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This is Thacher.

Come west, breathe deep This is Thacher.



“Come west, breathe deep.” This was the invitation first extended to the adventurous more than a century ago by our founder, Sherman Day Thacher: “Let these books and these hills and these horses be your teachers.” Today, we echo those words, inviting you to make a leap into an education unlike any other, where the academic and personal standards are among the highest in the nation, and where the community is one of the most uplifting you could ever join. Students often hear: “Find your passion.” “Be your best self.” But how do you do that? Is there a road map? A guidebook? Even if you think you know, we invite you to consider how Thacher students do it. We’ve broken it down, mapped it out, and in some cases illustrated what it looks like when happy kids and high achievement coexist. (And, yes, it involves horses.) We hope becoming your best self is a lifelong endeavor as rewarding to you as it is enjoyable. This is what it looks like when Thacher is your head start.



“It’s not enough to say Thacher students are smart—because we are so much more than that. We have debaters and defensemen, ballet dancers and bee farmers, rock climbers and robotics engineers. We are not only the archetypal book-smart students, but we are thoughtful, creative, and curious. Being surrounded by this kind of diversity really inspires you to work hard and to cultivate your own unique talents.”


Irene Limb Seoul, South Korea; Harvard University



Welcome to risk taking. our DNA, an being at Tha may find it i yours too. 6

positive It’s in nd after acher you s part of SECTION 01.


Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that to become your best self, you can’t only do what you’re already good at. From academics to leadership to hiking in the High Sierra to taking the stage, if the challenge is too hard, giving up is tempting. But if the challenge is too easy, success has no meaning. The secret to genuine achievement is taking on calibrated challenges every step of the way. That is Thacher’s expertise.


City kid to sustainability expert K IPPER BERV EN UC BER K EL E Y; FROM S A N F R A NCISCO, CA L I FOR N I A

“That’s the beauty of this place: People encourage you to try, and fail, and then try again. From that, great successes are born.” Uncharted Territory

Freshman Year Pivotal Moment

“My freshman year, I tried out and performed in the school musical, became a B Camper, took ukulele lessons (and played for all the freshman parents), and began preparing myself to take Chinese classes for the first time ever. A year earlier I never could have dreamed of doing any of that.”

“I was the only ninth grader on a 120-mile mountain-biking trip from campus to Santa Barbara. I didn’t really have much downhill biking experience (in San Francisco you only need to go up!) and so I was really nervous. On the first day of the trip, I toppled off a cliff, scraping myself up and shattering my confidence. I didn’t think I could possibly finish the trip. By the last day, though, I was leading the pack up the trail, and was the first to reach the top and get a view of Santa Barbara in the distance, and feel that fresh ocean breeze on my face. Such a tangible growing experience will stick with me forever.”

How an Interest in Sustainability Became a Passion

10th Grade » Started helping to take care of Thacher’s pigs. 11th Grade » Went to Maine Coast Semester and worked on a farm » Took Thacher’s Advanced Environmental Science with Mr. Pidduck » With two other students was awarded the Kumana Prize, which provides funds and guidance for science projects. The project: sustainable water management » Started volunteering at a local organic farm » Completed significant trail maintenance work at Thacher as part of earning B Camper rating. 12th Grade » Became head of Thacher’s Environmental Action Committee.

Starting in 10th grade, played three varsity sports

Football Soccer (Captain) Lacrosse (Captain)

How Academic Paths Evolve

From Physics » Honors Chem » Advanced Environmental Science » Advanced Topics in Environmental Science (where students create curriculum and help teach) » Science and Society (cool multidisciplinary course). From Spanish II » Spanish Honors III and Chinese I at the same time » Advanced Spanish to post-Advanced Spanish (which focuses on sustainable development in Latin America) and auditing French I. From Math III » Math IV » AB Calculus » BC Calculus and Computer Science at the same time.

After Thacher

At Berkeley, Kipper is double majoring in environmental science and environmental economics and policy.

"Looking back at my time at Thacher, what surprises me most is the number and variety of different activities I participated in. Before coming to Thacher I just considered myself as the stereotypical city kid: I spent all my free time playing sports and only felt comfortable surrounded by concrete. I came to Thacher and pretty much immediately felt comfortable trying some totally new things."


Scooping the silver dollar B E N Y I H DA RT MOU T H C OL L E GE ; F R OM GR E E N W IC H , C ON N E C T IC U T

First-Year Surprise

Senior Year Classes

“When you come to Thacher, you have this general idea of who you think you are and who you think you will be. For me, I mostly thought that I was going to keep my extracurricular activities strictly to sports. I had never thought of myself in any way artistic or theatrical. Being at Thacher allowed me to continue my passion for sports, but more surprisingly, I found a genuine interest in the arts. Freshman year a dorm mate taught me how to play the guitar and we ended up playing at Battle of the Bands. I also really enjoyed my photography class, and had a blast acting in the Spring Sing.”

Advanced Calculus AB, Advanced Macroeconomics, Advanced Physics B, Chinese IV, Honors English IV, Public Speaking

“I recently had the chance to visit Rwanda. Because of the discussions and work my classmates and I had done in Advanced Environmental Science and Economics, I had a much deeper understanding of the issues facing that country, as well as a better sense of how these challenges might be addressed.” 10

Three-Sport Athlete

Senior Ex:

Football, Basketball, Tennis

“Modern Spirituality and Biocentrism”

Pivotal Moment

“My evolutionary biology class junior year shaped the student I am today. I was really interested in the subject, so when homework came around, I was doing above and beyond the recommended amount. For the first time, I felt as though I was inspired to learn, and that is an extraordinary feeling. This class showed me that when I really pursue any of my interests, academic or not, the outcome is quite fulfilling.”

Silver Dollar Pick-Up

“I began with little love for riding, but early on I set my sights on getting the silver dollar, a feat that had not been accomplished by my two brothers who preceded me at Thacher. On the day of Big Gymkhana, I made three tries and failed. But I was able to do it on the last possible try a few days later.”

After Thacher

Ben is majoring in history and playing intercollegiate club basketball at Dartmouth.

History meets activism H I L L A R Y E L L M A N U N I V E R S I T Y OF OR E G ON; F R OM L A K E O S W E G O, OR E G ON

Senior Year Classes and Activities

Advanced Art History, Advanced Calculus AB, Advanced Psychology, Advanced Spanish Language, Honors English IV, Chamber Singers, JV Girls’ Tennis, JV Lacrosse Captain, Senior Class President

Social Turning Point

Her Passion for History Led to a Very Modern-Day Project

Given the assignment in Honors American Studies to create a website on the legacy of slavery, she and two classmates focused on the sex slave trade and sex trafficking. Going beyond the class assignment, they designed a “teach a town” website and presentation. Their first “town” was the Thacher dorms. Next came the town of Ojai’s invitation to give a public talk on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hillary and her two classmates were featured in the local paper.

“To kick off my sophomore year, I went on a camping trip in Kennedy Meadows led by physics teacher Mr. Harris. Of the seven students who went, only one other was a sophomore girl, whom I did not know very well. I began the trip apprehensively, but over card games and pita pizzas, she and I discovered we had similar tastes in music and similar senses of humor. We got along fantastically. After the trip, she helped me get to know some of her other close friends. That trip led to my finding my place among an amazing group of girls. These are friends I hope to stay in touch with for the rest of my life.”

Singing, Acting, and Performing

Hillary came to Thacher knowing the performing arts would be a big area of interest and talent that she wanted to explore. By her sophomore year, she earned a place in the Chamber Singers. She is also an accomplished pianist and was a regular performer at Toad Fest during her time here. As a junior she traveled on a singing tour in Italy with the Chamber Singers.

