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
Headmaster David W. Dini
Faculty 125
Grades 112
Number of students 845
Campus 40 acres (16 ha)
Athletics conference SPC
Mascot Lion
Endowment over $100 million[1]
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 and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest.


St. Mark's traces its origins to the Terrill School, which was founded by Menter B. Terrill in 1906. The six original teachers included Mr. Terrill, who had been valedictorian at Yale, as well as his wife, Ada (who had been one of the first women to attend graduate school at Yale), and his father, James, who had previously been a college president. Mr. Terrill's school was explicitly intended to be Dallas' initial effort to supply an education that could rival that available in east coast prep schools. Terrill quickly recruited the sons of some of Dallas' most affluent citizens, and it also recruited students from throughout the southwest to become boarders at the school. By 1915, Terrill School sent 14 of its 33 graduates to Ivy League colleges.[2]

As headmaster, Mr. Terrill encouraged Miss Ela Hockaday to open a girls school in Dallas, which she did in 1913. Schools descended from Terrill have had some affiliation with the Hockaday School for over a century, with students participating in shared social events, artistic performances, and some classes.

After Mr. Terrill was forced to retire because of ill health in 1916, the school became increasingly seen as a sports school, liberally recruiting "semi pro athletes" who allowed the school to compete against much larger high schools as well as teams of college freshmen.[3][4] St. Mark's sports teams were very successful during the era, often going undefeated and winning at least one state high school football championship in the 1920s.[5] In 1930, the football team was undefeated and unscored upon, and the basketball team won a prep school national championship.[4] At least three graduates from that era went on to play in the fledgling National Football League, Jabby Andrews '29,[6] Deck Shelley '25, and Bill Vaughn '20[7]

The Terrill School faced academic competition from Texas Country Day, which was founded in 1933 with 10 boys and four teachers.[8] Within 2 years of its creation, Texas Country Day was advertising that its faculty included "a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard, Dartmouth, and Amherst men." In 1939, the school recruited the previous year's Heisman Trophy winner, Davey O'Brien, to be its three-days-a-week football coach; 61 of 65 high school boys tried out for spring football that year.[9][10]

In the context of the Great Depression, World War II, no endowment, and a small student body, Terrill School failed by 1943/44. Terrill re-emerged as the Episcopal-associated Cathedral School in 1944.[11]

Within a decade of Terrill's demise, a cluster of Dallas business leaders tried again to create an elite Dallas institution by merging Texas Country Day (1933–1953) and the Cathedral School (1944–1953).

St. Mark's is the result of this merger, and it was immediately and robustly supported by some of Dallas' most successful businessmen of the post World War II era. Beginning in the 1950s, for example, two of the founders of Texas Instruments donated a total of nearly $50 million, helping to create the modern campus and the solid endowment.[12]

In 1983, St. Mark's celebrated its 50th year, based on the 1933 establishment of Texas Country Day. In 1988, the Board decided to trace the founding of the school to the Terrill School rather than Texas Country Day, thus leading to the anomaly of a 50th anniversary and a 100th anniversary occurring only 23 years apart.[13][14]

Former Headmasters[edit]

Menter B. Terrill (1906–1916), Terrill School[15]

M.G. Bogarte (1916–1931), Terrill School

Sam "Pop" Davis (1931–1946?), Terrill School[14]

Kenneth Bouve (1933–1949), Texas Country Day[16][17]

Robert Iglehart (1949–1956), Texas Country Day and St. Mark's[14]

L. Ralston Thomas (1956–1957)[18]

Thomas B. Hartmann (1957–1963)[19][20]

Christopher Berrisford (1963–1969)[21][22]

John T. Whatley (1969–1983)[11][23][24]

David Hicks (1983–1993)[25][26]

Arnold Holtberg (1993–2014)[27]

David Dini (2014–present)


Many school activities take place each year. For example, St. Mark's has a wilderness program that begins with a week-long trip to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks at the end of the fourth grade. The program includes ongoing exposure to camping during middle school, and culminates with a mandatory ten-day camping trip in the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico during the summer before ninth grade. Faculty and Upper School student "sherpas" lead this annual rite of passage.[28] The first freshman trip, in 1971, was to the Big Bend of Texas. Annual trips to the Pecos Wilderness began the next year.

