Princeton Day School

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Princeton Day School
Colross, the school administration building, a Georgian mansion relocated from Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Semper Luceat
Princeton, NJ
Type Private, day
Established 1899
Head of School Paul Stellato
Faculty 122.3 (on FTE basis)[1]
Grades PreK–12
Enrollment 904 (in K–12 and 17 in preK, as of 2013–14)[1]
Student to teacher ratio 7.4:1[1]
Campus 103 acres (0.42 km2)
Color(s)      Blue and
Athletics 22 interscholastic sports
Athletics conference Patriot Conference
Team name Panthers[2]
Average SAT scores 645 Verbal
649 Math
654 Essay[3]
Endowment $43,000,000
Tuition $27,280 (PreK–4) / $31,890 (5–6) / $33,430 (7–12)[3]

Princeton Day School is a private coeducational day school located in Princeton, New Jersey, serving students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades The largest division is the Upper School (grades 9–12), with an enrollment of approximately 400. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 1989.[4]

As of the 2013–14 school year, the school had a total enrollment of 904 students (in grades K-12, plus 17 in pre-K) and 122.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.4:1.[1]

Of the 2011 graduating class of Princeton Day School seniors, a third were honored as semi-finalists or commended scholars in the National Merit Scholarship Program.[5] In the five years through 2011, the most common schools for members of the PDS graduating classes were University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Lehigh University, New York University and Boston University.[3]

The school is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools[6] and the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools.[7]


Founded in 1899, Miss Fine's School in Princeton prepared girls for college with a curriculum including English, French, Latin, history and mathematics, at a time when women were not expected to attend college, and when only one out of eight children in America went to school at all. For years, the institution was, quite literally, Miss Fine's School; in addition to serving as Headmistress, May Margaret Fine taught all the subjects but French, maintained an individual interest in her students, and even "tended the furnace....often leaving in the middle of Latin class to do it."[8]

"A large shapeless figure [with] a pile of white hair dominated by a bun on the top, which usually slid over to the side of her head by the end of the day,"[9] Fine was, despite her appearance, a loved and respected figure. John Finley, editor of The New York Times during the 1910s, wrote of her, "So was the school under her wise and gentle rule a place where happy children grew into her spirited likeness."[8] Fine retired in 1931 and died two years later.[10]

Miss Fines School moved into what had previously been The Princeton Inn on Bayard Lane in 1924, and included boys from kindergarten through 3rd grade.

In 1924, a group of parents established a 4–9 grade school for boys on Bayard Lane, next to Miss Fine's School. The boys' school was known as Princeton Junior School. The school moved in 1932 to an independent campus with purpose-built buildings at 171 Broadmead in another section of Princeton not far from Palmer Stadium. The name was then changed to Princeton Country Day School (PCD), although in honor of its founding name the school magazine was called the "Junior Journal." It had large playing fields across the street for football and soccer. In the winter, there was skating occasionally on Carnegie Lake nearby and while ice hockey was played at Princeton University's Baker Rink. In the spring, there was an annual school fair held as a fundraiser. The school had an excellent academic reputation and most graduates went on to New England boarding schools for secondary education. The buildings and campus of PCD are now part of Princeton University and used as a nursery school.

Princeton Country Day merged with Miss Fine's School in 1965 to become Princeton Day School.[11] Princeton Day School's campus along The Great Road in Princeton opened in 1965, thanks to the contributions of Dean Mathey.[12]

In September 2005, the school launched the public phase of a five-year $50 million capital campaign, "Investing in Excellence" to support new and renovated facilities and increased endowment for faculty salaries and financial aid that raised a total of $53 million from more than 4,000 contributors.[13]


Over the years, Princeton Day School enjoyed many traditions that no longer take place. These include an Upper School pie-eating competition that continued until the eighties, an annual sophomore-junior canoeing trip, intended to bridge the gap between two grades that traditionally do not share many classes, and legendary English teacher Anne Shepherd's wreathmaking assembly. The wreathmaking rite started in Miss Fine's School in 1900, and since, by the 1980s, participation in the event had dwindled, it was cancelled. A December 1982 article in PDS's student-run newspaper, the The Spokesman, explained that “This [announcement] raised such an uproar that, by popular demand, the [assembly] was given one last chance.”[14] By the 1990s, though, wreathmaking was gone, indicative of the passing of certain traditions over time. (Another tradition that began at Miss Fine's, the annual Maypole Dance, actually continues today, though it is now performed by second graders instead of Upper Schoolers.)

