The mission of The Loomis Chaffee School is to advance the development in spirit, mind and body of boys and girls drawn from diverse cultural and social backgrounds and to inspire in them a commitment to the best self and the common good.
The goal of the school’s academic program is the formation of skilled and discerning minds in preparation for higher education and lifelong learning. Through its courses and community life, Loomis Chaffee also educates its students for service in the nation and in today's global civilization. In all things, the school aims to be, as its founders intended, “a shrine from which boys and girls shall take the highest inspirations for better and grander lives.”
History & Origins
The Loomis Chaffee School was chartered in 1874 by five siblings who had lost all their children and selflessly determined to found a school as a gift to the children of others. Since its opening in 1914, the school has offered educational opportunities for boys and girls regardless of religious or political beliefs, national origin or financial resources. Academically rigorous, the school promotes active learning and close faculty-student bonds within a respectful and civil community.
The Loomis Family Homestead, built by Joseph Loomis in 1639, sits atop a hill on 300 acres in Windsor, Connecticut, overlooking the confluence of the pastoral Farmington and Connecticut rivers. Directly across the street is an elegant brick Georgian home, the residence of the Head of The Loomis Chaffee School. These two striking homes, nearly 300 hundred years separating their construction, provide a gateway to Founders Hall and the magnificent quadrangle beyond, and they epitomize the essence of the school: a profound respect for tradition and the legacy of the founders, a sustained commitment to fulfill the vision they created, and a shared anticipation of even brighter horizons beyond.
The founding of The Loomis Institute is a story of vision, generosity and purpose springing from tragedy. Colonel James Loomis and Abigail Sherwood Chaffee, both of Windsor, married in 1805. By the early 1870s, their five remaining children –– four sons and a daughter –– had experienced both the successes and the sadness of life. They had made their fortunes in the world, traveled, married and had children, but all of the children in all five families had died before reaching the age of 21. Their grief found expression through an extraordinary act of trust and selfless generosity in the founding of a school for “all persons of the age of twelve years and upwards to twenty.” In July of 1874, freshly scribed Connecticut charter in hand, the direct descendants of Mr. Joseph Loomis could pursue in earnest their quest to commemorate and fulfill the promise of their deceased children by educating future generations. Forty years later, the school opened its doors to 39 boys and 13 girls, and it will celebrate its centennial in 2014. Back to top
Since its inception, Loomis Chaffee has adhered to and honored its founders’ wishes: to foster a lifelong zeal for learning through a rigorous and diverse curriculum and to instill an abiding respect for others predicated on the egalitarian notion that neither religion, sex, geographical origin nor financial standing will preclude a student from enrolling in the school.
Through its first twelve years, the school educated both boys and girls, but in 1926 the girls moved to the historic Windsor center and the new campus of The Chaffee School to enable the faculty to focus on girls’ educational issues. For more than four decades, both schools enjoyed considerable success, even adhering to the founders’ aspiration to remain tuition-free as long as the seed endowment allowed them to do so. In 1970, social and pedagogical opportunities reunited the two schools and led to the formation of The Loomis Chaffee School. Capitalizing on the larger and coeducational student body, the school initiated significant curricular revisions by augmenting its already demanding core requirements with a broad range of electives in art, music, philosophy, religion and physical education.
Weathering the societal tumult and economic stagnancy of the 1970s, the school realized significant growth from the mid-1980s to today, enjoying a seven-fold growth in its endowment; a similarly exponential growth in the amount of financial aid awarded each year; an expansion of the faculty, now approximately 150 in number; and a doubling of the physical plant through the addition of three new dormitories, a student center, a visual arts center, an admission and communications building, and an athletic center.
Today the 650-member student body comprises 62 percent boarding students and 38 percent day students from 39 countries and 26 states, 34 percent of whom receive need-based financial aid. To maintain its fiscal stability, the school relies upon the largess of its alumni, current parents, and other constituencies who this year contributed more than $3.47 million to the unrestricted Annual Fund in support of the operating budget. Of the noticeably dedicated full-time faculty, more than one-half have been at the school for more than ten years, and they continue their forebears' legacy of setting exacting standards for students, fostering in them a willingness to prize excellence in both the processes and the products of the learning community. More than sixty percent of the school's diverse collection of teachers holds advanced degrees and teaches a rich and expansive array of 180 regular, advanced, and Advanced Placement courses. Emblematic of the talents inherent in the student body and the faculty, the Class of 2012 had 96 Advanced Placement Scholars.
Facts and figures, though, fail to capture the real spirit of this special secondary school. Like the two rivers at whose confluence the school is perched, Loomis Chaffee has a dual mission: to inspire in its students a commitment to both "the best self and the common good." Its excellent academic, athletics, artistic, and social programs combine to cultivate the spirit, mind, and body of each individual, firm in its attachment to the Founders' guiding principles that social equality trumps social standing, fairness conquers favoritism, academic and physical rigor invigorate and inspire, and a caring and trusting community breeds in the individual an abiding appreciation of the importance — and the means — of contributing to the needs of the community. In the wake of their personal tragedy, the Loomis Family members inspired and compelled future generations in the very best of directions. Their story resonates in a remarkably contemporary, even timeless, way.