Athletics

Donor Gives $20 Million To Worcester Academy In Gratitude For ‘The Best Years of My Life’

“I experienced the best days of my life at Worcester Academy.”
Ron Capozzoli Sr.
Worcester Academy Alumnus
Class of 1949
 
WORCESTER, Mass. (JUNE 29, 2022) — Worcester Academy Head of School Kevin Breen today announced that Worcester Academy, one of the country’s oldest independent schools, has received a $20M transformative gift from commercial real estate developer and businessman Ron Capozzoli Sr. (Worcester Academy Class of 1949) of Jupiter, Fl.
Mr. Capozzoli says he made his gift in recognition for the memorable and formative experience he received at Worcester Academy as a young man.
The $20M gift—among the largest in the Academy’s 188-year history—fuels Worcester Academy’s efforts to revitalize facilities and provide buildings designed to take the Academy into its third century as a leading American independent school. As a result of Mr. Capozzoli’s generosity, the Academy has been inspired to begin renovations on The Megaron, an iconic and beloved campus building dedicated at the turn of the last century.
The naming of a new state-of-the-art recreation and athletic complex, plans for which are underway, will also honor Mr. Capozzoli in recognition for his tremendous generosity. News about the new complex, which will be located at the Academy’s South Campus—the former St. Vincent Hospital property on Providence Street—will be forthcoming in Fall of 2022.
Additionally, $1M in funds are directed to the Capozzoli family endowed scholarship fund at Worcester Academy.
Worcester Academy’s investment in its historic Worcester campus additionally increases its impact as a partner in the city of Worcester’s renaissance, which is reinvigorating many quarters of the city, including the Canal District, just a short walk from WA. The Canal District is home to Polar Park and the Triple A Red Sox. Worcester Academy is the official independent school partner of the Worcester Red Sox, known locally as the WooSox. The Academy is also a founding tenant of nearby Fidelity Worcester Ice Center, the home ice for Worcester Academy’s boys and girls ice hockey programs.
MEGARON TO BE RESTORED TO ORIGINAL SPLENDOR AS ACADEMY’S LIVING ROOM
In appreciation for the generous gift, and for Mr. Capozzoli’s commitment to providing a life-changing experience for Worcester Academy students, The Megaron is being renamed “The Capozzoli Family Megaron.” Renovations on the red-bricked building, which are underway, will return The Megaron to its original splendor as a gathering space for students to socialize, bond, and grow—a precursor to today’s teaching methodologies emphasizing social-emotional learning, which WA embraces. A new patio space for students to gather outdoors is also to be created.
The Megaron, still widely used today, is closely tied to the history and mission of Worcester Academy. Named by Greek scholar and 18th Head of School Daniel W. Abercrombie (1882–1918), it is modeled after the classical living rooms and temples of ancient Greece, and it takes its name from the Greek word for “great room” or “open space.” Its dedication on Dec. 2, 1905, was attended by the presidents of Dartmouth and Brown as well as by representatives of Harvard College and Yale, who saw the building as an innovation and as a one-of-a-kind structure in this part of the world.
As with megarons of old, the Worcester Academy Megaron is rectangular in shape and is accessed through a portico with two columns. The Academy motto, “Achieve the Honorable,” a phrase coined by Dr. Abercrombie, appears in Greek above the mantle of an imposing fireplace, the central focus of the building. Nearby, a ceiling beam bears a second phrase in Greek, “Let No Evil Enter.”
Also found in The Megaron is a dugout canoe used by Arctic explorer Donald Baxter MacMillan, a WA faculty member, during explorations of the North Pole with Admiral Robert E. Peary in 1909.
American songwriter and composer Cole Porter (Class of 1909), one of many notable alums who spent time socializing in this building, frequently played the school’s Chickering grand piano then located in The Megaron. Porter’s formal performances were with the school band, then called the Mandolin Club, which often performed in The Megaron, but he was known to depict Academy faculty comically in compositions that he would write and perform on The Megaron piano.
HISTORIC WORCESTER ACADEMY CONTINUES TO TRANSFORM LIVES
According to Head of School Breen, the impact of Mr. Capozzoli’s giving to Worcester Academy is pivotal and timely. In 2034, the Academy will continue into its third century as a leading American independent school and a storied Worcester institution. Gifts from Mr. Capozzoli and other loyal Worcester Academy alumni and friends continue to ensure the school delivers a life-changing educational experience to students, who will tackle the important issues of their day, he says.
