St. Mark's School of Texas

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St. Mark's School of Texas
Courage and Honor
10600 Preston Road
Dallas, Texas, 75230
United States
Coordinates 32°53′25″N 96°48′03″W / 32.890363°N 96.800762°W / 32.890363; -96.800762Coordinates: 32°53′25″N 96°48′03″W / 32.890363°N 96.800762°W / 32.890363; -96.800762
Type Private, Day, College-prep Boys school
Religious affiliation(s) Non-sectarian
Episcopal (historically)
Established 1906
Sister school The Hockaday School
Headmaster David W. Dini
Faculty 125
Grades 112
Number of students 845
Campus 40 acres (160,000 m2)
Athletics conference SPC
Sports 17 sports teams
Mascot Lion
Nickname Lions
Tuition $22,627 - $28,149

The St. Mark's School of Texas is a nonsectarian preparatory day school for boys located in Dallas, Texas, USA. The School offers grades 1–12.


St. Mark's developed from three preceding private schools: Terrill School (1906–1944), Texas Country Day School (1933–1950), and The Cathedral School (1944–1950). The school traces its earliest history to Mr. Terrill's school, which is considered the city's first effort to create a private school that could rival its East Coast counterparts. The Terrill School served as a base for the foundation of the Episcopal-associated Cathedral School, which then merged with the nonsectarian Texas Country Day.

The St. Mark's founders decided to make the school nonsectarian, with nondenominational Chapel services led by an ordained Episcopalian Chaplain. The school officially opened as St. Mark's School of Texas in 1953. The Hockaday School for Girls, founded in 1913, became the sister school to St. Mark's; students from the two schools combine for social events, artistic performances, and some classes.


Many school activities take place each year. For example, the transition from Middle to Upper School is marked by a mandatory ten-day camping trip in the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico. Led by faculty and Upper School student "sherpas," this annual rite of passage dates back to the 1970s.[1] Other activities have their own traditions, ranging from the international travel of the choir [1] to a wide variety of community service projects [2] to events and activities that focus on environmental sustainability on campus.[3]

The school uniform features grey pants and a white button down shirt, though seniors wear blue shirts.

The school's motto is "Courage and Honor."

The school today[edit]

Approximately 850 students are spread across first through twelfth grade, and the overall student/faculty ratio is 8:1. Of more than 120 faculty and administrative members, 92 have advanced degrees, including nine with doctorates. More than 30 faculty members have been at the School 20 years or more. There are seventeen endowed chairs for teaching and administration (e.g., for the headmaster).[4]

On its 40 acre-campus is an array of buildings, most of which are named after well-known Dallas families. Texas Instruments' co-founders Cecil H. Green and Eugene McDermott donated a math and science quadrangle, the main library, the greenhouse, the planetarium and the observatory.[5] Shortly after those buildings' completion in the 1960s, Time magazine called St. Mark's the "best-equipped day school in the country."[volume & issue needed]

In more recent years, the natatorium was named in honor of Ralph Rogers;[6] the Lamar Hunt family donated a football stadium, and Tom Hicks funded a new gymnasium. The Roosevelt family contributed a carillon in 2005 and a pipe organ in 2013.[7] The lower school has its own library, while the main library—named after Ida and Cecil H. Green—is heavily computerized but also features 56,000 volumes.[8]

Spearheaded by a $10 million donation from the family of Harlan Crow,[9] the Centennial Project raised over $110 million when it ended in June 2013. The Project led to the addition of 11 endowed teaching chairs as well two new state-of-the-art academic buildings. Centennial Hall houses the Math, English, History, and Administrative Departments, while the Robert K. Hoffman '65 Center—funded largely by Kenneth A. Hersh '81—houses the Language, Debate, Journalism, and College Counseling programs, in addition to the Student Store and Senior Lounge.[10]

45% of the school's 852 boys are students of color.[11]

As of 2015, the school's overall endowment was over $100 million.[12] This translates into an endowment of over $117,000 per student.


