St. Johnsbury Academy

St. Johnsbury Academy (SJA) is an independent,[2] private, coeducational, non-profit boarding and day school located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in the United States. The academy enrolls students in grades 9-12. It was founded by Thaddeus Fairbanks, and accepts the majority of its students through one of the nation's oldest voucher systems.[3]

St. Johnsbury Academy
TypePrivate, boarding
MottoSEMPER DISCENS — Always Learning
HeadmasterThomas Lovett
EnrollmentApprox. 1000[1]
Average class size12 students
Student to teacher ratio7 to 1
Campus50 acres (0.6 km²)
Color(s)Green and white
AthleticsOver 40 interscholastic sports
Athletics conferenceVPA Division I


St. Johnsbury Academy was founded in 1842 by Erastus, Thaddeus, and Joseph Fairbanks, to provide "intellectual, moral, and religious training for their own children and the children of the community."[4] The school was reincorporated in 1873 in order to accomplish the founders' goal of providing educational opportunities to a wider range for students beyond those destined for the liberal arts colleges and universities.

The school has one of the nation's oldest voucher systems. The academy was established in 1842 at a time when public schooling had yet to become common.[5] When many local governments began establishing public schools, towns and regions with established and quality private institutions in some cases relied on these schools rather than build public facilities.[3]

One of the original buildings contributed by the Fairbanks in 1873, North Hall, burned on March 6, 1956. Work began promptly on its replacement, Ranger Hall.[6] The South Hall was built in 1870 to house the students and teachers at a total cost of $36,000 and the total cost to build and equip the Academy was $103,000, which was subsidized by the Fairbanks.[7]

John Negroponte delivered the commencement address in 2006. He was then the first Director of National Intelligence of the United States.[8] Negroponte's address was disrupted by protestors.

In addition, the school has had a number of notable alumni and attendees.


Students from the town of St. Johnsbury and neighboring towns without a high school have often chosen to apply for admission to the Academy. Their tuition has been funded by payments from their town of origin. Tuition from these towns and from St. Johnsbury provided 44% of the annual operating budget of $14 million in 2007. Vermont law requires towns not operating schools to pay tuition to other approved schools for students in the grades not provided up to the Average Announced Tuition for union schools.[3][9]

The resident program encompasses almost 260 resident students from over 30 countries.


The Academy is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges[10] and approved by the Vermont State Department of Education. It is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent School Association of Northern New England, and the Vermont Independent Schools Association. In addition, the Academy is a member of the College Board.[11]


Geographically, the academy competes in both the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference (NVAC) Mountain and the NVAC East Leagues depending on the sport. It usually competes in Division I by size.

The boys' track and field team has won 31 Division I state championships, most recently in 2012 and again in 2017. The boys' indoor track and field team won Division I state championship for the first time in 2012, and won again in 2017.[12] The girl's indoor track and field team won Division 1 state championships in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The girl's outdoor track and field team won Division 1 state championships in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The boys' baseball team won the Vermont state championship for Division I in 1993 and 2006.[13] The softball team won the Vermont state championship for Division 2 in 1984 and 1986.[14] The boys' basketball team won the Vermont State championship for Division I in 1981, 1982 and 1997.[15] The girls' basketball team won the Vermont State Championships for Division I in 2010.[16]

The boys' ice hockey team won the Vermont State Championships for Division 3 in 1994, 1996, 2001 and 2003.[17]

The football team won the Vermont state championship for Division I in 1966 and 1968.[18] The football team won the Vermont state championship for Division II in 1961, 1982 and 1994.[18]

The football team also competes in one of New England's oldest football rivalries. In 1894 the first game was played between St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute. In 2015 more than 100 games have been played between the two schools, with the Academy winning 60, the Institute winning 44, with six ties.[19]


The Colwell Center for Global Understanding is in the Mayo center. It was founded in 2003 as the gift of the family of Stephen B. Colwell. The center supports programs and activities intended to foster global education aimed not only at the school but at the surrounding community. Students involved with the center give presentations to teach other students about global issues. The center sponsors a number of international clubs such as Spanish, Japanese, German, Mandarin, French, International, and environmental Clubs, The Humans Rights Alliance, and Intaglio Society. It provides teachers with the opportunity to chaperone international student trips. Two of the Colwell Center's most popular programs are the Colwell Speakers Series and the International Programs.[20]

The Colwell Speakers Series sponsors talks and presentations from international speakers that are open to both students and the public.[21]

The Colwell Center supports language learning, cultural understanding, and travel opportunities for students and faculty. The Center has sponsored trips abroad and exchanges for students. One study abroad opportunity is the Intaglio Society's trip to Florence, Italy. This trip allows students to study the traditional Italian art of intaglio printmaking. Students visit a number of classics in the museum and churches around Italy.[22]

