Groton School
282 Farmers Row


Coordinates42°35′36.04″N 71°35′03.23″W / 42.5933444°N 71.5842306°W / 42.5933444; -71.5842306
TypePrivate day and boarding school
MottoCui servire est regnare
("In whose [God's] service is perfect freedom" (Book of Common Prayer) / "To serve [God] is to reign" (Lumen gentium))
Religious affiliation(s)Episcopal Church
HeadmasterTemba Maqubela
Enrollment378 (2023-24)
Campus typeSuburban/rural
Athletics conferenceIndependent School League
Endowment$475 Million
AlumniOld Grotonians

Groton School is a private college-preparatory day and boarding school located in Groton, Massachusetts. It is affiliated with the Episcopalian tradition.[1]

Groton enrolls about 380 boys and girls from the eighth through twelfth grades, dubbed Forms II-VI in the British fashion.[2] Its $475 million endowment enables the school to admit students on a need-blind basis.[3][4] Typically, 40-44% of students are on financial aid.[4][5][6][7] Tuition, room, and board for the 2023-24 school year is $59,995, of which financial aid covers, on average, $46,519.[4]

The school's list of notable alumni includes U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[8] Although it no longer publishes its admissions rate, Groton was the most selective boarding school in the United States in 2016.[9]


The Peabody era, 1884–1940

Groton School was founded in 1884 by Endicott Peabody, a member of a prominent Massachusetts family and an Episcopal clergyman.[10] The land for the school was donated by two brothers, James and Prescott Lawrence, whose family home was located on Farmers Row in Groton, Massachusetts, not far up the road from Groton School's present location.[11] Peabody was backed by Harvard president Charles Eliot and affluent figures of the time, such as Peabody's father Samuel Peabody, Phillips Brooks, William Lawrence, William Crowninshield Endicott, and J.P. Morgan.[12] Groton School received early support from the Roosevelt family, including future President Theodore Roosevelt, and the dorms filled quickly.[13]

Peabody served as headmaster for fifty-six years, during which he declined a request from the Columbia University board of trustees to apply for the presidency of that university.[14][15] At Groton, he instituted a Spartan educational system that included cold showers and dormitory cubicles instead of individual bedrooms, subscribing to the model of "muscular Christianity" which he himself experienced at Cheltenham College in England as a boy.[16][17] Through this program of "corrective salutary deprivation," Peabody hoped to inspire his students to serve the public good, rather than enter professional life.[16][18] This ethos reached its apex in the World Wars. The official history of the school estimated that 475 of Groton's 580 military-age alumni served in World War I; 24 died and another 36 were wounded.[19] (In 1917 - the year America entered the war - the graduating class contained only 27 students.[20]) Roughly 700 Groton alumni served in World War II, with 31 deaths.[21] This record was not replicated in peacetime, during which the alumni typically gravitated to business, finance, law, or similar professional positions.[22][23] Even so, many alumni remained involved in government and public affairs.[24][25]

Peabody also expected his students to "be ready for advanced courses at the universities."[18] Despite Groton's popularity with the ultra-rich, Peabody sought to improve the academic qualities of the student body. Accordingly, Groton introduced competitive entrance examinations and a financial aid program in 1907.[26][27] (One of the beneficiaries of this scholarship system, Henry Chauncey '23, went on to popularize the Scholastic Aptitude Test with American universities.[28]) Since even Ivy League universities could not always be counted on for financial aid at the time, Peabody also helped certain students pay for college. Chauncey was able to transfer from Ohio State to Harvard after Peabody arranged for a Groton donor to subsidize the cost,[29] and Peabody gave the 1940 valedictorian John B. Goodenough a tutoring job to help make ends meet after the latter was admitted to Yale.[30][31]

The Crocker era, 1940–65

Peabody was succeeded by John Crocker, who had been the chaplain for Episcopal students at Princeton University for the previous 10 years.[32] Crocker himself was a 1918 graduate of Groton;[32] 15 members of his family were alumni.[33] His 25-year tenure overlapped with the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. In September 1951, three years before the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregation in public schools, Groton accepted its first African-American student.[34][35] In April 1965 Crocker and his wife, accompanied by 85 Groton students, marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during a civil rights demonstration in Boston; four years earlier, Southern authorities had arrested Crocker's son John Jr. '42 during the Freedom Rides.[36][37] Crocker also significantly expanded the School's financial aid program; by his retirement in 1965 approximately 30% of Groton students were on scholarship.[38]

