The Thacher School

The Thacher School is a selective, co-educational, independent boarding school located on 427 acres (1.5 km²) of hillside overlooking the Ojai Valley in Ojai, California, United States. Founded in 1889 as a boys' school, it is now the oldest co-ed boarding school in California. Girls were first admitted in 1977. The first co-ed graduating class was the class of 1978. The student body numbers 235.

The Thacher School
United States
TypePrivate, Boarding, Day
Head of SchoolBlossom B. Pidduck
Average class size11 students
Student to teacher ratio6:1
Campus427 acres (1.73 km2)
Color(s)Green and Orange
Athletics36 teams; 10 interscholastic sports
NicknameCasa de Piedra
RivalCate School

Notable programsEdit

All students are required to ride and care for a horse during their first year. An annual gymkhana event gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their horsemanship in competition with each other. Throughout the year, students are encouraged to take weekend camping trips into the local mountains. And each fall and spring the whole school breaks into small groups for week-long trips that may include backpacking, rock climbing, cycling, sailing, horse camping, canyoneering, backcountry skiing and kayaking.

On November 8, 2004, the San Jose Mercury News reported that the school received its largest alumni donation ever from Owen Jameson. The $10 million gift was part of the $82 million Campaign For Thacher,[1] concluded in 2007, that sought to improve Thacher's financial aid program and facilities, and raise its faculty salaries and endowment. Jameson's donation was specifically directed towards expanding Thacher's scholarship opportunities for youths from minority or low-income families.

History and cultureEdit

Sherman Day Thacher did not arrive on the Casa de Piedra ranch with the intent of creating a school.[2] The son of Yale professor Thomas Anthony Thacher and the former Elizabeth Baldwin Sherman (a granddaughter of Founding Father Roger Sherman), he elected to move to California to care for his brother who needed the "fresh air" cure for his tuberculosis. While spending time on the ranch, Thacher was contacted by an old Yale colleague who had a son who desperately wanted to go to Yale but needed tutoring before he would be prepared to attend. Thacher accepted the offer and tutored his colleague's son in both academics and maturity with his unique method of blending studies with outdoor living and horsemanship. Soon other friends were sending their sons out to California to receive Thacher's instruction and a school was born. Though it began as a feeder school to Yale, students were also attracted by the "emphasis on the lessons of the outdoors, hiking and rafting and riding on horseback"[3] and "nearly every boy has a horse of his own and takes full care of it".[4]

Campus and facilitiesEdit

The campus, nestled in the foothills in the northeast corner of the Ojai Valley, about 85 miles north of Los Angeles, was originally the Casa de Piedra ranch. Buildings reflect a variety of architectural styles, including California Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival. An $82-million capital campaign that concluded in 2007 was responsible for adding a new performing arts center and a student commons, two new dormitories, faculty housing, and numerous other improvements. Residential areas are organized to support a tight-knit campus community where faculty members and their families live and work in close proximity to students. In addition to the normal boarding school mix of athletic facilities (gymnasium, tennis courts, track, three fields, fitness center, and pool, although the pool is not used for athletic events), the campus has extensive barns, pastures, arenas, and fields for equestrian use, including a network of trails that links campus to the adjacent Los Padres National Forest.

Despite the recent campus developments, Thacher still retains its casual ranch appearance with its unassuming style of architecture, choosing to defer to the Ojai Valley's natural beauty.[5]

The school also maintains base camps in the Sespe Wilderness and the Eastern Sierra's Golden Trout Wilderness, which it uses for back country trips, educational programs and alumni retreats.

Mascot and traditionsEdit

While The Thacher School's symbol has always been that of the Pegasus, its mascot is the toad.[6] In 1962 Nick Thacher, CdeP 1963, and grandson of Sherman Day Thacher, spearheaded the movement to name the school's athletic teams the Toads. He said that "unlike the insecure schools whose machismo necessitates their adopting hopelessly arrogant nomenclature such as 'Tigers' and 'Lions' and 'Spartans,' [we] felt no necessity to advertise arrogance or virility. Instead 'Toads' seemed appropriate because the nature of such beasts is one of humility and quiet persistence." In an older admissions video, a Thacher student was quoted as saying, "They may be toads, but they play like princes," in reference to the boys basketball team. The "Teacher on Active Duty"—whose job it is to stay on top of things each day—is also conveniently known as the "TOAD."

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Makepeace, LeRoy McKim, "Sherman Thacher and His School", Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1941, p. 2
  3. ^ Arax, Mark and Wartzman, Rick, "The King of California", Public Affairs, New York, 2003, p. 289
  4. ^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898-1899. A guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States. Boston, MA: Brown and Company. p. 12. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  5. ^ San Jose Mercury News
  6. ^
  7. ^ "BA #069: Matt Shakman". Box Angeles podcast.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 34°27′58″N 119°10′44″W / 34.466156°N 119.178829°W / 34.466156; -119.178829