“Something that has really surprised me here is how integral the people who surround me are to my selfdefinition. Though I spent my years at Thacher creating my own unique identity, I have found that my teachers, advisors, coaches, and friends helped me become someone so much bigger and better than I could have learned to be by myself.”

After Thacher

Enrolled in her university’s honors college, Hillary is majoring in English and double minoring in business administration and sociology. “I definitely attribute my love for analytical writing to the time I spent honing those skills while at Thacher.”


Multivariable calculus and multifaceted talent D OUG K L I N K S TA N F OR D U N I V E R S I T Y; F R OM E S T E S PA R K , C OL OR A D O

Senior Year Classes and Activities

Advanced Chemistry, Astronomy Applications, Honors English IV, Low-Mass Eclipsing Binary Stars, Post-Advanced Multivariable Calculus, Robotics, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Ensemble, Chamber Singers

Going Solo

“I was most surprised by my ability to sustain an incredibly diverse set of activities at a deep level across the board. I came to Thacher looking to do exactly that, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise, I suppose, but I’m still blown away by how easy Thacher makes it. Between school, music, horseback riding, and other sports, I was able to pursue anything I wanted with vigor. Sure, free time is scarce, but there was always just enough for one more thing.”

After Thacher

“I started college planning to study computer science, but I’ve decided to focus on physics. As Doc Swift once told me, ‘You can do anything with a physics degree.’€”


“Freshman year, on a whim, I tried out for the musical Spamalot,” Doug says. He discovered he had a talent for singing and landed a solo, which led to his joining Chamber Singers sophomore year. “Jazz band was so much fun, but I love playing with a full orchestra. Just before spring break sophomore year, I ran into the composer and Thacher alumnus James Newton Howard, who was on campus for an event. He said: ‘Do you want to play a solo in front of a professional orchestra?’ So I did. That was sweet.”

Working on Top Horseman

“I had a little experience riding when I arrived, but I didn’t expect my interest to take off the way it did. I loved improving as a rider and also the unique challenge of getting better at training a horse. I worked with the head of Thacher’s Horse Program, and also read books about horse training and checked out videos from the library. I earned Horseman status, which is a step below Top Horseman. Getting elected Top Horseman by the faculty means you become, in very practical terms, a member of the horse faculty.”

One of Thacher’s Highest-level Science and Math Students

Doug took Advanced Calculus BC as a junior and moved on to Post-Advanced Multivariable Calculus as a senior. He dreams of becoming a scientist, and took part in the reinvigoration of the Thacher Observatory through an independent study under Dr. Jon Swift, who came to Thacher from Caltech. At the same time, Doug brought the skills of an incredibly talented musician who was concertmaster of the youth orchestra in Denver. “Math and science are really my area and I love the math track I was able to pursue at Thacher. Working with Mr. Meyer and Dr. Swift was incredible.”

Undefeated champion K E N N E DY G R E E N W I L L I A M S C OL L E GE ; F R OM L O S A NGE L E S , C A L I F OR N I A

“Being at Thacher allowed me to really get to know myself better as a person, with both my strengths and weaknesses.” Passions and Pursuits

Senior Year Classes

Track, Volleyball, Basketball Manager, Prefect, Head Tour Guide

Advanced Comparative Government and Politics, Advanced Macroeconomics, Advanced Psychology, Calculus, Honors English IV

Pivotal Moment

“Winning Rescue Race is the moment that separates who I was before Thacher and who I am now. Although I understood the importance of the Horse Program, freshman year I was not thrilled about riding or taking care of my very stubborn horse. Fast forward eight months: It’s Big Gymkhana day. Without any preparation, my friend Sarah and I attempted Rescue Race. The next thing I knew, I was swinging myself onto the back of a galloping horse. Winning the blue ribbon was so unexpected, but the accomplishment really changed me. Now I accept all challenges willingly. The experience opened my mind to the idea that anything is surmountable.”

Solving It On My Own

“Thacher challenged me in ways that I didn’t know I could be challenged.” It’s been great to be able to work through everything that came my way and find a viable solution on my own.”

From High School Class to College Major

“During my senior year I took Advanced Macroeconomics. I really like that the class put current issues in the trade market into perspective. I’m planning on majoring in economics at Williams.”

Record Setting

Running varsity track and field all four years at Thacher, Kennedy holds school records in the 200, 4x100, and 4x400. She also finishes as the undefeated four-time 100 and 200 league champion, never having lost during any league meet.

After Thacher

Two-time All-American sprinter at Williams, where she also serves on the executive board of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and leads orientation for incoming athletes.


Research ha s what Mr. Th all along: De has a lot to d relationship 14

as proven acher knew ep learning o with s. SECTION 02.


We believe that the most meaningful, enduring learning happens in the context of relationships. It sounds simple—old-fashioned even— but everything we’ve discovered about the ideal learning environment for teenagers suggests that relationship-based education is essential. And anything but simple.


Making sense of Monticello: an architectural take on history In Dr. Greene’s U.S. History course, students are encouraged to question simple, traditional narratives and to instead consider historical events through multiple, complex perspectives. It was in this spirit that, as the class was wrapping a unit on the American Revolution, the drafting of the United States Constitution, and the early years of the nation, Dr. Greene decided to shift perspectives dramatically in order to open up room for new dialogue and revelations. some eye-opening articles that helped During a short unit she titled “The create a real discussion on Jefferson House that Jefferson Built,” Dr. Greene and his imperfect legacy. We were drew on her own scholarly background offered a different perspective.” in architectural history and asked the students to examine the architecture of Monticello, the famous residence “At the beginning of the year I had all designed by Jefferson himself, in order of my students write in their class to explore the complexities and tensions journals about their expectations for of the Founding Father’s legacy as a man the year. Steven confessed that history known for his writings about freedom had not traditionally been one of his and the struggle against tyranny, as well strongest areas, but that he hoped that that would change. He applied himself as for being a slaveholder. assiduously, took intellectual risks,

and has shown tremendous improve“I wanted the whole class to pause and ment in his writing. If I call on him, I dwell for a while on some interesting, know that he will always have done and fundamentally different, material the reading and can answer a question, related to Thomas Jefferson’s often but he’s also ready to volunteer to do contradictory writings and projects,” something ridiculous, like turning the said Dr. Greene. “Later in the term, I Federalist Papers into rap lyrics.” asked students to write in their journals about the most challenging, and “I have been very fortunate to be in rewarding, things they had worked on Dr. Greene’s U.S. History class this in class. Steven mentioned his paper weighing in on Jefferson’s legacy as one year. She brings a great energy and deep knowledge with her to the of the most rewarding assignments. I thought this was interesting as that unit class. As a result, I have had a spark of new interest in history and have required students to engage with some been excited for every topic we have difficult material.”

Gina Greene History Teacher

“Looking closely at Jefferson’s architectural choices in building Monticello revealed a lot,” said Steven. “We read

Steven Yoo Senior Hometown Rowland Heights, California

explored. The excitement that I have for this class has been taken with me to other subjects and, as a result, it has pushed me to work harder.”


History meets the present In Honors Contemporary Ethical Issues, a senior history elective developed by Jason Carney, the students are in the driver’s seat as they explore pressing social and political matters around the globe. Together with the teacher, they help determine what topics they will tackle during the course of the class, in addition to co-developing assessments that often veer into uncharted territory.

Jason Carney Chair of the History Department

Zanna Gulick-Stutz Senior Hometown Lake Oswego, Oregon


“Each unit closes with a different assessment type,” said Mr. Carney. “Important skills like collaboration and creativity are featured and fostered and often represent an opportunity to team up with other courses to explore unconventional, interdisciplinary approaches to the material.”

