History: 1834 To Today

Founded in 1834, Worcester Academy celebrates more than 175 years of achievements by our students, faculty, alumni, trustees, and heads of school. And while many famous alumni have passed through Worcester Academy’s doors, it is our school motto, “Achieve the Honorable,” that has remained the inspiration for each and every student and alumnus.

Talk to any graduate and he or she will tell you about receiving great real-world preparation for life, as well as having been transformed by the Academy experience.  Every graduate has a host of good memories about exceptional faculty and classes, and friendships that have lasted a lifetime.  And, each can tell you the value of working hard at Worcester Academy to ensure future success.

However, to truly appreciate the Worcester Academy legacy, one must first understand our beginnings.

Established as the Worcester County Manual Labor High School, the Academy first opened its doors as “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.”

In 1846 the school officially became Worcester Academy; twenty-three years later it moved from downtown to our present location on the Union Hill campus. And in 1882, the Academy welcomed principal Dr. Daniel Webster Abercrombie, for whom the head of school’s house is named today. Dr. Abercrombie served Worcester Academy for 36 years, during which time he pioneered a progressive curriculum and built much of the school’s historic campus.

Over the years, Worcester Academy continued to progress: In 1974 we resumed the admission of girls after a hiatus of many decades ... 1987 saw the opening of the middle school, followed by the addition of sixth grade in 1996 ... and it was also during 1996 that the school’s buildings were connected to the Internet, signifying a remarkable boost to the educational opportunities afforded our students.

Remarkably, the last 10-plus years have been as momentous for Worcester Academy as any since Dr. Abercrombie. In 1997, Dexter P. Morse arrived to lead what has become one of the most astonishing periods of new growth and stability in the school’s history.

Under Mr. Morse’s leadership, the number of students at Worcester Academy has more than doubled, as has the number of faculty and staff. The school has completed numerous building renovations, including a $5.6 million reconstruction of Kingsley Laboratories in Summer 2008. Construction of New Balance Fields and Rader Hall (the first new academic building in a century) were completed in 2001.

A $31.5 million capital campaign was also successfully completed (the school’s endowment now exceeds $30 million) in 2003.

In 2006, Boston Magazine named Worcester Academy “Best Math School.” Also in 2006, the Academy bought six acres of the former St. Vincent Hospital property, located just two blocks away from the school’s main campus; four years later, the school purchased another four acres adjacent to those parcels.

Most recently, in September 2011, Worcester Academy celebrated the opening of Morse Field, a new lighted synthetic turf field, at the corner of Winthrop and Providence streets (the St. Vincent’s property).  The field’s opening, as well as the Kingsley renovation, are hailed as milestones in the success of the school’s most recent capital campaign – OnWArd: The Campaign for Worcester Academy.  That campaign, with a goal of $50 million, aims to finance property acquisitions, new construction, renovations to existing buildings, and increases to the endowment.

In doing so, Worcester Academy is poised to take its place as the best urban independent school in the nation.

Times have changed since the Worcester County Manual Labor High School, and so have we – but like our mantra of 1834, Worcester Academy remains committed to providing our students with a solid real-world education.

