Northfield Mount Hermon School

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Northfield Mount Hermon
Northfield Mount Hermon School seal.png
1 Lamplighter Way


Coordinates42°40′03″N 72°29′08″W / 42.66750°N 72.48556°W / 42.66750; -72.48556Coordinates: 42°40′03″N 72°29′08″W / 42.66750°N 72.48556°W / 42.66750; -72.48556
School typePrivate, boarding
MottoEducation for the Head, Heart, and Hand
Established1879; 143 years ago (1879)
FounderDwight L. Moody
Head of schoolBrian H. Hargrove
Faculty90 (on an FTE basis)
Enrollment672 total
82% boarding
18% day
Average class size12
Student to teacher ratio6:1
Campus size215 acres (core campus), 1,353 acres (total land holdings)
Campus typeRural
Color(s)Maroon and light blue   
Athletics20 interscholastic sports; 67 teams
Mascotthe Hogger
Endowment$181 million

Northfield Mount Hermon School, often called NMH, is a co-educational preparatory school in Gill, Massachusetts in the United States. It is a member of the Eight Schools Association.

Present day[edit]

NMH offers nearly 200 courses, including AP and honors classes in every discipline. Every semester, students take three major courses, each 80 minutes long, as opposed to five 50-minute classes which are more typical of high schools. This "College-Model Academic Program" allows students to spend more time with their teachers and immerse themselves more deeply in academic subjects. NMH employs 90 full-time teaching faculty members, 65 percent of whom have advanced degrees. The average class size at NMH is 12 students; the student-to-teacher ratio is 6 to 1.

Students are required to participate in co-curricular activities every semester; these include athletic teams, performing-arts ensembles, volunteer work on and off-campus, and activities such as working for one of the school's four student publications. Students may join an extensive array of extracurricular clubs, organizations, and affinity groups.

Students involved in visual and performing arts courses, as well as NMH's performing ensembles, are supported by the Rhodes Arts Center. (See more under "Arts Programs")

With more than 65 athletic teams in 20 interscholastic sports, NMH offers one of the broadest athletic programs among secondary schools in the U.S. and currently holds the national prep championship title in boys' basketball and New England championship titles in girls' crew, wrestling, and numerous individual swimming and track and field events. NMH offers an extensive outdoor education program in addition to its competitive teams.

Each student is required to hold a job on campus, working four to five hours a week for a total of 120 hours each school year. This contribution to the operation of the school stems from the school's founder, Dwight Lyman Moody, and his desire for students to understand the value of manual labor.


  • Workjob - Students work in all aspects of the school. While the specific jobs change with time, (working in the power plant and laundry are no longer common) students still work in the kitchen washing dishes and preparing food; managing sports teams and performing arts groups; tutoring peers in various disciplines; leading campus tours for visitors; doing administrative office work; and caring for animals and performing other chores on NMH's working farm, such as making maple syrup and apple cider.
  • "Jerusalem" - The school song. A short poem written by William Blake and set to music by Sir Hubert-Parry. It is traditional to yell out the line "Bring me my arrows of desire" in the second verse of the hymn (although not always in formal settings).
  • Rope Pull - A giant tug-of-war held over Shadow Lake between the seniors and juniors. While typically the seniors are the victors, on a few occasions the juniors have triumphed.
  • Mountain Day - A surprise holiday when classes are cancelled and students and faculty hike either Mount Monadnock or Northfield Mountain.
  • Bemis-Forslund Pie Race - A 5K course that is among the oldest footraces in the country (begun in 1891) in which runners have the chance to win a homemade apple pie. Typically run in the late fall.
  • Christmas Vespers - Held in a candlelit Memorial Chapel (and originally Sage Chapel) since at least the 1930s, Christmas Vespers is a combined choral and orchestral service including Bible readings, Christmas melodies, and other seasonal music. There are two services on campus in addition to an off-campus service, held alternately in New York and Boston. Traditionally, a male soloist performs a verse of Veni Veni Emmanuel to begin the service with a choral response of the refrain which leads into the congregation joining in singing the old French Carol, Sing We Noel. To conclude the service, David Wilcock's arrangement of Adeste Fidelis is sung by the congregation followed by a female soloist singing the descant to Stille Nacht as the choir hums. After a moment of perfect darkness and silence a final organ refrain of Veni Veni Emmanuel concludes the service, followed by an organ arrangement of God Rest ye Merry Gentleman.
  • Sacred Concert - A combined choral and orchestral performance with history more than a century old. Performed for the community by NMH students and faculty in the Auditorium on the school's former Northfield campus in early May.


Marquand Hall, 1904

The school was founded by Protestant evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody as the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879 (later called the Northfield School for Girls) and the Mount Hermon School for Boys in 1881. Moody built the girls' school in Northfield, Massachusetts, the town of his birth, and the boys' school a few miles away in the town of Gill. Both were "opportunity" schools created for the deserving poor who had no other means to acquire an education.

