In 1891, Maria Harrison Bissell Hotchkiss, with guidance from Yale President Timothy Dwight V, founded the school to prepare young men for Yale University. In 1892, The Hotchkiss School opened its doors to 50 male boarding students for $600. Hotchkiss's endowment also precipitated scholarship aid to deserving students. In 1974, the school became coeducational.
George Van Santvoord (g. 1908, Yale 1912), a headmaster hailed as the Duke with an honorary dorm, claimed there was only one school rule: "Be a gentleman." In 1954, TIME recognized in Education: The Duke Steps Down, that "of all U.S. prep schools, few, if any, can beat the standards Hotchkiss has set."
International relations and diversity
Maria Hotchkiss was uninterested in establishing "a school for the pampered sons of rich gentlemen." The school has enrolled international students since 1896. In 1928, the school joined the English-Speaking Union and established the International Schoolboy Exchange. Established by the Class of 1948, the Fund for Global Understanding enables student participation in summer service projects across the world. In 1953, Hotchkiss alumnus Eugene Van Voorhis (g. 1951, Yale '55, Yale Law ‘58) incorporated the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation program to assist minority New Haven students with boarding school admission, with Hotchkiss formally participating in addition to other recruitment initiatives from the 1960s onward, such as A Better Chance (ABC), Greater Opportunity (GO) summer program for inner-city students, and Prep for Prep to foster minority leaders.
On August 16, 2018, an independent investigation released by the school found that seven former faculty members abused students for years, yet school administrators took no action, even when made aware of the sexual misconduct. The report stated that the abuse, stretching from 1969 through 1992, involved at least 16 students and consisted of intercourse and unnecessary "medical gynecological" exams.
The law firm hired by the school interviewed more than 150 individuals and reviewed more than 200,000 pages of documents. A former headmaster who had been serving on the Board of Trustees resigned after cooperating with investigators. Board of Trustee representatives said the information would be turned over to law enforcement officials.
In 2015, a lawsuit was filed against the school by a male student who claimed that he had been subject to rape and sexual harassment in "an environment of well-known and tolerated sexual assaults, sexually violent hazing, and pedophilia" wherein the Dormitory Master and instructor had drugged him and lured him to his quarters where he was raped.
The plaintiff in the suit wrote an article for the student newspaper about the failure of the school to appropriately respond to complaints, yet nevertheless the headmaster blocked publication and, according to the suit "conspired to prevent (the plaintiff) from informing the students, parents and the school community about the faculty members's sexual assault and his aberrant and predatory propensities and behavior."
As a result of this complaint and others, the investigation by the law firm was initiated, resulting in the August 2018 report.
Operating on a semester schedule, Hotchkiss offers a classical education, 224 courses, 7 foreign languages (Chinese, French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian and Spanish), and study abroad programs. In 1991, the New York Times recognized Hotchkiss' summer program as, "Summer School for the Very Ambitious" and in 2011, as a private school leader in the farm-to-table movement, by incorporating agriculture into the curriculum since 2008. The year prior, the Deerfield Scroll featured that "many consider The Hotchkiss School to be the leader in environmental awareness among the top prep schools in the country."
The school has a 100% college matriculation rate, and among the classes of 2011–14, 33 enrolled at Yale, 19 at Harvard, and 16 at Princeton. In 2007, The Wall Street Journal listed Hotchkiss as among the schools with a higher success rate (than Choate and Deerfield) in matriculation at Harvard, Princeton and six others (excluding Yale).
NEPSAC New England Class A Champion – 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1998
Between 1996–2017, under Head Coach Robin Chandler, Hotchkiss field hockey won 17 Founders League titles and 12 New England titles.
(B) Founders League Champion – 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008 NEPSAC New England Class A Champion – 2012, 2010, 2008 (G) Founders League Champion – 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008 NEPSAC New England Class A Champion – 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009
Despite Kent School's location in the same county, Hotchkiss and Taft School have a long-standing rivalry, where on the final Saturday of the fall sport season, called Taft Day at Hotchkiss and Hotchkiss Day at Taft, the two schools compete against each other in every sport. Similar boarding school traditions include the Andover–Exeter rivalry and Choate–Deerfield rivalry.
Hotchkiss offers over 65 clubs, including The Record, a biweekly, student-run newspaper circulated on campus and among alumni, The Mischianza yearbook, the Hotchkiss Chorus music ensemble, and extensive service organizations. Other notable organizations include Callioupe, the all-girls a cappella group, and the Hotchkiss Debate Team. The school also hosts an annual student-run film festival, The Hotchkiss Film Festival, that attracts student filmmakers from all over the world to compete for prizes and a scholarship.
Main Building, academic and social center of Hotchkiss.
The school overlooks the Berkshires on a rural, 827 acres (3 km2) campus featuring 12 single-sex dorms (Baechle-Ayres, Buehler, Coy, Dana, Edelman, Flinn, Garland, Memorial, Tinker, Van Santvoord, Wieler, and Redlich, opened in 2016) and 1 all-gender dorm (Watson), two lakes, and one forest. The Main Building serves as the academic and social center, featuring 30 SmartBoard classrooms, the Edsel Ford Memorial Library with 87,000-volumes occupying 25,000 square feet, and dining halls.
