Our History & Traditions
Kent School was founded by an Episcopal monk. It’s a small fact, one we like to share with people because it says a lot about us, about our character, where we’ve come from, and where we hope to go. When the Reverend Frederick Herbert Sill, a graduate of Columbia University and the General Theological Seminary, opened Kent’s doors in 1906, he had a lot of ideas about the educational value of service, the importance of respecting others and respecting one’s self, and the connection between intellectual effort and spiritual reward. We hold true to those values today. We still teach our students to respect each other and themselves, to search for spiritual understanding, and to give back to their communities. Students and faculty still attend chapel together every Tuesday morning and Thursday evening.
But some of Fr. Sill’s ideas were quite forward-thinking in their day. He envisioned a “democratic” school, a place in which students learned about self-reliance and stewardship by participating in a daily work program. And he wanted to teach students from “all walks of life,” so Kent became the first secondary school in the country to charge tuition on a sliding scale. We continue this today with the Kent Parents Fund and our Financial Aid Program. In fact, with over six million dollars annually, our commitment to financial aid ranks first among our peers, relative to our endowment.
In 1960, Kent decided that being true to Fr. Sill’s mission of inclusiveness meant including girls. A revolutionary idea among the traditional New England boarding schools, it fit in well with Kent’s love of innovation. Fr. Sill served as Kent’s original headmaster for 35 years. We’ve only had four other Headmasters since. Although many things have changed in those years, our values and mission have stayed the same: graduating highly intelligent, extremely competent, thoroughly grounded young people who go on to lead successful, values-focused lives.
We have many traditions that we’re proud of here at Kent. Some of them are pure fun, like Rock Day, when the fifth formers climb a mountain to paint their graduation year on a huge rock and get a fair amount of paint on one another as well. Other rituals are quite important, like Tapping, when everyone gathers in the chapel and senior leaders, all about to graduate to new academic adventures and new responsibilities, introduce their successors in the fifth form class. There are sports traditions, like Spirit Day, an annual fall day of home athletic contests. Alumni, faculty, parents, and the whole student body get thoroughly wrapped up in this exciting weekend of activities. Ring ceremony is an annual event where girls from the fifth form receive their class rings from sixth formers. It’s a wonderful evening of camaraderie and fun.
These traditions are what make Kent what it is. They’ll be some of the events you most look forward to while you’re a student and some of the memories you most fondly cherish after you graduate.