St. Bernard's School

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St. Bernard's School
St. Bernard's School (shield).jpg
4 E. 98th Street
New York City, New York
United States
Type Independent, secular, all-male
Motto Perge sed caute
(Proceed, but with caution)
Established 1904
Founder John Card Jenkins
Headmaster Stuart H. Johnson, III
Grades K-9
Gender male
Enrollment 372 Boys
Campus Urban
Color(s) red and white
Mascot St. Bernard (dog)
Nickname St. B's
Yearbook The Keg

St. Bernard's School, founded in 1904 by John Card Jenkins,[1] is an elite, private all-male elementary school on Manhattan's Upper East Side.


The school shield depicts an eagle (representing the United States of America), a lion (representing Great Britain), a book (symbol of education), and a cross (representing a tradition of Christianity).

Although the school's name is spelled (though not pronounced) the same way as that of the breed of dog, which is also its mascot, it was in fact named for the rue St-Bernard in Brussels, Belgium, where a relative of one of St. Bernard's founders had also founded a school.

The school's yearbook is named the Keg, and is edited each year by Grade 9.

Many team sports are played at the school, including soccer, swimming, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and track. Fencing has recently been re-introduced after a long hiatus. Furthermore, sports such as bombardment (a form of dodgeball) and capture the flag are played in gym class. The ice hockey program is run by Saint Bernard's parents and begins in kindergarten.

The current headmaster of the school is Stuart H. Johnson III (born August 14, 1954). A graduate of Yale University, he previously taught at St. Bernard's, and at Groton School, before becoming headmaster in 1985.


St. Bernard's is home to a number of traditions. The most noteworthy (and oldest) of these is the annual Shakespeare Play, performed by the entire eighth grade. Other important traditions include:

  • The Budget - a biannual student-edited literature magazine with poems, essays, compositions and photographs of artwork
  • The Keg - the school's yearbook edited by the ninth grade
  • Friday Assembly - each Friday, the entire school gathers in the small gym, during which sports scores are announced, school news is related, the Alligator is given away, one homeroom performs a play, and hymns and school songs are sung.
  • The Alligator - At each Friday assembly, a taxidermal baby alligator is presented to the neatest classroom by the class which held it the previous week. This ceremony usually involves an elaborate skit.
  • School Songs - a number of school songs, most of them written by one of the school's founders, and collected in a "Red Song Book" are sung regularly.
  • Sports Day - once a year, the entire school gathers in Central Park to engage in a day of athletic competitions, sports games and races
  • The Debate Society - the entire eighth grade engages in an Oxford Union / Lincoln-Douglas style debate once every other week during the second semester
  • Christmas Carols - on the last day of classes before the Christmas Recess, the entire school gathers at a church on Madison Avenue (the location sometimes varies from year to year) to sing a number of traditional Christmas carols.
  • The Singers & Chamber Singers - there are two boys' choirs, the Singers and the Chamber Singers
  • "Britishness" - the school has a British tone and feel to it, and historically many of its faculty have been (and continue to be) British. This aspect of the school is accompanied by a respect for old-fashioned methods of education
  • The Raffle - every year the school has a raffle, often with over one hundred prizes. It is organized by several St. Bernard's parents and members of the faculty.
  • The Shakespeare play - every year the eighth grade performs a different Shakespeare play for which they rehearse for much of the school year.
  • Grammar - the school is very particular when concerning English grammar. They take exams for it and receive a grade on their report cards.


The school has three divisions: the Junior (or Lower) School consists of grades K through 3, the Middle School grades 4 through 6, and the Upper School grades 7 through 9. Mondays through Thursdays, boys in the Junior School, must wear St. Bernard's polo shirts (polo shirts with the school shield emblazoned upon the chest) in either red, white, or blue, khakis, and a blazer. Boys in the Middle and Upper schools must wear a polo or oxford shirt, accompanied by khakis and blazers as well. On Fridays, all boys wear jackets and ties (with the exception of the Kindergarteners).

St. Bernard's offers motivated young boys of diverse backgrounds an exceptionally thorough, rigorous, and enjoyable introduction to learning and community life. The school "aims to inspire boys to appreciate hard work and fair play, to develop confidence in themselves, consideration for others and a sense of citizenship, and to have fun while doing these things."[1] St. Bernard's educates boys from grades K-9, and is seen by its students, faculty and friends as a bastion of old-fashioned values (in terms of education and teaching methods), which are often very British in tone.

St. Bernard's alumni, known as Old Boys, earn admission to a wide range of the finest secondary schools in the United States and the United Kingdom, both day and boarding. The schools attended with greatest frequency include Andover, Collegiate, Deerfield, Exeter, Groton, Horace Mann, Lawrenceville, Loyola, Regis, St. Paul's, Stuyvesant, and Trinity.[1] There have also been a number of students who go on to English boarding schools, which can be attributed to both the high number of students with English parents and the overall Anglophilia of the school.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The film Prince of the City referenced the school as the alma mater of one of the prosecutors charged with investigating police corruption. The film's cop protagonist remarks, "St. Bernard's. That's in the 2-3, that's, uh, little blond boys in blazers, right?"
  • In Season 2, Episode 13 ("The Whole Truth") of Lie To Me, Victor Musso, best friend and business partner of the deceased victim, takes to the stand to say, "We've been best friends since we were ten at St. Bernard's."
  • Alumnus John P. Roberts organized and bankrolled the Woodstock Festival in 1989.
  • In 1936, James Merrill played the First Herald ("a small part...but an important one") in St. Bernard's production of Richard II. Merrill recalled the experience in his 1985 poem "The School Play".[2]

Notable Alumni[edit]

James Merrill

John P. Roberts

Skizzy Mars

Peter Magowan

George Plimpton

Tim Zagat

Gifford Miller


  1. ^ a b c - the school's website
  2. ^ Merrill, James. Collected Poems. New York: Knopf, 2001, p. 422. Originally published in Late Settings, New York: Atheneum, 1985. Merrill's 1986 reading of "The School Play" is available for MP3 download.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°47′19.6″N 73°57′15.17″W / 40.788778°N 73.9542139°W / 40.788778; -73.9542139