Hackley School

Hackley School is a private college preparatory school located in Tarrytown, New York, and is a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League. Founded in 1899 by a wealthy philanthropist, Mrs. Caleb Brewster Hackley, Hackley was intended to be a Unitarian alternative to the mostly Episcopal boarding schools throughout the Northeast. Since its founding, Hackley has dropped its Unitarian affiliations and changed from all-boys to coeducational.[1] Hackley is divided into three schools on the same campus: the Lower School, the Middle School, and the Upper School. Hackley school is also a member of global education association, Round Square.

Hackley School
TypePrivate, preparatory school
MottoIuncti Iuvamus (United we Help).
FounderMrs. Caleb Brewster (Francis) Hackley
Head of schoolMichael C. Wirtz
EnrollmentUpper School: 375
Middle School: 230
Color(s)Black,Yellow & Gray
PublicationThe Vision
NewspaperThe Dial
YearbookThe Hilltop

In September 2015, Hackley announced the appointment of Michael C. Wirtz as Hackley's 12th head of school. Mr. Wirtz began his tenure July 1, 2016, succeeding Walter C. Johnson, who served as headmaster from 1995-2016.



During the 1890s, the American Unitarian leadership in Boston became increasingly concerned about the lack of Unitarian presence in secondary and college preparatory education. Unitarians controlled Harvard University; its president, Charles Eliot, was the leading lay-person in the Unitarian movement, and the faculty included numerous Unitarians.[2]

Mrs. Caleb Brewster Hackley, a wealthy widow and leading supporter of the Unitarian movement, decided to give her summer mansion in Tarrytown to a charity. She resided in New York City, and was a member of the Church of the Messiah. Hackley was friends with the church's minister, who proposed using the mansion as a school for boys. In the winter of 1898-1899, she met with Dr. Samuel Eliot of Boston, who later became the President of the American Unitarian Association, and several other prominent Unitarians. Mrs. Hackley liked the idea of a college preparatory school to serve the Unitarian community and any families interested in a liberal religious environment and wanted to use her home for this purpose. She provided substantial funding to refurbish the mansion for school purposes and to operate the school for several years. In the spring of 1899, a Board of Trustees was formed and very shortly thereafter it selected its first headmaster. The first students arrived in the autumn of 1899 and resided in the Hackley home, today called Hackley Hall. In what became a part of Hackley tradition, generations of Hackley students will swear that Mrs. Hackley's ghost haunts the third floor of the Upper School building. Hackley School celebrates Mrs. Hackley's birthday, October 27, as "Founders Day" to this day.[3]


The home and grounds quickly proved inadequate to support a preparatory school. In the fall of 1899, Theodore Chickering Williams and Mr. Seaver Buck, the first headmaster and the first master hired, respectively, searched for additional land. They found a large estate for sale near the grounds of what later became Marymount College, and purchased it with funds from Mrs. Hackley. The buildings on the estate were torn down immediately, and within a short period, construction began on the buildings that would eventually join to form the Hackley quadrangle. The first buildings constructed were Goodhue Hall and the Minot Savage building. They were in use for the first time in 1902-1903. The remaining buildings, including the Sarah Goodhue King Chapel and the Headmaster's house, were completed by 1908. The architectural firm of Wheelwright and Haven designed the new school buildings and Downing Vaux provided contouring and plans for the first playing field and track.

Theodore Chickering Williams helped plan the school buildings and the curriculum and style of education. He had been a Unitarian minister in New York and was recognized as an important classical scholar. From the beginning Hackley was non-sectarian, shaped by Unitarian values, and it welcomed students from all faiths. A vigorous interscholastic sports program began during the first years with football already at the center of action in 1900-1901.

Hackley Hall, Mrs. Hackley's mansion, became the lower school and was eventually sold. It no longer exists, although one can find on the Marymount campus old stone gates which provided the entrance to the Hackley home. Throughout Hackley's history there have been twelve headmasters and three acting headmasters. Inscribed above one of Hackley's doors is the phrase "Enter Here to Be and Find a Friend."[3]

Destruction of Goodhue Memorial HallEdit

On August 4, 2007, a fire, sparked by an intense lightning storm, destroyed Goodhue Memorial Hall. The Kaskel Library and its 27,000 volumes, artwork, and non-book resources (CDs, DVDs, videos, magazines) were lost. While the fire gutted the roof and interiors, the stone facade of the building remained intact.[4]

During the rebuilding of Goodhue, the Middle/Upper School Library was located in King Memorial Chapel; the Lower School Library opened in 2007 in the Santomero Library on the second floor of the Kathleen Allen Lower School.

In September 2010, Goodhue Memorial Hall reopened, with the Sternberg Library and computer labs located on the new second floor. Classrooms, faculty offices, a student lounge, and a multi-media room occupy the first floor. In total, over 8,000 sq ft (740 m2). of space was added to the building.


To earn a high school diploma, students in Grades 9-12 must complete 4 years of English; up to the 3rd level of a language (Hackley offers French, Spanish, Chinese, or Latin, with additional elective classes in Greek); 3 years of the required history sequence that includes History 9: Cultures in Conflict, US History to 1900 and 20th Century World History; mathematics through Algebra II and Trigonometry; 3 years of science that must include Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (Hackley is part of the Physics First program); 1 year of performing or visual arts; and 1 year of Health in sophomore year. Hackley offers classes at and beyond the AP level in many of these subjects.

