The Gunnery is a co-educational boarding and day preparatory school for students in grades 9 to 12 situated next to the village green of the picturesque and historic town of Washington, Connecticut. The school has no religious or military affiliations, and its mission is to promote the four cornerstones on which character is built: scholarship, integrity, respect and responsibility.
There are nine dormitories on campus that house from 12 to 48 students each. Each dormitory consists primarily of single and double student rooms, but also houses faculty members and their families. Some 85 percent of the faculty lives on campus, and classes are small, maximizing student-teacher interaction and support.
The Gunnery is considered to be one of the leading preparatory schools in the country, and it fosters an integrated living and learning community characterized by high expectations, trusting relationships and pervasive warmth.
A stalwart tradition
The Gunnery has been around for 160 years, and students are absorbed into a robust timeline of traditions. One of the academy’s traditional bragging points is its photograph collection, which includes one of the earliest pictures of a baseball game ever recorded. Some of the oldest observances are still in practice. For example, only seniors are allowed to sit on “Senior Rock,” a boulder lodged in the middle of the quad.
A favorite event with students is the School Walk, which takes place every year on founder Fredrick W Gunn’s birthday. He had a habit of setting out on a recreational hike on this day, and students and faculty follow suit even today. The usual track rounds Steep Rock in the town’s nature conservancy. Another annual tradition is hunting out the “Stray Shot,” a cannonball that seniors hide from the underclassmen. It sometimes takes weeks or longer to find.
But where academics are concerned, The Gunnery is fully seated in the 21st Century. The typical academic day begins at 8.15am and ends at 3pm. A student’s course load depends on her or his academic abilities and ambitions. That aside, opportunities for students to challenge themselves and enrich their experiences are widely available. Across campus, the emphasis is on integrating community and learning, whether this means taking part in activities, joining a social mixer or simply studying together after school.
The student experience
The average class has 14 students and feels more like a seminar. Students enjoy a great deal of interaction with their teachers, and the ongoing focus is on preparing for adult life and university both in and out of the classroom.
Students are expected to exercise a degree of independence in managing their work load and juggling it with extra-curricular activities including sports and weekend outings. Those who embrace the experience graduate with an advanced tool kit that will see them flourish at university.