“Zanna’s passion for intellectually stimulating pursuits knows no bounds; she’s academically gifted and curious and strives to produce only the very best work. At one point after a class that focused on the complexities that arise from various approaches to resolving ethical dilemmas, Zanna said, ‘Every night’s homework makes me question what I believe to be right and wrong. I’m learning new perspectives from which to view both everyday and large-scale decisions.’ Her smart and often original takes propelled class discussions in wonderful ways.”

“I learned so much," said Zanna, "and would highly recommend that everyone take the time to reflect on their own unconscious behaviors and beliefs.”

“I loved the unique flexibility of this class. We focused on contemporary events, so the direction of each meeting depended on the news of the day or the knowledge that students brought to the discussion. We considered a variety of controversial topics—affirmative action, the death penalty, gun ownership— and Mr. Carney stressed how the use of different ethical standards can result in varying conclusions. The class pushed and encouraged me to examine multiple sides of every issue.”

After synthesizing what they’d learned into a written component and a presentation to the class, they moved on to the final portion of the assignment: community education and activism. In a cross-disciplinary twist, Zanna and her partners teamed up with students in a studio art course to collaboratively develop a thought-provoking piece of political art to engage and educate the community. Zanna and her partners shared insight and research with the artists, while the artists, in turn, used that information to craft multimedia visual works for public display.

During a unit focusing on race relations in the United States, for example, Zanna and two classmates researched unconscious bias, implicit discrimination, and the ways that both manifest in modern contexts and impact society.

News-making scientist involves his students in cutting-edge research where they may be stuck—while the Practical, complex problems with other students and I offer support and real-world significance—that’s constructive criticism.” what students can expect to face in Dr. Swift’s Research Topics in When asked how the course has Astronomy course. Drawing on changed the way she approaches her connections built during his time schoolwork, Yao said: “It definitely working at Caltech and collaborating makes me think more deeply about with international teams of astronwhat I am learning. Am I actually omers, Dr. Swift connects Thacher understanding the material? Can I students with professional scientific research projects out of places such as actually apply what I have learned to Boston University, Harvard University, real-world problems?” and UC Santa Cruz. “In Dr. Swift’s astronomy course, we

Seniors Yao Yin and Alejandro Wilcox are solving real-world problems and have been working together at the not just abstract concepts on paper. Thacher Observatory—a researchIt’s not about remembering formulas grade, state-of-the-art facility—to and facts and getting an ‘A’ on the monitor and gather data on “Tabby’s test. You really need to understand Star,” an astronomical enigma that everything at a fundamental has elicited significant curiosity and level and keep questioning your conjecture in the astronomy commuown knowledge.” nity. They then share their findings with a global team of professional researchers, giving Alejandro and Yao a “Instead of looking at theoreticals, front row seat to the scientific process. equations, and ‘what ifs,’ we are doing As new and unexpected problems arise during the course of their research, they learn and then master concepts as needed.

cutting-edge research thanks to Dr. Swift’s efforts and our great resource: the Observatory. It is exhilarating to know that we are looking for non-predetermined answers to questions that we sometimes don’t even know we are asking at first.”

“It is amazing that professionals are co-working with a couple high schoolers on a mostly peer-to-peer basis,” said Alejandro. “I have learned “Yao and Alejandro are constantly not only how to approach problems, encountering new ideas and techbut how to effectively solve them given niques that they need to master and the knowledge and skills I already incorporate into their overall understanding of astronomy. While they possess.” “The class is run more like a research group than a typical high school class,” said Dr. Swift. “Students present their research to the class—which includes their successes as well as the areas

have tackled quantifiable skills such as the energy structure of atoms and molecules, gaussian process regression, and the interstellar medium, they are really learning how to learn in this class.”

Yao Yin Senior Hometown Shenzen, China

Alejandro Wilcox Senior Hometown San Jose, California Jon Swift Director of the Thacher Observatory; physics, math, and astronomy teacher


Plastic debris, marine biology, and the big picture identified the gun range as a problem area. Huge amounts of plastic debris are left by shell casings.” (The Twin Peaks Trap Range teaches students firearm safety and holds marksmanship competitions.) “If we’re able to make a real change in terms of how the gun range operates, then this project will have a lasting impact after I graduate.” One of the first steps was to raise awareness on campus among both students and faculty. Robert made announcements at all-School Assemblies and helped organize gun range cleanups. “In my experience, Thacher students just need specificity of expectations in order to be ‘pushed more.’‚” Ms. Grant says she tends to lay out the progress that needs to be made and let the each student rise to the occasion (or fall short and learn from that experience).

Ms. Grant and marine biology student Robert Welch prepare for Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Ocean Plastic “When we went to the Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit (top). Plastic debris Pollution Summit to present our from the Thacher gun range that makes project, Robert and the other students its way to the ocean (bottom). displayed their knowledge and how it

The Thacher campus lies just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, presenting marine biology teacher Heather Grant with a vast laboratory for learning. She recently designed a new class project connecting the marine biology curriculum to the global environmental issue of ocean plastic pollution. She said, “Robert decided to pursue his interest in the topic beyond the class. He and a small group of students recognized that the Thacher community is actually good about not using single-use plastics such as disposable cutlery or water bottles, but they



What I Can Do


connected to our school community with ease. I appreciated that Robert saw the big picture—that this wasn’t about a one-time cleanup but a cultural shift that leaves the School and the environment better off long term.”

Robert Welch Hamilton College Hometown Newburyport, Massachusetts

Heather Grant Science Faculty

Research shows that for deep learning to occur, teens must feel both safe and challenged. The “ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT,” as some researchers call it—that edge where a task or endeavor feels just beyond our reach but is, in reality, just within our reach—is the optimal brain state for learning and is different for every student. A teacher must not only know her students well in order to push them to that ideal state, but must also have their trust in order to keep them there.

Curiosity, connection, and challenge: Thacher’s Academic Program “We believe that students learn deeply and perform best when they follow their curiosity and harness their passions. We encourage work that engages the real, practical challenges facing our world, work that advances the common good. When I think of the work that best captures the philosophy and flavor of Thacher academics, I think of the student who was so inspired by an astronomer presenting her research in Santa Barbara that he decided Thacher should participate in that research and ultimately became a co-author of published research. I think of the trio of seniors who piloted a manure composting system that now allows our campus to turn what once was simply waste that needed to trucked away into a source of rich mulch that now fertilizes our campus. I think of a history class that paired with an art class to create images exploring the topics of unconscious bias and social justice. I think of the many students each year who conduct rigorous independent research and then make thoughtful presentations to the entire community on thorny issues such as race, gender, and equity. I think of students conducting independent projects to grow a vegan leather from kombucha culture, and others cultivating insects for food. These are just a few of the projects— simultaneously practical and inspired— that our upper-level students have pursued. Blossom Beatty Pidduck CdeP 1992 Head of School

ACADEMIC TIMELINE Thacher’s four-year academic program can be roughly divided into two halves. In the first two years, the emphasis is on building a broad foundation of understanding, developing sound academic skills and habits of mind, and sparking the intellectual passions that will take students to places they never imagined. During their junior and senior years, students are challenged to demonstrate mastery, often by following their interests beyond the classroom and across the disciplines, applying skills and knowledge in new ways, increasingly framing and solving problems of their own choosing. All of this, of course, takes place within a tight-knit community where students and teachers come to know one another in and out of the classroom.

“The true importance of an academic community built around an Honor Code extends far beyond the imperative to turn in your own work. Ultimately, our work here is about academic integrity. That requires teachers who know their students well enough to tap their individual interests and passions. It means meaningful projects, often with multidisciplinary, real-world applications. And for the student, this means taking responsibility for your own learning and bringing your best effort because it is personal, a point of pride, and part of what it means to be a member of this community of teachers and peers. In other words, where you find a true culture of academic integrity, academic excellence naturally follows.” Alice Meyer Director of Studies 21

From Foundations to Mastery Four years of new ideas

Advanced English III

Turning Toward Home: The Art and Craft of Personal Narrative

What is America? In our teamtaught History/ English course, investigate the American past and present in innovative ways.

