The Thacher School is a highly selective, co-educational, independent
boarding school located on 427 acres (1.5 km²) of hillside
overlooking the Ojai Valley in Ojai, California, United States.
Founded in 1889 as a boys' school, it is now the oldest co-ed boarding
school in California. Girls were first admitted in 1977. The first
co-ed graduating class was the class of 1978. The student body numbers
1 Notable programs
2 History and culture
3 Campus and facilities
4 Mascot and traditions
5 Notable alumni
7 External links
At the heart of Thacher’s founding philosophy is a belief that
students benefit from taking on real responsibility and positive
risks. This philosophy is evident in equestrian and outdoor programs
that set Thacher apart from other boarding schools. All students are
required to ride and care for a horse during their first year. An
annual gymkhana event gives students an opportunity to demonstrate
their horsemanship in competition with each other. Throughout the
year, students are encouraged to take weekend camping trips into the
local mountains. And each fall and spring the whole school breaks into
small groups for week-long trips that may include backpacking, rock
climbing, cycling, sailing, horse camping, canyoneering, backcountry
skiing and kayaking.
On November 8, 2004, the
San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News reported that the
school received its largest alumni donation ever from Owen Jameson.
The $10 million gift was part of the $82 million Campaign For
Thacher, concluded in 2007, that sought to improve Thacher's
financial aid program, facilities, and raise faculty salaries and
endowment. Jameson's donation was specifically directed towards
expanding Thacher's scholarship opportunities for youths from minority
or low-income families.
History and culture
Sherman Day Thacher did not arrive on the Casa de Piedra ranch with
the intent of creating a school. The son of Yale professor Thomas
and Elizabeth Thacher, he elected to move to
California to care for
his brother who needed the "fresh air" cure for his tuberculosis.
While spending time on the ranch, Thacher was contacted by an old Yale
colleague who had a son that desperately wanted to go to Yale but
needed tutoring before he would be prepared to attend. Thacher
accepted the offer and tutored his colleague's son in both academics
and maturity with his unique method of blending studies with outdoor
living and horsemanship. Soon other friends were sending their sons
California to receive Thacher's instruction and a school was
born. Though it began as a feeder school to Yale, students were also
attracted by the "emphasis on the lessons of the outdoors, hiking and
rafting and riding on horseback" and "nearly every boy has a horse
of his own and takes full care of it".
Campus and facilities
The campus, nestled in the foothills in the northeast corner of the
Ojai Valley, about 85 miles north of Los Angeles, was originally the
Casa de Piedra ranch. Buildings reflect a variety of architectural
California Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival.
An $82-million capital campaign that concluded in 2007 was responsible
for adding a new performing arts center and a student commons - both
designed by Barton Phelps & Associates, two new dormitories,
faculty housing, and numerous other improvements. Residential areas
are organized to support a tight-knit campus community where faculty
members and their families live and work in close proximity to
students. In addition to the normal boarding school mix of athletic
facilities (gymnasium, tennis courts, track, three fields, fitness
center, and pool, although the pool is not used for athletic events),
the campus has extensive barns, pastures, arenas, and fields for
equestrian use, including a network of trails that links campus to the
adjacent Los Padres National Forest.
Despite the recent campus developments, Thacher still retains its
casual ranch appearance with its unassuming style of architecture,
choosing to defer to the Ojai Valley's natural beauty.
The school also maintains base camps in the Sespe Wilderness and the
Eastern Sierra's Golden Trout Wilderness, which it uses for back
country trips, educational programs and alumni retreats.
Mascot and traditions
While The Thacher School's symbol has always been that of the Pegasus,
its mascot is the toad. In 1962 Nick Thacher, CdeP 1963, and
grandson of Sherman Day Thacher, spearheaded the movement to name the
school's athletic teams the Toads. He said that "unlike the insecure
schools whose machismo necessitates their adopting hopelessly arrogant
nomenclature such as 'Tigers' and 'Lions' and 'Spartans,' [we] felt no
necessity to advertise arrogance or virility. Instead 'Toads' seemed
appropriate because the nature of such beasts is one of humility and
quiet persistence." In an older admissions video, a Thacher student
was quoted as saying, "They may be toads, but they play like princes,"
in reference to the boys basketball team. The "Teacher on Active
Duty"—whose job it is to stay on top of things each day—is also
conveniently known as the "TOAD."
Phil Angelides 31st
California State Treasurer
Riley P. Bechtel,
Brian T. Bennett, journalist
Laurel Braitman, science historian, writer, and TED Fellow
Rukmini Maria Callimachi, journalist and poet
Donald Cooksey, physicist
Jennifer Crittenden, television writer (Simpsons, Everybody Loves
Paul B. Fay, Jr., businessman and adviser to President John F. Kennedy
Sidney D. Gamble, renowned photographer and sociologist of early 20th
James Newton Howard, composer
Ye Htoon, Burmese lawyer and political dissident
Howard Hughes, aviator and industrialist. Thacher was the second prep
school that he attended. He enrolled when he and his parents moved to
California, and he was still at Thacher when his mother died.
Roger Kent, Naval officer and political advisor
Sherman Kent, intelligence analyst
D. Andrew Kille, writer, teacher, and scholar of psychological
Michael E. Knight, actor (All My Children)
Sara Konrad, Olympian: the first American woman to compete in two
different disciplines at the same Winter Olympics (
United States at
the 2006 Winter Olympics).
John Lenczowski, founder and president of The Institute of World
Norman Livermore, environmentalist, lumberman and official serving
under Governor Ronald Reagan.
J.P. Manoux, actor (Aaron Stone)
John Wescott Myers, World War II test pilot
Wheeler J. North. marine biologist
Leland Orser, actor (Taken)
William Horsley Orrick Jr.,
United States federal judge
Joely Richardson, actress (Nip Tuck)
Matt Shakman, director
Jonathan Tucker, actor (Justified)
Charles L. Tutt, III, engineer and hotelier
Terdema Ussery, Dallas Mavericks president and CEO
Thornton Wilder, one of Thacher's most notable alumni, playwright and
author. He began writing plays while at Thacher. Wilder later went on
to write the classic American play, Our Town.
Barry Wood, College Football Hall of Fame inductee
Noah Wyle, television actor (ER)
^ Makepeace, LeRoy McKim, "Sherman Thacher and His School", Yale
University Press, New Haven, CT, 1941, p. 2
^ Arax, Mark and Wartzman, Rick, "The King of California", Public
Affairs, New York, 2003, p. 289
^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898-1899. A guide to
the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in
the United States. Boston, MA: Brown and Company. p. 12.
Retrieved August 17, 2012.
^ San Jose Mercury News
^ "BA #069: Matt Shakman". Box Angeles podcast.
The Thacher School - Website
ToadBlogs - Student Stories from The Thacher School
The Thacher School - Unofficial Profile
Thornton Wilder at Thacher
Noah Wyle at Thacher
Chris Schedler: Teaching at Thacher, a reminiscence
Thacher School review by Scripps College student
Coordinates: 34°27′58″N 119°10′44″W / 34.466156°N
119.178829°W / 34.466156;