In 2005, Hotchkiss opened the 715-seat Esther Eastman Music Center, equipped with a handmade Fazioli F308 piano, 12 Steinway pianos, 12 practice rooms, 3 ensemble practice rooms, a WKIS radio station and Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) lab. Hotchkiss also has a 615-seat proscenium theater called Walker Auditorium.
In 2002, Hotchkiss opened the Forrest E. Mars Jr. Athletic Center, a 212,000 square-foot athletic center with multi-purpose playing surfaces, elevated indoor exercise track, the Andrew K. Dwyer and Martin Dwyer III Olympic Rink and Thomas Schmidt NHL Rink, natatorium with 10-lane pool and separate diving well, William C. Fowle Gymnasium (hardwood basketball court), Edward R. Davis Wrestling Room, Joseph Cullman Squash Courts featuring eight international squash courts, Ford Indoor Tennis Courts, John R. Chandler, Jr. Fitness Center, locker rooms, and shower facilities.
The Hotchkiss Golf Course is a nine-hole golf course of just over 3,000 yards, designed by Seth Raynor in 1924 and rated by Golf Digest as one of the 25 best nine-hole courses in America. Hotchkiss also has the Baker Complex, including synthetic Sprole Field and all-weather Hemmingway track; fifteen outdoor tennis courts; Joseph Cullman Paddle Tennis Courts; Centennial, Hoyt, Taylor, Downing, and Class of '49 Fields; Malkin Climbing Walls; Lake Wononscopomuc and a boathouse for sailing; three ponds; and extensive hiking trails.
In 1947, Time made a piece of Hotchkiss graffiti famous by publishing it twice: "In Lakeville, Conn., someone penciled in the Hotchkiss School lavatory: "Schuyler van Kilroy 3rd was here," a humorous, noble and generational-titled variation of the popular expression, "Kilroy was here."
a "With the guidance of then President of Yale University Timothy Dwight, Maria Hotchkiss established the School in 1891 to prepare young men for Yale...Hotchkiss offers a classical education, finding strength in a traditional approach that has worked well and stood the test of time." — ¶ 2 (Strengthened by Time)
b "The week leading up to and including “Taft Day," the Saturday in the fall when Hotchkiss teams compete against the Taft School. From kickoff night to the Friday night pep rally and bonfire to Taft Day itself, blue and white rule." — ¶ 14 (Sprit Day, right sidebar)
c "When the Hotchkiss School opened its doors in 1892, the first 50 boys were charged a boarding tuition of $600--more than many families could afford. But fortunately, Maria Hotchkiss had insisted on something unique in allocating the funds to establish the School: Hotchkiss would offer scholarship aid to deserving students." — ¶ 3 (A 123-Year Policy)
d "Three years later, in September 1974, 88 young women entered Hotchkiss as preps, lower-mids, upper-mids, and seniors. Today, the number of boys and girls attending Hotchkiss is roughly equal." — ¶ 4 (Coeducation)
e "As early as 1912 students from China have come to Hotchkiss...He also enabled Hotchkiss students to study abroad by having the School join the English-Speaking Union program and through the inception of the International Schoolboy Exchange in 1928. Today, the Hotchkiss student body includes students from 34 countries, and on average 5 to 10 students study abroad each year with the School Year Abroad program. Begun by the Class of 1948, The Fund for Global Understanding provides grant support for students participating in summer community service projects throughout the world. Hotchkiss is also a member of Round Square and Global Connections..." — ¶ 5 (Globally Connected)
f "From the beginning, Maria Hotchkiss was not interested in establishing “a school for the pampered sons of rich gentlemen.”...In the 1960s Hotchkiss began its first formal participation in minority student recruitment programs such as the U.S. Grant Program – begun by Hotchkiss graduates attending Yale – as well as A Better Chance (ABC) and the Greater Opportunity (GO) Program. The Hotchkiss connection with Prep for Prep, an organization that helps prepare minority students for academically demanding independent schools, began in the early 1980s. Today, 43 percent of Hotchkiss students identify themselves as students of color." — ¶ 6 (Lessons of Differences)
g "Of our 600 students, 21 percent come from countries other than the U.S."— ¶ 8 (Hotchkiss Today)
a "It is Spirit Week on campus as the excitement builds for Hotchkiss Day this Saturday, November 12. It will be an exciting day for Taft sports, as many of our teams travel north in the hopes of extending their winning records and defending Taft’s name against our perennial rival." — ¶ 1
a "Educational Wealth: Some independent schools have accumulated sizeable endowments. Here are some of the largest, at the end of the schools' most recent fiscal year...Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn. 430.0." — Pg. 1, Inforgraphic
a "His school, the Duke used to say (Hotchkiss) had only one rule, and that was "Be a gentleman," How he defined what a gentleman was he did not say, but what a gentleman was usually became clear when you discovered what a gentleman wasn't. A gentleman didn't cheat. he didn't lie. A gentleman wasn't petty. A gentleman wasn't intolerant of others' shortcomings. A gentleman wasn't a whiner, wasn't a gossip, wasn't a boor, wasn't inconsiderate of others' feelings..."
a "George Van Santvoord (1891-1975), whose distinguished bearing earned him the nickname the Duke. Van Santvoord, and his predecessor who was known as the King, claimed that at Hotchkiss there was only one rule for students to follow: Be a gentleman."— ¶ 2