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Founders Day Celebrates Tradition, Excellence

On February 28 each year, the Worcester Academy community celebrates Founders Day—the Academy’s birthday—in honor of the individuals, traditions, and stories that have made (and make!) WA one of the best independent schools in the country. This year, the Academy celebrates 185 years of transforming student lives! Among the celebrations planned are a Middle School play on the school’s history (to be performed at Morning Meeting); birthday cake in the dining hall; testimonial “walls” with notes from students, parents, and alumni explaining why they love Worcester Academy; the ringing of the Old School Bell; and the singing of “Happy Birthday” and “Oskee Wow-Wow,” of course!
This year, parents and alumni have two special fundraising efforts underway to honor their experiences at Worcester Academy and to show their gratitude for the educational experience of a lifetime. Alumni have been challenged to make 228 Gift Of Gratitude by 2/28; while our parent-run Parent Participation Challenge is asking parents to reach, or exceed, a 60 percent parent participation rate in order to receive an additional $12,5000 in parent challenge funds!
Many thanks to all those who are working so hard to ensure that our 185th birthday celebration honors the legacy of a long line of alumni and parents who have supported WA over the years!

Please visit to make your Gift of Gratitude today!

Read more below about some of the history and traditions that make Worcester Academy so unique.
Founders Day, Feb. 28, is the “birthday” of the Academy.  It was on this date in 1834 that Massachusetts Governor John Davis and members of the legislature approved the founding of Worcester Academy. At the time of its establishment, the Academy was known simply as the Worcester County Manual Labor High School—“a school for the education of youth in languages, arts and sciences; for promoting habits of industry and economy; and for inculcating the principles of piety and virtue.” The name reflected the founders’ belief that manual labor and industry shape a person’s character, and thus success, in ways that complemented their academic studies. Isaac Davis—a Worcester man and the governor’s nephew—became president of the board soon after the Academy’s founding. The rest is history!
The school bell, rung at Board of Monitors Tapping Ceremonies and at Alumni Reunions, is the Academy’s oldest artifact and dates all the way back to the founding of the school in 1834. At the time, the school was located on Main Street in South Worcester and the bell was rung to commence classes and for chapel. When the Academy moved from that location in 1854, the bell’s ownership changed and it was moved across Main Street to the Oread Institute, whose founder, Eli Thayer, had been a Worcester Academy principal. The bell remained out of Worcester Academy's hands until 1917 at which time it was installed in the tower of Daniels Gymnasium, where for many years, it was sounded to celebrate athletic victories and other noteworthy school events.
The school motto first appeared in Classical Greek in the 1890 “Academy,” the predecessor to our current school newspaper, “The Vigornia.”  It is very likely that Principal Daniel W. Abercrombie coined “Achieve the Honorable” as he was a Greek teacher and lover of the Classics.  Abercrombie ran the school from 1882 until 1918 and is the most important person on the history of the Academy as he created its culture of high academic standards.  Along with building our school culture, he oversaw the creation of the historic campus, which features the motto, in Greek, on several of our buildings.  “Achieve the Honorable” is a standard that alumni remember with reverence and try to live by to this day.

For more information, contact Neil Isakson, director of external communications, at 508-754-5302 x135, or e-mail
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