The Chapel Program is one of the oldest traditions at Westminster School. It encompasses the Judeo-Christian tradition while embracing the world’s religions and philosophies. Chapel services are held during the school day on Tuesdays and Fridays and offer times for reflection as students, faculty and guests share experiences through chapel talks or give musical performances. The program encourages members of the school community to think beyond themselves, to appreciate sacrifice, and to be compassionate, sensitive and inclusive.
Giving a chapel talk can be a significant rite of passage in a student’s Westminster career because it highlights his or her personal courage, eloquent writing and graceful public speaking. A student might reflect upon poignant moments growing up or the adventures of forming new and unexpected friendships; a faculty member might discuss the loss of a loved one or the long and winding road that led him or her to Westminster; or a visiting speaker might challenge stereotypes or speak about personal or professional experiences. Through the Chapel Program, students and faculty learn with and from each other.
The John Hay Society
The student-run John Hay Society organizes and runs the Chapel Program with the assistance of two faculty advisors. Because chapel services are such a pivotal part of school life, election to the John Hay Society is highly coveted. Students are selected to John Hay on the basis of their involvement in the community, leadership and outstanding personal qualities. The society emphasizes the importance of service through the messages of the chapel program as well as through donations to various local, national and international needs.
Andrews Memorial Chapel
Andrews Memorial Chapel is the third chapel to be built on the Westminster School campus in Simsbury. The first chapel, Hay Memorial Chapel, was dedicated in 1902 by John Hay, an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln and former Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. It was erected in memory of his son Adelbert (Del) Stone Hay, a Westminster alumnus in the Class of 1894. When it burned down in 1904, the Hay family then made another gift to rebuild the chapel in 1905.
As Westminster’s size grew, from around 100 to as many as 160 in the mid-1950s, Hay Memorial Chapel could no longer accommodate students and faculty, so in 1962 it was replaced by Andrews Memorial Chapel, which was dedicated to Mabel Shields Andrews in 1971. Andrews Memorial Chapel comfortably accommodates all students and faculty.