New traditions have joined the Maypole Dance in recent years, including the annual Powder Puff game, a fiercely competitive flag football match between the junior and senior girls that has been held since 2004, and Dr. Seuss Day, a day of boisterous noise and frosted cake in the otherwise tightly-run Upper School library. Two of PDS's most celebrated current traditions are the Halloween Parade, and Blue & White Day.

Halloween Challenge and Parade

For at least 20 years (beginning by 1984 at the latest, and ending in 2003), the senior challenge, or the Halloween Challenge, had been a yearly PDS tradition. A collection of four Halloween-themed skits performed by each Upper School grade in front of the extended Lower School, Middle School and faculty each Halloween, the competition was introduced each October during announcement period, where the seniors would unexpectedly take control of the microphone and issue a public challenge to the other three grades. More recently, the four Upper School grades have each picked a theme, and each member of the class follows that theme in dressing up.

Blue & White Day

On Blue & White Field Day, an all-school athletic competition held each spring, PDS students often carry a fierce 24-hour sense of patriotism for their color, painting their faces blue or white and engaging in acts of playful discrimination against the opposing team. Popular Blue-White events include "The Big Race," which involves students in each grade from JK through 12, a faculty balloon toss (for which students serve as rowdy spectators), and the freestyle sack race.[15]

Blue & White Day was founded by beloved Physical Education teacher Kim Bedesem;[16] when Bedesem died in 1993, it was decided that each subsequent Blue & White Day be dedicated to her. Each year, the Blue & White Day t-shirts distributed to students and faculty have the name “KIM” hidden somewhere in the design.[17] While Bedesem created Blue & White Day in its present form in the 80s, similar events existed at Miss Fine's and PCD as much as 60 years earlier. James Howard Murch, PCD’s first Headmaster, was remembered by his successor for “the pleasurable relish with which he took to interpret[ing] the decimal-splitting rivalries of the Blues and Whites.”[9] Miss Fine’s School (whose school colors were voted Blue and Grey by the Class of 1918)[18] had “similar challenges" in which Blues and Greys competed.[16]

The Upper School (grades 9-12) returned to Blue and White Day in 2006 following over a decade's hiatus from the event. Their re-entry into the morning part of the activities was later expanded to include other Blue/White competitions in the Upper School during the rest of the school year.

Honor Code

The PDS Honor Code was approved in a school-wide referendum in 2006. The current Code, the product of many years of work by successive Council administrations, was the focus of intense debate after being formally introduced to the Upper School in fall of 2005. Entering the philosophical fray were those who thought the school did not need an Honor Code, those who thought each student should be required to sign the Code, and many people holding different positions in between. The referendum held by Council in January 2006 ended in a compromise: each student at PDS would be bound by the Honor Code, but they did not have to physically sign it. The PDS Honor Code reads:

To learn honorably is to live honorably.

In order to foster the development of our community of learners, I will:
-uphold personal and academic integrity,
-respect myself and others,
-act responsibly and lead by example,
-be honest in my own work,
-and embrace the values expressed in this code.


Paul J. Stellato was appointed as Head of School for the 2008-09 school. On November 7, 2007, The Board of Trustees announced that the committee voted unanimously to approve Paul J. Stellato as the next Head of School at Princeton Day School. His official term began July 1, 2008. Stellato was the Headmaster of North Cross School in Roanoke, Virginia before joining the PDS community.[19] John Ora, the Head of the Middle School, also left after the 2006-07 school year, to take a job as the Head of School at another independent school in California. Warren Gould, who is the head of Academic Affairs at Princeton Day School, became the Interim Head of the Middle School, giving way to Steven Hancock for the 2008-09 school year and beyond. Steven Hancock left after the 2013-14 year, with Alesia Klein taking his place as Interim Head of the Middle School.