Co-education and change, 1965–77

After Crocker, Groton cycled through three brief Headmasterships: Bertrand Honea Jr. (1965–69), Paul Wright (1969–74), and Rowland Cox (1974–77).[39][40][41] These years were marked by disputes over how (if at all) to implement co-education at Groton. Honea proposed either merging outright with a girls' school or formalizing a sister-school relationship with Concord Academy, a well-regarded girls' school twenty miles southeast of Groton.[42][43] (Concord declined Groton's offer to help relocate the academy to the town of Groton, and eventually mooted the issue by opening its doors to boys in 1971.[44][45]) Following Honea's departure, Wright proposed an organic transition to co-education by expanding the student body from 225 to 300 students; this plan eventually won over the Board of Trustees.[46] After Wright reached Groton's mandatory retirement age, the Board tapped Cox to implement the plan.[47] Groton welcomed its first female students in 1975.[46] Applications tripled,[48] and today, Groton's student body is evenly split between boys and girls.[46]

The new headmasters also relaxed some of the more Spartan aspects of Peabody's Groton in response to changing educational mores within the American upper class (which increasingly favored private day schools over boarding schools).[49][50] They replaced the sleeping cubicles with proper bedrooms, added more holidays to the academic calendar, relaxed the dress code, authorized a school newspaper, and gave students more free time over the weekends to explore the town of Groton or their own personal interests.[51][52] However, some traditions remain, such as the school's commitment to public service, its small community, and its attachment to the Episcopal Church.

Contemporary Groton, 1977–present

Groton reached its modern form under William Polk '58 (1978–2003) and Richard Commons (2003–13), who significantly upgraded the campus' buildings and grounds and internationalized the admissions process; and the current Headmaster, the South African-American Temba Maqubela (2013–present).[53][54][55][56] The 2014–18 GRAIN (GRoton Affordability and INclusion) initiative - backed by a $74 million fundraising campaign - ensured that no applicant would be turned away for financial reasons.[57][58] Groton froze tuition for three years and restricted tuition increases in the following years.[4] As a result, Groton is now the least expensive school in a sample of 40 peer schools; in 2014 it was the most expensive.[4] In addition, since 2008, Groton has been one of three secondary boarding schools in the country (alongside Andover and Exeter) to offer free tuition to families with household incomes below $75,000 (currently $80,000).[59][60][61]

Members of the Groton community continue to play a notable role in the secondary school community. At present, former Groton masters are the heads of school at Cranbrook (Aimeclaire Roche, also president of the national Heads and Principals Association),[62][63] St. Paul's (Kathleen Giles),[64] Dana Hall (Katherine Bradley),[65] Salisbury (William Webb),[66] and Brewster International (Craig Gemmell),[67] among others.[68]

Academics and reputation

Curriculum and test scores

The Form of 2023's average combined SAT score was 1490 and its average combined ACT score was 33.5.[3] The school's 4:1 student-teacher ratio[3] allows the school to offer a variety of courses and an individualized study program for seniors whose academic interests have gone beyond the regular curriculum.[69] Although not every department at Groton offers formal Advanced Placement classes (for example, English[70] and History[71] generally do not), Groton students took 2,582 AP exams (approximately 6.5 per student) from 2018–22 and passed 93% of them.[3]

Role as feeder school

Groton has historically served as a feeder school for Harvard College. From 1906 to 1932, 405 Groton students applied to Harvard and 402 were accepted.[72][73]

There were at least three major reasons for this level of success. First, even Ivy League schools accepted most of their applicants until after World War II and the Korean War, when veterans armed with G.I. Bill funding vastly expanded the pool of talent.[74][75] (Stanford, which accepted seven of every eight applicants in 1951, was rejecting four of every five by 1965.[76]) Second, Groton students often performed well on college entrance examinations. From 1906 to 1934, only six students received perfect scores on the English component of the College Boards (the predecessor to the SAT), and four were Groton alumni.[77] Third, even when Groton produced middling students, many of them were Ivy League legacies (who enjoyed preferential treatment from the admissions offices[75]), or so wealthy or famous that elite schools were willing to admit them in spite of their academic limitations.[78] One especially rich Groton boy did so poorly in school that Endicott Peabody threatened to ban him from applying to Harvard.[79] Despite "appalling entrance scores" on his entrance exams, Harvard admitted him anyway.[80] (In those days, a student did not actually have to pass his entrance exams to be admitted.[81])

