About Us

History

We spring from a distinctive heritage.  In 1904 John C. Jenkins, a young Englishman and graduate of Cambridge University, founded St. Bernard’s and was headmaster until 1949.  His successor, R.I.W. Westgate (M.A. Oxford, Ph.D. Harvard), was headmaster until 1971.  These men established the pattern of a strong, stable, well-qualified faculty, deeply committed both to learning and to the boys in their charge.  That pattern continues.  The present headmaster, Stuart H. Johnson, III, was himself formerly a member of the St. Bernard’s faculty and returned to us in 1985 from the faculty of Groton School.

The school was incorporated not-for-profit in 1940.  It is an accredited member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and the New York Guild of Independent Schools.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM ST. B’S HISTORY

FIRSTS AT ST. B’S

First Boy (Winslow Pierce) - 1904
First Budget - 1906
First Sports Day - 1907
First General Knowledge Test - 1907
First Shakespeare Play - 1910
First soccer match boys against masters - 1911
First faculty marriage (Mr. Jenkins) - 1913
First Hamlet - 1916
First Croix de Guerre (Jack Wendell) - 1916
First Old Boys Dinner - 1916
First Payne-Whitney Honor Prize - 1917
First St. B’s Summer Camp - 1919
First year 100 boys enrolled - 1920
First Giants soccer team - 1921
First Fathers’ Dinner - 1922
First Glenn Essay (Hero of Lost Cause) - 1923
First second-generation boy (G. Schall)- 1923
First Fencing class - 1924
First Boxing class - 1926
First Old Boy on faculty (Roger Platt) - 1926
First Pierrot Show - 1927
First Tabor Watch awarded - 1927
First undefeated 1st Team (soccer) - 1930
First Junior School Concert - 1936
First Book-of-the-Month Club author (C. LaFarge) - 1939
First carpentry class - 1939
First course in Physical Training - 1939
First Art course - 1939
First Board of Trustees - 1940
First St. B’s Dance - 1940
First woman receptionist - 1940
First full-time woman teacher - 1942
First faculty pension fund - 1946
First different Headmaster (RIWW) - 1949
First ringing of the Bells - 1953
First Junior Old Boys Lunch - 1953
First Book Fair - 1954
First Handwriting Awards - 1956
First slither of the Alligator - 1959
First Commencement - 1960
First Carnegie Hall appearance of St. B’s Consort - 1961
First ‘dog’ necktie for sale - 1962
First David King-Wood Shakespeare Play - 1963
First female teacher in Middle School - 1966
First Intramural sports - 1967
First lecture on dangers of drugs - 1970
First women teachers at Fathers’ Dinner - 1972
First Ninth Grade - 1973
First Fathers Dinner without apostrophe - 1974
First Grandparents Day - 1974
First yearbook, The Keg - 1980
First rock group at school concert - 1990
First basketball and baseball League champions - 1991
First Upper School speech contest - 1991
First Discipline Book - 1992
First flight of Vidal the Condor in Central Park - 1996
First kindergarten class - 1997
First Centenary - 2004
First Australian homeroom teacher - 2017

— Francis Tabor, The Budget, 1923

Very little of the actual pabulum supplied in schools is of any real use in after life.  Yet there are two things at least of practical value which a good school can supply.  One is a habit of concentration, determination to overcome difficulties by honest work and devotion to duty; and the other is a lasting delight in literary and mental pursuits...These two things can never be given by a school textbook...They can only come of the ‘contact of mind upon a mind.’

ST.B’S IN FILM

Last year a curious canister of 16mm film re-surfaced in the archives.  With a keen interest in viewing its contents, the footage was hand-delivered to a film preservation house in mid-town Manhattan and digitized for safe keeping.  Now these fluttering, silent, black-and-white motion picture images from the 1920s documentation of Sports Day and other school sporting events (baseball, soccer) are preserved in electronic form.