Other activities have their own traditions, ranging from the international travel of the choir[28] to a wide variety of community service projects[29] to events and activities that focus on environmental sustainability on campus.[30]

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

St. Mark's is nonsectarian, with weekly nondenominational chapel services led by an ordained Episcopalian Chaplain.

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).[31]

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.[32]

The early emphasis on science facilities was not random. As a former St. Mark's headmaster once said: "St. Mark's is a Sputnik school pragmatically established by industrialists who were interested in turning out scientists."[33] These science facilities have contributed to the career development of a number of future scientists, including Alan Stern '75, who traces his current role as principal investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto to his early participation in the St. Mark's planetarium, observatory, and astronomy club.[34]

In more recent years, the natatorium was named in honor of Ralph Rogers;[35] 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 Letourneau pipe organ in 2013.[36][37] 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.[38]

Spearheaded by a $10 million donation from the family of Harlan Crow,[39] the Centennial Project raised over $110 million when it ended in June 2013. The Project led to additional 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.[40] Other major contributors have included Algur H. Meadows, Charles Nearburg, Ross Perot, Jr., Al Hill, Jr., Everett DeGolyer, and H. Ben Decherd.[17]

The first African-American student entered St. Mark's in 1965. 45% of the school's 852 boys are now students of color.[41]

93% of current parents donated to the 2015-16 annual fund, as did 59% of all living alumni (a new school record for alumni participation). A total of $3.4 million was raised for the year.

As of 2015, the school's overall endowment was over $100 million.[1] This translates into an endowment of over $117,000 per student. There are 18 endowed Master Teacher chairs, including three for department chairs and one for the headmaster. [42]


21% of the overall applicant pool was accepted to St. Mark's in 2015. Of those accepted, 92% enrolled at St. Mark's[43]

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.[44] Composite SAT range for seniors in 2015 was 2140–2210.[45]

Seven St. Mark’s seniors have been named Presidential Scholars by the Presidential Scholars Program since 2003.[46] In 2013, a student won the Nestle Very Best in Youth Award, one of 18 winners from around the country.[47] In 2016, a senior was a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search; he was one of 40 finalists nationwide and the only Texan.[48][49]

St. Mark's math and science (STEM) teams have done well in national competitions sponsored by the Technology Student Association. Both the 11th/12th grade team and the 9th/10th grade team have finished in the top 10 nationally for the past 6 years (2011-2016). The senior team finished first nationally in 2013, while the junior team finished first in 2015. In each of those years, 2-3 different SM teams finished among the top 10 teams in Texas. [50] [51]

An 8th grader from St. Mark's won the 76th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Fourth grade classes from St. Mark's finished first in their division in national team WordMasters competitions in both 2015 and 2016.[52][53] The high school's Quiz Bowl team was ranked 26th in the country in 2016 and second best among U.S. private schools.[54] In 2014, a St. Mark's student became an international Grand Master in chess, thereby becoming the youngest person to reach that rank in the Americas. [55]

A 2016 survey ranked St. Mark's as the 2nd best all boys school in the U.S.,[56] while a 2015 survey ranked St. Mark's 8th among all U.S. private schools in regards to "smartness."[57] Multiple other surveys have ranked St. Mark's highly in regards to academics and college placement.[58][59][59][60][61]


St. Mark's organizes 17 varsity sports teams for the approximately 350 Upper School boys.