Notable Alumni

1890 - 2013
  • John Hope 1890 - Founder of Atlanta University/Morehouse College
  • Gilbert H. Grosvenor 1893 - Founder of National Geographic magazine
  • Charles E. Merrill 1904 - Co-Founder of Merrill Lynch
  • Cole Porter 1909 - Broadway Composer
  • Abbie Hoffman 1955 - Social and Political Activist in the 1960s
  • Chulsu Kim 1960 - Deputy Director General, WTO
  • Jim Davis 1962 - Chairman, New Balance Athletic Shoe
  • Rep. Jim McGovern 1977 - U.S Congressman
  • Rick Carlisle 1979 - NBA Coach
  • Joe Philbin 1980 - NFL Coach
  • Kara E. MacMahon 1993 -  Emmy Award winning TV producer
  • Naomi S. Riley 1994 - Wall Street Journal editor and author
  • Jarrett Jack 2002 - Brooklyn Nets of the NBA
  • Elizabeth Butterworth 2007 - 2012 Rhodes Scholar
Please select an answer before clicking submit.
  • Worcester Academy has how many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places?
    •  1
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      1
      Correct Answer:
      6
      Six Worcester Academy buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Abercrombie House, Adams Hall, Dexter Hall, Kingsley Labs, the Megaron, and Walker Hall.
    •  6
      You are Correct
      Your Answer:
      6
      Six Worcester Academy buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Abercrombie House, Adams Hall, Dexter Hall, Kingsley Labs, the Megaron, and Walker Hall.
    •  10
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      10
      Correct Answer:
      6
      Six Worcester Academy buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Abercrombie House, Adams Hall, Dexter Hall, Kingsley Labs, the Megaron, and Walker Hall.
    •  4
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      4
      Correct Answer:
      6
      Six Worcester Academy buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Abercrombie House, Adams Hall, Dexter Hall, Kingsley Labs, the Megaron, and Walker Hall.
  • Did you know . . .
    •  that Prince Nandiyavat Svasti, Class of 1927 and a member of the Thai Royal family and the grandson of King Rama IV, was the inspiration for that famous Broadway musical and smash hit film, The King and I.
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      that Prince Nandiyavat Svasti, Class of 1927 and a member of the Thai Royal family and the grandson of King Rama IV, was the inspiration for that famous Broadway musical and smash hit film, The King and I.
      Correct Answer:
  • Worcester Academy boasts more alumni turned football captains at this Ivy League college than any other high school in the country. What college is it?
    •  Harvard
      You are Correct
      Your Answer:
      Harvard
      With nine captains, no other school can claim to have had more alumni who went on to lead Harvard’s football teams than Worcester Academy.
    •  Dartmouth
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Dartmouth
      Correct Answer:
      Harvard
      With nine captains, no other school can claim to have had more alumni who went on to lead Harvard’s football teams than Worcester Academy.
    •  Princeton
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Princeton
      Correct Answer:
      Harvard
      With nine captains, no other school can claim to have had more alumni who went on to lead Harvard’s football teams than Worcester Academy.
    •  Yale
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Yale
      Correct Answer:
      Harvard
      With nine captains, no other school can claim to have had more alumni who went on to lead Harvard’s football teams than Worcester Academy.
  • Gilbert H. Grosvenor, Class of 1893, was the founding editor of which publication?
    •  Newsweek
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Newsweek
      Correct Answer:
      National Geographic
    •  Time Magazine
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Time Magazine
      Correct Answer:
      National Geographic
    •  National Geographic
      You are Correct
      Your Answer:
      National Geographic
    •  Life Magazine
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Life Magazine
      Correct Answer:
      National Geographic
  • What Academy graduate received a Grammy Award in 1960?
    •  Tony Bennett for <em>I Left My Heart in San Francisco</em>
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Tony Bennett for <em>I Left My Heart in San Francisco</em>
      Correct Answer:
      Cole Porter for <em>Can-Can</em>
      Cole Porter is a member of Worcester Academy's Class of 1909. The prolific songwriter, who boarded in Dexter Hall, is one of America's most recognized lyricists, and perhaps the most famous of all Academy alumni. His 1960 Grammy was awarded for the song <em>Can-Can</em>.
    •  Roberta Flack for <em>The First Time Ever I saw Your Face </em>
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Roberta Flack for <em>The First Time Ever I saw Your Face </em>
      Correct Answer:
      Cole Porter for <em>Can-Can</em>
      Cole Porter is a member of Worcester Academy's Class of 1909. The prolific songwriter, who boarded in Dexter Hall, is one of America's most recognized lyricists, and perhaps the most famous of all Academy alumni. His 1960 Grammy was awarded for the song <em>Can-Can</em>.
    •  Cole Porter for <em>Can-Can</em>
      You are Correct
      Your Answer:
      Cole Porter for <em>Can-Can</em>
      Cole Porter is a member of Worcester Academy's Class of 1909. The prolific songwriter, who boarded in Dexter Hall, is one of America's most recognized lyricists, and perhaps the most famous of all Academy alumni. His 1960 Grammy was awarded for the song <em>Can-Can</em>.
    •  Henry Mancini for <em>Moon River</em>
      Incorrect
      Your Answer:
      Henry Mancini for <em>Moon River</em>
      Correct Answer:
      Cole Porter for <em>Can-Can</em>
      Cole Porter is a member of Worcester Academy's Class of 1909. The prolific songwriter, who boarded in Dexter Hall, is one of America's most recognized lyricists, and perhaps the most famous of all Academy alumni. His 1960 Grammy was awarded for the song <em>Can-Can</em>.
  • End of Trivia Questions.
WORCESTER ACADEMY® is a co-ed day and boarding school for grades 6 to 12 and postgraduates. Our urban setting, diverse community, and innovative curriculum provide each student with unique opportunities for self-discovery, academic achievement, and personal empowerment.

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Worcester, MA 01604
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