School leadership includes:[20]

  • Paul Stellato, Head of School[21]
  • Dulany Gibson, Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations
  • Assistant Head of School: Lisa Surace
  • Alesia Klein, Interim Head of Lower School
  • Renée Price, Head of Middle School
  • Head of Upper School, Assistant Head of School for Academic Life: Jason Robinson


Princeton Day School completed a $24 million construction project which began in February 2006. The new construction and renovations a were completed in September 2007 and include doubling the size and adding a variety of new technologies to their middle and upper school libraries. A new art center houses studios for architecture, ceramics, painting/drawing, woodworking, photography, and cinematic arts. The school's music facilities have been expanded to include a state-of-the-art recording studio and new practice areas to accommodate a growing choral and instrumental music program. Currently, PDS's facilities include:

  • 6 Soccer/Lacrosse/Field Hockey Fields, including 2 state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields
  • 2 Football Fields, 2 Softball Fields, and 2 Baseball Fields
  • Ice Rink with 6 Locker Rooms
  • Weight Training Room
  • 3 Gymnasiums
  • Additional 2 Locker Rooms
  • Full Music Wing with 7 Soundproof Rehearsal Rooms
  • Wood shop
  • Architecture Studio
  • Fine Art Studio
  • Film Studio with Green Room and Computer Lab
  • Photography Lab with Dark Room and Computer Lab
  • 2 Ceramics Rooms
  • Planetarium
  • Campus Center Cafeteria with Snack Bar
  • 400+ Seat Theater
  • 2 Amphitheaters, Indoor and Outdoor
  • 2 Additional Computer Labs
  • 2 Libraries
  • Bookstore
  • Dance Studio
  • Printing Room for School Newspaper
  • 14 Science Labs
  • 50+ Classrooms

Clubs and activities

Student-run publications at Princeton Day School include the Spokesman, an award-winning Upper School newspaper published eight times a year, which uses a staff of 19 editors and two faculty advisors, and its Middle School sister publication, the Spokeskid. A yearly literary and arts magazine called Cymbals is also published, along with the annual yearbook, the Link. Recently, students from the 2011-2012 Media Arts Major have started Princeton Day School's first news network, Channel 12 News, which provides monthly news in through an alternate medium.

The wide array of clubs offered in the Upper School at PDS (many of which are created by a student's or group of students' initiative) include the Free the Children Club, Outdoors Club, the Four Square Club, a Model United Nations team, the Mock trial team, the Debate Club, Amnesty International, The Mo'adon, the International Affairs club, the Nigerian Culture Club, AWARE club (Allies Working towards Awareness Respect and Equality), the Science Olympiad Team, the Science Club, the EnAct (Environmental Action) club, Garden Club, the Cricket Club, the Conservative Club, Princeton Friends of Freedom (PFoF), the Hippie Resurgence, the InterAct Club, the India Club, the French Club, the Gay-Straight Alliance, the Harry Potter Club, Anime Club, the Mountain Appreciation Club, the Junior State of America, the Spanish Club (which holds a popular annual Salsa Cook-off in March) and the Science League Team. The Lower and Middle schools offer, among others, Destination Imagination and FIRST Lego League teams.

Students also participate in Peer Group, and Tour Guide programs, serve on the Community Council, Student Ambassadors Committee, and Judiciary Committee, and become SysOps (student administrators for the computer and email systems).

Sports teams

The Princeton Day School Panthers compete under the supervision of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.[2]

Middle and Upper School sports teams at PDS include:[2]

State championships

  • Boys Ice hockey: 1981-82 1988-89, 1989-1990 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013, 2014
  • Coed Figure skating: 2000, 2001, 2006, 2008
  • Girls Ice hockey: 1998-99, 2001–02
  • Girls Softball: 1993, 1996, 2006
  • Boys Tennis: 1980, 1981, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013
  • Girls Basketball: 1990, 1995, 2000
  • Girls Lacrosse: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995
  • Boys Football: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1980
  • Boys Lacrosse: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • Boys Basketball: 1973-74, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1979–80, 1984–85, 1991–92, 1994–95, 1996–97, 1998–99
  • Baseball: 1971, 1972, 1977, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2001, 2010
  • Boys Cross Country: 1974, 1978, 1979, 1991, 1992, 2002,2009, 2010
  • Boys Soccer: 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 2010
  • Golf: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
  • Fencing: 1995, 1996, 2008
  • Girls Soccer: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015
  • Field Hockey: 1976, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • Volleyball: 1977, 1982, 1983, 1993, 1994
  • Girls Tennis: 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Recent achievements:

