Walnut Hill School

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Walnut Hill School for the Arts
TypePrivate, boarding, arts
MottoNon Nobis Solum
"Not for ourselves alone"
Head of SchoolAntonio Viva
Campus30 acres (120,000 m2)
Color(s)Historic: Gold and White         
Modern: Purple and White         
Tuition$59,600 (boarding)
$45,000 (day)

Walnut Hill School for the Arts is an independent boarding school for the arts located in Natick, Massachusetts, United States.

History and programs[edit]

Boarding school[edit]

Walnut Hill was founded in 1893 by Florence Bigelow and Charlotte Conant as a college preparatory school for women and a feeder school for Wellesley College. Even as a traditional private boarding school for girls, Walnut Hill's arts programs were strong. The school was home to acclaimed Fenway Studios artist and teacher Marion L. Pooke, class of 1901, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Poet Laureate Elizabeth Bishop, class of 1930. It became coeducational and arts-focused in the late 1970s in response to changes in the educational landscape.

Mission statement[edit]

The mission of Walnut Hill is to educate talented, accomplished and intellectually engaged young artists from all over the world. The School does so in a diverse, humane and ethical community.[1]


Students at Walnut Hill major in one of five arts disciplines: dance, music, theatre, visual art, and writing, film, and media arts. Writing, Film and Media arts classes include but are not limited to poetry, fiction, screenwriting, cinematography and darkroom photography. [2]With the exception of voice students, music students at Walnut Hill take their weekly private lessons at The New England Conservatory in Boston and perform in NEC's Preparatory Ensembles. Admission to Walnut Hill is by academic application and artistic audition or portfolio submission (depending on the artistic discipline).

In addition to training in one of five core arts disciplines, students also engage in a college-preparatory curriculum.

Campus life[edit]

Boarding students at Walnut Hill are housed in seven single-sex dormitories, and one gender-neutral dormitory. Dorms range in size from 11 to 50 students, and all are supervised by trained Dorm Parents. Approximately 20% of the students are day students who come from nearby cities and towns.

All day and boarding students have access to dining services, a bookstore, on-campus health services, a fitness center, and a wide array of on and off-campus student activities and excursions. Many students participate in student-run organizations such as the Human Rights Club, Gold Key, or AIDS Action. An active network of appointed and elected student leaders play a large role in building community at the school. These can be in roles such as aiding the determination of punishments in a court like setting, or in clubs made by any persons in the student body.

Summer and academy programs[edit]

Walnut Hill has a roster of highly selective summer programs. National and international students come for two to five weeks of intensive study in their arts discipline. Boarding programs are offered in dance, youth dance, theater, opera, and writing and film. Other offerings include a day program in summer visual art and the Chinese Performing Arts Academy.

The summer dance and theater programs consist of a full five weeks in residence. The opera program spends a shorter amount of time at the Natick campus before traveling with their faculty to Italy, where they continue taking classes, tour areas historically associated with opera, and perform.

Walnut Hill also offers the year-round JCK Community Dance Academy for youth ages 3–18 in Natick and the surrounding area.


Walnut Hill School campus

The Walnut Hill campus has thirteen buildings on 40 acres.[3] Stowe, Eliot, Highland, Clark, New Cottage, Westerly, North House and Elizabeth Bishop Hall are the school's dorms. The campus also holds the Academic and Technology Center; the Delbridge Family Center for the Arts; the Dance Center; the Keiter Center for the Performing Arts; the Writing, Film, and Media Arts building; the Office of Admission; and the Head's House.

Eliot is the largest building on campus; its second and third floors serve as a dormitory. It contains Boswell Hall, the Keefe center, the dining hall, the student campus center and the school bookstore. Highland contains music practice rooms (both regular and soundproof), the Visual Art studios, Pooke Gallery, Amelia Hall and Highland Dormitory. Stowe, in addition to being a dormitory, is the location of the switchboard and many administrative offices, including the Head of School's office, external relations and facilities.

The Delbridge Family Center for the Arts is the most recent addition to the campus. It began construction in the 2015-2016 school year and was completed in July 2016. This structure includes a dance studio, a black box and a gallery.


Mountain Day: This tradition takes place in October and serves as a community-building event for the senior class. The entire class ascends one of the most hiked mountains in the world, Mount Monadnock. This event gives the students a sense of accomplishment and class spirit.

Class Night: After the seniors return from their hike on Mountain Night, they are honored by their underclassman peers at a special assembly as they assume responsibility for leading and serving the School. After a reception, the entire School, seated by class, dines together. Seniors are served first. The Senior Class President and the Community Council President give speeches stating their goals and expectations for the year. Then, to symbolize their willingness to serve the community, seniors serve dessert to the entire School. Proper dress is required.

Senior Privileges: Each November, seniors make their request for specific senior privileges through the Senior Class President. Typically, several of these are approved by the administration. Senior privileges are extended on the assumption that seniors have attained a level of maturity and self-discipline that will allow them to exercise their privileges wisely. If these privileges are abused, they are revoked. Seniors whose grades fall markedly may have senior privileges rescinded by the Academic Dean.

Boar's Head Feast: During December, Walnut Hill observes several holiday festivities. These culminate in a formal dinner that takes place before Winter Break begins. The dinner begins with a medieval ceremony, the Boar's Head Procession, performed by leadership students. A senior, chosen by the faculty and senior class in recognition of his or her character and contribution to the School. leads the procession and sings the Boar’s Head song. Students are seated by dormitory. Each dormitory performs and the winning dorm receives a prize. Proper dress is required.

Tree Day: On a spring day, seniors invite faculty and students to participate in the Tree Day ceremony. The class tree is planted along with a penny with the year of the graduating class. The tree itself symbolizes the growth of the seniors within the School and their continued growth, contributions, and achievements after they leave the School. The Senior Class President reads a poem, and another class year is inscribed on the Tree Day shovel.

Candlelight Service: On one of the evenings the week prior to graduation the entire School assembles at dusk in the field by class for a candlelight ceremony. Everyone lights a candle one by one and at the end of the ceremony, seniors are the last to extinguish their candles. One by one they say farewell to the School and to one another after singing the senior song. New Gold Key members are announced. The Community Council President and the Senior Class President speak. White attire is required of the students.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Archived March 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Writing, Film & Media Arts - Walnut Hill School for the Arts". www.walnuthillarts.org. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  3. ^ "Walnut Hill School". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  4. ^ "Van Hansis : Biography". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  5. ^ "Judith Hoag". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  6. ^ "Jovanna Huguet". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  7. ^ "Joan Tower - Short Biography - Music Sales Classical". Schirmer.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°17′30″N 71°20′48″W / 42.2918°N 71.3467°W / 42.2918; -71.3467