Prepares you for the BC level AP exam with an introduction to multivariable calculus.

Read acclaimed memoirs. Learn to write your own.

Advanced Computer Science

Data Structures and Robotics

Advanced Chinese and Beyond

Sensor-actuator design is at the core of the course as you create autonomous robots.

Design, code, test as you complete two to three major programming projects.

Advanced Latin IV

Advanced Chemistry

Read Virgil’s Aeneid in the original Latin. Gain fluency, precision, and elegance of translation.

Theoretical concepts in quantitative chemical problem-solving are developed through class discussion and indoor/outdoor lab work.


Advanced Calculus Topics

Five levels of Chinese are offered, as well as an opportunity for study trips to China.

Advanced Physics: Mechanics C

Calling future engineers—if you’re thinking about majoring in engineering or physical sciences in college, this course is for you.

The Empire Strikes Back

History of China

Latin American History

Discover some of the great immigrant and diasporic literary voices that have emerged from colonial and post-colonial territories.

From the Opium Wars to the fall of the Qing dynasty, the rise of the Chinese Communist Party and China’s race to modernization.

Explore what Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba reveal about Latin America from 1850 to today.

History of the Modern Middle East

Study the past and contested present of this complex region as understood by its own people.

Advanced Wood Design

Advanced Music Theory

Design and construct furniture built to the standards of a family heirloom.

Push your knowledge and skills through sight-singing, studies in harmony, and music composition.

Advanced Studio Art

The Psychology of Identity

24 new pieces in your portfolio through this advanced and fast-paced class.

No-homework xBlock electives like this one let you sample fresh ideas and insights.



The creative and technical innovations in American film from 1930 to 1980.

End the year with intensive three-day classes that take you deep into crossdisciplinary, collaborative projects.

Chewonki Semester

Challenging academic program for juniors in Maine on a 400acre peninsula emphasizing environmental studies.


Participate in cuttingedge research alongside Dr. Swift and other professional astronomers using the Thacher Observatory.

International Faculty-Led Trips

Recent offcampus study led by Thacher faculty has included trips to Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Senegal, and Spain.

Senior Exhibition Project

Throughout senior year, each senior works one-on-one with a faculty advisor and an “exhibition coach,” exploring an academic subject of personal interest that will be presented to the Thacher community. Senior Ex projects have led many alumni to their career dreams and realities. Recent projects: High-Frequency Trading, The Ethics of Performance-Enhancing Drugs, Biomimicry in Architecture and Urban Planning, Bits to Atoms: Social and Economic Impacts of 3D Printing, The Current State of Student Debt, Of Quarks and Quasars.


Peer pres not alway What mat most is w peers are. 24

sure is s bad. tters ho your SECTION 03.


Most of us—teens in particular— are navigating a world that would have us believe we are not beautiful enough, not charismatic enough, not strong enough. At Thacher, we don’t buy it and neither do our students. We actively assess and measure our culture. The result is that Thacher is regularly cited as one of the healthiest high schools in the nation.


In a recent survey, students at 23 boarding schools were asked to rate the level of respect at their school. The survey asked students to think specifically about attitudes towards race, sexual orientation, and gender. The responses from Thacher’s 9th grade students were so positive they received the highest rating.

99% Students who selected “low” as opposed to “medium” or “high” when asked how they would describe the intensity of peer pressure to use alcohol, tobacco, and/or drugs on campus.





Parents who responded “yes” when asked if they would recommend Thacher to a friend or relative.

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When surveyed about their level of health and happiness at Thacher, 87 percent of students gave Thacher a positive rating.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY “Of all the schools I have been privileged to visit, Thacher, hands-down, is doing it right. It has created a student culture, passed from one class to another, that overtly expresses, without reservation, its belief that alcohol and drugs play absolutely no role in the lives of the students at the School.” Richard Ryan Expert on Teenage Drug and Alcohol Prevention 27


“If I had to come up with just one reason why Thacher has had, for the past five years, the highest yield rate of any boarding school, it would be that Thacher uniquely combines high-achieving academic rigor and character-building challenges within what we believe is the most authentic, positive, and healthy peer culture of any school in the country. Every year, families tell us they have not found this combination of attributes at any other school.� Bill McMahon Director of Enrollment and Planning


“Being from New England, we had plenty of fantastic boarding schools to choose from and visited many. But something was missing. Having heard of Thacher’s strong reputation, we made the trip to Ojai. The beauty of the place struck us first, but over the course of our visit, what we (and, more importantly, our son) began to see was the strong sense of community the school is known for. A rigorous academic and extracurricular culture does not need to preclude a culture of respect, support, and balance. We knew it would take an exceptional place to encourage us to send our son (and then our daughter) to the other side of the country. No other school gave us and our children such a strong sense of ‘home and family.’ Both of our kids have thrived here, and we’ve never second guessed our decision to send them to Thacher.” Jamie Macmillan Past parent, Alexander CdeP 2010, Wesleyan University; Nancy CdeP 2013, University of Virginia


It’s not ab the horse mountai It’s abou 30

bout es or the ns. t you. SECTION 04.


At first, it might not seem obvious that a 1,200-pound animal is the best teacher of true leadership skills. Or that camping on a mountain above 10,000 feet is your path to a newfound independence. Most of our students have never ridden or backpacked before. What they find is that mastering horse and mountain prepares you for challenges like nothing else—whether that means acing a job interview, running a political campaign, or raising kids of your own. 32


While iPhones and Facebook might beckon us to distraction, nothing focuses one’s attention so much as rising early with friends, walking to the barns on a crisp, sunny morning, and caring for and feeding another living thing dependent on you. “Much is made of learning to be independent when you go to boarding school or college. Here you have that responsibility for yourself but also for another creature. It makes you even more capable in your later years at Thacher and also in college, grad school, and beyond.” Sarah Cunningham Atlanta, Georgia


You learn a new language and mindset. Horses like to conserve energy, so when you’re first getting acquainted they think the easy path is to ignore you. Your job is to figure out how to get the horse to understand that working with you is the easy path. To be a success with horses, teenagers have to change how they normally navigate the world. They need to be nuanced and learn to give just the right amount of pressure (not too little or too much). They need to be forward-looking—literally and figuratively.



“You’re part of this tradition that’s been going on for over a century. The fact that we still make horses part of a Thacher education is really, really cool. It’s that whole idea of grit—knowing that you can overcome all the little things that make it difficult makes you a stronger person.” Briggs Boss Santa Barbara, California


Living in the backcountry with your teachers, with your schoolmates, with wildlife, gives you real work and responsibility— and immediate feedback about your actions.


Beyond all-school trips, the

Outdoor Program includes faculty-led trips of six or seven students to such varied destinations as Yosemite, the Los Padres National Forest, the Lost Coast, and the Mojave Desert to climb, backpack, horse-camp, kayak, and canoe. All trips stress “minimumimpact” camping skills as well as self-sufficiency and cooperative teamwork. Regular weekend camping trips are also a mainstay of the program.



But remember, the Horse Program isn’t just good for you—it’s a blast. Imagine, when you have passed your riders’ test, you and your friends can explore trails all on your own. “My friends and I have started a tradition where we take a two-hour ride to the top of Twin Peaks to celebrate the end of our last exam of the term. Nothing feels better than the freedom the trail brings. Once we get to the summit, and get that stunning view of the valley, all the stress and worry of finals go away.”

