Worcester Academy

Worcester Academy is a private school in Worcester, Massachusetts.[1] It is the oldest educational institution founded in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, and one of the oldest day-boarding schools in the United States. A coeducational preparatory school, it belongs to the National Association of Independent Schools. Situated on 73 acres (30 hectares), the academy is divided into a middle school (serving approximately 70 students in grades six to eight), an upper school, serving approximately 440 students in grades nine to twelve, including some postgraduates. Approximately one-third of students in the upper school participate in the school's five- and seven-day boarding programs. Currently, there are approximately 67 international students enrolled from 12 different nations. The academy is mildly selective, accepting approximately 65% of all applicants.

Worcester Academy
WA Secondary 2color 202 logo.jpg
81 Providence Street


United States
TypeIndependent, day and boarding
MottoἘφικνοῦ τῶν Καλῶν
(Achieve the Honorable)
Established1834; 188 years ago (1834)
Head of SchoolKevin Breen
Enrollment440 upper school
70 middle school
Average class size14
Student to teacher ratio8:1
Campus size71 acres (290,000 m2)
Campus typeUrban
Athletics24 Interscholastic sports
54 Interscholastic teams
Athletics conferenceNEPSAC
Team nameHilltoppers
YearbookThe Towers

Worcester Academy is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Association of Independent Schools in New England, and the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council.

The Academy's motto is the Greek phrase "Έφικνού τών Καλών," which means "Achieve the Honorable."


Founded in 1834 as the Worcester County Manual Labor High School, the name was changed to Worcester Academy in 1847. The school moved to its current location on Worcester's Union Hill in 1869. The academy moved into a building that had previously served as a Civil War hospital: "The Dale General Hospital". It was later renamed Davis Hall, in honor of longtime board president, Isaac Davis. Worcester Academy was all-male from its founding until 1856, and again from 1890 to 1974. It has been coeducational ever since.


As of 2018, 451 out of 600, or 68% of the school's students were white, 66 (11%) were Asian, 32 (5%) were Black, and 15 (2.5%) were Hispanic or Latino.[2] The corresponding numbers for the community were 56% white, 8% Asian, 12% black and 21% Hispanic or Latino.[3]


Warner Memorial Theater
Walker Hall, The Megaron, and Adams Hall

Worcester Academy's campus is currently spread over four main parcels: the main campus, which contains approximately 12 acres (49,000 m2); Francis A. Gaskill Field, a 15-acre (61,000 m2) parcel two blocks south of the main campus; the South Campus, a 15-acre parcel one block south which includes Morse Field; and the New Balance Fields, approximately four miles away on Stafford Street, comprising 28 acres (110,000 m2). In 2004, Worcester Academy relocated its alumni offices to a renovated Victorian home one block north of the main campus, at 51 Providence Street. It is now called Alumni House.

The main campus is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places with six buildings listed as contributing properties: 81 Providence Street, Kingsley Laboratories, Walker Hall, Adams Hall, the Megaron, and Dexter Hall. 81 Providence Street is the home of the Head of School and is named "Abercrombie House" in honor of Daniel Webster Abercrombie, principal from 1882 to 1918.[4] In 2001, the back end of the historic campus was developed with the addition of Rader Hall, named for long-time faculty members Harold G. "Dutch" and Dorothy Rader. Rader Hall houses the school's library and is used for middle school classes and activities. In the past fifteen years restoration work on the historic campus buildings has been completed including in 2008 with the complete renovation of the Kingsley Laboratories, Walker Hall in 2013-14, and Daniels Gymnasium in 2013.

The South Campus currently features the Morse Field, named for former Head of School Dexter P. Morse and his wife, Barbara. This campus, located between the main campus and Gaskill Field, is a focus of the school expansion plans. The first parcel of a former hospital campus was acquired in 2007 with the completion of the purchase and sale agreement on a 6 acres (24,000 m2) parcel. In January 2010, the Academy purchased an additional 4 acres (16,000 m2) of the former hospital. A lighted, artificial turf field was opened in the fall of 2011. A walking path along its perimeter connects to the entrance via a pathway. The field serves as both a practice facility and playing field for multiple sports. The acquisition of the remaining 5 acres of the hospital campus was completed in the summer of 2015. A visual and performing arts center located on the South Campus opened there in the fall of 2015.[5] The performance center is located in the former hospital power plant and has seating capacity of 120 and lobby area for a comparable number of guests. Walkways connect the South Campus to both the main campus and Gaskill Field.

