Selwyn School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Selwyn College Preparatory School is an independent, coeducational day school located in Argyle, Texas. Founded in 1957, it covers grades PK-12.

The school has an enrollment of about 300, primarily from Denton, but also from surrounding north Texas towns including Argyle, Aubrey, Corinth, Copper Canyon, Flower Mound, Highland Village and Sanger.[citation needed]


In 1955, Denton Civic Boys Choir School, was founded. But after two years a group of prominent Denton residents, led by John Ross of Moore Business Forms, put together a non-profit group to take over the school.

With a borrowed $100, the school, renamed Denton Preparatory School in 1957, began classes in a building leased from Texas Woman's University. Thirty-three students attended Kindergarten through 9th grade and it had five teachers. Leading that faculty was another Ross recruit: John D. Doncaster, a former English instructor at Southern Methodist University.

Two years later Doncaster led the school to a new location to accommodate the 85 students and the fledgling boarding program. Parents and school community members worked to convert the barns into classrooms and the house into a dormitory.

Then J. Newton Rayzor stepped in. In 1961 Rayzor, a Houston developer and prominent landowner in Denton donated 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land to the school on University Drive west of town. In the fall of that year due to the labor of parents, faculty and students, the school was completed and ready for occupancy. To honor Rayzor, it was named after his daughter, Jeanne Selwyn Rayzor. (1926–1976).

Doncaster's educational philosophy rejected of progressive education favored at that time. His approach was traditional, epitomized by his phrase “discipline and the disciplines."

Over time the school became both a boarding and day school and it gained accreditation by the Texas Education Agency and the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest a regional association of the National Association of Independent Schools. It also gradually added grades, eventually becoming a K-12 institution.

The 1970s and 1980s saw Doncaster making trips to the Middle East to encourage parents there to send their children to boarding school in Denton. At the time, Saudi Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company) would pay for parents to send their children overseas to school. This led to a collection of students from all over: children of oil executives, international students, day students and boarders from across the Southwest. This diversity led to the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the school.

As the 1980s drew to a close, the plummeting price of oil made recruitment difficult for the school; oil wealth simply wasn’t there to pay the tuitions of so many of its students. This was compounded by the recession dealt by 1991's Gulf War. The school as it stood then was unsustainable, so painful measures were taken: the upper school was closed.

Despite cries from its small number of far-flung alumni, the move allowed the school to get on more solid financial footing by focusing on its local pre-K and Kindergarten programs, even converting the girls dormitory into an extensive set of children's classrooms—including an internal sandbox.

As attendance grew again, grades were added to accommodate demand, gradually building the middle school, and, eventually, in 2003, the reopening of the upper school beginning with the 9th grade and adding grades through the 12th.


While the quality of students varied, the quality of teaching was generally very good. Retired university professors, experienced—if eccentric[citation needed]—teachers at the middle and upper levels, and a solid Montessori atmosphere in the lower school made for a well-rounded education.

One of the things that set Selwyn apart from other schools at both the middle and upper schools was its Perspectives program, a mandatory two-to-three-week trip. While middle school students generally stayed in the state, upper school students ventured to Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. It was an opportunity for students to expand their horizons in a relatively structured way.

The Perspectives program was extended into the lower grades in abbreviated form.

At present time, the upper school is growing. The Montessori program was eliminated in 2007.


As the years went on, a menagerie of buildings was constructed on the hilltop site.

In the mid-1960s, notable architect O'Neil Ford was commissioned to design several buildings and a master plan for the campus. The Preston House portion of the girls dorm and the Kremer Science Building were built in 1965; and the Moody Dining Hall, in 1969.

In some cases the buildings' uses changed—dormitories became faculty apartments or classrooms, for example. But in general, the angular design and adobe-like brick used in many of the buildings, made for a consistent look. Notable exceptions were the art dome—a geodesic dome constructed in the 1970s and demolished in the early 2000s (decade) due to deterioration, the Quonset hut—a green, military style multipurpose room—and the gym—a corrugated metal building common in the area. Around 1980, the Sid Richardson library was built. In the mid-1980s, a significant two-story classroom building was built.

Until March 2017, the school was located off of U.S. Highway 380, near the city limits.[1]

On January 26, 2012, a fire destroyed the main building of the school.[2] A fire marshal later determined it was arson.[3][4]

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a new building in May 2015, but in March 2016, the process stopped since there were issues with reconstruction and fundraising. In May 2016, the school administration considered moving to a more central location in Denton.[1] An anonymous donor offered funds if the school was moved.[5]

As of March 2017, Selwyn School is located in Argyle, Texas, on Copper Canyon Road.


  1. ^ a b Carter, Wayne. "Denton private school may have to move four years after arson fire devastated its campus" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News. May 23, 2016. Retrieved on May 26, 2016.
  2. ^ "Fire at Selwyn". Denton Record-Chronicle. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  3. ^ "Blaze at Selwyn ruled intentional". Denton Record-Chronicle. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  4. ^ "Authorities say arsonist responsible for fire at Selwyn School in Denton". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved June 18, 2012. (Archive)
  5. ^ Scott, Brian. "Selwyn School Mulls Moving Four Years after Fire" (Archive). NBC DFW. May 22, 2016. Retrieved on May 26, 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°13′41″N 97°10′55″W / 33.22817°N 97.18193°W / 33.22817; -97.18193