From their beginnings, both schools attracted highly diverse students. Moody's goal was to provide the best possible education for young people without privilege, and he enrolled students whose parents were slaves as well as Native Americans and people from other countries, which was unprecedented among elite private schools at that time. Sixteen of the Northfield students who matriculated in 1880 were Native Americans, as were four Mount Hermon boys in 1882; at Mount Hermon's first commencement in 1887, one student addressed the audience "in his native language, for the representatives of the Sioux, Shawnee, and Alaskan tribes in the school."[1] An 1887 report lists 8 Chinese, 5 Indians, 2 Negroes, and 1 Japanese student at Mount Hermon; by 1889 their numbers had risen to 37 students from 15 countries, and in 1904 to 113 students from 27 countries ranging from Burma through Denmark.[2] In the 1940s it was one of a handful of American private schools with admissions for non-white students.[3]

Moody sent out students who founded schools and churches of their own. For example, a protégé of Moody founded Moores Corner Church in Leverett, MA.[citation needed] Moody viewed Christian religious education as an essential objective of his schools. Under subsequent administrations, the schools grew more theologically liberal and ultimately became non-denominational. Today, NMH offers diverse ways to pursue religious studies and personal spirituality.

By 1913, the schools were operated under the single moniker "The Northfield Schools," but remained separate institutions until 1972, when the two schools merged to become Northfield Mount Hermon, continuing to operate with two coeducational campuses. In 2005, the school consolidated its students and classes onto the Mount Hermon campus. This decision by the board of trustees stemmed from a belief that students would receive the best possible education in a smaller, more close-knit community, and from a desire to focus the school's resources on educational programs and maintain one campus instead of two. Before consolidation, the school enrolled approximately 1,100 students per year; the student body has now settled at 650, making the admission process even more selective.

In June 2016, The Trust for Public Land and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation ensured the complete and permanent protection of 1,300 acres of forest land which was previously the Northfield campus and owned by the Northfield Mount Hermon School for over a century. Although now a permanent part of the Northfield State Forest, it had been the largest parcel of unprotected land in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The property includes woodlands, trails and a reservoir which will be managed by the DCR to ensure public access for recreation as well as serve as important habitat for wildlife.[4]

Brian H. Hargrove became NMH's 12th head of school in 2019.


View of James and Forslund Gymnasiums

All students are required to participate in some form of physical education every term, which is not limited to interscholastic sports. The school fields more than 65 teams (including junior varsity teams) in 20 different sports. The football team was abolished after the 2013 season, but otherwise most other major sports are offered, and several programs (e.g., boys' basketball, girls' swimming and both boys' and girls' cross-country) are regional and/or national powerhouses.

Mount Hermon claims to have invented the sport of Ultimate Frisbee in 1968, although Columbia High School in New Jersey has a stronger claim.[5]

Arts Programs[edit]

Rhodes Arts Center

The 65,000 sq ft (6,000 m2) Gold LEED certified Rhodes Arts Center (at right) is the home of all of the arts programs at NMH. It houses two concert performance spaces, a black-box theater, two dance studios, an art gallery, classrooms, art studios, practice rooms, and faculty offices. Additionally, the RAC is home to the Class of 1958 Carillon, which was originally installed in Sage Chapel in 1924. The funds to make the move possible were spearheaded by the combined Mount Hermon and Northfield classes of '58. It can be played via an electronic keyboard situated in the bottom of the bell-tower. Memorial Chapel houses the school's own tracker action organ. Andover Organ Company Opus 67, completed in December 1970 and donated by Kenneth H. Rockey is a 2-manual 27-stop, 37-rank tracker organ with a pedal compass of 30, and a manual compass of 56.[6]

Performing groups include:

  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Chamber Orchestra
  • Concert Band
  • Concert Choir (performs two Christmas Vespers concerts every year, on campus and in either Boston or New York)
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • World Music Combo
  • World Percussion Ensemble
  • Stage Band
  • Three student-run a cappella groups: Northfield Mount Harmony (co-ed), Hogappella (all male), the Nellies (all female)
  • NMH Dance Companies (three major productions each year)
  • NMH Singers
  • Select Women's Ensemble
  • Theater: performs three major plays a year, one musical, and a student-directed one-act festival

NMH also produces an annual arts and literary magazine, Mandala, as well as two student-run newspapers, The Bridge and The Hermonite.

Co-Curricular & Extra-Curricular Groups, Classes, and Activities[edit]

Many of the activities that NMH students are involved in are considered classes or part of the work program; others are organized outside the curriculum. NMH's Student Activities office provides support, services, and resources for student organizations, including places to meet, materials, and funding.[7]

Notable alumni[edit]



  1. ^ Askins, Kathryn (2009). Bridging Cultures: American Indian Students at the Northfield Mount Hermon School. University of New Hampshire. p. 116, 119-120.
  2. ^ Curry, Joseph (1972). Mount Hermon from 1881 to 1971 : an historical analysis of a distinctive American boarding school. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. p. 59-61.
  3. ^ Yoo, Paula. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement (1 ed.). Norton Young Readers. p. 166. ISBN 9781324002871. - read online
  4. ^ "Northfield Forest". The Trust for Public Land.
  5. ^ "Ultimate Frisbee - Northfield Mount Hermon: Best Private Boarding and Day Schools".
  6. ^ Lawson, Steve E. (2015-06-11). "Andover Organ Co. Opus 67 (1970)". The OHS Pipe Organ Database. Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  7. ^ Student Activities office, NMH website Archived May 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao "Prominent Alumni | Northfield Mount Hermon". Archived from the original on 2011-06-18. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  9. ^ Theobald, Brianna (2016). "Nurse, Mother, Midwife—: Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail and the Struggle for Crow Women's Reproductive Autonomy". Montana: The Magazine of Western History. 66 (3): 17–35. ISSN 0026-9891. JSTOR 26322872.
  10. ^ "Hasok Chang CV" (PDF). University College London. 2009-12-21. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2016-05-14.

External links[edit]