kimpton Hotels Group. The athletic field is named after him (Kimpton Field).
  • Rick Sawyer, Midland School class of 1970. Founder of www.hollisterranch.com and www.ricksawyer.com.

External links[edit]