Another program is the Kaijo Exchange. Every year since 1989, a group of Japanese boys from the Kaijo Gakuen school in Tokyo, Japan have come to St. Johnsbury Academy for a 10-day stay with a student host family. The Japanese students go to class with their host students and spend time touring New England.[23]

The center formerly offered an exchange for students go to Stuttgart, Germany for about 5 weeks over their summer break. This began in 2003. The students stay with host families and go to school at the Freie Waldorfschule am Kraeherwald with their host student. At school they take classes in both German language and German history and culture. In the fall the students from Stuttgart come to stay with the Americans who stayed with them earlier that year, going to school and traveling around New England for 6 weeks.[24]

Notable alumni


  1. "St. Johnsbury Academy News & Sports". Archived from the original on 2011-07-28.
  2. Barbara Leitenberg (2008-02-18). "Retired Teachers Lauded for Prison School". Burlington Free Press. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  3. Amity Shlaes (1999). "A Little School in the Northeast Kingdom". Hoover Digest. Hoover Institution. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  4. St. Johnsbury Academy website accessed March 12, 2008
  5. Libby Sternberg (2001-09-10). "Lessons from Vermont: 132-Year-Old Voucher Program Rebuts Critics". Cato Institute. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  6. Clair Dunne Johnson,St. Johnsbury,Arcadia Publishing 1996, page 30
  7. "St. Johnsbury Academy" (PDF). The New York Times. 1873-12-13. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  8. David Gram (2006-06-05). "Intel Chief Gives Vt. Commencement Talk". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  9. - Retrieved: May 32, 2007 Archived February 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. New England Association of Schools and Colleges Archived 2013-08-12 at the Wayback Machine retrieved June 22, 2008
  11. "College Board Member Institutions Search Results". Retrieved 2017-01-24.
  12. Caledonia Record
  13. Vermont Principals Association accessed January 5, 2008
  14. "Vermont Principals Association" (PDF). VPA Online. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  15. "Vermont Basketball Coaches Association". VBCA Division 1 Boys History. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  16. Highlights of the 2009-2010 School Year
  17. "Vermont Principals Association" (PDF). VPA Online. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  18. Vermont Principal's Association accessed January 5, 2008 Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Senate concurrent resolution commemorating the 100th football game between Lyndon Institute and St. Johnsbury Academy". Vermont General Assembly. 2004. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  20. "Colwell Center for Global Understanding," St. Johnsbury Academy,
  21. "Colwell Center for Global Understanding Speaker Series," St. Johnsbury Academy,
  22. "Colwell Center for Global Understanding: Intaglio Society Trip to Florence, Italy," St. Johnsbury Academy,
  23. SJA "Kaijo Gakuen Program," St. Johnsbury Academy,
  24. "SJA/Stuttgart, Germany Exchange Program," St. Johnsbury Academy,
  25. The Standard, Vermont Legislators Go Home for Big Feast, November 28, 1902
  26. The Caledonian Record, Obituary: The Hon. Albert W. Barney, May 13, 2010
  27. American Women: The Official Who's Who Among the Women of the Nation. 1–3. Los Angeles, CA: Richard Blank Publishing Company. 1935. p. 127.
  28. "Notable Alumni of Black River Academy". Vermont Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  29. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Taylor Coppenrath, Pride Of West Barnet, Vermont Archived 2014-02-23 at the Wayback Machine, Congressional record, March 20, 2003
  30. Rosenberg, I. J. (December 24, 2015). "Whatever happened to ... Bruce Dalrymple?". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  31. Jacob G. Ullery, Men of Vermont Illustrated, 1894, page 127
  32. "Charles E. Gibson Opens Law Office in St. Johnsbury". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, VT. June 7, 1954. p. 5.
  33. The Vermonter magazine, Hon. Josiah Grout, August 1897, page 9
  34. Rollins College, Edwin O. Grover (1870-1965): Professor of Books and Citizen of the Community, retrieved February 4, 2014
  35. Railway Mechanical Engineer magazine, Death notice, Charles Hosmer Morse, July 1921, page 476
  36. The Caledonian Record, Obituary, Graham Newell Archived 2014-02-04 at, June 25, 2008
  37. Dodd, Mead and Company, New International Encyclopedia, Volume 18, 1916, page 83
  38. Bio of Linda Richards Archived 2007-12-17 at the Wayback Machine accessed December 6, 2007
  39. "Vermont's New Senator". The New York Times. 1899-02-05. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  40. Robert Miraldi, The Pen is Mightier: The Muckraking Life of Charles Edward Russell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003; pg. 24.
  41. Carla Occaso (2005-05-23). "AA Founder's St. Johnsbury Birthplace Turning into Addiction Recovery Center". The Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
  42. University of Vermont, General Catalogue, 1901, page 153
  43. Vermont Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory, 1927, page 669
  44. Jacob G. Ullery, Men of Vermont Illustrated, 1894, page 172
  45. ST. Johnsbury Academy, 170 Years at St. Johnsbury Academy, 2012, page 4

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