  • Boys Soccer won the 2010 Mercer County Tournament with a 1-0 win over three-time defending champion Princeton High School and took the Prep B State Championship with a 2-1 win over Gill St. Bernard's School, the program's first state title since 1986.[22][23]
  • Girls Lacrosse won the 2010 Mercer County Tournament with an 11-8 victory over Stuart Country Day School.[24]
  • Girls tennis won the 2014 Prep B State Championship. The second singles, Maria Martinovic, and the second doubles team of Anna Kovacevich and Arya Jha won their respective ladders. Also, the third singles, Emily Dyckman, battled in a grueling match against a Gill St. Bernard's School player. Ultimately, the team won their third consecutive state championship by only one point over the Gill St. Bernard's School.

Notable alumni


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Princeton Day School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Princeton Day School, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Fast Facts, Princeton Day School. Accessed October 3, 2011.
  4. Princeton Day School, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools. Accessed July 17, 2011.
  5. Seniors Earn National Merit Recognition, Princeton Day School press release dated October 12, 2010. Accessed July 17, 2011. "More than a third of the Class of 2011 received recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Program, including six students named National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists and more than 25 ranked as Commended Scholars."
  6. School Search, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Accessed July 29, 2008.
  7. Listing of ADVIS member schools, Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools. Accessed July 17, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 “The Light That Ever Shines,” by Alice Jacobson and Laura Rogers. The Inkling, January 1962. Reprinted in the 1999 Centennial issue of The Spokesman, 2.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Selden, William K. From These Roots: The Creation of Princeton Day School. 1991.
  10. "MISS MAY M. FINE, EDUCATOR, IS DEAD; Founder and Director for Last 34 Years of Girls' School in Princeton". The New York Times. 1933-11-15. Retrieved 2007-01-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Staff. "Princeton Day Schools Aided", The New York Times, May 2, 1963. Accessed July 17, 2011. "The institution is a merger of Miss Fine's School for Girls and Princeton Country Day School for Boys."
  12. History, Princeton Day School. Accessed July 17, 2011.
  13. Staff. "Hopewell resident named senior administrator at Princeton Day School", Pennington Post, June 12, 2010. Accessed July 17, 2011. "Schulte joined the Princeton Day School community in 2003 as director of the Investing in Excellence Campaign, a five-year, capital campaign that garnered $53 million for financial aide, faculty support and new libraries, arts and athletic facilities. The campaign, at that time one of the most ambitious fundraising efforts ever undertaken by an independent day school, exceeded its goal and garnered support from 4,000 donors including current families, alumni and friends of the school."
  14. “Wreath-Making: A Waning Tradition,” by Matthew Kilgore. Originally published in The Spokesman, December 1982. Reprinted in the 1999 Centennial issue of The Spokesman, 15.
  15. “Blue Claims Victory on Field Day,” by Kalla Gervasio. The Spokesman, Summer 2003. 10.
  16. 16.0 16.1 “Why No More Blue-White Day in US?” by Caroline Binder. The Spokesman, March 2001. 8.
  17. "Longtime LS Teachers Miller, Atiram Leave PDS,” by Somy Thottathil. The Spokesman, Summer 2001. 5.
  18. Timeline from the 1999 Centennial issue of the Spokesman.
  19. Staff. "NORTH CROSS NAMES ITS 8TH HEADMASTER", The Roanoke Times, April 2, 2008. Accessed October 3, 2011. "His predecessor, Paul Stellato, announced he was leaving last fall to take over Princeton Day School in Princeton, N.J."
  20. School Leadership, Princeton Day School. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  21. Head of School, Princeton Day School. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  22. Staff. "Princeton Day 1, Princeton 0", The Star-Ledger, October 31, 2010. Accessed July 17, 2011. "Diminutive senior Hugo Meggitt took a perfect pass from teammate Rui Pinheiro and scored a goal 5:51 into the second overtime giving the Princeton Day School boys' soccer team a 1-0 heart-pumping victory as they took down three-time defending champ Princeton High in the Mercer County Tournament final last night at Mercer County Community College."
