Taft School

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For other places with the same name, see Taft High School (disambiguation).
The Taft School
Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret
Not to be served but to serve
110 Woodbury Road
Watertown, Connecticut 06795
United States
Coordinates 41°36′16″N 73°7′27″W / 41.60444°N 73.12417°W / 41.60444; -73.12417Coordinates: 41°36′16″N 73°7′27″W / 41.60444°N 73.12417°W / 41.60444; -73.12417
Type Private, Day & Boarding, College-prep
Established 1890
Headmaster William R. MacMullen
Faculty 124
Grades 912
Gender Co-ed
Enrollment 598 (2013)
Average class size 12
Student to teacher ratio 5:1
Campus 224 acres (0.91 km2)
Color(s)      Maroon
     Navy blue
Nickname Rhinos

The Taft School is a private, coeducational prep school located in Watertown, Connecticut, United States. The school was founded by Horace Dutton Taft in 1890. It has 596 students, about 485 of whom live on the 220-acre (0.89 km2) campus. Taft is a member of the Ten Schools Admissions Organization. The founder was the brother of President William Howard Taft. In its 125-year history, Taft has had only five headmasters. Taft's fifth and current headmaster, Willy MacMullen, has led the school since 2001.


In 1890 Horace Dutton Taft founded the Taft school in Pelhem Manor, New York. In 1891, the school colors are chosen: red and blue. In 1893 Mr. Taft's school is moved to the Civil War-era Warren House Hotel in Watertown. Seven years later, the first Alumni Day was held and a year later Harely Roberts helps start a nine-whole tournament. After a couple years past in 1910 the very first gymnasium was built adjacent to the Warren's house. In 1914, the Horace Dutton Taft hall was built to allow to further student body. After four years, the Spanish Influenza hits, one student passes away and a faculty member. In 1918, Ten alumni lose their lives in WWI and their names are inscribed in a bronze plaque in the HDT hall. Next in 1923 the first issue of the "Taft Bulletin" is published by Spencer Gross, John Gross, and Dr. M. Heminway Merriman. In 1926, Mr.Taft and Mr. Roberts turn ownership to a 15-member Board of Trustees, including former president and Chief Justice William Howard Taft and five alumni. In 1930 the Charles Phelp Taft hall has been complete adding more to the student body. In 1928, the Warren House was demolished. In 1936, Horace Taft retired and his successor Paul Cruikshank. In 1941, WWII started and Howard Wade becomes the first Taft casualty, 58 more alumni lose their lives in the conflict. In 1943 Horace Taft dies. The phrase "I pledge my honor..." becomes a daily part in Taft lexicon. In 1945 more than 1,400 Tafties serve in the war, including Major Ralph Cheli '37, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for services in the South Pacific. In 1950 the Mays Rink is built. Using student labor, it is the first artificial rink in prep school circles Four years later, the first student of color joins the Taft school. Nine years later, the Mailliard Teaching Fellowship is established. In 1961 the Congdon House is established, creating a dorm for 30 male students attending Taft. Same year for the 70th anniversary the Science Center opens, later on replaced by the Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center in 1997. In 1963, the first female faculty member, Sabra Field Johnson, joins. In the same year, the Annex is demolished and the UGSD dorm is built. John Cushing Etsy is named Taft's third headmaster. In the following year the Independent Studies Program is founded, continuing 50 years later to be the longest continuously run program of its kind. In 1967 the school purchased the first Program Data Processor, 50 students joined the Computer Club and had lectures on FORTRAN (Formula Translation). Two years later the first faculty member of color joined Taft: Richard Pieterse. Nearly 25,000 books are moved to the Hulbert Taft Jr. Library from the Woolworth Library, these happened under five hours ofstudents work. In 1971, first female students are admitted moving into the Martin Infirmary now called the McIntosh House. Following year, Lance Rue Odden is called to be the fourth headmaster of Taft. In 1976 the Science teacher Ed North launches the Taft Education Center, a summer workshop for public and private school teachers. Today the TEC is the largely Advanced Placement Institute New England.1985 the Arts and Humanity Center Institute is created. 1990 the Rhino is officially introduced as school mascot in Centennial Symposiums in January. Donald F. McCullough Sport center is opened,in 1992. Three years later the first all-school Community Service Day happens. The following year after 1995, Phase One to network the entire campus begun. The new domain name was http://www.taft.pvt.k12.ct.us, then replaced with taftschool.org. In 2001, the Odden Arena is built in honor of the retiring headmaster, Odden and his wife who were dedicated hockey coaches. William Ramsay MacMullen, is announced fifth headmaster of Taft. 2002 Vogelnstein Dormitory is build. 2007 solar panels attached to athletic center as a gift of classes 2006-2007. 2010 Moorhead Wing completed, major renovation of dining facilities, and extending Main Hall. 2013, Taft launches Second Century Campaign with a goal of $175 million. 2015 the Hillman House is created which is energy neutral dedicated. Same year, school marks 125 year anniversary of founding[1]