“Ron attributes many of his successes in business to specific lessons learned at Worcester Academy,” Head of School Breen says. “His story is one I hear with increasing familiarity. In a short period of time—just two years in this case—his life was forever changed. While stories such as these are unusual elsewhere, they are quintessential to Worcester Academy and speak to WA’s deep commitment to quality mentoring.”
“Just think of it,” he says, “The Capozzoli Megaron will now stand at Worcester Academy for generations to come in tribute to Ron, his family, and those teachers who impacted him in that short window of time.”
Mr. Capozzoli, who is patriarch of a Worcester Academy legacy family that spans three generations of graduates, is a Medford native and member of the Academy’s Class of 1949. A son and a grandson also graduated from the Academy.  In 2019, Ron Capozzoli and his wife, Markay, also endowed The Capozzoli Family Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a WA student who demonstrates friendliness and contributes to school life through involvement in athletics, clubs, or other activities. 
In speaking about his $20M gift, Mr. Capozzoli cited memorable times spent at the Academy, especially The Megaron, as the most important years of his life. “I experienced the best days of my life at Worcester Academy,” he says.
WORCESTER ACADEMY TODAY
Founded in 1834, Worcester Academy is an independent day and boarding school for boys and girls in grades 6 to 12 (and postgraduate). Located in the thriving city of Worcester, the Academy provides an exceptional and time-befitting educational experience that fosters personal growth, nurtures a sense of belonging and well-being, and develops intellect and understanding through authentic community engagement and real-world experiences. Students, who are joyful and curious, define what it means to “Achieve the Honorable” and are equipped to honorably impact the world wherever they go.
As expressed in its mission, Worcester Academy exists to instill in its students the desire to learn throughout life, to engage passionately with the world around them, and to be honorable persons of strong and resourceful character. The Academy sees its Core Values— Honor, Respect, Community, Personal Growth, and Challenge—as essential to the mission of the Academy and as testimony of its beliefs and commitments.
FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Founded: 1834
  • Campus Size: 71 Acres
  • Countries Represented: 13 
  • U.S. States Represented: 14
  • Grades Served: Grades 6-12 and postgraduate
  • Percent Day Students: 69%
  • Percent Board Students: 31% 
  • Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50%
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS / ACADEMY INITIATIVES
The following is a list of some of the many community partners of Worcester and initiatives aimed at supporting its neighborhood and city.
Afternoon Tunes Program, the George I. Alden Trust, The Campbell Fund for Community Service, the Fred Harris Daniels Foundation, Grafton Street School, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, the George F. & Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, MetroWest/Greater Worcester Habitat for Humanity, St. John's Church, The Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation, the Phyllis W. McGillicuddy Charitable Trust, the William J. McKee Jr. Charitable Foundation (WA Class of 1927), the Paul Morano Sr. Fund for Community Enrichment, the Nativity School, the WA Worcester Scholars Program, The Progin Foundation, Somaliland Abaarso Tech Scholarships, the WA Summer Scholars Program, WA Summer Camp Program Scholarships, Union Hill School Building Bridges Diversity Program, Union Hill School Student Tutoring, Vernon Street School, Worcester Community Fridge Project, the city of Worcester, and Worcester Red Sox.
LOOK WHO GOT THEIR START AT WORCESTER ACADEMY—NOTABLE ALUMNI
  • H. Jon Benjamin, Worcester Academy Class of 1984, actor, comedian
  • Aliyah Boston, Worcester Academy Class of 2019, NCAA College Basketball Championship winner, Naismith National Player of the Year (2022)
  • Elizabeth Butterworth, Worcester Academy Class of 2007, Rhodes Scholar (2012)
  • Ron Capozzoli Sr., Worcester Academy Class of 1949, American businessman and commercial real estate developer
  • Rick Carlisle, Worcester Academy Class of 1979, coach of the Indiana Pacers
  • Edward Davis Jones, Worcester Academy Class of 1873, co-founder of Dow Jones
  • Jim Davis, Worcester Academy Class of 1962, chairman and founder, New Balance Shoes 
  • Andrew Fan, Worcester Academy Class of 2009, Pulitzer Prize winner (2021)
  • Abbie Hoffman, Worcester Academy Class of 1955, social and political activist
  • John Hope, American, Worcester Academy Class of 1890, noted educator, political activist and first African-descended president of Morehouse College and Atlanta University
  • Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, Worcester Academy Class of 1893, founder/first editor of National Geographic, son-in-law of Alexander Graham Bell
  • Jordan Lucas, Worcester Academy Class of 2012, Chicago Bears, Super Bowl LIV Champion
  • U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, Worcester Academy Class of 1977, U.S. Representatives (MA)
  • Charles E. Merrill, Worcester Academy Class of 1904, co-founder of Merrill Lynch
