Westminster School was founded by William Lee Cushing in 1888 as a boys’ school in Dobbs Ferry, New York. A graduate of Yale, and a firm believer in the traditional form of English boarding school education, Mr. Cushing was strongly influenced by the Reverend Edward Thring, headmaster of Uppingham School in England. Thring believed in “education as training for life.” 
Mr. Cushing’s formula for education was endorsed by many in the emerging influential American families, who sent their sons to Westminster, including John Hay, Advisor to Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State to Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

The Move to Simsbury

In 1900, as enrollment increased, Mr. Cushing moved the school to its current location in Simsbury, Connecticut. The move to Simsbury provided more land, which had been donated through a trustee of the school, Arthur M. Dodge, a member of an old Hartford family. Williams Hill, the site of the school, offered more than 230 acres, with commanding views of the Farmington River. The Simsbury location also provided train service for students to New York and Boston, a boon to families from those areas.
Mr. Cushing remained as headmaster until his death in 1921. Along with his educational philosophy, he also left the school its inspiring motto. The Cushing family coat of arms bears the Latin motto virtute et numine (“by human righteousness and Divine grace”), which is translated liberally as “grit and grace.”

The Modern Era

In the early 1970s, Westminster School opened its doors to day students and also became a leader among independent schools in active recruitment of minority students. In 1972, girls were admitted for the first time as day students, and in 1977 as boarding students.

As the school celebrated its first century in 1988, it saw a significant enhancement to the arts program with the completion of Werner Centennial Center, named for its long serving sixth headmaster, Donald H. Werner.

In 1996, Walter E. Edge, Jr., a member of the Class of 1935, bequeathed $30 million, the largest benefaction to the School in its history, allowing for, among other things, the construction of Edge House.

Distinguished Alumni, Leading in Careers and Service

Westminster graduates have gone on to achieve eminent positions in industry, the military, government, social services, the arts and athletics, thanks to the outstanding teachers and headmasters who followed in the tradition of William Cushing’s teaching ideals: “performing daily tasks cheerfully, fostering an ambition to learn lessons well, playing fair in sports, being clean in thought and word, and cleaving to that which is good.”

The True Life

Westminster School

995 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 408-3000
Westminster School is a private, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and Postgraduate, located in Simsbury, Connecticut. The suburban New England campus is midway between New York City and Boston. In keeping with our support for a diverse community, Westminster abides by all applicable federal and state laws and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, color, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry and/or disability.

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