Collegiate School (New York City)

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This article is about the New York City school founded in 1628. For other uses, see Collegiate School (disambiguation).
Collegiate School
Collegiate School logo.png
260 W 78th St
New York, NY 10024
Type Private, day, college prep
Motto Latin: Nisi Dominus Frustra
("Unless God, then in vain")
Eendracht maakt macht
(In unity there is strength)
Established 1628
Founder The Rev. Jonas Michaelius and the Dutch West India Company
Chairman George R. Bason, Jr. '72
Headmaster Lee M. Levison
Faculty 113
Grades K-12
Gender Boys
Number of students 660
Campus Urban
Color(s) Orange and blue         
Nickname Dutchmen
Newspaper The Journal
Yearbook The Dutchman
Affiliations Ivy Prep School League
New York Interschool

Collegiate School is an independent school for boys in New York City and one of the oldest schools of any kind in the United States. [1][2] The School is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is a member of both the New York Interschool and the Ivy Preparatory School League. It is ranked one of the best K-12 all boys prep schools in the United States.[3]


Collegiate was founded in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1628 by the Dutch West India Company and the Classis of Amsterdam. The school’s initial incarnation was located south of Canal Street and was an academic institution for both sexes. The school's location has changed sixteen times over the last four centuries, although the school has been at its current location, next to the West End Collegiate Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, since 1892.[citation needed]

Founding date[edit]

Collegiate states it is the oldest school of any kind in the United States.[1] Prior to 1984, the common belief was that the school had been founded in 1638, placing it two years later than the founding of Harvard University and three years after the founding date of Boston Latin School. Massimo Maglione, a historian and Upper School teacher at Collegiate, conducted research into the accuracy of this date and discovered a letter that Collegiate's founder—the Reverend Jonas Michaëlius, the first minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in America—had written in 1628 about his efforts to teach the catechism to Indian children. Based on this evidence, the school in 1984 officially moved up its founding to 1628.[2]


On February 5, 2013, the Collegiate School board announced relocation plans for the institution. The school has acquired land for a new facility, situated between West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard and between West 61st and 62nd Streets in New York's Riverside South neighborhood (a.k.a. Trump Place). Board Chairman George R. Bason Jr. '72 said the new 178,000-square-foot school would provide 30 percent more indoor space and 613 percent more outdoor space (16,268 square feet) for its 648 students from kindergarten through 12th grade than the current lodgings provide. He estimated the new school's construction cost at $125–$135 million, with a targeted move time of the summer of 2017.[4]

School seal and mottos[edit]

Collegiate's official seal is an adaptation of the coat of arms of William of Orange, who was the founder of the Dutch Republic and of the Reformed Church in that country and led the cause of independence and of freedom for the Reformed Church against Philip II of Spain. Included in the school's seal are two mottos: Eendracht Maakt Macht, Dutch for "In unity there is strength", and Nisi Dominus Frustra, Latin for "unless God, then in vain."


Collegiate School campus


Currently, the school teaches students in grades K-12. The school's mission is the following: Collegiate School strives to educate each boy to reach his highest level of intellectual, ethical, artistic, and physical development. Drawing on what is known about boys' growth and learning, the school offers a rigorous K-12 program rich in opportunities for cultivating individual talents and interests in a climate of collaboration and respect.


The campus, located between 77th and 78th Streets and West End Avenue, consists of four separate buildings: The “Old Building,” Platten Hall, West End Plaza, and a new six-story extension that bridges Platten Hall with West End Plaza. The four-story “Old Building” is part of the original church and is home to the “Upper School,” grades 9-12. Platten Hall, originally nine stories, was extended in 1990 by two floors. It includes two gyms (in addition to the “Alumni” Gym located next to the “Old Building”), the recently renovated Ann and Edgar Bronfman Theatre, the Black Box Studio theatre, the “Lower School” (grades 1-4), the "Middle School" (grades 5-8), a full-service library, music and art studio facilities, a dark room, two computer labs, a weight-lifting room, and the science department. West End Plaza is a hotel that was purchased by the school in 1977. Though it still serves in part as a residence for teachers, Collegiate has renovated several floors into administrative offices, classrooms for the Kindergarten (added in 1997), “Lower School” and the "Middle School" (grades 5-8), and two cafeterias. All four buildings border a courtyard where students of all grades play various games ranging from Handball commonly played by the Lower School students to Courtyard Football played by the Middle School students to Courtyard Soccer played by the Upper School students.