Water polo has won six state championships, including state titles in 2014, 2015, and 2016.[62][63][64] As of 2016, water polo had finished in the top 3 in state for 8 consecutive years and won 15 regional championships in the past 16 years.[63][65]

Lacrosse won the Division I state title in 2013; at the time of that win, SM lacrosse had won the conference championship 9 out of 10 years.[66][67]

Crew has won a total of 13 state championships since 1993.[68]

Fencing won 6 state titles between 1992 and 2001.[69][70][71][72]

As of 2016, the swim team had won 20 conference titles in 22 years, track and field had won 14 team titles in 20 years, and wrestling had won 37 conference championships since 1973.[73]

The school's overall sports program has won 14 consecutive "Directors Cups" (2002–2015), a measure of the school's overall success in the 18-school Southwest Preparatory Conference.[43][74]

Some well-known alumni 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.[75][76][77] Boz Scaggs was a track and soccer star while at St. Mark's, though it was also during high school that he took his first guitar lessons from a classmate, Steve Miller; while in high school, they created a band called The Marksmen.[78]

Three alumni currently play in the National Football League. Sam Acho '07 and Emmanuel Acho '08 are linebackers for different NFL teams, while Ty Montgomery '11 is a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers.[79][80]

In recent years, about 10% of St. Mark's graduates have gone on to play intercollegiate sports in college.[81][82] Fifteen alumni have signed to play college lacrosse since 2001. Twenty three other alumni have run college track or cross-country since 1989. A total of eighty-one St. Mark's graduates have gone on to play NCAA football, with 38 signing to play for college football teams between 2000 and 2015.[83] In 2016, William C. Rhoden wrote an article in the New York Times on how a current St. Mark's student is using his basketball skills to gain acceptance into a top flight Division III college.[84]

Other St. Mark's alumni involved in professional sports include several who did not play the sport in college, much less professionally. Taylor Jenkins '03 was able to land a summer internship with the San Antonio Spurs during college in 2006—he is now an assistant coach for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.[85][86] Matthew Silverman '94 is president of baseball operations for the MLB Tampa Bay Rays after being recruited from Goldman Sachs.[87] Brian Auld '95 did play a college sport—he was captain of the Stanford lacrosse team—but, he became president of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays through the same path as did Jenkins and Silverman: business school.

Two alumni have owned professional sports teams: Ross Perot, Jr. '77 has owned the Dallas Mavericks and is now a minority shareholder; Clark Hunt '83 is a former college soccer player who owns FC Dallas as well as the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

As of 2016, St. Mark's recognized 55 clubs for the 350 Upper Schoolers. Sixteen of these were formed in the past year. While some of the clubs are primarily "interest groups" that rarely meet, others are significant commitments—and lead to external recognition.[88][89]

The school newspaper and literary magazine won 2016 Gold Crowns, the highest award given by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.[90][91][92] About a dozen publications win Gold Crowns in each category each year in the U.S. The 2016 award was the 13th straight Gold Crown for the newspaper, and fourth straight for the magazine. As of 2016, the school yearbook had won either a Silver or Gold Crown for 7 consecutive years.[93][94][95] St. Mark's seniors have been named journalist of the year in the state of Texas for four consecutive years (2013–2016) by the National Scholastic Press Association; in 2016, St. Mark's seniors finished first and second in this statewide competition. Three of the four state winners also placed among the top three high school journalists in the country.[96][97]

The debate team has won four national policy debate titles,[98][99] most recently winning the National Debate Coaches Association title in 2016. In addition, the team won the "world championship" at the 2015 International Public Policy Forum.[100][101][102] 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 ten consecutive years (2007–2016).[103][104]

The avidity with which students pursue extracurricular activities is mocked in the film Rushmore, which was co-written by Owen Wilson '87, 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.[105]

The local press has long written about ways in which St. Mark's blends in and differs from the rest of Dallas.[106][107][108]

Notable alumni[edit]

^Alumnus, but graduated from different high school.

@Terrill School

+ Texas Country Day


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External links[edit]