Two thirds of the class of 2016 was recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, with 27 boys named as Semi-finalists and 31 boys being named commended scholars.[13] The median SAT for seniors in 2013 was 2170 on a 2400-point scale. Seven St. Marks seniors have been named Presidential Scholars by the Presidential Scholars Program since 2003.[14] In 2013, a student also won the Nestle Very Best in Youth Award, one of 18 winners from around the country.[15]

A 2015 survey ranked St. Mark's 8th among all U.S. private schools in regards to "smartness,"[16] while multiple other surveys have also ranked St. Mark's among the top private schools in the state and the country.[17][18][18] While many graduates stay in Texas, many also matriculate around the country. The Wall Street Journal ranked American high schools based on their sending graduates to 8 selective universities (primarily on the east coast); St. Mark's was the highest ranked Texas school in that imperfect assessment [19][20] While presumably pleased by these rankings, St. Mark's administrators have repeatedly argued that no single ranking can capture a school's excellence or its fit with any particular student.


St. Mark's organizes 17 varsity sports teams that compete against similarly-sized private schools in the Southwest Preparatory Conference.[21]

As of 2014, the swim team had won 18 conference titles in 20 years, track and field had won 9 titles in 11 years, and wrestling had won 15 titles in 17 years; when the former wrestling coach retired in 2012, he had coached 17 team state championships and 67 individual state championships.[22] Three other St. Mark's teams have won state championships while competing against both private and large public school: water polo has won five state championships, including titles in 2014 and 2015,[23] while lacrosse and crew have each won state championships since 2010.[24][25][26][27]

In recent years, about 10% of St. Mark's graduates have gone on to play intercollegiate sports in college.[28][29] Fifteen alumni have signed to play college lacrosse since 2001. Twenty three other alumni have run college track or cross-country since 1989, while a total of eighty-one St. Mark's graduates have gone on to play NCAA football.[30] The football players include Sam Acho '07, Emmanuel Acho '08, and Kalen Thornton '00, all of whom went on to play in the National Football League—the Acho brothers are currently linebackers on different NFL teams.[31] Most recently, Ty Montgomery '11 was selected in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers after an All-American career at Stanford.[32]

Other St. Mark's alumni involved in professional sports include two who did not play a college sport. Taylor Jenkins '03 earned a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a basketball coach—he is now an assistant coach for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.[33][34] Matthew Silverman '94 is president of baseball operations for the MLB Tampa Bay Rays after being recruited from Goldman Sachs.[35]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

St. Mark's offers 42 Upper School clubs and academic teams for the 80 to 90 boys per graduating class.[13] This extracurricular activity has led to significant external recognition.[36]

The school newspaper and literary magazine won 2015 Gold Crowns, the highest award given by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.[37][38][39] In that year, only 11 newspapers, 13 yearbooks, and 16 magazines won Gold Crowns from around the country. This was the 12th straight Gold Crown for the newspaper, and third straight for the magazine.The yearbook won a Silver Crown after having won 6 straight Gold Crowns until this year.[40][41][42] A St. Mark's senior was named journalist of the year in the state of Texas in 2013, 2014, and 2015 by the National Scholastic Press Association. Both the 2013 and 2014 winners also placed among the top three high school journalists in the country.[43]

The debate team has won three national titles,[44] and, in 2015, won the "world championship" at the International Public Policy Forum.[45][46][47] The school itself annually hosts one of the most prestigious high school debate tournaments in the country, The Heart of Texas Invitational.

The school's photography program has been named best in state by the Association of Texas Photography Instructors for eight consecutive years (2007–2014).[48]

The school's math, science, and engineering (STEM) teams also successfully compete with other schools. In 2015, for example, the 11th and 12th grade team finished 5th in a national competition, while the 9th and 10th grade team finished first.[49]

Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs are probably the most famous alumni musicians; while in high school, they created a band called The Marksmen. Some well-known actors were better known as athletes while at St. Mark's. For example, Tommy Lee Jones went on to become an all conference offensive lineman for Harvard's football team, while Luke Wilson was part of a 1989 St. Mark's track quartet that still holds the fastest 4x400 relay time in SPC conference history.[50][51][52] The founder of Texas Monthly and a co-founder of the National Lampoon also attended St. Mark's.

The avidity with which students pursue extracurricular activities is mocked in the film Rushmore, which was co-written by Owen Wilson, who—like the film's protagonist—was asked to leave the school prior to graduation. Rushmore was set at a fictional cross between St. Mark's and Houston's St. John's School, the alma mater of the other cowriter and director, Wes Anderson. The film features a protagonist who participates in dozens of clubs and activities.[53]

The local press has long written about ways in which St. Mark's blends in and differs from the rest of Dallas.[54][55]

Notable alumni[edit]


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External links[edit]