  23. Clark, Ray. "Princeton Day 2, Gill St. Bernard's 1", The Star-Ledger, November 7, 2010. Accessed July 17, 2011. "Princeton Day School didn't play its best soccer, but it played well enough to win its first NJISAA Prep B championship since 1986 with a 2-1 victory over Gill St. Bernard's yesterday."
  24. Alden, Bill. "Senior Star Curnan Overcomes Adversity, as Stuart Lax Makes MCT, Prep B Finals", Town Topics, May 19, 2010. Accessed July 18, 2011. "Last Thursday, Curnan was a big part of things as Stuart battled Princeton Day School in the Mercer County Tournament championship game, scoring two goals. Unfortunately, Curnan’s efforts weren’t enough as the Tartans lost 11-8 to the Panthers, as a late rally fell short."
  25. Staff. "Big Fat Close-up", Philadelphia Daily News, September 17, 1999. Accessed July 17, 2011. "Phish's front man Trey Anastasio popped out of the posh Princeton Day School. Now there's another flock of jamsters following in their wake!"
  26. Phish History, accessed December 6, 2006.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Kallas, Anna. "HER PREP SCHOOL IS NOTABLE FOR ITS NOTABLES - Christopher Reeve and Mary Chapin Carpenter walked the same halls - oh, and so did the Menendez brothers.", Dayton Daily News, June 1, 1997. Accessed December 3, 2007. "Chris and I went to the same private school in New Jersey - Princeton Day School - as did Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Menendez brothers, but more about them later."
  28. 28.0 28.1 Staff. "gig of the week Chris Conley 9 p.m., Princeton Arts Council, 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton. ", Home News Tribune, August 9, 2003. Accessed October 3, 2011. "A decade ago Conley and fellow Princeton Day School eightgraders Bryan Newman and Justin Gaylord first teamed up to form the band Indifference."
  29. Konick, Emery. "Virginia's Hirniak has lofty goals", Home News Tribune, July 5, 2007. Accessed January 28, 2011. "After attending Highland Park schools, Hirniak transferred to Princeton Day School for third grade because his father, Jerry, was, and is still, a member of the faculty at the prep school."
  30. Alden, Bill. "Senior Leadership Proved Pivotal for PU Sports in 2011 While Youth Was Served for Local High School Teams", Town Topics (newspaper), December 28, 2011. Accessed June 28, 2012. "Senior Antoine Hoppenot, a former Princeton Day School standout, and juniors Mark Linnville and Matt Sanner were named first-team All-Ivy performers while freshman Julian Griggs earned honorable mention."
  31. Around the League, The Star-Ledger, December 17, 2006. "Atlanta's Patrick Kerney, despite being on injured reserve, is talking to the team about a contract extension that would keep the Newtown, Pa. native and one-time Princeton Day School player with the team for the rest of his career."
  32. Interview: Tom Marshall's Tales, Mockingbird Foundation, accessed April 22, 2007. "Tom Marshall ("TM"): It began as a band called Utalk, with me, Trey, Peter Cottone on drums and Matt Kohut on bass. We're all friends from Princeton Day School -- back in the 70's/80's."
  33. McFadden, Robert D. "Rachel Mellon, an Heiress Known for Her Green Thumb, Dies at 103", The New York Times, March 17, 2014. Accessed July 23, 2015. "Rachel Lowe Lambert was born in Princeton on Aug. 9, 1910, one of three children of Gerard Barnes Lambert and the former Rachel Lowe.... She attended Miss Fine’s School in Princeton and Foxcroft, a girls’ preparatory school in Middleburg, Va."
  34. "TEACHER RECALLS CONFRONTATION WITH MENENDEZ BROTHERS' FATHER", Long Beach Press-Telegram, August 26, 1993, accessed April 22, 2007. "Patricia Cross, 57, said she encountered a belligerent and demanding Jose Menendez as she was leaving the Princeton Day School in New Jersey after the father and his wife, Kitty, failed to show up for a conference."
  35. Evans, Timothy. "Ex-Princetonian finds book was in his genes", The Star-Ledger, July 18, 1996. Accessed August 1, 2007. "'Publishing is a huge game,' said the 1987 Princeton Day School graduate."
  36. Biography of Christopher Reeve: September 25, 1952 - October 10, 2004, accessed August 28, 2006.
  37. Kara Swisher Interview, accessed February 22, 2011. "Swisher graduated from Princeton Day School in 1980."
  38. The Woman at the Washington Zoo: About Marjorie Williams, accessed January 13, 2007.

External links

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