By the 1960s, a new system was emerging. Even an alumnus and trustee like McGeorge Bundy '36[82] (the faculty dean at Harvard[83]) commissioned a report urging Harvard to diversify its student body and to give greater weight to academic excellence in undergraduate admissions.[84] In 1960, Groton's 75th anniversary book accurately warned that "a problem now exists which Dr. Peabody never had to face. ... Groton's old superiority is challenged ... by boys who come from public schools all over the country. As one [Yale] dean said to me, 'There has been a dramatic rise in the academic competence of Yale's students during the last few years. The best of the present are no better than the best of previous years; there are simply more of them.'"[85]



Groton is an independent (private) school accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.[86] The school was initially organized as a charitable trust.[87] In 1893, the Massachusetts legislature passed an act reorganizing the school into a non-profit corporation governed by a board of trustees.[87] The Groton board is composed of alumni, parents of current and former students, and the Headmaster.[88] The Act of Incorporation has been amended only twice since 1893: to enable girls to attend Groton,[89] and to change the name of the legal entity from Trustees of Groton School to (simply) Groton School.[90]

External affiliations

Groton does not participate in either the Eight Schools Association or the Ten Schools Admissions Organization.[91][92] Outside of athletics, Groton has collaborated with other independent schools on a primarily ad hoc basis. For example, after the Kent State shootings, Groton, St. Paul's, Andover, and Exeter held an emergency meeting to discuss how boarding schools should respond to growing student unrest.[93] Groton also worked with St. Paul's, Andover, Deerfield, and Hotchkiss to create the Gateway to Prep Schools application portal.[94] The current headmaster, Temba Maqubela, sits on the board of the Heads and Principals Association.[63]


As an independent school, Groton is not dependent on public funding.[95] However, private schools are still eligible for government grants and indirect assistance. The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency has issued tax-exempt bonds to finance renovations and/or new buildings at Groton,[96] Andover,[97] Deerfield,[98][99] St. Mark's,[100] and Nobles.[101] The schools are still required to pay back the bonds on their own, but obtain tax benefits and more attractive repayment terms by working with the government.[96]


Groton School, as viewed from the top of St. John's Chapel. Hundred House is on the left and the Schoolhouse is on the right. Just beyond the photo, the Dining Hall and the Performing Arts Center are to the left of Hundred House, Brooks House and the Art Center are to the right of the Schoolhouse, and the Athletic Center is behind the Schoolhouse.

Groton has a 480-acre campus,[3] including academic buildings, dormitories, athletic fields, and undeveloped land for conservation.[102] The campus was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park in New York City and the campuses of many high schools and universities.[103] In 2018, Architectural Digest named Groton the most beautiful private high school campus in Massachusetts.[104]

The School's core buildings are arranged around a (mostly) circular lawn, and "The Circle" is the primary metonym for Groton's campus.[105] Walking across the Circle is traditionally forbidden, except while playing sports.[106] Buildings on the Circle include St. John's Chapel, the Schoolhouse,[107][108] the Brooks House and Hundred House dormitories, the Dining Hall,[109] and the Dillon Art Center.[110][111] Other facilities just outside the Circle include the Campbell Performing Arts Center,[112] the Athletic Center,[113] the Pratt and O'Brien Rinks[114] (which convert to indoor tennis courts outside the hockey season), the Bingham Boathouse on the Nashua River,[115][116] the Goodenough Solar Battery Farm,[117][118] outdoor tennis clay courts and hard courts, and faculty homes.[119]

St. John's Chapel was the second chapel built on Groton's campus. Although Endicott Peabody's Broad Church Episcopalian churchmanship contrasted with the Anglo-Catholicism of St. Paul's School,[120][121] Groton donated its first chapel to the local Catholic community; this chapel was renamed the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church of Groton in 1904.[122]

Students and notable alumni

Main article: List of Groton School alumni

Student body composition (2021–22)[131][132]
Race and ethnicity Groton Massachusetts
White 47.5% 47.5
69.6% 69.6
Asian 23.5% 23.5
7.7% 7.7
Black 8.7% 8.7
9.5% 9.5
Hispanic 12.9% 12.9
13.1% 13.1
Multiracial 7.4% 7.4
2.7% 2.7

