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Situated in the rolling countryside of northeastern Maryland, just a few miles from the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, West Nottingham Academy is the longest-standing boarding and day school in the United States.
From its founding in 1744, the development of the whole student has been at the center of life at West Nottingham Academy. Academics form the core of our program, but the development of each student’s character is addressed in myriad forms from first arrival on campus to graduation day.
Every day, in every activity, from the classroom to the playing fields, art studios, and club gatherings, students are exposed to a diverse community of learners from all walks of life. They also mingle freely in social situations, learning about each other’s languages, foods, music, and lifestyles.
Our environmental sustainability program with its community and global ethic and its action oriented approach to student experiences and experiential learning is cutting edge. Our Artist-in-Residence program supported by Eric Fischl, a renowned American painter, is virtually one of a kind.
At WNA, we have the best of both worlds: A foundation in history and tradition that starts with the founding of the country and a progressive vision in environmental sustainability, STEM and innovation, and the arts that will propel us into the future. Our students are a globally diverse population who learn what it means to engage with our local community ways they can model all over the planet. Our beautiful campus with its rural location and our less than two hour proximity to three major cities means we have the best of metropolitan culture and peaceful nature as well.
It is our long-standing belief that these many and rich approaches–monitored and supported by a dedicated and well-qualified faculty and staff best prepare our students for both the next phase of their educations and for full and meaningful lives.
West Nottingham Academy was founded in 1744 by the Reverend Samuel Finley, who would later become the president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University). Upon its founding, WNA was a small log cabin constructed by the members of Finley’s congregation. A replica of the original building is housed on our campus today.
As a well-regarded and esteemed family, Reverend Finley brought his two nephews, one of which was Benjamin Rush to the Academy for school. Benjamin Rush and his fellow WNA alumnus Richard Stockton would later sign the Declaration of Independence.
In 1812, Maryland legislature passed an “Act for the Encouragement of Learning in Cecil County” and under the guidance of Pastor James McGraw, work got underway to create a Board of Trustees and build a new Academy building. In 1813 the doors of the new all-boys school open–setting forth the trajectory of WNA into the future.
The first female day students were admitted in 1895. By 1899, the graduating class had a female Valedictorian and female Salutatorian. Fletcher Morton, the first African-American student in WNA history, was admitted in 1956.
The school survived the Revolutionary War and was split, along with the entire county, during the Civil War. It has struggled to maintain operations during the Yellow Fever and Spanish Influenza pandemics. The school has withstood the test of mother nature, too, including two fires that sparked the need for rebuilding on two separate occasions. WNA worked to educate students who weren’t yet given equal rights before the law, and it welcomed international students during times of countrywide xenophobia and stigma.
West Nottingham Academy is the oldest boarding school in the United States. Now, in its 277th year, WNA offers a holistic education to boarding students and day students, domestic students and international students. WNA offers global perspectives while teaching students how to engage with and participate in a local community. Each incoming class learns about our celebrated history and is encouraged to foster change and progress at the school. WNA recently started a sustainability program, working with local farms and businesses to create a more sustainable world, and was invited to present their work at the Maryland Statehouse.
In 1744, Reverend Finley founded West Nottingham Academy with the intention to prepare young men for college. Little did he know, West Nottingham would produce individuals that would sign the Declaration of Independence, revolutionize the field of medicine, found universities, become Rhodes scholars, govern and shape laws, pioneer industry, shape the field of sustainability and fight tirelessly for equity and social justice.
With every student at WNA, we develop a course of study that is rigorous and college-preparatory in scope and direction. Our objective is to inspire curiosity, teach critical-thinking skills, and cultivate a passion for life-long learning that sets the foundation for a life that is both individually fulfilling and intrinsically valuable to the greater community.
We work with students and their families to prepare individualized paths of study to ensure that each student, whether admitted as a freshman or senior, is able to meet our demanding graduation requirements. After careful consideration and consultation, six academic courses are selected each year for each student. The curriculum meets and usually exceeds state standards, and our Academic Council reviews and augments the college-preparatory curriculum every year. We are accredited by both the Association of Maryland and DC Independent Schools (AIMS) and Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation.
WNA’s robust and unique liberal arts curriculum is enhanced by our diverse learners from around the world, by our small class sizes that allow individualized attention, and by our superb faculty. We offer nearly 90 courses, which includes a number of Advanced-Placement (AP) courses geared toward the national exams, and Advanced and Honors courses as well.