In the summer of 2014, Worcester Academy completed the restoration/renovation of Walker Hall, including improvements to the connection to the adjacent building called the Megaron. This included installation of access ramp, replacement of windows, installation of an elevator, installation of bathrooms, and HVAC installation. The majority of the work was completed over the summers of 2013 and 2014.[6][better source needed] There was a net gain of six classrooms. In addition, the exterior of the Daniels Gymnasium was restored in the summer of 2013.

As of fall of 2017, Worcester Academy is a primary tenant at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center, a double rink located at the corner of Harding and Winter streets in Worcester's Canal District. This facility is at the foot of Union Hill and a half a mile from the campus entrance on Providence Street. Both the Boys and Girls teams have their own locker rooms and the teams will have prime skating time for games and practice.[citation needed]

Worcester Academy
Dexter Hall
LocationWorcester Academy Campus, Worcester, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°15′10″N 71°47′30″W / 42.25278°N 71.79167°W / 42.25278; -71.79167
Area4.9 acres (20,000 m2)
ArchitectFuller & Delano
Architectural styleQueen Anne, Romanesque, Gothic Revival
MPSWorcester MRA
NRHP reference No.80000478[7]
Added to NRHPMarch 5, 1980
Kingsley Laboratories
Walker Hall
Rader Hall (library)
1898 advertisement for the school.

The most notable building on the campus is the Lewis J. Warner '28 Memorial Theater. Built in 1932, it was a gift from Warner Brothers Studio President Harry Warner, who donated the building to honor the memory of his only son. Lewis died within three years of graduating from the academy. Worcester Academy's middle school student assemblies are held in the 350-seat Hervey S. Ross Auditorium in Warner Theater.

Visual and Performing ArtsEdit

Beginning in the 1890s, glee clubs and orchestras, organized by students, performed at term dinners. In 1901, the first play was performed by students under the direction of a faculty adviser.[citation needed] These groups evolved into clubs, known as Etta Kappa Alpha (theater) and the Offbeats (singing). In the early 1980s, courses in performing and visual art were offered. By the end of the decade a Visual and Performing Arts Department was formed. Soon thereafter, theater was offered as a course and this curriculum has expanded since then.

Visual ArtsEdit

Upper school studio art course offerings include ceramics, jewelry design, fibers craft, and architecture. In addition to drawing and painting courses, digital art is an offering. Web design and animation are also part of the art curriculum.

The Middle School visual arts program includes introductory courses in music and theater. The Arts Café studies the art and cuisine of a global culture each year.[citation needed]

Theater ProgramEdit

Students perform in two theaters:

The Andes Pit Theater located in the basement of Walker Hall will be replaced by building on the South Campus that had formerly been a power plant.
Warner Theater, restored in 2000, a proscenium theater that seats an audience of 360.

Students perform in three fully mounted Upper School productions and a fully mounted Middle School production. One of these productions is an annual musical.

Each summer, Moonstruck Theater Company presents a fully mounted production in the Andes Pit Theater. WA theater students can gain practical experience as Moonstruck Theater interns.[citation needed]

Upper School Music Academic ProgramEdit

  • Chorus offers introductory to intermediate training in ensemble performance with a focus on developing singers' musicianship, vocal technique and interpretive skills.
  • Advanced Chorus is a performance ensemble open to students by audition. The repertoire includes American, European and World music.
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Orchestra includes string players, as well as auditioned woodwind, brass and percussion players.
  • Music Study is individual and small group lessons that are offered to members of the performance ensembles in voice, piano, woodwinds, brass, bass, and percussion.
  • Music Theory meets two times weekly and is scheduled as an independent study for greater availability for students. The program is based around compositional technique of seventeenth to twentieth century tonal music and focuses on four-part writing. Courses run from Music Theory I through AP.

