South Kent School

South Kent School, a private boarding school for boys in South Kent, Connecticut,[2] United States, is located on a 650-acre (2.6 km2) campus in western Litchfield County. It is sited on Spooner Hill east of Bull's Bridge, overlooking the former Housatonic Valley rail-line, Hatch Pond, and the 'whistle-stop' South Kent station, and is itself overlooked by Bull Mountain.

South Kent School
40 Bulls Bridge Road


United States
TypePrivate, boarding
MottoSimplicity of Life, Self-Reliance, and Directness of Purpose
Religious affiliation(s)Episcopal
Head of SchoolLawrence A. Smith '73
Enrollment165 boarding[1]
Average class size10 students
Student to teacher ratio5:1
Color(s)Cardinal and black
Athletics8 interscholastic sports

South Kent has been ranked as a "best" boarding school,[3][4] due to its curriculum,[5] diversity,[6] college placement record, and athletic programs.[7][8]

From its inception, South Kent School was intended to offer a service-oriented education "at minimum cost for boys of ability and character, who presumably on graduation must be self-supporting.[9]" Its motto is "Simplicity of life, Self-reliance, and Directness of purpose".


The hamlet of South Kent began in the mid-1700s on the "main road over Spooner Hill to Bull’s Bridge",[10] where an important iron foundry had been established by Jacob Bull. By 1800, an ironworks and forge were also set up near the outlet from Hatch Pond; but when the railroad came up the valley in the 1840s,[11] more efficient competition would shutter the Connecticut foundry industry. By 1920, the township of Kent's population was reduced to half its pre-Revolution level, and farm properties were to be had inexpensively.

The school was founded in 1923 as a joint venture between Reverend Frederick Herbert Sill, headmaster of Kent School, and two of his recent graduates, Samuel Slater Bartlett and Richard M. Cuyler. The Straight farm was purchased from members of the Judd family, and additions to the farmhouse were made to house a chapel, twenty-four students, and faculty. From the start, students provided labor for daily cleaning and maintenance, as well as for unskilled construction. Over the years a number of buildings were added on the Straight property, and additional acreage acquired. Most recently, the defunct farm on the north end of Hatch Pond was purchased.

Bartlett was followed as headmaster by conservationist L. Wynne Wister (1955–69), then George M. Bartlett (son of the first headmaster) through 1989. Noble Richards '49 was headmaster until 2000, then John C. Farr '58, who retired in 2003, followed by Andrew J. Vadnais through 2018.[12] South Kent School's current Head of School is Lawrence A. Smith '73.


Enrollment at the beginning of the 2017–18 school year was 170 young men from around the world in four "forms" (or grades). Foreign students from more than twenty nations (Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Ghana, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Montenegro, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates), and U.S. students from across America are represented.[13]


South Kent is a college-preparatory school; it is intended that every student continue his education at a higher-level institution.

In 2017–18 the school has 35 faculty who offer 48 courses in 2 primary divisions, Math/Science and Humanities. The school year is divided into three terms: fall, winter, and spring. Students normally enroll in five major academic courses each term.[14] Accelerated courses, including advanced placement, are offered in more than a dozen subjects (several in conjunction with Syracuse University[15]).

To graduate, a student must earn a minimum of 18 credits, which include:

  • 4 years of English;
  • 3 years of mathematics
  • 2 years of a foreign language;
  • 2 years of science, one of which has laboratory;
  • 2 years of history, one of which is United States History;
  • 1 year of an art, and;
  • 4 electives.

Cum Laude SocietyEdit

The South Kent chapter of the Cum Laude Society annually considers the academic achievements of sixth-form students for election to membership.

English as a second languageEdit

ESL is a program for international students to improve and/or reinforce skills in written and oral English. The focus is on structure, comprehension and conversation. In recent years nearly half of South Kent graduates have been non-native English speakers.[16]

Center for InnovationEdit

Due in part to its rural setting, the school has established a learning track focused on environmental management and entrepreneurship. Technologies range from historic architecture and building techniques to robotics and software design. .[17][18][19] Students routinely interact with farm animals, engage in sustainable practice, and perform stewardship projects.

Student lifeEdit

Students live in eight dormitories supervised by upper-formers; each dorm building has a resident faculty member or family. All meals are eaten in the school dining hall: a breakfast buffet, family-style lunch shared with faculty where seating is assigned to ensure all students and faculty have an opportunity to engage, weekly formal dinners. An on-campus health center (staffed by a live-in nurse, a physician and a counselor) provides 24-hour medical and infirmary services; on-line medical records enable access to every student's family.