Many students opt to ride even after they have fulfilled their requirement, especially in the spring, when all riders have become skilled enough to participate in the annual Gymkhana and teams of riders compete in traditional events of speed, skill, and derring-do.

Kipper Berven San Francisco, California


Thacher’s 427 acres sit at the foot of California’s Los Padres National Forest. Twice a year—fall and spring—we head out as an entire school for a week of hiking and camping. Given the importance of understanding and sustaining the natural world, it is an invaluable education you will carry with you throughout your life. It’s an education in ways that are unimaginable until you’ve experienced it—changing how you view the world, changing who you are.


“The Outdoor Program is really amazing. Living in the city, how could I have known I would love rock climbing? Being surrounded by all this incredible beauty actually makes you want to run and climb a 30-foot rock just because it seems invigorating.” Owen Driscoll Oakland, California


High schoo be an expan experience to broaden not narrow 36

l should nsive —a time horizons, them. SECTION 05.


Student Name, Class

Do you define yourself more as an artist or an athlete? At Thacher, you won’t have to choose. Athletically, many of our teams vie for championships and our graduates go on to serious college teams. Our performing arts avenues offer coursework and programs for already accomplished performers. But earning a spot on a varsity sport by your junior or senior year, playing saxophone in the Jazz Ensemble, writing for the literary magazine, or starring in the play doesn’t necessarily require a proven track record. We will give you every opportunity to explore all your talents—even those you have yet to discover—to create a varied portfolio of interests and excel at the highest levels.



Doing it all A DA M M A R C E L L O ; F R OM W E S T ON , M A S S AC H U S E T T S A F T E R T H AC H E R C OL B Y C OL L E GE

ACTIVE AFTERNOONS Sports, Yoga, Dance, Riding, Rock Climbing

Before graduation each student plays on at least one Third, JV, or Varsity team. We play for the love of the game. We play because winning and losing are means for learning about commitment, friendship, cooperation, competition, limits, and stress. Our humble mascot, the Toad, belies Thacher’s success on field and court with recent 1 undefeated seasons in boys’ lacrosse and cross country, and girls’ tennis among the top teams for our division. Thacher athletes have great success in college sports programs. FALL 8-man Football Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country Dance Girls’ Tennis

“Two games into my freshman year, I was lucky enough to be invited to play varsity football. At the same time, I started playing baritone saxophone in Thacher’s jazz band. In the winter, we went to the football playoffs and I also started on JV basketball and joined the cast of the winter musical. The show was The Pajama Game. I really enjoyed the experience, which included a few singing solos. In the spring, I had the chance to create my own act for Toad Fest, play varsity lacrosse, perform in a voice recital, and compete in Battle of the Bands. You really can do it all here.”

Girls’ Volleyball Horse Program Rock Climbing

WINTER Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball Boys’ and Girls' Soccer Horse Program Rock Climbing Yoga

SPRING Baseball Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse Boys’ Tennis Boys’ and Girls’ Track Dance Horse Program


Creating Possibility

A vanguard space for performances, rehearsals, and classes, The Milligan Center for the Performing Arts is one of the top performance venues in the region, with a professional stage, orchestra pit, and seating for 450. Backstage facilities include large music and dance rehearsal spaces, and practice and dressing rooms.

On stage and court G R AC E B I NG H A M ; F R OM PA L M B E AC H , F L OR I DA ; A F T E R T H AC H E R NORT H E A S T E R N U N I V E R S I T Y

Our century-old Outdoor Theatre is a rustic amphitheater of huge boulders beneath oaks and sycamores, with a seasonal stream running between the audience and stage.

The Thacher Masquers stage two large-scale theatrical productions during the year, a fall drama and a winter musical. A third large production is the Spring Sing, directed and often written by students. Smaller productions happen year round, including showcase performances during Family and Gymkhana Weekends. Students have several two- and threedimensional art studios, including newly expanded photography darkroom facilities and the Royal Barney Hogan Workshop—one of the finest woodworking shops and custom furniture facilities on any secondary school campus.


As befits her name, Grace glides along the baseline of the hard court, down the grassy sidelines cradling the lacrosse ball, and across stages at Thacher, China, and Italy. One of her star qualities is that her best work happens on teams, in ensembles, and as part of a chorus. As her tennis coach said, “She always puts what’s best for the team ahead of her own needs.” “Having been deeply involved in musical theater and the tennis tournament world from a young age, it was extremely important to me when choosing my high school that I could continue both my art and athletic interests as intensely as I had been able to beforehand. In my four years at Thacher, I was able to take the lead in the school musical, be a member of a

top competitive chamber choir, as well as the select Dance Ensemble at Thacher. With this dance group, I even had the chance to perform in China. What I am truly grateful for is that I could take advantage of these opportunities without compromising my athletic passions—playing tennis at a high level all four years and captaining the varsity team. Thacher was no ordinary education: I was able to take my passions beyond what I could have imagined.”

Clutch performer A L E X L E V E R S ; F R OM N E W YOR K , N E W YOR K ; A F T E R T H AC H E R O C C I DE N TA L C OL L E GE

The best way to get to know Alex is to hear him riff a guitar solo or wail a sweet blues song. You know he is a gifted artist when you see him fronting the jazz band. Then you see him racing across the gridiron, speeding down the track, and you hear him speak not one but three languages: English, French, and Spanish. In the expression of all these gifts, what drives Alex is a keen sense of what’s right—and a genuine curiosity about life.

“When I came to Thacher I wasn’t very athletic, but at the end of my senior year I’d made it to the varsity football team and had been a part of a recordbreaking varsity track 4x400 team. I also played with the jazz band and had the really cool opportunity to play for and with The Voice finalist Matt McAndrew. He had given a concert for the whole school and offered a workshop the following morning. I got there late and one of my teachers said, ‘Since you were late, you have to play us a song now.’ Matt handed me his Gibson Hummingbird and left the stool. I hid my nerves and performed Something Like Olivia by John Mayer. When Matt said, ‘That was great, dude! Wanna do something together?’ I thought I was dreaming.”

Singing groups include the Thacher Chorus and the Thacher Chamber Singers, a select group that performs nationally and internationally during school breaks. Instrumental ensembles vary from year to year depending on student interest, but typical options include the Jazz Ensemble, a pit orchestra for the winter musical, and numerous ad hoc groups formed for coffeehouses, independent projects, and Assembly performances. Private lessons: Ojai is rich in talented professional musicians, some of whom provide weekly individual instruction for students at Thacher. The Director of the Music Program facilitates these arrangements by pairing interested students with able instructors. Lesson times are fit into each student’s academic schedule.

Thacher has several music practice rooms, which are also used for student lessons. One of the rooms is also fully fitted with equipment for composing and recording electronic music. Dance is offered all year at Thacher. Students can select dance as a sport in fall and spring, and more serious dancers can audition for the Dance Ensemble. A stunning dance rehearsal space combines a suspended floor with breathtaking mountain views.


“Come w breathe Let thes your tea Sherman Day Thacher, School Founder


est, deep. e hills be chers.” SECTION 06.







One of Thacher’s most celebrated teachers, Forest H. Cooke, who was on the faculty from 1912 to 1945, wrote the Thacher Litany, in which he counted 55 things that make Thacher Thacher—from 10 pleasant smells (orange blossoms in March, the top of Pine Mountain), nine memorable sights, eight significant sounds (orioles in the cottonwoods, Shakespeare), seven best teachers, six things to learn, five things to avoid, four resorts in times of trouble, three great letters, two necessities (courage and understanding), to one essential (truth). In honor of Mr. Cooke, here’s our modern-day litany.*










1. Honor Code

back with such names as: California Poles, Figure 8 Flag, Cloverleaf Barrels, Keyhole, Ribbon Race, Ring Spearing, Rescue Race, Hurry Scurry, Diamond Hitch Packing Race, and Silver Dollar Pick-Up. 5. Orange and Green

Honor, fairness, kindness, and truth: Our Honor Code isn’t just words; it’s a way of living. Juniors and seniors take exams unproctored; doors aren’t locked. It’s cherished by both students and faculty and central to all areas of life at Thacher. For graduates it becomes the code they live by.