Extra-curricular program:

  • The Academy Singers are selected from members of the choral classes. The Academy Singers perform vocal music from Renaissance to modern.
  • Jazz Combo is a small performance based jazz group (6–10 members/ rhythm section and up to 5 horns) by audition.
  • Jazz Lab is a performance based training program for beginning to intermediate players
  • The Hillpoppas are a student directed "collegiate" a cappella ensemble.
  • A full musical theater production is mounted by the Visual and Performing Arts Department each year.


Worcester Academy is a member of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). Worcester Academy plays most of the larger New England prep schools, and rivalries date back much more than a century. In certain sports, NEPSAC classifies the competition for post-season play[clarification needed] and Worcester Academy competes with teams in Class A and Class B.[citation needed]

The mascot is a ram named Oskee, named after the school fight song. Approximately 60% of the students participate in an interscholastic sport on one of the 54 athletic teams.[citation needed] There are twenty-four different sports offered including in the fall: football, soccer, cross country, field hockey; in the winter: basketball, wrestling, alpine skiing, volleyball, hockey, swimming; and in the spring: track and field, baseball, lacrosse, crew, golf, softball, and tennis.


  • Daniels Gymnasium (1915 with a 1983 addition) has two basketball courts, a wrestling room, a weight room, and a four lane swimming pool. Volleyball is played in this building in the fall. A running track is above the original basketball court.
  • Gaskill Field (1910) is a located a few blocks south of the main campus and was renovated in 1995. This complex includes a football field with stands, a six lane quarter mile composition track, four tennis courts, and a baseball field.
  • New Balance Field (2001) is located four miles (6 km) from the main campus and it includes fields on three planes of different elevations. These are used for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and baseball based upon the season. There is also a softball field.
  • Morse Field (2011) is located a block south of the main campus on the former site of Saint Vincent Hospital. In May 2012, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name it the Dexter P. Morse Field in honor of Dexter and Barbara Morse. Morse served as the Head of School for 15 years and was instrumental in the construction of the turf field. Morse Field consists of a multi-purpose synthetic turf field that hosts varsity football, lacrosse, field hockey, soccer and softball.
  • Off-campus facilities: The crew teams row on Lake Quinsigamond and store their shells at the Donahue Rowing Center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The hockey teams play their homes games at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center one half mile down the hill from the main campus. The golf teams play at the Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston, Massachusetts. The ski team practices and competes at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts.

Recent highlightsEdit

In 2011, the Girls Varsity Soccer Team won NEPSAC Class A tournament in the first year that the team had moved up to the division.

In 2017, the varsity baseball team won the Central Division NEPSAC crown by winning the Blackburn Tournament at Murray Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 2016, the Boys Varsity Soccer team were the Class A WNEPSSA champions.

In 2017, the Girls Varsity Ice Hockey team won the New England Girls Prep Division 2 championship.

In 2018, the Boys Varsity Ice Hockey team were the 2017-2018 Holt Conference Champions.

In 2018, the Girls Varsity Basketball team were the NEPSAC Class AA champions.

In 2019, the Boys Varsity Soccer team were the NEPSAC Class A Champions.

Notable coachesEdit

Worcester Academy's coaches have included: Frank Cavanaugh, Mike Sherman, Ken O'Keefe, Kirk Ferentz, Dave Gavitt, William F. Donovan, Al Hall, and Bill Livesey. In addition, Gordon Lockbaum was a wrestling coach at Worcester Academy. Donald Rowe played and coached at WA, winning 9 New England Prep School Championships as a coach.[8]


Student organizations or clubs date back to the very beginning of Worcester Academy in 1834, when the Legomathenian Society was formed. Initially, the Legomathenian Society was a literary society which published articles written by students. The Legomathenian Society is now the debate club at Worcester Academy. There are 55 organizations and just a few of them are: Model UN, Habitat for Humanity, Math Team, and Newman Society.

