A Story 125 Years in the Making
In 1891, Maria Bissell Hotchkiss founded a school based on two key principles: academic excellence and financial accessibility. Her vision has stood the test of time: today, Hotchkiss offers more than $9 million in financial aid, and the School remains committed to providing an education of unsurpassed quality. Just as important as those two pillars is the richness of community life at Hotchkiss, anchored by traditions that have grown and changed with the School.
- All School
- Bucky the Bearcat
- Blue and White Ball
- Blue and White Society
- Blue and White Saturdays
- Contra Dance
- Class Nomenclature
- “Fair Hotchkiss”
All faculty and students meet twice a week to reflect and share personal experiences in Hotchkiss’s Chapel, a nondenominational gathering space designed in 1931 by the architecture firm Delano & Aldrich. Chapel is also where Matriculation, the ceremony in which new students officially join the Hotchkiss community, takes place.
In the late 1970s, former math teacher Art Eddy brought his enthusiasm for contra dancing (think: square dancing) to campus. Since then, the first day of orientation has ended with a contra dance in the field house, with nearly everyone at the School twirling and spinning their partners on the dance floor. Students say the contra dance is one of the highlights of the year.
The evening before the first day of classes, the entire student body and all faculty members assemble for Convocation. The head of school and the two student co-presidents welcome everyone, and the head gives a speech. The evening ends with a presentation of selected student awards and the singing of "Fair Hotchkiss," the School song.
The terminology for the four classes — prep (9th grade), lower mid (10th), upper mid (11th), and senior (12th) — came to Hotchkiss with the School’s first headmaster, Edward G. Coy. Coy had been head of the Greek department at Phillips Academy Andover, the only other school that uses this nomenclature.
- Fun Fridays
- Head of School Holiday
- Last Class
- School Seal & Motto
- Senior Carnival
- Spirit Days
- Student-Faculty Basketball Game
- Taft Day
- “Writes” of Passage
A spontaneous holiday announced by the head of school. The first Head of School Holiday was called in 1908 in honor of Maxwell O. Parry, Class of 1905, to commemorate his winning the Ten Eyck Prize at Yale. Sometimes, students go to the head of School’s house (called Frank House) and sing “Fair Hotchkiss” the night before they want a holiday; other times, the head announces the holiday unexpectedly, and students sing in celebration.
At the seal’s center is Athena, the patron goddess of wisdom and ancient Athens, shown in profile with her helmet. Encircling her image are the words of the Hotchkiss motto: Moniti Meliora Sequamur. The Latin phrase, which comes from Virgil’s “Aeneid,” might be loosely translated to mean, "Guided by each other, let us seek better paths." Because of our commitment to our Latin motto, we refer to the goddess as Minerva, Athena's Roman counterpart.
The week leading up to and including Taft Day, the fall Saturday when Hotchkiss competes against Taft in every sport. From the start of the week to the Friday night pep rally to Taft Day itself, blue and white rule. Six days of fun: clash day, nerd day, preppy day, “secret dorm day” (when all the students in each dorm dress up according to a chosen theme), twin day, and Taft Day.
"Daily Themes,” an exercise that takes place over a two-month period during which all lower mids write up to 40 papers on themes of their choosing, dates back to the mid-20th century at Hotchkiss. A second writing tradition at Hotchkiss is the “ticket,” a spontaneous overnight essay assigned in all grades. The essay becomes the student’s “ticket” into class the following day.