The Pembroke Hill School

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The Pembroke Hill School
Logo of Pembroke Hill
United States
MottoFreedom with Responsibility
Established1910 – Pembroke-Country Day (boys), 1913 – Sunset Hill (girls), 1984 – Pembroke Hill (coed)
Head of SchoolBrad Shelley
Average class size105 students (upper school)[1]
Student to teacher ratio11:1[1]
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Red & Blue
Athletics22 varsity, 15 junior varsity, numerous club[4]
Athletics conferenceMissouri State High School Activities Association
MascotRaider (Viking)

The Pembroke Hill School (usually referred to as Pembroke Hill) is a progressive, inclusive, secular, coeducational, independent preparatory school for about 1,200 students in early years (age 2 years) through high school, separated into four sections: early years-prekindergarten (early childhood school), kindergarten-5th grade (lower school), 6th-8th grade (middle school), and 9th-12th grade (upper school). It is located on two campuses in the Country Club District of Kansas City, Missouri, near the Country Club Plaza.

Vassie James Ward Hill, a prominent Kansas Citian and Vassar College graduate born in 1875, gained a considerable fortune upon the death of her first husband, Hugh Ward, a son of pioneer Seth E. Ward. She then married Albert Ross Hill, formerly president of the University of Missouri.

At the time, Kansas Citians of means commonly sent their children to boarding schools on the east coast. Hill did not want to send her daughter and three sons "back east." She believed they should be able to have an equal education in Kansas City. This led her to research the workings of college preparatory schools, especially the progressive education of the Country Day School movement.

In 1910, using funds from 12 Kansas City businessmen, Hill founded the Country Day School for boys, which accepted both day students and boarders (boarding ceased in the 1950s). The initial enrollment was 20 students but grew to 52 within three years. It sat on what is today Pembroke Hill's Ward Parkway Campus, to the west of the Country Club Plaza at the intersection of State Line Road.[citation needed]

Three years later, Ruth Carr Patton and Frances Matteson Bowersock joined with Hill to found the Sunset Hill School, named after Hill's favorite area on the Vassar campus. Sunset Hill was located on what today is Pembroke Hill's Wornall Campus, south of the Country Club Plaza. At the time of its founding, the campus overlooked the Kansas City Country Club (today Loose Park). It also includes a portion of the battlefield from the Battle of Westport.

In 1925, some educators and students left the Country Day School to form the Pembroke School for boys. Their endeavor failed amidst the Great Depression, and the two schools re-merged in 1933 to form the Pembroke-Country Day School, keeping the Country Day School's original campus. It usually was referred to as "Pem Day."


From the start, Sunset Hill and Pembroke-Country Day worked cooperatively. Often, teachers taught at both schools. For generations, many Kansas City families would send their boys to Pem Day and their girls to Sunset Hill. School activities, such as plays and dances, often were combined, and Sunset Hill girls were cheerleaders for Pem Day's athletic teams. In 1963, the schools began coeducational classes in upper-level math, science, and languages.

In the early 1980s, the two schools began merger discussions, ultimately merging in 1984 to become the Pembroke Hill School. The class of 1985 elected to have separate graduation ceremonies. True coeducation began the next year. The former Sunset Hill campus became home to the primary and lower schools (then preschool through 6th grade), and the former Pem Day campus became home to the middle and upper schools (then 7th grade through 12th grade).

Recent events[edit]

In 1988, Kansas City Magazine notoriously published an article titled "A High School on Easy Street", criticizing Pembroke Hill's students' allegedly "advantaged way of life."[5]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Pembroke Hill completed a $50 million capital improvement project, which renovated both campuses. The Ward Parkway campus gained a new middle school building, Boocock Middle School (which now serves 6th-8th grades), a new upper school building, Jordan Hall, a new arts center, and a new library, the James M. Kemper, Sr. Library.

In June 2020, the school announced the beginning of their "Building Together" construction project on the Ward Parkway campus. The $52 million project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022. The renovation will include changes to a number of areas on the Ward Parkway campus, including:[6]

  • A renovated, single-level campus green
  • A new dining hall
  • A new athletic center featuring a competition and auxiliary gym. New bleachers and a press box will back up to the athletic center.
  • An updated Hall Student Center with a larger lobby space for the performing arts.
  • A new skywalk connecting the dining hall with the existing Centennial Hall.
  • The removal of Pierson Gym, which will be turned into a green space on campus.