Campus and facilities[edit]

The campus is located in Watertown, Connecticut, and is approximately 226 acres (0.91 km2) in size. It includes The Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center, Pinto Language Lab, Moorhead Academic Center, Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library, Belcher Reading Room, Mortara Academic Wing, Pailey Dance Studio, Tremaine Art Studio, Gail Wynne Art Studio, Potter Gallery, two theaters, an 18-hole golf course, 16 tennis courts (four indoor), 8 squash courts, 2 fieldhouses, 2 ice hockey rinks, (1 Olympic sized and 1 NHL sized), and more than 10 fields, all situated around Potters Pond.[2]


In 2014, Taft had 596 students from 34 states and 32 countries.[3] The school hosts students in 9th through 12th grades as well as post-graduates (PGs). Students are referred to by their grade's common name, such as Lower Mids, Mids, Upper Mids, and Seniors. A dress code (summarized by a "collared shirt, no sweatshirts, no denim" dictum) is required in class for all students. Semi-formal attire is required for sit-down dinners, two nights per week. There are currently 483 boarders and 113 day students. More than $7.6 million in financial aid supports 36% of the student body. All scholarships are based on need only; there are no merit-based awards.


The faculty at the Taft School includes 63 men and 62 women, a total of 125 teachers.[3] Consequently, there is a 5:1 student to teacher ratio.[3] Three-quarters of the faculty hold advanced degrees (master's or doctorates). The majority of the Taft faculty live on campus, in both private houses surrounding the grounds, or in apartments in the dorms.


There are more than 200 academic courses offered at the Taft School. The average class consists of 12 students.[3] Advanced Placement Program courses are offered in 29 subjects,[3] including Mandarin Chinese, Spanish Literature, Spanish Language, French Literature, French Language, Latin, European History, American History, American Government, AB and BC Calculus, Statistics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Environmental Science, Studio Art, Music Theory, Art History, English Literature, Economics, and Computer Science. 90% of graduates take one or more AP exams with an average score of 4 out of a possible 5. Taft is a member school of the Global Online Academy. The class of 2014 had mean SAT Reasoning Test scores of 633 (critical reading), 653 (math), and 652 (writing).[3]


Taft's athletic teams are known as the Rhinos and their colors are maroon and navy blue. The following sports are offered at Taft:[4]

  • Baseball (boys)
  • Basketball (boys & girls)
  • Crew (boys & girls)
  • Cross country (boys & girls)
  • Equestrian (boys & girls)
  • Field Hockey (girls)
  • Football (boys)
  • Golf (boys & girls)
  • Ice hockey (boys & girls)
  • Lacrosse (boys & girls)
  • Skiing (boys & girls)
  • Soccer (boys & girls)
  • Softball (girls)
  • Squash (boys & girls)
  • Tennis (boys & girls)
  • Track (boys & girls)
  • Volleyball (girls)
  • Wrestling (boys)

Taft is part of the Hotchkiss-Taft rivalry.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Taft Timeline". Taft School. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ About The Taft School
  3. ^ a b c d e f Taft Facts
  4. ^ "Taft Sports". www.taftschool.org. THE TAFT SCHOOL. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 

External links[edit]