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Garrison Forest School

Garrison Forest School (GFS) is a college preparatory school, in Owings Mills, Maryland, near Baltimore, with a nationally distinctive educational model. The school offers a day school for girls, kindergarten through grade 12, as well as a coed program from ages two through Pre-K. The regional, national, and international residential program is for girls in grades 8–12. For Fall 2013, total enrollment is 650 students across four divisions: the Preschool, Lower School, Middle School and Upper School. The school averages about 60 boarding students per year.

Garrison Forest School
300 Garrison Forest Road
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117
United States
Coordinates 39°24′43″N 76°45′56″W / 39.41194°N 76.76556°W / 39.41194; -76.76556Coordinates: 39°24′43″N 76°45′56″W / 39.41194°N 76.76556°W / 39.41194; -76.76556
Motto Esse Quam Videri
(To Be Rather Than To Seem)
Established 1910
Head of school Kimberley J. Roberts
Grades Pre-K12
Color(s) Light Blue and Dark Blue
Mascot Grizzly Bear
Team name Garrison Grizzlies
Accreditation Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Association of Independent Maryland Schools (A.I.M.S.)

Three-Year-Olds (Three mornings a week) $4,880 Three-Year-Olds (Five mornings a week) $6,970
Pre-Kindergarten $12,925 Kindergarten $24,460
Pre-First $24,830
Grades 1-5 $25,390
Grades 6-8 Day $26,315 Grades 9-12 Day $26,890 Grades 8-12 National/International Boarding $50,370

Grades 8-12 Regional Boarding $39,460
Founder Mary Moncrieffe Livingston

In 2014, Dr. Kimberley Roberts was appointed Head of Garrison Forest School. Dr. Roberts succeeded G. Peter O'Neill, Jr., who served in the position for 20 years, from 1994 to 2014.

Located on 116 acres (0.47 km) outside of Baltimore, the school has academic, athletic, arts, residential, and student facilities. Garrison Forest School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools.



Garrison Forest School has a 1:1 Tablet PC program for grades 4–12. The campus is fully wired, and classroom technology includes a mounted wireless projector in each classroom. Faculty members also use Tablet PCs to sync with students’ Tablets and to provide interactive learning in the classroom.The Upper School and Middle School each have Media centers with iMac computers, scanners, and color printers. The school offers a Robotics program for grades 4-12, and teams compete at the local and state levels.


All Garrison Forest students are required to participate in the athletics program. The school’s athletic facilities include the Elizabeth B. Searle ’74 Athletic Center (opened in 2002), four athletic fields including two turf fields, and six tennis courts. The school’s mascot is the "Grizzly Bear", and the school colors are Light Blue and Dark Blue. The Garrison Forest "Grizzlies" field 13 sports with 42 teams, including three levels of Middle School teams.

Garrison Forest teams compete in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, (a recently established women's sports private/religious schools league), which mirrors the boys' Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, both of which succeeded the old Baltimore metropolitan area's public/private schools league, the old Maryland Scholastic Association, (MSA) (of which Garrison Forest School was a member), founded 1919 until 1993 when the public high schools of Baltimore City withdrew to join the competing statewide Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).

The school’s equestrian facilities include the D. & J. Smith Equestrian Center and the Sheridan Indoor Polo Ring. Garrison Forest has a long tradition of excellence in equestrian sports including Equitation, Showjumping, Eventing, and Polo. The school is one of only two girls' schools in the nation to offer Polo.

The polo team has won the 12 national titles since 1990. Beginning in 1995, six Garrison Forest Varsity Polo Team players have won the Polo Training Foundation Interscholastic Player of the Year Award.


In 1910, Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, a teacher from New York, moved to Maryland to found a m primary through 12th grade school for the local community. Garrison Forest then was an all-girls’ day school, Kindergarten through 12th Grade, with a residential program for older girls and a coed primary program. Miss Livingston chose the motto, Esse Quam Videri—To Be Rather Than To Seem, for her burgeoning school.

In 1929, Miss Livingston passed the mantle to Co-headmistresses Jean G. Marshall and Nancy J. Offutt who led the school to thrive during the Great Depression. For 30 years, Miss Marshall and Miss Offutt guided Garrison Forest and under their leadership the school added new students, faculty and a highly competitive riding program.

