St. Benedict's Preparatory School has served students from the Newark area since 1868. Under the monks of Newark Abbey, the school is guided by the sixth century Rule of St Benedict, with the Benedictine emphasis on rigorous academic study combined with a focus on developing virtue, character and talent of students.
As of the 2005-06 school year, the school had an enrollment of 538 students and 42.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 12.7.
St. Benedict's has achieved success with its athletics program, with many successful teams including its basketball, cross-country and wrestling squads. Its most well-known program, however, is boys' soccer, where the Gray Bees have been ranked number one in the country on five different occasions and are regularly the top-ranked school in New Jersey. The 2006 team finished the season with a perfect 20-0 record, and was ranked first in the nation in the NSCAA/adidas National Rankings. Professional soccer players Gregg Berhalter, Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Danny Vizuete and Petter Villegas all played at St. Benedict's.
NBA star J.R. Smith is a St. Benedict's alumnus. Recently, senior shooting guard Corey Stokes had been selected to compete in the McDonald's All-American All Star game, which has been a big accomplishment for the Villanova guard. Stokes is currently seeing decent playing time for the Wildcats. He scored his career high 18 points in a win over UCONN, and coach Jay Wright has said "He's the best shooter I've ever recruited."
St. Benedict's school year is also different than most high schools. The school year is divided into three "phases"; Summer phase, Fall/Winter Phase and Spring Phase. During Summer phase the whole student body of St. Benedict's gathers for a five-week session of half-day classes during August. For the members of the Freshman Class, the session begins with the five-day Overnight. The Freshman Class is divided into 18 groups of about eight students each, with an older student acting as counselor for the week. Meals are taken "family style" in the dining room as each student takes a turn being the waiter for his color, setting the table, serving the food, and clearing up afterward. Freshmen meet faculty members and older students, discover Benedict's history and traditions and learn the school songs. During Fall/winter phase students have regular school days with a daily convocation at the Gym at 8:00. During convocation, Attendance is taken, Prayers and song are done with the whole community present. Spring phase is at the end of the academic year. Students choose projects to work on for four weeks that vary from community service to US history to even karate and cooking. Freshmen don't have a choice; At the end of the Freshmen Year, Freshmen once again have to spend an entire week together. This time there is no comfortable gym floor to sleep on — students are in tents. And there is no professional cook to attend to their needs. Freshman team members take turns cooking for one another, preparing food they have carried on their backs. The Backpacking Project is a five-day trek over 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of western New Jersey. Freshmen form themselves into 16 teams of eight members each and elect a leader from among themselves. Four such teams make a "company" that is led by specially trained older students, first-aiders, and adults. Three weeks of intense training precede the week on the trail so that Freshmen are prepared for whatever might happen.
St. Benedict's is divided into 18 groups of about 20 to 30 members each. Each group, named after successful Benedict's alumnus meets daily, competes in events, and plays an active role in running the school. Each group elects a student Group Leader and Assistant Leaders and works closely with its faculty advisors. The school is run by a Senior Group leader, four section leaders and two beginner leaders. They work together in leading the school and making sure rules are being followed.