Each grade has approximately 50 boys, many of whom attend Collegiate for the full course of study, thirteen years (these students are nicknamed "Survivors"). More than a quarter of Collegiate teachers hold a Ph.D.

The school is private, and it functions under a New York City non-profit statute enacted in the 1940s. Collegiate is controlled by a Board of Trustees, and the school is administered by a Headmaster.


Collegiate's Board of Trustees selected Lee M. Levison to serve as the school's 28th Headmaster, replacing W. Lee Pierson, who served as interim headmaster for two years after Kerry Brennan left to become headmaster at Roxbury Latin School, following a four-year tenure at Collegiate. Levison, who was head of school at the Kingswood-Oxford School for many years, began serving at Collegiate July 1, 2006.


Collegiate's Upper School (high school) curriculum consists of English, Math, Science, History, Modern Foreign Languages (Spanish, French, or Chinese), Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek), Religion & Ethics, Music, Visual Art, Drama, Technology, and Physical Education.


In 2007, The Wall Street Journal ranked Collegiate number one in the world in terms of percent of the senior class matriculating to eight selective American colleges.[5] In 2002, Worth ranked Collegiate third among the nation's independent schools in terms of percentage of graduates attending Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton University.[6]

Sports and co-curricular activities[edit]

The school's athletic success has mainly been with the varsity basketball, baseball, track and field, soccer, and cross country teams. The Collegiate soccer team won the NYSAIS state championship in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The Collegiate varsity basketball team won five straight state championships in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Collegiate cross country team won 25 Ivy League Championships in a row from 1990–2014. Collegiate also has wrestling, lacrosse, and tennis teams. Students not participating in a sport take either physical education, yoga, or weightlifting. Yearly fitness tests are administered in the lower and middle schools.

The school has a number of clubs, especially in the Upper School.

Notable alumni[edit]

Affiliated organizations[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Colligiate's Arithmetic Makes it the Oldest School". New York Times. May 5, 1985. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Gifted Parents Help Collegiate School". New York Times. May 24, 1988. Retrieved November 29, 2016. The concert celebrated what Collegiate calls its 360th anniversary. Which year the school was actually founded - 1628, 1633 or 1638 - has created disputes among the nation's oldest schools that seem as enduring as the schools. In 1984, Collegiate moved its date from 1633 to 1628, because officials discovered a letter written in 1628 by the Rev. Jonas Michealius of the Dutch Reformed Church describing his efforts to teach catechism to Indian children. To Collegiate officials, that sounded as much like a preparatory school as anything operating in early 17th-century America. The change puts Collegiate in the position of marking its 360th anniversary 55 years after it celebrated its 300th anniversary, in 1933. "It was all thrashed out around 1910," the headmaster, Cornelius B. Boocock, told The New York Times in 1933. "The case is now settled."... 
  3. ^ Laneri, Raquel. Forbes  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Anderson, Jenny (February 5, 2013). "Collegiate School, New York's Oldest Private School, Plans 17th Move". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Gamerman, Ellen (November 30, 2007). "How to Get Into Harvard". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  6. ^ "2003 PrepSchool/High School Rankings". American Universities Admission Program. Retrieved December 29, 2008.  Attributed to Worth.
  7. ^ Pat McGilligan (1997). "Backstory 3-Interviews with screenwriters of the 1960s(George Axelrod)". p. 50. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Collegiate Yearbook auction(David Benioff)". Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ Peter Bogdanovich (2005). Who the Hell's In it: Conversations with Legendary Actors. Random House. p. 7. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  10. ^ Heymann, C. David (2008); American Legacy: The Story of John and Caroline Kennedy. Atria Books. ISBN 0743497392, pp. 145-146

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°47′00″N 73°58′52″W / 40.78333°N 73.98111°W / 40.78333; -73.98111