The Info List - The Spence School

The Spence School is an American all-girls independent school in New York City, founded in 1892 by Clara B. Spence.[2]


1 Overview 2 History 3 Academics 4 Co-curricular activities 5 Campus 6 Notable alumnae 7 Affiliated organizations 8 Spence in film and television 9 See also 10 References 11 External links

Overview[edit] Spence has about 688 students, with grades K-4 representing the Lower School, 5-8 representing the Middle School, and 9-12 representing the Upper School. Lower school average class sizes are 16-18 and middle and upper school average class sizes are 13-14. The student: teacher ratio is 7:1 and students of color in all grades make up approximately 33 percent of the student body.[3] For the 2017-18 academic year, tuition and fees total $49, 980 for all grades.[4] Its sister schools are the all-girls Brearley School, the all-girls Chapin School and the all-boys Collegiate School, all in New York City. Forbes magazine ranked Spence ninth on its "America's Best Prep Schools" list in 2010.[5] History[edit] The Spence School was founded in 1892 by Clara B. Spence, who was its head for 31 years. The school's motto is "non scholae sed vitae discimus" (Latin for "Not for school, but for life we learn"). The first building was located on New York City's West 48th Street.[6] The school once had a boarding option, but all current girls are day students. Clara B. Spence described her school as: "A place not of mechanical instruction, but a school of character where the common requisites for all have been human feeling, a sense of humor and the spirit of intellectual and moral adventure." The school has been located on East 91st Street since 1929.[7] Academics[edit] Spence offers a liberal arts and science curriculum, including programs in the arts and foreign languages. In a Worth magazine study, out of the 31,700 private and public high schools in the United States, Spence ranked the sixth most successful school in the country in placing its graduates in Harvard, Yale and Princeton.[8] Co-curricular activities[edit] The Varsity Softball Team won the AAIS Tournament 2015 and 2017. The Varsity Tennis team won the 2011 Athletic Association of Independent Schools of New York City (AAIS) Tournament Championship during the 2010-2011 school year, and went undefeated and won the 2012 AAIS League Championship during the 2011-2012 school year. The chess team in April 2008 finished first in the National All-Girls Chess Championship in Dallas, Texas, while the Grade 6 chess team finished second in that tournament the following year. The Varsity Volleyball team finished first in the New York State Championships in 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 school year. The Middle School Swim Team has won the AAIS Championships 9 out of the last 10 years. Campus[edit]

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William Goadby Loew House

The Spence School campus is currently located in three buildings in the Carnegie Hill Historic District on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The Upper School (9–12) and Middle School (5–8) are housed a half block from Central Park/5th Avenue at 22 East 91st Street, next to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. The Lower School (K–4) is housed in the renovated landmark building William Goadby Loew House on East 93rd Street between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue. On April 28, 2008, the Spence School announced the acquisition of a third building through the purchase of the Wanamaker Munn townhouse at 17 East 90th Street, directly behind the Upper and Middle School facility. The new townhouse is connected to the main 91st Street building, and construction will be completed during the 2011–2012 academic year, with much of the new facility already being used for various academic programs. On September 16, 2011, the Spence School announced the purchase of a fourth building, a very large space located at 412 East 90th Street, that will become a state of the art physical education facility (with multiple gyms, courts and fields) within the next several years. Notable alumnae[edit]

Serena Altschul, broadcast journalist Madeleine Astor, Titanic survivor Frances Baldwin, artist[9] Edith Bouvier Beale, socialite Georgina Bloomberg, equestrienne Doris Caesar, sculptor Eleanor A. Campbell, M.D., physician and founder, Judson Health Center Huguette M. Clark, artist and philanthropist[10] Melissa Doi, victim of the September 11 attacks Elisabeth C. Draper, interior decorator Dawn French, British comedian, star of French and Saunders and The Vicar of Dibley[11][12] Helen Clay Frick, philanthropist and art collector Caroline Gorman, singer Francine du Plessix Gray, author and literary critic Janet Hobhouse, novelist and biographer Nancy Hopkins, molecular biologist Jade Jagger, jewelry designer Bonnie Jenkins, public service [13] Jill Kargman, actress, author, writer Margaret Carnegie Miller, philanthropist Alley Mills, actress Elizabeth Montgomery, actress[14] Gwyneth Paltrow, actress Mary Ellis Peltz, music critic, poet, and first chief editor of Opera News Marjorie Post, philanthropist Sally Pressman, actress Louise Goff Reece, politician Evette Rios, lifestyle expert Emmanuelle Grey "Emmy" Rossum, actress Natalie Mai Vitetti, socialite Kerry Washington, actress Electra Havemeyer Webb, arts patron Caroline Beaumont Zachry, psychologist

Affiliated organizations[edit]

National Coalition of Girls' Schools New York State Association of Independent Schools New York Interschool

Spence in film and television[edit]

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The main building of the Spence School (the Upper and Middle School) is on East 91st Street, one half block from 5th Avenue/Central Park, adjacent to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (originally the Andrew Carnegie mansion), and across the street from the Consulate General of Russia. The location (5th Avenue and 91st Street) has been used as a backdrop in several movies and television shows including