There is a reason our school colors are orange and green. Orange and olive groves have been here since the School was founded. A favorite for those living on campus is the fragrance of orange blossoms on dewy mornings as the sun comes up.

2. The Chambered Nautilus

As alumna Maria Hernandez CdeP 2013 says, “The diverse cultures, personalities, and ideas enmeshed in the Ojai Valley at Thacher make the School irreplaceable.”

For over 100 years, our head of school has begun the year’s first Assembly with a reading of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.’s poem The Chambered Nautilus. The chambered nautilus is the spiral shell of a sea creature that symbolizes every student’s mission to grow intellectually and personally. 3. Silver Dollar Club

The culminating athletic challenge of a student’s first year is the chance to join the Silver Dollar Club at Big Gymkhana. You join the club if you can scoop a silver dollar off the ground from a loping horse. How many members are there? 392 so far. 4. Big Gymkhana

The centerpiece of spring Family Weekend, Gymkhana is a series of athletic events on horse-


*With special thanks to our students, faculty, and alumni for helping to put together this little guide within a guide: Cecelia, Dallas, Emma, Finn, Greg, Hayley, Jane, Jeffrey, Kaja, Kara, Laura, May, Molly, Owen, Sam, Shin, Skylar, Stella, Wesley, and Yosephina.

6. Diverse Cultures and Ideas

7. Unrivaled Support

“Academics at Thacher are very challenging, but the small class size and the high level of support from teachers create an environment where you can really excel,” says Dallas. 8. Camping and Why

At Thacher, we retreat to the woods and mountains for many different reasons. We go to learn that nothing will get done unless we do it ourselves, that there is no one else responsible for our welfare. We learn that working together is ultimately better and easier than the purely individual




9. Twin Peaks


One of 19 trails on and around campus. As Skylar says, “Whenever I need a break, I can climb the mountain and clear my head.” 10. Dorm Life



Thacher students live in one of six grade-specific dorms. Dorms are arranged in sections of about six students and one senior prefect who helps serve as a role model and informal advisor. Faculty heads run each dorm with help from prefects and other faculty advisors, who provide fun and bonding activities such as Mr. Jacobsen’s ’dillas (quesadillas) every Wednesday. The cheeseon-the-outside secret brings them to a whole new level.

the opportunity to take personal responsibility for the welfare of some dimension of the School through a leadership experience. “Senior Leadership perfectly encompasses the trust faculty have in students here. Prefectship is unbelievably rewarding. I am never going to forget the way my girls look up to me,” says Stella.



endeavor. We learn that preparation is critical for a positive outcome. We learn, as did Thoreau, that “the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men,” and we therefore learn the importance of traveling softly upon it. Perhaps most importantly, we learn that there is an inherent grace to the wilderness that enriches and uplifts our spirits. —Excerpted from The Thacher School Camping Manual

12. Saturday Night Open House

Started by former Head of School Michael Mulligan and his wife, Joy Sawyer-Mulligan, Open House is one of Thacher’s most beloved traditions. Regardless of whatever else is happening on campus, Saturday night is Open House at the Pidducks’ (Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck, her husband, faculty member Brian Pidduck, and their twin 10-year-old daughters, Addie and Daisy). “Go to Open House. It’s an awesome way to chill with friends, enjoy good food, watch a movie, play ping pong, draw, dance. There are plenty of things for you to choose from,” says Wesley. “Open House is my favorite,” adds Emma. “And the chocolate chip cookies rival my mom’s.” 13. The Knoll

11. Leadership


Our students, and seniors in particular, run the School in many ways. With several important leadership positions open to seniors, the goal is for every student to have

“The best freshman hangout spot by far. Feeling nostalgic as I write it,” says May. 14. Warm Welcome

“When I first visited Thacher, everyone I met,







faculty and students, greeted me with a smile. They understood my hesitations and nervousness. In the end, I took a chance on Thacher, stepping out of my comfort zone, leaving everything familiar. Three years later, I’m still loving every minute of it,” says Kaja.


20. 15. Having a Horse in Your Life

At Thacher, having a horse in your life becomes second nature. Picture this: “Racing on your horse for the first time, wind in your hair, knowing you’re right where you want to be.” “Riding down to

upper field and watching a soccer game, as the sun sets behind you.” “Riding into town to grab brunch with your friends. It’s going to be one of your favorite memories. Just remember to tie your ropes tight!”

16–19. Campus as Laboratory

Sherman Day Thacher said, “Let these hills be your teachers.” That statement not only speaks to the lessons of the trail but to the way Thacher uses its campus and surroundings in many of its courses.

21. After Class Thank Yous

“I love how students say thank you to teachers after a class,” says Hayley. “It’s my favorite ‘what makes Thacher Thacher,’ too,” says one teacher. “Their gratitude is my best pay for my work.”


Here are four examples: conducting an invertebrate census in Reeves Creek, studying a meteor shower from the School’s Observatory, organic farming experiments in raised garden beds, memoir writing through close observation of the life of the School.

22. Formal Dinners 20. Weekends 21.


Trivia Bowl, dances, plays, coffeehouses with student performers, campus-wide capture the flag, visiting speakers, Open Houses, and trips to Ventura and Santa Barbara, museums, cultural events, and camping trips. Thacher’s Indoor Committee, composed of students and faculty, plans fun and relaxing Friday and Saturday night activities. Special cultural weekends are also planned, including outings such as: THE CA L IFO RN IA S CIE NCE C E N TE R: “G O O SE BU M PS! THE S CIE NCE O F FE A R ”






Four nights a week we sit down for family-style dinners. Each table includes students from every grade, plus a faculty member or two, often with his or her family. Table assignments are shuffled every few weeks, so that by the end of the year, students have mixed with kids from all the different classes. At the end of a full day, Formal Dinner allows us to come together as a community to share the news, triumphs, and trials of the day. 23. The Humble Toad

“Did you say … Thacher Toads?” Yes, the Toad is our School mascot. Nick Thacher, a grandson of founder Sherman Day Thacher and a 1963 graduate, explains why: “I spearheaded the movement to name Thacher’s teams the Toads. ‘Toads seemed appropriate because the nature of such beasts is one of humility and quiet persistence.” 24. Play and Musical Opening Nights

“The moment when the curtain opens is well worth the months of hard work that came before it,”


says Laura. “Sharing your passion and putting yourself out there is especially gratifying at Thacher, where the audience is always so energetic and supportive.” 25. Bees, Hogs, Chickens, and Composting

Thacher is on its way to being one of the most sustainable campuses in the nation. A key part of that is teaching students how to cultivate and eat healthy, thoughtfully sourced food. Thacher has invested substantially in greener dorms, solar energy, and water conservation. A similar interest in sustainability has animated the Environmental Action Committee, which has helped launch programs that include using kitchen waste to feed hogs, raising bees to produce honey, composting manure, and fueling campus vehicles with Thacher-made biodiesel. 26. Munchouts and Finals Treats

Throughout the year, prefects host dorm munchouts, which involve tasty snacks, good conversation, and lots of laughter. Then there are Finals Treats. Each night during final exams in fall and spring, students close their books at 9:30 and dash to the Dining Hall or the Commons for a study break, featuring treats that range from specialty waffles, donuts, and cereal to quesadillas and ice cream bars. Finals Treats are great moments to


come together and relax and celebrate the close of the term. 27. Advisors

All faculty members advise approximately five students each, offering both academic and personal counsel. Advisors are in regular communication with their advisees’ teachers and prefects, ready to help with a difficult class, celebrate a birthday, and host dinners in their homes. Perhaps most important, they keep parents informed about their students’ growth at Thacher, serving as a link between families and the Thacher community. 28. UnProm

No limos, expensive dresses, or tux rentals for this prom. Every other year, Thacher teachers put on an all-out dance for students called the UnProm. Quirky, vintage, and thrift-store attire, assigned dates for the first dance, and an unexpected theme, of course— all of which bears just enough resemblance to a typical high school prom to be very fun.