Additional courses and electives are offered, including Creative Writing, History of Western Theater, Seminar in Moral Philosophy, Economics, History of Media & Culture, Art History, Calculus, Finite Mathematics, Statistics, Organic Chemistry, Marine Biology, Ecology, Etymology, Computer Science, Electronic Publishing, Studio Art, Three-Dimensional Sculpture and Design, Architecture and Design, Ceramics, Photography, Filmmaking, Music Theory, Seminar in Music Listening, Acting, Seminar in (music) Composition, and Opera and Jazz, and Student Teaching (where high school students assist in lower school classes).

Upper School (9-12) students who are not enrolled in a sport take part in Physical Education classes offered each semester after school, twice a week. These courses take place after school and serve as a way to wind down and relax after the school day, in addition to teaching Hackley students how to live a healthy lifestyle. The Physical Education program offers varied activities in fitness, lifetime, and group sports as well as outdoor education, including Kayaking, Squash, Rock Climbing, Pilates, and Yoga.

The Music InstituteEdit

The Music Institute at Hackley School represents a partnership between professional musicians of the area, Hackley School, and the Hackley community. The Institute offers both group and one-on-one lessons in all instruments, drama, and voice – and at all levels. Lessons are taught on Hackley's campus and can be arranged during the school day or after school – depending upon each student's schedule.

Interscholastic sportsEdit

Hackley School is a part of the Ivy Preparatory School League. The Boys' Soccer team won the Ivy League title in 2010 after going 13-1 in league play and earned the number one seed in the 2010 NYSAISAA State Tournament. The Girls' Cross Country, Boys' Épée Fencing, Girls' Épée Fencing, and Boys' Swimming teams were all Ivy League Champions in the 2011-2012 season. In 2012, the Girls' Basketball team won the Ivy League and the NYSAISAA State Championship, going undefeated for the first time in school history. The Girls' Lacrosse team also won the Ivy League and the NYSAISAA State Championship in 2012, finishing the season with a record of 18-1 and unbeaten in Ivy League play. The Boys' Lacrosse team has equalled the success of the Girls' Lacrosse team, having reached the NYSAISAA State Championship in each of the last three seasons. The Boys' Lacrosse team won their first ever NYSAISAA State Championship in 2012, finishing the season with a record of 18-1 and as unbeaten Ivy League Champions. The Boys' Track and Field team won both the Ivy League and the NYSAISAA State Championship in 2012, making them the four-time, consecutive, defending Ivy League and NYSAISAA State Champions. The Boys' Squash team won its first Ivy League title in 2016, and won its second ever title the following year in 2017 after going a perfect 10-0 in league play and 18-0 overall. In 2017, the Boys' Squash team also qualified for Division I at High-School Nationals, as one of the top 16 teams in the country, going up against schools such as Deerfield Academy. The Boys' Golf team also won back-to-back Ivy League titles in 2016 and 2017, as well as their first ever NYSAISAA State Championship in 2017.

Fall Winter Spring
Cross Country (coed) Basketball (boys and girls) Baseball (boys)
Soccer (boys and girls) Swimming (boys and girls) Golf (coed)
Field Hockey (girls) Winter Track and Field Lacrosse (boys and girls)
Football (boys and girls) Wrestling (coed) Softball (girls)
Tennis (girls) Fencing (boys and girls) Tennis (boys)
Squash (boys and girls) Outdoor Track and Field

Boarding programEdit

The Upper School's five-day boarding program provides a combination of school and academic concentration during the week coupled with family and home life on the weekends. The program houses up to 30 students of all genders.

The small community of boarding students lives in boys and girls wings that share common lounges and study halls. Students are directly advised by six faculty members who live on the boarding corridor.


  • Head of School: Michael C. Wirtz
  • Upper School Director: Andrew King
  • Middle School Director: Cyndy Jean
  • Lower School Director: Lisa Oberstein
  • Philip J. Variano, Associate Head of School for School Operations
  • Steven D. Bileca, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs
  • Peter McAndrew, Director of Finance and Campus Planning
  • Sheila Hicks-Rotella, Director of Enrollment Management
  • Teresa Weber, Director of Advancement[5]

Notable peopleEdit


Noted alumni include:

Hackley in mediaEdit


  1. ^ FAQs, Hackley School website, accessed January 8, 2013
  2. ^ Cotton, Edward H. "Charles W. Eliot, Harvard University President". Harvard Square Library. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Schneller, Walter L. (January 1, 2002). "Where the Seasons Tell Their Story: Hackley School's First 100 Years" – via Amazon.
  4. ^ "Hudson Valley Ruins: Hackley School Fire, Tarrytown, NY. August 4, 2007. by Rob Yasinsac". www.hudsonvalleyruins.org.
  5. ^ "Working at Hackley". www.hackleyschool.org. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  6. ^ Foundation, Poetry (July 17, 2021). "Alan Seeger". Poetry Foundation.
  7. ^ at William McCain, F.O. Matthiessen and the Politics of Criticism, at 43(1988)
  8. ^ Franz Schulze, Philip Johnson: Life and Work, at 30(1994)
  9. ^ Schulman, Daniel (2014-05-19). "The "Other" Koch Brother". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  10. ^ "NNDB, Tracking the World". George Hamilton. NNDB. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  11. ^ "Malcolm Mooney, Biography". Malcolm Mooney. Malcolm Mooney. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  12. ^ Nelson D. Schwartz; Abha Bhattarai (14 June 2008). "The Search for a Missing Trader Goes Global". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  13. ^ "How Did I Get Here? Dara Khosrowshahi". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  14. ^ Nancy Haggerty (1 February 2019). "Curling: Briarcliff's Stopera leads his team to third straight U.S. Junior National title". The Journal News. Retrieved 17 July 2021.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 41°4′12.43″N 73°50′33.89″W / 41.0701194°N 73.8427472°W / 41.0701194; -73.8427472