In 1997, 1998, and 1999, Pembroke Hill's boys' basketball team won the Missouri Class 2A state title. In 2000, however, in a nationally publicized scandal, the Missouri State High School Activities Association stripped Pembroke of the titles and placed the school on probation after the Kansas City Star revealed that promoter and AAU coach Myron Piggie had remitted cash payments to two of the school's star players, Kareem Rush and his brother JaRon Rush, to play on his "amateur" basketball team.[7][8][9][10][11] Piggie admitted to paying JaRon Rush $17,000 and Kareem Rush $2,300, after which the brothers "submitted false and fraudulent Student Athlete Statements to the universities where they were to play intercollegiate basketball", certifying that they had not been paid to play basketball.[11] As a result, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Missouri found themselves subject to NCAA penalties for awarding athletic scholarships to non-amateurs.[11] On Piggie's 2002 appeal from his prison sentence and restitution for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and tax evasion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit found that Pembroke Hill had "sustained a loss of $10,733.89 in investigative costs and forfeiture of property as a result of" Piggie's conspiracy.[11]

In the Class of 2013, 29 seniors were recognized by National Merit. Of these 29, 21 or 21% of the class, are National Merit Semifinalists.[12] Eight of the students are Commended Students. This number represents the second highest percentage in Missouri.[citation needed]

On September 7, 2017, Dr. Steve Bellis announced that the 2018–2019 school year would be his last as Head of School. Dr. Bellis served as the Headmaster of the Ward Parkway Campus of The Pembroke Hill School for 16 years.[13] Upon his departure, Pembroke welcomed in Brad Shelley as the newest Head of School. Shelley was previously serving as associate headmaster at the McDonogh School, in Baltimore, MD.[14]

According to The Kansas City Star, students at Pembroke Hill have "faced several incidents of anti-Semitic behavior at Pembroke."[15] On the 2021 International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, a swastika was discovered on a student's desk.[15] The symbol was accompanied by an offensive reference toward members of the school's LGBT community. The incident was covered by citywide media and contextualized by prior incidents where one student raised his arm in a Nazi salute while calling a Jewish student an offensive name, and swastikas were painted on a Jewish student's locker. Several Jewish parents spoke to The Star on the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals against their children. Following the incident, officials initiated a hiring search for the newly created position of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.[16]

In April 2021, months after a swastika was discovered in a classroom, school officials found "KKK" written on the side of a desk. School officials hired consulting firm Sophic Solutions to "hold community conversations, complete a diversity and equity audit, and then present recommendations."[17][18]

Tuition and financial aid[edit]

Tuition and fees for the 2020–21 school year range from $15,385 for students up to pre-kindergarten to $25,745 for upper school.[19] About 25 percent of students receive financial aid, totaling more than $3.7 million each year.[20]

In May 2007, the Malone Family Foundation, established by John C. Malone of Denver, Colorado, gave a $2 million grant to Pembroke's endowment, the largest single endowment gift in the school's history.[21] The gift was used to create the Malone Scholars Program to give need-based financial aid to highly qualified students who otherwise would qualify for at least 50 percent in financial aid.[21]

Assets and contributions[edit]

The school has assets of over $100 million and an endowment of more than $38 million.[22] In 2013 the school successfully completed a $15,000,000 endowment campaign connected to its centennial.


Pembroke Hill is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.[1] The school is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).[1]


Pembroke Hill has a long athletic tradition.[23][better source needed] Its colors are blue and red, its teams are known as the Raiders, and its mascot resembles a Viking raider. Pembroke is a member of the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Pembroke Hill Raiders athletics logo


Today, the school is a perennial contender for or winner of Class 2 state championships in boys' lacrosse, golf, tennis, and soccer; and girls' golf and tennis.[23][better source needed]

In 2006 and 2007, the girls' basketball team won the Missouri Class 3 state title. The Raiders lacrosse team won the 2009 Division II state championship, beating Eureka High School 6-5 after trailing 5–2 in the 4th quarter.[24] The boys' tennis team also won the 2009 Division II state championship,[25] sweeping all teams up until the final, where Pembroke won 5–2.[citation needed] In 2017, the Raiders won state tennis tournaments in both the boys and girls class 1 sections. The boys defeated The Saint Louis Priory School 5–2 in the finals, while the girls upended the defending champion[26] John Burroughs School 5–4 in October.

In 2021, boys' golf member Ryan Lee won the Missouri golf championships for the second time in his high school career. Lee set a state record for the lowest two day score, firing a total score of 133 (67,66).


Pembroke Hill has cross-state athletic rivalries with two schools located in suburbs of St. Louis: MICDS and John Burroughs School, both in Ladue, Missouri. The Raiders' biggest rivals in the Kansas City area are fellow private schools in The Barstow School and Rockhurst High School.[citation needed] Pembroke Hill also has a rivalry in football with St. Pius X located in the northland of Kansas City.[citation needed]

Sports offered[edit]

For girls, Pembroke Hill offers:

Fall Winter Spring
Cheerleading (V) Basketball (6, 7, 8, 9, JV, V) Soccer (6, 7, 8, JV/V)
Cross Country (7/8, JV, V) Cheerleading (V) Lacrosse (JV/V)
Field hockey (6, 7/8, C, JV, V) Dance team Track and field (6, 7/8, JV, V)
Golf (JV, V) Swimming (JV, V)
Tennis (JV, V)
Volleyball (6, 7, 8, JV, V)