Recent HighlightsEdit

In January 2010, the Worcester Academy team won the Brain Bee competition for the state of Massachusetts.[citation needed]

In May 2010, Worcester Academy's Walk and Rock for The Jimmy Fund raised $21,862 for adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer research and support at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute. The event — a walkathon and music festival — raised $221,862 over a five-year period. The last Walk and Rock took place in 2010.[citation needed]

In the springs of 2010 and 2011, the We the People club won the Massachusetts championship and traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national championship.[9]

In 2011, Worcester Academy's math team won its seventh (and fourth straight)[10] Worcester County Mathematics League championship,[11] its seventh (and sixth straight)[12] state championship,[13] and its fourth New England championship (the third in six years).[14][15][16]

On December 6, 2008 Worcester Academy Hosted its first Model United Nations Simulation. The keynote speaker was congressman Jim McGovern '77. Worcester Academy again sponsored and hosted WAMUN in October 2013.[citation needed]

Notable alumniEdit

Notable faculty and alumni of Worcester Academy include:

In certain instances, student-athletes attend Worcester Academy solely for their senior year, or for a single postgraduate year, to increase their exposure to college coaches or to improve their academic standing. Notable student-athletes include:

Headmasters of Worcester AcademyEdit

Number Name Years
1st Silas Bailey, D.D. 1834–1838
2nd Samuel Stillman Greene, LL.D. 1838–1840
3rd Nelson Wheeler, A.M. 1840–1847
4th Eli Thayer 1840, A.M. 1847–1849
5th Charles C. Burnett, A.M. 1849–1852
6th Eleazer J. Avery, A.M. 1852–1854
7th William S. Greene, A.M. 1854–1858
8th Werden Reynolds, A.M. 1858–1860
9th James R. Stone, D.D. 1860–1862
10th Ambrose P. S. Stuart, A.M. 1862–1864
11th Charles Ayer, A.B. 1865–1866
12th Albert Prescott Marble, PhD 1866–1868
13th William C. Poland, A.B. 1868–1870
14th Willard T. Leonard, M.A. 1870
15th Rev. David Weston, A.B. 1870–1871
16th John D. Smith, A.B. 1872–1875
17th Nathan Leavenworth, A.M. 1875–1882
18th Daniel Abercrombie, Litt.D., LL.D. 1882–1918
19th Samuel Foss Holmes, A.M. 1918–1933
20th Harold H. Wade 1933–1942
21st LeRoy A. Campbell, PhD 1942–1950
22nd Paul K. Phillips, A.B. 1950–1954
23rd William S. Piper, Jr., Ed.D. 1954–1968
24th Harold G. Rader, Ed.D. 1968–1969
25th David R. Jefferson, B.A., B.D. 1969–1970
26th Robert A. LaBranche 1946, M.S. 1970–1974
27th John A. Bloom, M.A. 1974–1985
28th Ben Williams, M.A. 1985–1991
29th John Mackenzie, M.A. 1991–1997
30th Dexter P. Morse, M Ed., C.A.G.S. 1997–2012
31st Ronald M. Cino 2012–2021
32nd Kevin Breen 2021–Present

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Official Website". Worcester Academy.
  2. ^ "School ID 00603712". National Center for Education Statistics.
  3. ^ "Worcester, MA id 2513230". National Center for Education Statistics.
  4. ^ History of Worcester Academy
  5. ^ "Onward: The Campaign for Worcester Academy". Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  6. ^ https://www.facebook.com/MrWalkersWondering[user-generated source]
  7. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  8. ^ "The New Haven Register Blogs: Elm City to Eagleville: UConn legends Lobo, Rowe on Hall of Fame ballot". elmcitytoeaglevillenhr.blogspot.com. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ WOCOMAL Varsity Team Championships by Year. Wocomal.org. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  11. ^ WOCOMAL Varsity Team Rankings 2010–11. Wocomal.org. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  12. ^ MAML Team Championships by Year. Wocomal.org. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  13. ^ MAML State Meet Team Rankings 2011. Wocomal.org. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  14. ^ NEAML Team Championships by Year. Wocomal.org. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  15. ^ NEAML State Meet Team Rankings 2011. Wocomal.org. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  16. ^ Worcester Academy wins NE math championship. Telegram.com. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
  17. ^ "NEPSAC Basketball: Where Are They Now". New England Recruiting Report Retrieved on July 29, 2014.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 42°15′10″N 71°47′27″W / 42.252675°N 71.790703°W / 42.252675; -71.790703