The Anderson Tapes (1971, starring Sean Connery): This movie was directed by Sidney Lumet who later sent his eldest daughter (Amy Lumet) to Spence. She graduated from Spence in 1982. Marathon Man (1974, starring Dustin Hoffman): the opening car chase ends in a ball of fire that was filmed directly in front of Spence. Arthur (1981, starring Liza Minnelli and Dudley Moore): The Cooper-Hewitt Museum played the role of Arthur's family mansion, and there is a good view of Spence in the background. Working Girl (1988, starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford): Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford crash a wedding filmed in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, but Spence is clearly visible. A Perfect Murder (1998, starring Michael Douglas and (Spence alumna) Gwyneth Paltrow). Their residence is the building across the street, but Spence is visible in some shots. During filming Gwyneth visited Spence and a photo of her embracing her HS advisor was printed in the NY newspaper. Uptown Girls (2003, starring Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning): the exterior serves as Dakota Fanning's character's school. Gossip Girl (2008–2011): the exterior serves as a backdrop to many episodes of the television series, and, as the producers of the show have noted, many aspects of the Spence School have been highly influential in the creation of the show, including the green plaid jumpers and blue skirts, which are the official Spence uniform styles for the Lower and Middle schools, respectively. Riverdale (2017-): while Spence itself hasn't been featured onscreen and may not be, Veronica Lodge is stated to have gone there while she lived in New York.

See also[edit]

New York City portal Schools portal

Education in New York City


^ Spence School At a Glance ^ Survivor:The Manhattan Kindergarten by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal Spring 2001 ^ The Spence School FAQ ^ [1] ^ Laneri, Raquel (April 10, 2010). "A profile of one of America's 20 best prep schools". Forbes.  ^ The Spence School History ^ Timeline, Spence School, retrieved October 5, 2010, At this location, the Carnegie family donated their tennis court to be used as a playground for Spence. When the school wanted to expand and build on the lot in the 1990s, they built a new playground on the roof of the new building to meet the stipulations of the gift. In 2008, the Lower School (Kindergarten through Grade 4) was moved to a beautifully restored landmark five-story building at 56 East 93rd Street.  ^ CollegePrepUSA (from Worth magazine) ^ "Frances Baldwin". SFGate. Hearst Communications. Retrieved 25 December 2015.  ^ Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Loss of one of the World's Greatest Fortunes, London: Atlantic Books, 2013, pp. 105-108 ^ "Dawn French bio". Retrieved June 2, 2007.  ^ Ciaran Brown (April 2008). "Ciaran Brown Meets the Stars(Dawn French)". Retrieved October 26, 2010.  ^ Bonnie Jenkins U.S. State Department bio (though no mention of Spence) ^ "Elizabeth Montgomery Bio". Biography Channel(UK). Retrieved October 26, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Official Spence School Web site TIME magazine May 16, 1932 New Head for Spence TIME Feb. 3, 1936 Fifth for Spence TIME Feb. 17, 1936 Letters (a reply to the above article begins in the middle of the page) The New York Times December 9, 1997 "A Former Headmistress Is to Head Spence School"

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New York Interschool

Member schools

Brearley Browning Chapin Collegiate Dalton Nightingale-Bamford Spence Trinity

Associated schools

Allen-Stevenson Berkeley Carrol Birch Wathen Lenox Buckley Calhoun Columbia Grammar & Preparatory Ethical Culture Fieldston Friends Grace Church Hewitt Horace Mann Little Red Marymount Packer Collegiate Poly Prep Riverdale Sacred Heart St. Bernard's St. David's St. Luke's Gaynor School at Columbia Town Trevor Village Community

v t e

Girls' schools in New York City

Public girls' schools

Young Women's Leadership School, Brooklyn Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women (Brooklyn) Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women (Manhattan) Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem (Manhattan) Young Women's Leadership School, Astoria (Queens) The Young Women's Leadership School of Queens (Queens) Excellence Girls Charter School

Private girls' schools


Brearley School Cathedral High School Chapin School Convent of the Sacred Heart Dominican Academy Hewitt School Manhattan High School for Girls Marymount School of New York Nightingale-Bamford School Notre Dame School Spence School St. Jean Baptiste High School St. Vincent Ferrer High School


Beth Jacob High School Beth Rivkah Bishop Kearney High School B’nos Leah Prospect Park Yeshiva School B’nos Yisroel High School for Girls Fontbonne Hall Academy Merkaz Bnos High School Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn Soille Bais Yaakov High School St. Joseph High School Saint Saviour High School of Brooklyn Tomer Devora High School for Girls Yeshivat Shaare Torah Girls High School


The Mary Louis Academy Shevach High School St. Agnes Academic High School Torah Academy High School for Girls Yeshiva University High School for Girls


Academy of Mount St. Ursula Aquinas High School Preston High School St. Barnabas High School St. Catharine Academy St. Raymond Academy

Staten Island

Notre Dame Academy St. John Villa Academy St. Joseph Hill Academy

Became coed

Moore Catholic High School (Staten Island) St. Joseph by the Sea High School (Staten Island)


Bais Yaakov Machon Academy (Queens) Catherine McAuley High School (Brooklyn) Mother Cabrini High School (Manhattan) St. Michael Academy (Manhattan) Stella Maris High School (Queens) St. Peter's High School for Girls (St