29. TOAD Talks

Our version of TED Talks. On Monday mornings, the Teacher On Active Duty (yes, the TOAD) gives a short talk on a topic that intrigues him or her, reads a poem, sings a song, or in some other expressive way shares something of personal, collective, or even universal importance




30. Pasture Rides


Just before each vacation, students in the Horse Program saddle up their steeds for the six-mile trek to pasture. Through orchards and fields and across a stream or two, small groups of riders walk, trot, and lope, winding their way to the wide open spaces where their horses will run and play during their break. When students return, they are bused back down to pasture, where they catch their horses, saddle up, and—now reacquainted with their equine friends—ride back to campus.


and application. This is another way we all gain insight into each other’s perspectives on the world.

31. Personal Favorites

The swings, the pool, soft serve ice cream, and weekend brunch smoothies, class dodge ball challenges, making freshly squeezed orange juice in the orchard with friends, receiving a “you have a package” email, and Beach Day. 32. Toad Music Fest

A time-honored tradition, Toad Music Fest fills The Milligan Center for the Performing Arts with people and music. Most recently, students, parents, siblings, faculty, and alumni staged over 30 acts of music, poetry, and dance. 33. Surprise Holiday 31.

Tradition has it that if a student can make a





snowball on the Pergola (the central courtyard of the campus), everyone is given a day off from classes. Holidays are also granted in celebration of the birth of a faculty baby, or sometimes, just because.

35. Visiting Scholars and Artists

35. T R O Y C A R T E R Talent Manager

41. C L A R K J U D G E White House Speechwriter

All year long, the campus welcomes visiting scholars, artists in residence, and other guests who share their special expertise. Recent campus visitors have included:

36. Y V O N C H O U I N A R D Patagonia Founder and CEO

42. S T E V E N K I R B Y Musician, Professor at Berklee College of Music

34. D R . E D WA R D AY E R S Historian, President of the University of Richmond


37. K I E R S T E N T O D T C O O N Cyber Security Specialist 38. J I M C U LV E R Staff Trainer, National Outdoor Leadership School 39. S C O T T F R A N K Writer, Director 40. T H O M A S L . F R I E D M A N Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

43. C Y N T H I A L E E Dancer 44. R I K I O T T Environmentalist, Community Activist, Author 45. M A R Y L O U I S E P O R T E R Plein Air Artist 46. B R U C E S M I T H Poet


47. M A R K S P R A G G Author 48. R U T H C O O P E R WA R D Survival Expert

Thacher clubs

Some Thacher clubs, such as Thacher Pack and Spur, have been active for well over a century. Others wax and wane as different students bring their own interests,

passions, and expertise to the community. Current popular clubs include: 49. U N I T E D C U LT U R E S OF THACHER Discusses issues of diversity 50. T H E S I R W I N S T O N C H U R C H I L L D E B AT E SOCIETY Prepares debates about national and world events

51. B L A C K S T U D E N T S U N I O N One of the campus affinity groups 52. T H E F I L M S O C I E T Y Watches and critiques different types of films 53. T H E M A D B O M B E R SKI SOCIETY Plans trips to areas within driving distance 54. L A N G U A G E C L U B S Spanish, Chinese, French


55. Senior Tribute

Thacher Commencement isn’t the typical diplomaand-a-handshake routine. Instead, each senior stands for a few minutes on the dais with the head of school to hear a Senior Tribute. Everyone listens as the student’s distinctive qualities are named and applauded. Each accolade is a hint at


the legacy left behind and the promise taken out into the world by each Thacher graduate.




“…To do the in the world can till the can do is al Thacher’s Banquet Song


best work d that we best we l done.” S E C T I O N 0 7.


Our combination of high achievement and a positive school culture develops in students lasting self-esteem and a skill set for success in college and far beyond. We believe college counseling is not just about getting into the colleges of your choice; it’s also about thriving once you get there. Our approach yields strong results, and we appreciate that colleges recognize what it means to be a Thacher graduate.


Greatest good leadership Sherman Day Thacher believed education wasn’t just the making of scholars but “the training of the younger generation in the art of living for their own greatest good and the greatest good of their fellow citizens.” The goal of a Thacher education is clear: to deliver to the world young leaders who have moved from a focus on self to a focus on others, from an attitude of “What’s in it for me?” to one of “What can I do for those around me?” Thacher graduates carry with them into the world self-esteem—the solid, lasting kind— that comes from real challenges with real consequences. They leave here with an expanded sense of self and a unique set of skills for learning and living beyond Thacher. Here are a few of their stories and the ways in which they are pursuing their own paths of greatest good leadership. W ILLIA M H O C KEY Cd eP 2008

“When I open an application from a Thacher student, I know I’m going to meet a student who has been encouraged to try new things, to seek out close, meaningful relationships with adults, and to identify and step into leadership opportunities. Thacher’s riding program, its prefect system, and its close-knit campus community make for a unique mix that encourages and develops these strengths. In our experience, Thacher students are comfortable with themselves because they have not only been challenged academically but challenged to take risks and try new things. As a result, they are not afraid to speak up, to step up, or to take the lead.” Nicholas Strohl Former Assistant Director of Admissions, Yale University

As a junior at Emory University, Hockey earned summer internship offers from top tech companies as well as management consulting firm Bain & Company. He chose Bain but went on to co-found computer software company Plaid shortly after graduating. Named to Forbes Magazine’s list of 30 Under 30 Changing the World, Hockey and

his partner used their experience working at Bain to create a platform that makes banking data easier for developers to use. As Hockey puts it, Plaid “takes archaic systems like the financial transaction records of banks and credit card issuers and lets smart young people use that data to build new and disruptive companies.” In fact, companies have been

so impressed with Plaid’s software that popular mobile apps like Foursquare and Venmo, as well as American Express, Chase, and Bank of America, have teamed up with Hockey’s company.


Over the last five years, four or more Thacher students have enrolled at the following colleges and universities. (List is in order of most Thacher students enrolled to fewest.)




A sociologist and senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD, is the author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work and Raising Happiness. After receiving her BA from Dartmouth College, Christine received her PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley. Quoted and featured widely in the media, her books and classes have helped thousands of parents raise joyful children and live lives that maximize their greatest strengths with the greatest ease. B E L SA SA R LEPE Cd e P 2 0 0 5

“Thacher laid the groundwork for my success. I attended Stanford University and took fascinating classes alongside some of the best and brightest. I worked at Google for two years, and now I am living the American dream, as a founding member of a technology company in California’s Silicon Valley,” says Belsasar Lepe, who co-founded global technology company Ooyala. The company specializes in hosting videos for large corporate and media clients like AOL, Warner Brothers, TV Guide, and National Geographic. Ooyala harnesses the power of big data to help broadcasters, operators, and media companies build more engaged audiences.