When Groton was founded in 1884, American boarding schools primarily catered to White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. St. Paul's accepted only students with "sound Episcopal credentials,"[133] and in 1885 Andover admitted a Jew "[f]or the first time in twelve years."[134] Although Groton was open to Jews and non-Episcopalian Christians[133] (for example, the Presbyterian Theodore Roosevelt[13][135] and the Jewish Otto Kahn[136] both sent their sons to Groton), the results were not substantially different. A 1902 graduate recognized that "[n]inety-five percent of these boys came from what they considered the aristocracy of America. Their fathers belonged to the Somerset, the Knickerbocker, the Philadelphia or the Baltimore Clubs. Among them was a goodly slice of the wealth of the nation."[137] Accordingly, schools like Groton considered it their mission "to make virtuous and brave those who, through the accident of birth, would someday exercise great power and influence."[16]

Although most Groton students in the early years were from wealthy families in New England and (in particular) New York,[138] the school's students now come from across the country and around the world.[3] 46% of students identify as students of color.[3] In addition, 15% of students commute to Groton from towns and cities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.[3]


Groton's sports teams compete in the Independent School League (ISL), a group of boarding and day schools in Greater Boston.[139] The ISL prohibits non-need-based financial aid,[140] although as previously noted, Groton already accepts students on a need-blind basis.[4] Moreover, unlike the Six Schools League[141][142] and the Founders League[143] (two academically similar athletic conferences), the ISL prohibits member schools from recruiting post-graduate students for their sports teams.[144]


Like other ISL schools, Groton athletes play different sports based on the three terms of the academic year. In the fall, students can choose between cross-country, field hockey (girls), football (boys), soccer, and volleyball (girls). In the winter, the choices are basketball, ice hockey, squash, and swimming. In the spring, the choices are baseball (boys), crew, lacrosse, tennis, and track & field.[145]

The Groton football team has produced three national championship-winning college football coaches, including four-time champion Percy Haughton,[146] and four members of the College Football Hall of Fame.[146][147][148][149] In 1905, when Stanford, California, Columbia, Northwestern, and Duke were dropping football in the name of player safety,[150] Endicott Peabody persuaded Theodore Roosevelt to push the remaining universities to make the game safer by reforming the rules of football; this resulted in the legalization of the forward pass, the rule requiring 10 yards for a first down, and the creation of the neutral zone.[151][152]

The Groton boys' crew has won nine New England championships[153] and has produced five Olympic gold medalists (and twelve Olympic rowers overall).[154] The younger girls' crew has won four New England championships[153] and has produced world champion Liane Malcos '96.[155] Both teams send crews to the Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Women's Regatta with some regularity.[156][157]

Rivalry (or rivalries)

Groton's sports rival is St. Mark's School. The two schools began playing in 1886 and contest the fifth-oldest high school football rivalry in the United States.[158] The rivalry began when the St. Mark's trustees rejected Endicott Peabody for their vacant headmaster position on the basis that the bylaws required the headmaster to be an Episcopal priest and Peabody had not yet been ordained,[159] only to turn around and hire a different layperson (William Peck) for the job.[160] In 1887, Peck refused to allow St. Mark's to play Groton because Groton (whose student body was considerably smaller than St. Mark's' at the time) insisted on allowing Peabody and his deputy William Greenough Thayer to play on the varsity.[161] The rivalry took on a friendlier tone when Peck left St. Mark's and the Southborough school hired Thayer for the now-open headmaster position.[162]

Groton did not play St. Paul's School in football until 1919; in fact, the two teams would play only twice in the first fifty years of Groton's existence.[163] However, Groton and SPS would eventually play each other in the ISL for over forty years.[164] When SPS withdrew from the ISL in 2016, Groton and SPS agreed to play each other in all sports on an out-of-conference basis.[140] Since then, both schools have occasionally referred to this matchup (which does have a trophy attached to it) as a rivalry.[165][166]

Groton also plays its neighbor Lawrence Academy in various sports, but because the ISL is split into different divisions for football and hockey, matchups are less frequent.[167][168]

1999 sexual abuse allegations

In the spring of 1999, the Middlesex County District Attorney began investigating the claims of three Groton seniors, who alleged that they, and other students, had been sexually abused by other students in dormitories in 1996 and 1997.[169][170] During the school's investigation of the matter, another student brought a similar complaint to the school's attention. In 2005, the school pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of failing to report the latter student's sexual abuse complaint to the government and paid a $1,250 fine. The school issued an apology to the victims, and the civil suit stemming from the first student's complaint was settled out of court.[171][172] In the fall of 2006, as part of the settlement, the school published a full apology to the boy who first alleged the abuse in 1999.

In popular culture

See also


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Further reading