George School

George School

Infobox Private School
name = George School
motto = "Mind the Light"
established = 1893
type = Private, Boarding
religion = Quaker
head_name = Headmaster
head = Nancy Starmer
city = Pennsylvania
state = PA
country = USA
campus = convert|265|acre|km2
enrollment = 532 total
293 boarding 239 day
faculty = 81
class = 14
ratio = 7:1

colors = Green/White, Buff/Brown
mascot = Cougar|conference = Friends Schools League
homepage = []

George School is a private Quaker boarding and day high school near Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA.


George School was founded in 1891 and opened in 1893. It is named for John M. George, who donated much of the money for the school. It was intended as a school for Hicksite members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) who wanted an alternative to Orthodox Westtown School. Although most of the early boarding students were Quaker, day students have long come from outside the Friends community, and today Quakers represent about one-fifth of students and one-third of faculty [ [ George School | Quaker Values ] ] .

The campus was built on convert|227|acre|km2 of the Worth Farm. The owners retained 60 additional acres, including the 1756 Tate House and 1804 Worth House. The bulk of the school property was given over in the early years to a farm managed for the benefit of the school. The school's milk and much of the meat was producded there into the 1920s. The remaining property including the two historic houses was purchased in 1945. Parts of the campus were leased or given over to Newtown Friends School in 1947 and Pennswood retirement community in 1979 [ Kingdon Swayne, "George School: The History of a Quaker Community", Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1992, pp 9,199-203] Following World War II, teacher Walter Mohr, who had worked with the American Friends Service Committee, organized affiliations with two German schools, Jacobi Gymnasium for boys in Düsseldorf and Gertraudenschule for girls in Berlin, at first sending relief supplies and organizing student exchanges. In 1950, the first of almost twenty years of German workcamps began. In the late 1960s, these affiliations and work camps began to spread, to Russia, Africa, and Latin America, and came to include work projects domestically. [ Kingdon Swayne, "George School: The History of a Quaker Community", Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1992, pp 68-71]

During the mid-1950s, Julian Bond, later a prominent civil rights leader, attended George School. While he did encounter some cases of racism while attending there, he was impressed by anti-racist philosophy of the school, and first encountered ideas of non-violence and social action. [ The HistoryMakers video oral history interview with Julian Bond, 2000. Web site is abstracted summary] One event in particular involves Bond, a varsity athlete, going to Philadelphia with his white girlfriend while wearing George School apparel. Upon returning he was reprimanded by the dean. George School has claimed it was based on a policy of not wearing George School insignia apparel off-campus, but Bond believed it was based on racism and "That was just like somebody stopping you and slapping you across the face." [ site quoting Contemporary Black Biography, by the Gale Group, Inc., which in turn is quoting John Neary's article on Bond in "Life" magazine.]

On September 18, 2007, Barbara Dodd Anderson, George School Class of 1950, gave a gift of $128.5 million to George School. The gift is to be received over a period of twenty years from an irrevocable charitable lead trust and is the single largest gift to an existing private school in U.S. history. [ [ George School receives $128.5 million from alum whose father taught Warren Buffett | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/18/2007 ] ] The gift has its origins with billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Warren Buffett.

Barbara’s father, David Dodd, was a renowned economist and professor at Columbia University School of Business. The young Buffett sought out Professor Dodd at Columbia and was a student of his. Dodd became an early investor in Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and remained good friends with Buffett throughout his life. Ms. Dodd stated that "This gift is meant to honor not only my father, David Dodd, and his legacy, but also all of the teachers at George School who had such an impact on me and are so important to their students today. I want to help George School because of the excellence of its faculty and because it is a school without pretensions, where caring for and learning from each other are as important as academic success." [ [ George School | George School to Receive $128.5 Million Gift ] ]

Location and geography

Although its mailing address is Newtown, PA, only a small part of its campus is in Newtown Township. The bulk of the campus is in Middletown Township. Both towns are in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

When founded, George School was quite isolated. It had its own train station on the Reading Railroad's Newtown line (later the SEPTA R8 line), and its own post office branch. As Bucks County has grown and urbanized, the campus has become something of an island of green amidst the sprawl. A campus map is available [ here]

Its property is now divided by the Route 332/Route 413 Newtown bypass, and the main entrance is on Route 413 south of the bypass.

The campus is adjacent to Neshaminy Creek, and Newtown Creek cuts through the property. Both rivers are in the less-developed western part of the campus.

The Pennswood retirement community and Newtown Friends School, also Quaker institutions, are on George School land and adjacent to the campus.

Quaker influences

George School is governed by the George School committee, which is self-perpetuating by approval of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends. Quaker influences on the school are apparent in many of the Friends-derived procedures of the school, especially in the consensus format for faculty and other committee meetings, where all present must either agree to proposals or "stand aside" in order for them to be approved. A four-year course of spiritual study begins with a term of peer group meetings the student's first year, year-long "Health and the Human Spirit" class sophomore year, and trimester-long Bible and Quakerism classes during the junior and senior years, respectively. Additionally, all students and faculty gather for a twenty-five minute Meeting for Worship once a week, and all boarding students and resident faculty attend a longer meeting on Sundays. Also in the Quaker spirit, since 1942 every student has a "co-op" job, the equivalent to other schools' work-study jobs, but shared equally among all students regardless of their financial aid status. Finally, in the most apparent difference to outsiders, teachers and students all refer to one another on a first-name basis. [ [ George School | Quaker Values ] ]


George School offers a college-preparatory course of study. To graduate, students must complete 4 years of English, 3 years of mathematics, 3 years of history, 3 years of science, 4 years of arts and the religious courses noted above, and demonstrate third-year proficiency in a foreign language.

George School offers the two-year International Baccalaureate program, which certifies students to attend colleges and universities around the world.