PET ER FRYKMAN Cde P 2 0 0 1

While studying product design and engineering in college, Peter Frykman discovered that “90 percent of the world’s products are designed for 10 percent of the population. Faced with issues of global water and food scarcity, I prefer to design for the other 90 percent.” He went on to found Driptech, an international water technologies company that began on the Stanford campus and is currently based in Pune, India. Driptech produces affordable, high-quality irrigation systems designed for small-plot farmers. The World Economic Forum selected Driptech as a “Technology Pioneer” and BusinessWeek has featured Driptech as a “top five most promising social enterprises.” RAU L PACHECO Cde P 1 986

Raul Pacheco is the lead singer for Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli. Ozomatli is a band on a mission—a social mission that has spent the better part of the last 15 years fusing activism and music, enjoying tremendous success in each realm. When the band first began, it wanted to help ensure that property in downtown Los Angeles continued to be utilized for local inhabitants. To draw attention to its cause, the band fused together traditional Mexican folk songs, funk and reggae bass lines, alongside looped tracks from DJ Cut Chemist. This tension between musical styles is what makes Ozomatli so unique in the musical world. Later, Ozomatli’s embrace of this fusion of music and social activism took a new and somewhat unexpected turn when the band members were appointed as “cultural ambassadors” by the U.S.

Department of State. With musical influences as varied as Carlos Santana and Southern hip-hop’s Arrested Development, every tune laid down by Ozomatli feels like a lyrical and tonal trip around the world at breakneck speed.


Brandale is the founder and owner of the 1854 Cycling Company, a bicycle and RU K MIN I CA LL IMAC H I apparel brand Cd eP 1 9 91 that donates a portion of every sale After graduating to programs helping end cycles of from Dartmouth poverty and recidivism among the College and formerly incarcerated. He is also the later earning co-founder and executive director of her master’s at Project: Poverty, a nonprofit that aims Oxford, Rukmini to design, create, and implement innoCallimachi vative strategies to reduce poverty. In began as a reporter in 2013, he delivered a TEDtalk at the New Delhi, India, filing stories with inaugural TEDxTexasTechUniversity Time magazine and other news titled Stop Throwing Breakfast organizations. Before becoming a Sandwiches at the Poor. His 2010 book foreign correspondent for The New Me & My Broke Neighbor: The 7 Things York Times, she was West Africa I Learned About Success Just By bureau chief for the Associated Living Next To Him… has been added Press, breaking several major stories to financial literacy curricula across focused on al-Qaida and Islamic the country, and his 2016 release Like extremism. This work led to being Cavemen & Quail: Poverty Beyond a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for “her Income and Mindset has received discovery and fearless exploration of rave reviews. internal documents that shattered myths and deepened understanding B R E NDAN BECHT EL of the global terrorist network of Cd e P 19 99 al-Qaida.” In his early 30s and described as MO RG A N N EVIL L E “an extraordiCd eP 1 9 8 5 nary leader,” Winner of Brendan Bechtel the 2014 best is president and documentary chief operating Oscar for officer of Bechtel, one of the world’s Twenty Feet leading engineering, construction, From Stardom, and project management firms. After which he graduating with a BA in geography wrote and directed, Morgan recently from Middlebury College, Brendan returned to campus to show his film completed dual master’s degrees at and talk with students about it. The Stanford in business and construcmovie takes a look at the heretofore tion engineering and management. anonymous backup singers and the At Bechtel, he is responsible for the lives they lead just outside the spotmanagement and oversight of all of light. Rolling Stone proclaimed: “Just the company’s global operations. He watch in wonder and try not to stand is also an avid skier and fly fishup and cheer.” erman and serves on the National Geographic Society’s Board of Trustees.

Other Notable Alumni PHIL ANGELIDES California state treasurer B R I A N T. B E N N E T T Journalist LAUREL BRAITMAN Historian and writer DONALD COOKSEY Physicist JENNIFER CRITTENDEN Television writer P A U L B . FA Y J R . Adviser to President John F. Kennedy SIDNEY D. GAMBLE Photographer and sociologist NICHOLAS C. GEALE Deputy solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor JA M E S N E W T O N H OWA R D Composer YE HTOON Political dissident H OWA R D H U G H E S Aviator and industrialist SARAH KONRAD Olympian JOHN LENCZOWSKI Founder and president of The Institute of World Politics NORMAN LIVERMORE Environmentalist JOHN WESCOTT MYERS Test pilot W H E E L E R J. N O RT H Marine biologist LELAND ORSER Actor C L AY P E L L Deputy assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Education J O E LY R I C H A R D S O N Actress M AT T S H A K M A N Director J O N AT H A N T U C K E R Actor THORNTON WILDER Playwright and author (He began writing plays while at Thacher. Wilder later went on to write the classic American play, Our Town.) 3 Pulitzers BARRY WOOD College Football Hall of Famer NOAH WYLE Actor


Are you r expand yo through n adventure

eady to ourself new new es? SECTION 08.


As a small boarding school, Thacher is shaped to a great degree by the variety and strength of its students. We are looking for motivated, highly capable students who are ready to commit their energies, talents, and personal integrity to a dynamic community in which every individual’s contribution is valued and in which racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic diversity is embraced.


Applying to Thacher Beyond the obvious differences of the orange and avocado groves that welcome you to campus, the mountains that rise to the north and east, and the easy naturalness of the place and the people, it takes a special student and family to understand what distinguishes Thacher from other schools. We look for candidates with proven academic achievement, with particular talents in art, music, athletics, public service, or leadership—candidates who have a special willingness to join a school where the values of cooperation, mutual respect, selflessness, and personal integrity are held dear.

Our commitment to financial aid Through its generous financial aid budget, Thacher has long expressed its commitment to admitting and enrolling the most qualified and compelling students regardless of their families’ financial resources. A third of Thacher’s students receive aid through awards that vary according to need. Families who are concerned that Thacher may be beyond their means are encouraged to consider financial aid and financing options that can make Thacher an affordable and realistic choice.


Visiting Thacher V ISIT U S 33

Please call our Admission Office at 805-640-3210 to schedule a campus visit. Our visits take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.







If you can’t visit campus, ask us about an Admission representative coming to your area.


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Application timeline SEPTEMBER Campus Tours and Interviews (as below) OCTOBER–JANUARY Campus Tours and Interviews SSAT Testing (Thacher’s SSAT code is 7648)

JANUARY 15 Application Deadline FEBRUARY 15 Financial Aid Deadline MARCH 10 Notification of Admission Decisions APRIL 10 Accepted Candidates’ Reply Deadline


“For any parent considering boarding schools, there is significant trepidation and sacrifice. We wanted a school where our three sons could take risks, explore new horizons, and engage in relationships with teachers, coaches, and mentors in a meaningful way. We hired an education consultant to help us find the right school, and she identified Thacher as well as nine boarding schools in New England. We diligently visited all 10 schools, but something kept drawing us back to Thacher. Our consultant reminded us that Thacher’s academic rigor was on par with the other New England schools and the students’ interaction with faculty members was often superior. More importantly, Thacher’s highly selective admission process allows it to choose not only smart, motivated students but also great young men and women who help challenge and support their peers. Thacher provides its students with a community of students and adults who help them grow into confident, independent, intellectually curious, and adventurous young men and women. We have found Thacher to be the right decision—three times over— and very much worth the extra sacrifice.” Dan and Nancy Yih Parents of Stephen CdeP 2010, Chris CdeP 2012, and Ben CdeP 2015


Thacher is an invitation to ask yourself three questions: Are you ready to meet friends and teachers who will expand your world? Are you willing to face challenges head-on and to gain strength because of it? Are you ready to find out who and what you can be? If your answer is “yes,� then we invite you to take the leap.


This is Thacher  

The Admission view book of The Thacher School (2018 edition).

This is Thacher  

The Admission view book of The Thacher School (2018 edition).