In 1960, the School hired its first male headmaster, Archibald “Tad” Montgomery IV, who expanded the residential program, campus and community outreach. Lawrence “Larry” L. Hlavacek served as Headmaster from 1968 to 1978. In the 1970s boarding school enrollments dipped nationwide and many girls’ schools shut their doors or merged with other institutions. Garrison Forest returned to its founding model of educating boys and girls at the preschool level by merging in 1975 with the nearby Valley School, a local, coed independent preschool and elementary school.

From 1978 to 1989, Agnes “Aggie” C. Underwood served as headmistress. Garrison Forest’s reputation and enrollment grew through achievements such as the increased number of Advanced Placement courses and faculty members with advanced degrees, enhanced student diversity and depth of arts programming.

After interim head Alexander A. Uhle’s year-long appointment, Elsa “Midge” M. Bowman was named Headmistress. She began a formal international boarding program in the early 1990s. Today, 20 percent of the Upper School students hail from countries outside of the United States.

In 1994, G. Peter O’Neill, Jr. joined Garrison Forest. He began as an interim, but was soon appointed to the position permanently. Mr. O'Neill led the School’s largest campus expansion and the establishment of an experiential learning program for girls, the Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) program, an academic partnership with Johns Hopkins University. O'Neill retired in 2014, making his the third-longest tenure as head of Garrison Forest School in its 100-year history.

Following O'Neill's retirement, the school named Kimberley J. Roberts, Ph.D., as the 10th Head of School [1].


Garrison Forest has numerous traditions that speak to and underscore the school’s spirit.

The school flower is the blue cornflower or bachelor’s button, Centaurea cyanus, was chosen by Miss Livingston. Graduating seniors during her era wore white dresses and carried arm bouquets of the simple blossoms. The tradition has continued with each graduating senior carrying a bouquet of the blue flowers wrapped in flowing blue ribbons, which the school called “Ragged Robins.” Actually, the Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, is not a cornflower at all, though like the cornflower, is naturalized as a wildflower in the Northeast. Regardless of any understandable confusion between common names for plants, Garrison Forest’s Ragged Robin is much beloved. At Garrison Forest, the term “Ragged Robins” applies to three longstanding traditions—the school flower, the yearbook, and the student a cappella group.

The Garrison Forest Alma Mater has lyrics written by founding headmistress Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, which are sung to the tune of her favorite Episcopal hymn, God, the Omnipotent by Alexis Lvov (1798–1870):

"Hail, Gladdening Light, Our lamp of wisdom, Hail! Shine with a radiance, Which can never fail. Illumined by thy rays, May thus our motto gleam, And show our desire, 'To be and not to seem.'

Polished and fitted true, May each to each stand fast, Firm as the stones, In Temple corners cast. Strong and enduring be, Our love and loyalty, For School and for Comrades, And for Victory!"

Adopted in 1929, the original Garrison Forest School crest depicts a tree upholding a lamp, the symbol of education, with Garrison Forest’s motto emblazoned beneath: Esse Quam Videri. The large tree in the seal resembles a White Oak, Quercus alba. Known for its majestic stature, wide branches, and longevity, the White Oak is the state tree of Maryland.

The school colors of light blue and dark blue inspired the at least 90-year-old tradition of sorting the students and faculty into spirit teams of Light Blue and Dark Blue. In a friendly competition, these teams compete for points during the academic year through service and leadership participation and during Spirit Days. At the end of the school year, awards are given in each division (Lower School through Upper School) for the winning team and the most spirited class.

Garrison Forest School’s Service League, a comprehensive community service umbrella organization with local, national, and international outreach, was founded by students in 1942 as a response to helping on the home front. Decades earlier, students helped in the local fields while farmers were fighting in World War I. While community service is not required of Garrison Forest students, more than 75 percent of students participate in numerous activities each year. Since 2005, the GFS faculty, staff, and administrators have sponsored a Habitat for Humanity house in Baltimore, an annual project that grew out of the school’s initial reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The first GFS Habitat house was given to a family who relocated from New Orleans to Baltimore post-hurricane.

Notable graduatesEdit

Cultural referencesEdit

The 1990 film Metropolitan references Garrison Forest as "one of those horsey girly schools."

External linksEdit