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Westminster School
Type Private, boarding
Motto Virtute Et Numine
(Grit and Grace)
Religious affiliation None
Established 1888
Faculty 89
Enrollment 385
Color(s) black and gold
Mascot The Martlet

Westminster School is a small, private, boarding school located in Simsbury, Connecticut.[1]



Westminster School was founded by William Lee Cushing in 1888 as a boys’ school in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

In 1900, as enrollment increased, Mr. Cushing moved the school to its current location in Simsbury, Connecticut. The move to Simsbury provided more land, which had been donated through a trustee of the school, Arthur M. Dodge, a member of an old Hartford family. Williams Hill, the site of the school, offered more than 230 acres (0.93 km2), with commanding views of the Farmington River. The Simsbury location also provided train service for students to New York and Boston, a boon to families from those areas.

A graduate of Yale University, and a firm believer in the traditional form of English boarding school education, Mr. Cushing was strongly influenced by the Reverend Edward Thring, headmaster of Uppingham School in England.

In the early 1970s, Westminster School opened its doors to day students. In 1972, girls were admitted for the first time as day students, and in 1977 as boarding students.

Faculty and staff



  • William Lee Cushing (1888–1920), first headmaster and school founder
  • Lewis Pettee (1920–1922)
  • Raymond McOrmond (1922–1936)
  • Arthur Miliken (1936–1956)
  • Francis Keyes (1956–1970).[2]
  • Donald H. Werner (1970–1993)
  • W. Graham Cole, Jr. (1993–2010)
  • William Philip (2010 -)


Over the years, the school has hired remarkably dedicated and talented teachers, including:

  • Robert Hayden Alcorn, instructor in English, 1934-1935.[3]
  • Monroe Stearns, head of English department, 1941-1945.[3]
  • William W. Pierce, instructor in English.[4]
  • Gordon McKinley.[5]
  • Dean Adams.[6]
  • Nicholas McDonald.[7]
  • Charles Wright the coach for the basketball team
  • Tim Joncas, Hockey Coach
  • Tim Quinn, Hockey Coach
  • Brian Ford, English teacher


Westminster has many traditions including Fall Bonfire, which was originally the time when Freshman boys would throw their ties into the fire to show that they are now a member of the community. Hill holidays occur four times during the year. Once during the fall term, again in the winter, and twice during the spring. Hill holidays are days given off from school usually in honor of the birth of a faculty child or another important event. Hill holidays are announced when Headmaster W. Graham Cole is spotted in a building on campus with a hat on (the only time he ever does this).

There is also the sixth form lawn. This lawn, next to Cushing and the Chapel, can only be walked on by sixth formers or alumni because it is a demonstration of their present and past leadership at the school. Many traditions occur on the sixth form lawn, such as the pin ceremony, where new sixth formers are given lapel pins to wear to show that they are the leaders of the school. Before commencement, the fifth formers stand on the pathway that goes through the sixth form lawn while the graduating sixth formers stand on the lawn. The sixth formers pull the fifth form class on as a sign of their new leadership status. At commencement, the graduating sixth formers do not receive their diplomas so they must go onto the senior lawn and stand in a circle. In that circle they pass them around until they receive their own and then they step out of the circle.

Many students' favorite tradition is stickball, a game in which teams are made up of dormitory floors and compete in a baseball like game on the quad and athletic fields. Each floor must make its own bat, usually a hockey or lacrosse stick that has been cut or a wooden dowel of a large diameter.

Student activities

Westminster offers a very strong sports program, especially excelling in field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse. Westminster offers 17 interscholastic sports, and 3 non-competitive sports: Cross Country, Soccer, Football, Field Hockey, ice hockey, Basketball, Swimming[8], Diving[9], Squash, Martial Arts, Paddle Tennis, Baseball (Boys), Softball (Girls), Lacrosse, Tennis, Track and Field, and Golf.

Fine and performing arts activities include acting, musical theater, technical theater, and dance.

Other activities include the Eco Team.[10]

Buildings on campus

  • Cushing Hall - 1900
  • Andrews Memorial Chapel (formerly Hay Memorial Chapel - 1902)[11]
  • Memorial Hall - 1928 (remodeled in 1990's)
  • Squibb House - 1940's (originally called Westminster House)
  • Andrews House - 1950's
  • Milliken House - 1970's
  • Werner Centennial Center - 1988[12]
  • Edge House - 1998
  • Kohn Squash Pavilion - 2001
  • Sherwin Health and Fitness Center - 2005
  • Armour Academic Center - 2009

"Recently Demolished Buildings"

  • Baxter Academic Center - 1964-2009


Notable alumni include:


  • A season 7 episode of the MTV show Made was filmed over three June days on Westminster campus. It was the episode where the princess wanted to be a soccer player.
  • In the 1990s the Centennial Theatre Festival was held in the summer on campus.[17][18]
  • Cole Porter attended many early Westminster Dramatic Productions at Simsbury's Casino.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Francis Keyes, a Headmaster At Westminster School, Dies. New York Times, Dec 13, 1981; p.54.
  3. ^ a b Contemporary Authors Online. Gale, 2003.
  4. ^ Obituary; William W. Pierce III, 77, voice of the BSO. Boston Herald. Sep 23, 1997; pg.45.
  5. ^ Deaths: McKinley, Gordon. New York Times, Feb 15, 1999.
  6. ^ Adams, Dean (Lewis Adams). Marquis Who's Who in America. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who's Who LLC, 2009.
  7. ^ Building to Continue Despite Dinosaur Tracks. New York Times, Sept 3, 2006; p2.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Adelbert S. Hay Memorial; Secretary Hay Will Erect Chapel at Simsbury, Conn., in His Honor. New York Times, Aug 31, 1902; p.23.
  12. ^ Anderson, Grace. "Theatrical romance." Architectural Record 178.n9 (August 1990): 90(2).
  13. ^ Elisabeth Vincentelli. Belle of the screwball: Multifaceted actor Nina Hellman goes high camp in Trouble in Paradise. Time Out New York, Issue 560, Jun 22–28, 2006.
  14. ^ Farrell, J. T. "Riggs, Thomas Lawrason." New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 245-246.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Festival In Simsbury. New York Times, Jun 15, 2003; p.CT7.

Further reading

  • Rinker Buck. Enrollment Shift Could Burden Farmington Valley Towns: From Private to Public Schools. Hartford Courant, 25 Mar 2009.

External links


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