For boys, Pembroke Hill offers:

Fall Winter Spring
Cross Country (7/8, JV, V) Basketball (8, 9, JV, V) Baseball (JV/V)[27]
Football (7/8, JV, V)[28] Wrestling (7/8, JV, V) Golf (JV/V
Soccer (JV, V)[29] Lacrosse (JV/V)
Swimming (JV, V) Tennis (JV, V)[30]
Cheerleading (V) Track and field (7/8, JV, V)

In the past, Pembroke also has participated in softball, rugby union, and ice hockey. Additionally, the lower school campus has facilities for racquetball, and the upper school campus is one of only three locations in Kansas City, Missouri (along with the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City Club) containing squash courts.[31]


The average Pembroke student takes classes that would be considered advanced in a different school.[citation needed] For example, the standard math curriculum in the middle and upper schools is as follow: pre-algebra in sixth grade, algebra 1 in seventh and eighth grade, geometry in ninth grade, algebra 2 in tenth grade, pre-calculus in eleventh grade, and calculus in twelfth grade.[citation needed]

Pembroke offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses in all academic disciplines, and approximately 90% of its graduates have taken at least one AP Course. 85% of Pembroke's AP scores are at a 3 or higher on a 5-point scale, and most colleges will give students credit for a score of 3 or higher.[32]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

Government and politics[edit]

Media and the arts[edit]

Science and technology[edit]





  1. ^ a b c d e f "At A Glance," Pembroke Hill School (official website)
  2. ^ "Upper School," Pembroke Hill School (official website)
  3. ^ Peterson's Guide to Private Secondary Schools, 2008: "The Pembroke Hill School"
  4. ^ "Athletics," Pembroke Hill School (official website)
  5. ^ The Kansas City Library: Catalogue
  6. ^ Mouzin, Andrew. "Pembroke Hill School Begins Building Together Construction Project". Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  7. ^ "ESPN: "Piggie indicted on 11 counts in Kansas City" (April 14, 2000)". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  8. ^ ""Summer league basketball coach indicted on fraud," CNN and Sports Illustrated, April 13, 2000". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  9. ^ Yim, Helen (2005-12-04). ""Basketball Brief: And This Little Piggie Went To Jail", The Daily Bruin, June 1, 2001". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  10. ^ Gustafson, John. ""Beyond Blood", ESPN Magazine, February 4, 2001". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  11. ^ a b c d "United States v. Piggie, 303 F.3d 923 (8th Cir. 2002)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  12. ^ "The Pembroke Hill School: News » 21 Percent of PHS Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists". Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  13. ^ "Head of School Transition - Pembroke Hill School".
  14. ^ "Head of School Transition". May 25, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ a b Williams, Mará Rose. "Swastikas appear at Kansas City prep school, yet no one is punished, parents say." Kansas City Star, The (MO), January 31, 2021. NewsBank: Access World News.
  16. ^ "New Position of Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Created". Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  17. ^ Ritter, Sarah. "Months after swastikas appeared at Kansas City prep school, officials find ‘KKK’ ." Kansas City Star, The (MO), April 6, 2021. NewsBank: Access World News.
  18. ^ Porter, Toriano. "After ‘KKK’ sign and swastikas at Pembroke Hill, discussion groups aren’t enough." Kansas City Star, The (MO), April 7, 2021. NewsBank: Access World News.
  19. ^ "Tuition and Affordability," Pembroke Hill School (official website)"
  20. ^ "Financial Aid," Pembroke Hill School (official website)
  21. ^ a b "Pembroke Hill gets $2 million", The Kansas City Star, May 31, 2007
  22. ^ Nonprofit Organization Profile
  23. ^ a b "Athletics," Pembroke Hill School (official website)
  24. ^ [1] Archived May 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "MSHSAA 2008-2009 Class 1 Boys Tennis State Tournament". Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  26. ^ Hester, Bill. "Pembroke Hill wins Missouri Girls Class 1 State Team Tennis Title". Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  27. ^ "Pembroke Hill Baseball (Official Website)". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  28. ^ Pembroke Hill Football (Official Website)
  29. ^ The Pembroke Hill School (Official Website): Soccer Archived November 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ The Pembroke Hill School (Official Website): Tennis Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ United States Squash Racquets Association: Missouri facility locations Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Upper School". Retrieved June 23, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ "President Names 2 for Tax Court", The New York Times, April 24, 1957
  34. ^ Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator
  35. ^ IMDB: Elizabeth Craft
  36. ^ IMDB: 2002 Academy Awards
  37. ^ Schulman, Daniel (2014-05-19). "The "Other" Koch Brother". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  38. ^ ""The King of Kansas City", Lawrence Journal-World, August 28, 2005". 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  39. ^ The Pembroke Hill School, Horizons p. 31 (Summer 2007) Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ "Jordan Industries, Inc". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2013-09-18.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°02′06″N 94°36′22″W / 39.034925°N 94.606167°W / 39.034925; -94.606167