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The Governors Academy

Tay was here: September, 1958 - May, 1962

1962 (Tay Vaughan Graduates)

1997 (Tay's Cousin, Hilary Knight Graduates)

The oldest boarding school in continuous operation in the United States, Governor Dummer Academy was founded in 1763, just north of Boston in Byfield, Massachusetts, under the will of Lieutenant Governor William Dummer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the 18th century alone, the Academy produced some of the nation's earliest leaders in the church, military, education, the law, and government -including the founder of Phillips Academy and 16 members of the first Congresses of the United States.

Over the years, the school's name has been entwined with those of many famous people. Paul Revere created the first seal for the school; John Quincy Adams served as secretary to the Board of Trustees; Theophilus Parsons, a Chief Justice of Massachusetts and author of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, attended the Academy; Captain Edward Preble, commander of the USS Constitution and a hero of the War of 1812, studied here; Booker T. Washington Jr. starred on the football team in the early 1900s; Yu Kil Chun, a famous social reformer and the first Korean to study in the West, attended the Academy.

With such strong ties to our nation's beginnings and development, the Academy, now coeducational and national in its student constituency, continues to see its role as providing society with educated leaders, but also as far more. Its chief goal is to encourage in its students self-discipline, confidence based on achievement, fulfillment through sensitivity to the rights of others, personal responsibility, and team work. Underlying this goal is the motto of the Dummer family, passed down and often repeated to GDA students: "Au vray courage rein impossible-With true courage, nothing is impossible."

Throughout its more than two centuries of preparing young people for college and for the world beyond, Governor Dummer has focused upon basic study skills and subject areas within a strong Liberal Arts curriculum. As students progress through the school, they are challenged to think, to imagine, to analyze in increasingly more complex ways and in increasingly more demanding courses. Students' academic and social lives, which take shape in historic classroom buildings and actual 1 8th2.centuray colonial homes, are guided by a tradition of intellectual rigor and principled behavior.

Forest, fields, marsh, river-all these elements of the "lands and farms of Newbury," given to Governor William Dummer by his father Jeremiah in 1712-contribute to an environmental beauty and utility especially Governor Dummer Academy's. The school is linked to the ocean, 5 miles due east, by the Parker and Mill Rivers that fork to embrace the campus. Plum Island and its Wildlife Refuge and beach are a 5-minute drive away. Students and faculty utilize the uniqueness of the marsh and the ocean environment in myriad ways: Biology and Ecology students take field trips to the marsh and beach to explore the flora and fauna; day or afternoon trips on weekends find students enjoying the sun and surf of the Atlantic off Plum Island; the entire school embarks on a Whale Watch in mid-September; joggers run the "Short Loop" on a road that winds through the marsh and along the Parker River; hardier souls swim off nearby Thurlow's Bridge in early autumn and late spring.

Without question, William Dummer provided an especially lovely setting for his vanguard academy-an environment of extraordinary natural beauty and one that extends both learning and community well beyond the brick and clapboard buildings of the school. The Academy's proximity to historic Newburyport (just 5 miles distant) and Boston la 40-minute-drive south) also makes its location special. Field trips to the capital city incorporate visits to such sights as the U.S.S. Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), Fanieul Hall, the Old North Church, and Govemment Center.


(Workman Publishing, New York, 1980)

...It was necessary that schools be opened that weren't just Prep schools. They had to be Preppy - the sorts of places that encourage fond reminiscences of painful years.

The schools that fit this order were the boarding academies, schools that taught a broader range of subjects. They began with Governor Dummer Academy in South Byfield, Mass., in 1763. Was it Preppy? Let it suffice to say that Governor Dummer Old Boys (alumni) helped to found Phillips Academy (Andover) just after the Revolution. [Mr. Phillips himself was a graduate of Governor Dummer's Academy] A few years after that, Phillips Exeter Academy was founded in Exeter, N.H . This was an especially notable development, because - at last - there was a school upon which, more than a century and a half later, the book A Separate Peace might be based.

For the next hundred or so years, things stayed pretty much the same. The number of academies grew, as did the public school system. There was a civil war. The military schools were started.

By the last years of the nineteenth century, the number of schools was creeping upward as fast as the ivy they cultivated. In 1898 and 1899 there was positively a mad rush to found schools, everyone suddenly recognizing that a founding date in the previous century would confer instant hoariness on the youngest of institutions. Gothic and Cotswold - style quadrangles were carefully engineered to look centuries old in a few years...