The Field School

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The Field School
The Field School Logo
Washington, D.C.
United States
Type Independent School
Motto Aude Sapere
Head of school Dale T. Johnson

380 (grades 6-12)

class sizes = 11
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus 10.5 overall acres
4 buildings
Color(s) Blue and Gold
Athletics conference Potomac Valley Athletics Conference (PVAC)
Mascot Falcon
Tuition $43,175

The Field School is a preparatory school in Washington, D.C., located in the old Cafritz mansion on Foxhall Road. The school teaches 6th-12th grade, with about 380 students attending. Having the smallest average class size for any D.C. school and challenging, comprehensive curricula, Field is considered one of the best independent schools in the Washington, D.C. area.


The Field School was founded in 1972 by Elizabeth Ely (1924–2009). Originally housed above Regina Cleaners in the Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood, the school had 44 students. Two years later, in 1974, the school's student population had more than doubled to 97, which the school's small location could not accommodate. Field found a new home, an old house nearby, but movers were not in the budget. That spring, students, faculty, and parents carried the school's belongings, including the furniture, up the street to the new location.

Field continued to grow at its new location. Field bought another house across the street, and the two houses were used for the now 220 of Field's students. In 1993, Field was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. This accreditation came with publicity and credibility for the school, but also the requirement of a new campus, according to the Association. The school began frantically raising money, and in 1998, discovered the Cafritz mansion and the 10.5 acres (42,000 m2) of land that accompanied it. The mansion and its land was purchased for $10 million by the school.

Field began construction on the new campus and began using it in 2002. The new campus included a gymnasium and playing field, firsts for Field, as well as new science labs and dedicated studio spaces for art, photography, ceramics, and, later, music. In 2004, Dale Johnson was appointed to the position of Head of School, and in 2006 Elizabeth Ely retired. In 2007, a three-year strategic plan was created by school leadership with assistance from the community as a whole.

In late 2007, the school's new logo was released. The logo depicts the facade of a part of the original Cafritz mansion.

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the Field School renovated large portions of the Cafritz mansion.

In 2011, it was announced that the Field School will be adding a sixth grade to its middle school in 2012.


The Field School is located on the grounds of the Cafritz mansion. The campus has four buildings:

  • The Aude building, named for the first word of the school's motto, which contains the admissions office and other administrative offices as well as faculty offices, classrooms, an art room, the school psychologist's office, and a publications lab.
  • The Cafritz building, the original mansion of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz. This building contains administrative and faculty offices, classrooms, the school's library and media center, and gathering spaces, including the original Cafritz living room and the middle school lounge. The signed Steinway piano is kept tuned in the living room.
  • The Sapere building, named for the second word of the school's motto. This building contains faculty offices, classrooms, and science labs, as well as a 400-seat blackbox theater, gym, and batting cage.
  • The Wonder building, named after the school's original campus. It is home to locker rooms, a photography lab and darkroom, a ceramics studio, and a dance and yoga studio.
  • The Elizabeth Meeting House, named after founder Elizabeth Ely. The $19 million structure was completed in the summer of 2015. The Meeting House features lockers, a music room and recording studio, general meeting spaces, the main office, a green roof and patio, and a kitchen.


Special programs[edit]

Winter internship[edit]

Every February all students at field take two weeks off to pursue an internship in any field they choose. Some Field students take trips to Peru, Spain, London and other countries sponsored by the school. Some of the organizations Field students have worked for include: Bethesda Cares, D.C. Superior Court, Embassy of Sweden, Fleet Feet, Food and Friends, National Geographic, National Museum of Natural History, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sibley Memorial Hospital, The Washington Post, WAMU Radio, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S Senate.

Honors seminar[edit]

Offered during the after-lunch activity period, these extra-small seminar classes meet once each week. They provide students (either those with a B+ GPA or higher or those who petition into the program) with the chance to study a subject beyond the traditional Field curriculum. Teachers (and sometimes teachers with students) choose a subject of particular interest to them or a subject with which they have particular expertise, then design a class for particular grade levels that emphasizes discussion. Previous Honors courses include: The History of Hip-Hop, LOST and Philosophy, Urban Planning, A Study Of The Kennedy Assassination, and The History of Pirates.

Honor Council[edit]

The Field School employs a unique system for handling matters of academic dishonesty that differ from other area private schools. When a student plagiarizes, cheats, or in any ways infringes on the honor code, an Honor Council is held. There are eight to 10 student members of the Honor Council, each applicant to the Council must be approved by their class dean and the Dean of Students. The school president and vice president are automatically given a seat. Each students takes a strict oath of confidentiality concerning any information they might learn while sitting on an Honor Council. These selected students, along with the Dean of Students and the accused's class dean, comprise the Honor Council. These members of the Honor Council help determine the actions that need to be taken in each case of academic dishonesty.

College acceptance[edit]

Nearly every Field student is accepted to and attends a college or university after graduating. 90 percent of the class of 2011 was accepted into colleges of their first choice. Field alumni attend a wide variety of colleges, from Ivy League schools to small liberal arts colleges. Recent matriculations include: Bates College, Bard College, Barnard College, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Bryn Mawr College, Carleton College, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Chicago, Colby College, College of William and Mary, Colgate University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Emory University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Hamilton College, Harvey Mudd College, Johns Hopkins University, Kenyon College, New York University, Northeastern University, Oberlin College, Occidental College, University of Pennsylvania, Pitzer College, Reed College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, St. Johns College, Swarthmore College, University of Texas at Austin, Trinity College, Tufts University, University of Michigan, Vassar College, Washington University in St. Louis, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, and Yale University.


Field offers cross-country, soccer, tennis, basketball, yoga, indoor and outdoor track, baseball, softball, Ultimate Frisbee, and girls' lacrosse. Field School track is one of the school's stronger programs, consistently winning banners throughout the PVAC and beyond.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


Coordinates: 38°55′17″N 77°05′19″W / 38.9214°N 77.0885°W / 38.9214; -77.0885