  • Jessica Phillips, Worcester Academy Class of 1989, American Broadway (Dear Evan Hansen) and television actress (Law & Order)
  • Cole Porter, Worcester Academy Class of 1909, Broadway composer & Grammy Award winner
  • Jacob Stroyer, Worcester Academy Class of 1872, ex-slave, preacher, and slave narrative author
  • Prince Nandiyavat Svasti, Worcester Academy Class of 1927, member of Thai Royal Family 
  • William Toomey, Worcester Academy Class of 1957, Gold Medal decathlete, 1968 Olympics
For a complete list of notable Worcester Academy graduates, visit the Academy’s Wikipedia page online.
WORCESTER ACADEMY A QUINTESSENTIAL WORCESTER INSTITUTION
In 1834, Worcester citizens under the leadership of Isaac Davis established the Worcester County Manual Labor High School. The institution began as “a school for the education of youth in the languages, arts and sciences, for promoting habits of industry and economy, and inculcating the principles of piety and virtue.” In 1846, the name was changed to Worcester Academy, and in 1869, the school moved to its present site on Providence Street. Over the past 188 years, the Academy has had many “firsts.” The first international students graduated in 1837, the first African-American student was a former slave who graduated in 1872, and the first financial aid awarded to a student was in the year of the school’s founding. Girls were first admitted in the mid-1800s, and Jewish students were admitted to the Academy decades before other New England boarding schools. Other milestones include the re-admission of girls in 1974 and the establishment of the Middle School at Worcester Academy in 1987. Physical improvements over the last two decades include the addition of 15 acres at its South Campus, within walking distance of the historic campus. South Campus is home to Morse Field and the recently completed Worcester Academy Performance Center. Other construction includes Rader Hall, New Balance Fields, and the renovation of Kingsley Laboratories and Walker Hall. 
Situated in New England’s second largest city, the Academy is a dynamic school, integrally part of its neighborhood and closely aligned with the renaissance underway in Worcester. Unique among independent schools, Worcester Academy is an urban day and boarding school that is in some ways a typical New England prep school. Yet, it is also remarkably diverse and includes middle school, high school, and a post-graduate program, with day students drawn from dozens of Massachusetts communities, 14 states, and 13 countries. With outstanding academics and programs in visual and performing arts, athletics, and civic involvement, among others, the Academy, while thriving, is poised to embrace the next exciting chapter in its history. Leading the way are students, who are joyous, unpretentious, open, articulate, and highly motivated. Faculty are dedicated and drawn to both the location and eclecticism of the school and surrounding area. Loyal graduates, trustees, and past and current parents underpin and bolster the reputation and resources of the school. There are 185 full and part time employees led by a Head of School. The Head of School reports to 25 volunteer members of the Board of Trustees, who have oversight of the school’s strategic and financial well-being.
In 2001, a $31.5 Million capital campaign, Honor the Legacy, Achieve the Vision, was successfully completed. In 2015, a $52.5 Million campaign, ONWARD: The Campaign for Worcester Academy, was completed successfully.  The campaigns helped finance property acquisitions, new construction, renovations to existing buildings & increases to endowment, including scholarships. The program, facilities, and curriculum continue to evolve in exciting directions to this day.
Over its long, proud history, Worcester Academy has experienced times of prosperity and some periods of considerable challenge; yet the school has remained consistently true to its core mission, adapted with vision and flexibility.
KEVIN J. BREEN—32ND HEAD OF SCHOOL AT WORCESTER ACADEMY
Kevin J. Breen is 32nd Head of School at Worcester Academy—a 188-year-old day and boarding school serving 6th to 12th graders (and post-graduates) in Worcester, Mass. With 30-plus years of distinguished service in independent schools, he assumed his leadership post at the Academy in July 2021 following a nationwide search. A Massachusetts native, Breen graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. in Writing from DePaul University. Before arriving at Worcester Academy, he was Head of School at the Marshall School in Duluth, MN. Prior to that, he was Associate Head of School for External Relations and Director Of Enrollment for the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., and Director of Admission and Financial Aid at the Brooks School in Andover, Mass., as well as English Department Chair.

FOR INFORMATION
For information, contact Neil Isakson, Worcester Academy director of external communications, at 508-459-6918, or email neil.isakson@worcesteracademy.org.


 
 
 
 
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