The school was founded in 1926 by the Reverend Endicott Peabody, the headmaster of Groton School at the time, and was named after Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), a well-known clergyman and author from North Andover, Massachusetts, who briefly served as Bishop of Massachusetts in the Episcopal Church during the 1890s.
The school opened on September 29, 1927, with fourteen boys in the first and second forms (seventh and eighth grades), two masters, a headmaster and headmistress, and one dormitory. The school added one form (grade) each year thereafter until it comprised grades 7–12, denoted by the British educational notations, Forms I, II, III, IV, V and VI, respectively. Forms I and II (seventh and eighth grades) were later dropped. Today, Brooks consists of Forms III, IV, V and VI, or grades 9–12, corresponding to the U.S. public educational system's equivalent of a high school. Students entering Brooks in the third form are colloquially referred to as Beagles, in honor of the first headmaster's famously disoriented pet.
Brooks School is unique among schools for the continuity of its leadership, having had just four heads of school in over 80 years. The School's first headmaster, Frank D. Ashburn (a graduate of Groton School, Yale University and Columbia Law School), was appointed at the age of 25 and served for 46 years until his retirement in 1973. He was succeeded by H. Peter Aiken who served until 1986, when he was succeeded by Lawrence W. Becker, the school's most recent headmaster who stepped down in 2008. He is succeeded by John R. Packard, the previous Dean of Faculty.
The school started admitting day students in the early 1950s and became co-educational in 1979. Today, the school enrolls 185 boys and 160 girls who come from many states and foreign countries. There has been a steady increase of students of color and of international students, and the school aspires to achieve gender equality. In addition, approximately 20 percent of students receive financial aid.
Brooks has many student clubs and organizations on campus. They include the A Capella, Art Association, Ashburn Society, Brooks Brothers and Sisters (BBS), Chamber Ensemble, Cheese Club, Debate Team, Environmental Club, Fins and Feathers Club, Film Auteurs Club, Gay-straight alliance (GSA), Gentlemen's Club, Glee Club, Gospel Choir, Harry Potter Club, International Club, Irish Club, Jazz Band, Jewish Student Organization (JSO), Math Club, Model United Nations (Model UN), Peer Tutoring, Phillips Brooks Society (PBS), Rock Band, Rugby Club, Sushi Club, Students Embracing Culture (SEC), Ski Club, and Weekend Activities.
The academic program at Brooks focuses on a college preparatory curriculum. Community life at Brooks includes bi-weekly chapel services (with a third service on Sundays for boarding students) in a non-denominational setting, community service programs serving locally and beyond, and extracurricular activities in the arts and athletics. Athletically, Brooks competes in the Independent School League. Its traditional rival is The Governor's Academy (formerly Governor Dummer Academy). However, recently, rivalry has been struck up with The Middlesex School.
The school's motto, "victuri te salutamus," is Latin for "we, who are about to live, salute you." This is a variation of the famous motto of the Roman gladiators, "nos morituri te salutamus," meaning "we, who are about to die, salute you."
The New Science Building, which will open in the fall of 2008, will be a tremendous addition to the school. The building will add thousands of additional academic space and will be attached to the south end of the Link, where the current science wing resides. This eco-friendly facility will have three state of the art science laboratories, a university-like lecture hall, and plenty of open space for students and faculty to interact.
Also attached to the academic building are the Portico (the main entrance to the Link where students interact in between classes), the Kingsbury Computer Center, Room X (a small movie theater), the Coffee House (a lounge attached to the Portico for the sixth formers), and three of the ten dormitories (Gardner, Merriman, and Peabody) on campus.
Across from the academic building lies the Henry Luce III Library, which holds a collection of about 36,000 items. The building is open during study hours and has area for either silent or group-based work.
The Robert Lehman Arts Center, attached to the Henry Luce III Library, houses monthly exhibitions open to students and the public. Throughout the year, many artists show their work in a variety of forms, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more.
The Frank D. Ashburn Chapel is considered by many as the heart of the school. It hosts tri-weekly chapel services and is located in the center of campus, across from the Frick (old) Dining Hall, Dalsemer Room, and Headmaster's House. Theology courses are taught in the basement of the Frank D. Ashburn Chapel and in the school reverend's office located in the Danforth Room.
The Arts Building includes three giant rooms for ceramics, paintings, photography, and art courses.
The Auditorium hosts all-school meetings once a week, the winter and spring music concerts, the fall, winter, and spring play, and other special events. Below the Auditorium is home to the Music Center, including rooms for music courses, private music lessons, and the many school bands, and Black Box, a small theater for smaller plays and skits.
|Girls Dorms||Gardner||Hettinger East||Hettinger West||Merriman||PBA|
The school has 10 dormitories, five for girls and five for boys. At least two faculty members live in each dormitory, and dormitory prefects are appointed each year to work with the younger students as they adjust to living away from home. On weeknights and Sunday evenings, dormitories are quiet for study hours between 8 and 10. Third formers have assigned study hall in the Wilder Dining Hall, and sixth formers are free to study outside of the dormitories.
Dormitories include a common room that usually has a microwave, refrigerator and television.
For your first year at Brooks, the housing committee chooses a roommate for you, according to your submitted rooming questionnaire. Every year after that, the choice is up to you.
Brooks has been very successful in winning many championships in the Independent School League and in New England over the recent years, including:
Father of all below, above,
Whose Name is Light, Whose Name is Love,
Here be Thy truth and goodness known,
And make these fields and halls Thine own.
Thy temple gates stand open wide;
O Christ, we enter at Thy side,
With Thee to consecrate our pow'rs,
And make our Father's business ours.
For days of drought which yet shall be,
On untrod land, on unsail'd sea,
We kneel and fill our cup of youth
At these fair fountains of Thy truth.
O world, all bright and brave and young,
With deeds unwrought and songs unsung,
For all the strength Thy task will give
We greet Thee, we, about to live.
Father, Thy children bless the care
Which shed Thy sunlight ev'rywhere,
Shine on our school and let us be
Teachers and scholars taught by Thee.