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A Profile of The Gunnery School in Washington, Connecticut


A Profile of The Gunnery School in Washington, Connecticut

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Location: Washington, Connecticut

Type of School: co-ed boarding and day school for grades 9-12 and also offers a postgraduate year

Students: 280 students from 20 states and 19 countries

Average Class Size: 16

Tuition: $49,200 boarding / $37,000 day (2012-2013); $3.1 million in financial aid awarded each year to more than 40% of students

Endowment: $20 million

What the School is Like

The Gunnery, founded in 1850, is located in beautiful Litchfield County, Connecticut. The school was started by Frederick Gunn, an educator and abolitionist, and his wife, Abigail Brinsmade Gunn. The schoool was co-ed, and it included not only girls but also international students and students of color in the early years. Gunn was also a devotee of camping, and he was one of the first educators to lead his students on camping trips to a nearby beach. The school continues Gunn’s outdoor curriculum, as each year, the school takes a hike in Steep Rock Reservation. The school became an all-boys’ school in 1911 and returned to co-education in 1977. The school's 220-acre campus lies in the traditional New England green in the town of Washington, located about two hours from New York and three hours from Boston in foothills of the Berkshires.

Students at the Gunnery are educated with a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum that includes many Advanced Placement courses. Students traditionally take five classes at a time during 10-week terms. Seniors undertake an independent study during which they can work off campus or remain on campus to research or complete a project. In the Gunnery LEADS program, which stands for Learning for Ethical Engagement, Active Citizenship and Dedicated Service, students engage in a four-year program that, in the school’s words, “aims to teach stewardship, character and community engagement.”

In addition, starting in 2012, the school has participated in the Virtual High School Collaborative, to allow students to take online classes that are not offered at the school. These classes, taught by subject experts, include additional Advanced Placement or AP classs and inter-disciplinary classes that broaden the school’s offerings and enhance their emphasis on global education.

The school requires students to participate in sports, and the campus includes two gyms, a fitness center, a weight room, an ice rink, tennis courts, athletic fields, and a boathouse on nearby Lake Waramaug. The Gunnery fields teams in sports such as crew, field hockey, cross country, football, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, and others. Students are also encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities, which include student publications, drama productions, vocal groups, and clubs such as the Model UN and Community Council.

About 75% of the students are boarding, while the rest are day students. The international students come from about 20 countries, including Bahrain, the Dominican Republic, China, Hong Kong, and others. An international students club organizes trips to Boston and other places. The school awards about $3 million a year in financial aid, and about 40% of the student body receives need-based aid.

Students attend classes six days a week, though classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays are only held in the morning. Students also hold campus jobs (which require about 20 minutes each week). Students must stay at the school on certain weekends to encourage the fostering of community spirit, and on other weekends, they can go home or to a friend’s house after Saturday classes and sports.

Students in recent classes have been admitted to colleges such as Boston University, Bowdoin, Emory, Hunter College, Parsons: The New School for Design, Tulane, Union, and the University of Massachusetts, among other colleges and universities.

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