George School also offers Advanced Placement courses and examinations in Biology, Calculus (AB and BC), English, U.S. History, Physics, Statistics and the school's four foreign languages: French, Spanish, Latin and Chinese. Additionally, students in the Portfolio Preparation class have been known to submit their work for the Art AP. [ [ George School | Advanced Placement (AP) ] ]

Students must take four full years of art. George school offers classes in
ceramics (mostly pottery), chorus, dance, digital imaging, drama, music seminar, newspaper ("The Curious George", formerly "The George School News"), painting and drawing, photography, stagecraft, video production, orchestra, woodworking (mostly carpentry), and yearbook. In recent years, the school has begun to offer an Arts Foundation course that offers one trimester each of three different arts, and encourages most freshmen to begin with this course.


All George School students are required to complete a sixty-five hour community service project before they graduate. Students work on projects and in programs that reflect Friends' practices. Projects must be grounded in one-on-one contact with communities and persons who are disempowered because of social, racial, economic, or health factors. These projects include intense, two-week experiences in school-sponsored, domestic or international work camps; once-a-week experiences that extend throughout the school year; and preapproved independent projects. Service projects may be completed during the school year or vacation time, any time after the completion of a student's sophomore year.

George School's work-camps began after the Second World War, with students traveling to help those in need both domestically and internationally. Recent work camps and service trips include India; Nicaragua; Cuba; Costa Rica; Boston, Massachusetts; Coastal Mississippi; Israel and The Palestinian territories; France; South Africa; Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; Americus, Georgia; South Carolina; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; West Virginia; South Korea; and Vietnam. [ [ George School | Service Learning ] ]

While more than half of the students at George School are on significant financial aid, proportionally few of those students can afford to go on international service trips as the maximum scholarship offered on most trips amounts to roughly half of the total costs, which range from $2000 to over $5000.


Students are almost always required to play a competitive sport or participate in a physical education program. Starting in the 1996-1997 school year, certain fully-scheduled students were permitted to take one trimester with no athletics. Still, underclassmen must play two interscholastic competitive sports and juniors and seniors must play one:
*Fall: cross country, equestrian, field hockey, football, cheerleading (Football) soccer, and tennis (girls)
*Winter: basketball, cheerleading (Basketball) swimming, winter track, volleyball, and wrestling
*Spring: baseball, equestrian, golf, lacrosse, tennis (boys), and track and field

Where possible, George School competes in the Friends School League, but in certain sports, such as equestrian, football, and swimming, this is not possible due to the small number of nearby Friends schools that also participate.There is an annual competition with Westtown which results in the awarding of the Patterson Cup, which most students and faculty refer to as "The Moose". The scores are based on the results of all varsity and junior varsity competitions between the two schools.

The School has a swimming competency requirement for graduation.


*"The Curious George" is the school's student produced newspaper on campus, formerly "The George School News".
*"The Georgian" is the alumni newspaper that is circulated to alums, parents, and faculty.
*"Argo" is a student-produced literary and arts magazine.
*"Opus" is the school's yearbook.

Performing Arts

The school has a very active performing arts program of long standing. Although it is not formally an "arts school," many of George School's most prominent alumni are performing artists.

Theater productions are both student and department produced, and are performed on the Walton Center main stage or the smaller green room stage. Productions include conventional high school productions, such as Guys and Dolls, and more controversial pieces such as the Laramie Project. The most recent production is Lanford Wilson's "The Rimers Of Eldritch".

Also George School's dance classes perform in Dance Eclectic every year. Dance Eclectic is a combination of student choreography and teacher based choreography.

The George School Community Chorus includes both students and adults from the community, and offers an annual winter concert.

ymbols and logos

*The school's seal is an oil lamp with the inscription "Mind the light," referring to the Quaker conception of God as the inner light within all people.
*The logo consists of the two words of the name (the school is never referred to as "The George School") separated by a stylized tree, reminiscent of the large one on the south end of campus. The current logo, adopted in 2000, replaced a more stylized, "bare branch" logo adopted in the late 1970s. [ "Georgian" blurb about new logo, Fall 2000]
*The school colors were historically buff and brown, but those proved harder and harder to find for sports uniforms. Since autumn 2000, the school colors have been green and white.
*The mascot is a cougar, portrayed by one of the cheerleaders.

Notable alumni

* Donzaleigh Abernathy — actress, daughter of Rev. Ralph Abernathy
* Barbara Dodd Anderson — philanthropist, daughter of notable Columbia University Business professor David Dodd
* Edward G. Biester, Jr. — U.S. Congressperson
* Julian Bond — civil rights leader and chairman of the NAACP
* Mario Capecchi — winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine
* Jojuyounghi Cleaver — Daughter of Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver
* Kathleen Neal Cleaver - Black Panthers leader, wife of Eldridge Cleaver
* Ennis Cosby — Son of Bill Cosby
* Blythe Danner — actress, mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow
* Kevin Davis - actor in multiple films, notably one of the Black Panthers in Forrest Gump
* Keir Dullea — actor
* James Hammerstein — Broadway director and producer
* Stephen Lang — actor
* J. Howard Marshall — businessman and husband of Anna Nicole Smith
* Meredith Monk — dancer, composer and choreographer
* George Segal — actor
* Stephen Sondheim — composer
* Henry S. TaylorPulitzer Prize-winning poet
* Dawn Timmeney – news anchor for WCAU (TV) in Philadelphia
* Charles Walton — holder of the first patent for RFID technology
* Kenneth Geddes Wilson — Winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physics

Notable faculty

* Leon Bass — educator
* James Michener — (1933-1936) novelist


Most from George School web site.

ee also

* List of Friends Schools

External links

* [ George School web site]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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