Student leadership is developed with form councils, dorm supervisors, team captaincies, and prefects.

St. Michaels' Chapel holds daily Episcopal services. Students of all faiths are expected to attend the all-school services several times a week, but are not expected to disengage from their own faith; arrangements are made to provide access to other services.


In common with many boys' boarding schools, every student must participate in a "fitness-oriented athletic offering" at least two seasons of the year. Sports include baseball, basketball, crew (rowing), golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, running (cross-country), soccer, and tennis. Football was not offered after the 2009–2010 school year. Competition is available at a variety of levels (intramural and interscholastic), so students can be serious about their activities. At the same time, a number of boys attend the school each year preparing for a life as a professional athlete.

Facilities available to students include The Admiral James & Sybil Stockdale Arena, the Joseph J. Brown gymnasium, the Alumni Boathouse on Hatch Pond for rowing, the Anne H. Funnell cross-country trail, the hard court tennis courts, a weight-training facility, numerous athletics fields, and the adjacent Tom Fazio-designed Bulls Bridge Golf Club.[20]

A strong intramural tradition (beginning in 1940) assigns each student to a Cardinal or Black club; athletic, academic, and games events throughout the year accrue points for the annual award of a Cardinal/Black Cup. Students are also encouraged to participate in non-organized athletic activity: skiing, hiking, swimming.

Notable alumniEdit

A number of notable people attended South Kent but did not graduate: among them Nik Stauskas and Dion Waiters.[27] Celebrity tattoo artist Keith "Bang Bang" McCurdy was twice expelled from the school, but was later awarded an honorary diploma.

Accreditation and association membershipsEdit

South Kent School is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges[28] and has held membership in District III of the Cum Laude Society for more than eighty years.

South Kent competes athletically as a member of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council and the Hudson Valley Athletic League, and adheres to all league guidelines. Students have the opportunity to participate in post-season tournaments and compete for league and New England titles.

The school also maintains membership in [29] the National Association of Independent Schools,[30] the National Association of Episcopal Schools,[31] the Secondary School Admission Test Board, the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, The Association of Boarding Schools, the International Coalition of Boys Schools and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.[32]


  • The Pigtail: a student publication issued three-five times per year. The name of the paper is a reference to the nickname of the hamlet of South Kent as "Pigtail Corners" or simply "Pigtail".[33] A slogan at the school for many years was "Pigtail Against the World".
  • The Hillside: the South Kent School alumni magazine published twice annually.
  • Cardinal News Network: a student produced online publication which is updated on a continual basis. Cardinal News Network features the videos and stories created by students in the Digital Communications classes.[34]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The 50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S. | The Best Schools". The Best Schools. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  4. ^ "2018 Best Private High Schools in Connecticut". Niche. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  5. ^ "Welcome | Private Colleges & Universities". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  6. ^ "South Kent School". Boarding School Review. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  7. ^ "Hoop Dreams At South Kent". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  8. ^ "South Kent tops prep school rankings". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  9. ^ "South Kent School | History". 2007-07-28. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  10. ^ "Rufus Fuller & The South Kent Ore Bed – Kent Historical Society". Kent Historical Society. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  11. ^ "The Growth of Kent from 1756 to 1950". Kent Historical Society. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  12. ^ "Andrew J. Vadnais | South Kent School". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  13. ^ "Fast Facts about SKS | South Kent School". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Syracuse University Project Advance". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Educational Programming | South Kent School". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  18. ^ "South Kent School, Center for Innovation | Design Thinking in Schools K12 Directory". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  19. ^ "South Kent School Launches Innovative Technology Platform for 21st Century Learning". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  20. ^ Bulls Bridge Golf Club
  21. ^ "2017–18 Men's Basketball Roster – University of Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  22. ^ "RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project: Nauset and vicinity". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  23. ^ "Current Portland Trail Blazers roster".
  24. ^ "David Hicks – 2007 Men's Basketball". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  25. ^ Myles Powell, Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball. Accessed August 6, 2019. "Attended Medford Tech, Trenton Catholic, and most recently South Kent School... birthday is July 7 and was born in Trenton, N.J."
  26. ^ "Jonathan Richards | HuffPost". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  27. ^ "The NBA Is Lucky I'm Home Doing Damn Articles | By Dion Waiters". The Players' Tribune. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^{CF434162-32F9-E111-8924-00505683000D}
  31. ^ "NAES – National Association of Episcopal Schools". Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  32. ^
  33. ^ *History of Kent, CT, Francis Atwater, 1897
  34. ^ Cardinal News Network

External linksEdit