West Nottingham Academy

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West Nottingham Academy
1079 Firetower Road


TypePrivate Boarding School
MottoNihil Sine Labore
(Nothing Without Effort)
PresidentKendall Cameron
HeadmasterThomas Banks Ph.D.
Enrollmentapprox. 130
Team nameRams
AccreditationMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools
NewspaperThe Arrow
YearbookThe Pegé
Tuition$18,200 day, $48,500 boarding (2016-17)

West Nottingham Academy was founded in 1744 by the Presbyterian preacher Samuel Finley, who later became President of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Today, the independent co-ed school serves both boarding and day students in grades 9-12. The 124-acre (0.50 km2), tree-lined campus is located in Colora, Cecil County, Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay – an hour and a half south of Philadelphia and fifty minutes north of Baltimore.

West Nottingham Academy is one of the oldest boarding schools in the United States. The school claims to be "the oldest boarding school in the United States"[1] and has the oldest founding date of any school still in operation but did suspend operation at various times in its history. For this reason, the claim as "the oldest" is a point of debate with some.[who?] What remains certain is that the school's story began in 1744 and it has shaped the lives of many important figures of American history.


West Nottingham offers a college preparatory program that emphasizes critical thinking. Classes are offered in the arts, humanities, foreign languages, mathematics and sciences. The academic program also offers an English as Second-Language (ESL)program for international students (25% of WNA's students come from outside the US, including Japan, Australia, South Korea, Barbados, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain and China).


West Nottingham Academy Historic District
West Nottingham Academy Historic District Apr 10.JPG
West Nottingham Academy Historic District, April 2010
West Nottingham Academy is located in Maryland
West Nottingham Academy
West Nottingham Academy is located in the United States
West Nottingham Academy
Nearest cityColora, Maryland
Coordinates39°40′1″N 76°4′49″W / 39.66694°N 76.08028°W / 39.66694; -76.08028Coordinates: 39°40′1″N 76°4′49″W / 39.66694°N 76.08028°W / 39.66694; -76.08028
Area85 acres (34 ha)
Built1864 (1864)
Architectural styleColonial Revival, Mid 19th Century Revival, Federal
NRHP reference #90001125[2]
Added to NRHPJuly 26, 1990

West Nottingham's early graduates include many of the most prominent colonial Americans. In 1744, an Irish Presbyterian preacher Samuel Finley was called to take charge of the newly formed congregation on the lower branch of the Octoraro Creek, a short distance south of what was soon to become the Mason-Dixon line. The congregation lived on the broad, rolling land known as the Nottingham Lots.

Finley, in later years became president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), was a teacher as well as a preacher. Finley held that to be an intelligent Christian one needed to use the mind God provided, and that one's mind could reach full effectiveness only through training. The task of the church, for Finley, was to administer the sacraments and comfort the sick, to baptize the infants and consecrate marriage, to bury the dead and preach the Word of God. But the task of the church also was to teach men and women to think by exposing them to the great thoughts of the ages in order to produce rational beings capable of creative action in a new and swiftly changing world.

Finley opened the school in 1744. It was a crude log structure at the rear of his own home, located near the present site of the Rising Sun Middle School. The log building on the present campus was built as a replica of the original school building from descriptions in old records and students’ memoirs.

Within a few years, church and Academy were moved to their present location. A two-story building was erected to house the school activities at the site of what is now the sunken garden at Gayley. When it burned, a single-story building replaced it, only to be destroyed some years later by storm. In 1865 the red brick J. Paul Slaybaugh Old Academy was erected and stands to this day.

The Academy was the first of the Presbyterian preparatory boarding schools and the forerunner of some 1,600 similar academies in the country. As public education became the norm, the Presbyterian Church allowed most of its secondary schools to close or converted them to colleges. Nottingham dropped its formal ties to the church in 1972, but continues

In the last twenty years, the Chesapeake Learning Center was founded, and the school's decades-long commitment to the education of international students was formalized with the creation of the English as a Second Language curriculum. In addition, enrollment doubled and a middle school was started. The middle school failed and was closed in 2006, completing its last year in 2009.

Many new facilities were constructed, including the C. Herbert Foutz Student Center (1989), the East and West Dormitories (1998), and the Patricia A. Bathon Science Center (2003), or renovated including Magraw Hall (2000), and Finley Hall (2002). Summer 2007 saw the complete renovation of Rush Dormitory, renamed Rush House, and the construction of Durigg Plaza, an outdoor ampphitheater/meeting space for the campus community. Renovation of Rowland dormitory was completed in the summer of 2008.

Under the leadership of Dr. D. John Watson, Ph.D., West Nottingham focuses on the growth and definition of its programs through a process called CASCLE, an acronym for Constructing a Student Centered Learning Environment. Through CASCLE, work groups in the areas of academic curriculum, athletic and activities curriculum, and campus curriculum set goals for program improvement and develop the best pathway for their achievement.

Historic district[edit]

West Nottingham Academy Historic District is a national historic district at Colora, Cecil County, Maryland, United States. It comprises approximately 85 acres (340,000 m2), is characterized by a park-like setting of mature trees, a narrow stream, a small lake, and 19th and 20th century buildings. The principal historic buildings include the Old Academy or Canteen, constructed 1864, a single-story, three-part Victorian brick building with a distinctive stick-decorated belfry; the Gayley House, constructed about 1830, a prominent ​2 12-story brick dwelling; and Magraw Hall, constructed 1929, a large gambrel-roofed stone administration building. Also on the property are Wiley House (about 1840), Becktel House (about 1900), Hilltop House (about 1900), the barn or old gym (about 1930) which burned down in February 1993, as well as the stone entrance and stone bridges. Founded in 1744, the West Nottingham Academy is the oldest operating boys boarding school in Maryland.[3]

The historic core of the Academy were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 as the West Nottingham Academy Historic District.[2]

Athletics & Activities[edit]

Though the school community is small, the academy does field a variety of sports teams including:

Soccer, Basketball, Lacrosse, Cross Country, Volleyball, Chess[4], Yoga, Martial Arts, and Physical Education.

The Academy also has a rather successful Figure Skating program. Current students include previous members of Team USA, Meredith Pipkin and 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games Team Member, Michael Johnson who is also a previous national medalist. He is the Intermediate Pairs silver medalist Michael Johnson with Caitlin Belt.

Additional afternoon activities include Yearbook, Theatre, Photography, Green Rams Environmental Club and the school newspaper, The Arrow. As part of WNA's commitment to lifelong fitness and activity all students are asked to participate in a sport or club throughout the school year, one per trimester.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.wna.org/page.cfm?p=12
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ Paul Touart (January 1990). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: West Nottingham Academy Historic District" (PDF). Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  4. ^ Team Roster and Standings. 2018 Mid-Atlantic Grade: 9th, 1st place

History of West Nottingham Academy, 1744–1981, Scott A. Mills, Maryland Historical Project, 1985, ISBN 978-0-917882-17-3 °http://www.gocards.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/ray_ganong_156338.html

External links[edit]