Collegiate School (New York City)

Collegiate School
Collegiate School logo.png
301 Freedom Place South


Type Private, day, college prep
Motto Latin: Nisi Dominus Frustra
("Unless God, then in vain")
Dutch: Eendracht maakt macht
("In unity there is strength")
Established 1628; 393 years ago (1628)
Founder The Rev. Jonas Michaelius and the Dutch West India Company
Chairman Jonathan Youngwood ’85
Headmaster David S. Lourie
Faculty 108
Grades K-12
Gender Boys
Number of students 661
Campus Urban
Color(s) Orange and blue    
Nickname Dutchmen
Newspaper The Journal
Yearbook The Dutchman
Affiliations Ivy Prep School League
New York Interschool

Collegiate School is an independent school for boys in New York City. It claims to be the oldest school in the United States.[1][2] It is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is a member of both the New York Interschool and the Ivy Preparatory School League. It is ranked as one of the best private schools in the United States.[3] In 2020–2021, tuition fees totaled $55,900 per year.[4]


Collegiate was chartered as part of the Reformed Dutch Protestant Church in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1628 by the Dutch West India Company and the Classis of Amsterdam.[5] Its initial incarnation was a co-ed school located south of Canal Street. The institution's location has changed 16 times over the last four centuries.

Founding date controversy

In 1984, Massimo Maglione, a historian and Upper School teacher at Collegiate, discovered a letter that Collegiate's founder—the Reverend Jonas Michaëlius, the first minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in America—had written in 1628 about his efforts to teach the catechism to Indian children. Based on this letter, the school controversially moved up the year of its establishment to 1628.[6][2] While Reverend Jonas Michaëlius did arrive in New Amsterdam in 1628 and may have worked as an educator at that time, Collegiate School was not chartered until 1638,[5] placing its founding two years after the founding of Harvard University and three years after the founding of Boston Latin School.[7][8]


On February 5, 2013, the Collegiate School board announced relocation plans for the institution. The school acquired land for a new facility, situated between West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard and between West 61st and 62nd Streets in New York's Riverside South neighborhood. Board Chairman George R. Bason, Jr. '72 said the new 178,000-square-foot school would provide 30% more indoor space and over 600% more outdoor space (16,268 square feet) for its 648 students from kindergarten through 12th grade than the existing lodgings provided. He estimated the new school's construction cost at $125–$135 million.[9] On January 12, 2018, Collegiate officially opened its new location at 301 Freedom Place South.[10]

School seal and mottos

Collegiate's official seal is an adaptation of the coat of arms of William of Orange, who was the founder of the Dutch Republic and of the Reformed Church in that country and led the cause of independence and of freedom for the Reformed Church against Philip II of Spain. Included in the school's seal are two mottos: Eendracht Maakt Macht, Dutch for "In unity there is strength", and Nisi Dominus Frustra, Latin for "unless God, then in vain." The History and Symbols Task Force recommended in its June 2020 report that the latter be replaced, owing to its explicit religious nature, and Collegiate's status as a secular institution.[11]


The school mascot in the 1975 yearbook

The school's mascot, generally interpreted as a caricature of Peter Stuyvesant, and often called "Peg Leg Pete" by students, has been the subject of recent controversy because of Stuyvesant's pronounced lack of religious tolerance, his vision for New Amsterdam as a slave depot, and his anti-Semitism.[12][13] The school's History and Symbols Task Force, which completed its work in June 2020, concluded in its final report that the mascot be removed and a committee convened to solicit candidates for a replacement.[14] The school's Board of Trustees voted to adopt the task force's recommendation, among the others in the report.[15]


Current campus at 301 Freedom Place
Old Collegiate School campus


From 1892 to 2017, Collegiate resided at several buildings on 77th and 78th Streets on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The former schoolhouse on West 77th Street is, together with the adjoining West End Collegiate Church, an historic landmark in the City of New York.

In 2013, the school announced that it would be moving to a new location and in January 2018, Collegiate moved into a new facility at 301 Freedom Place South. It consists of an 11-story building (nine stories above ground and two below ground), with 180,000 square feet (17,000 m2) of classroom, athletics, theater, music, art, library, dining, and administrative space. The school features common areas dedicated to each division that provide space for independent study, social interactions, and divisional activities.

The Lower School is located on floors 2 and 3. The Middle School occupies floors 8 and 9. It has its own Maker Space, along with flexible classrooms, a Middle School Center and large, modern group study spaces. The Upper School is housed on floors 5 and 6. It is significantly larger than the division's previous space and is adjacent to the library. It features flexible classrooms and common areas that promote interaction among students and faculty.

Sciences for all three divisions are consolidated onto floor 7. Visual arts and music occupy floor 4, complete with music practice spaces, art studios, and a digital photo lab. Additionally, on the Lower Level, performing arts benefit from a 307-seat auditorium and a black-box theater, both of which support Collegiate's drama program. Collegiate's athletics are housed in the Lower Level and include a high school regulation-size gym that supports the basketball teams. The gym can be partitioned to provide PE classes and practice space simultaneously. An additional gym, the Alumni Gym, can accommodate regulation wrestling competitions and half-court basketball and features a retractable batting cage.

Outdoor space consists of a large roof deck on floor 9 with a large recreation area and a ground-level, 5,000-square-foot courtyard that allows for handball and basketball.[16]


Each grade has around 50 boys, who attend Collegiate for the full course of study, thirteen years (these students are nicknamed "Survivors"). The school is divided into Lower School (Kindergarten-Grade 4), Middle School (Grades 5–8), and Upper School (Grades 9-12). More than a quarter of Collegiate teachers hold a Ph.D.

The school is private, and it functions under a New York City non-profit statute enacted in the 1940s. Collegiate is controlled by a Board of Trustees, and the school is administered by a Head of School.[17]


Collegiate School was headed by Lee M. Levison from July 1, 2006, until June 30, 2020. He was preceded by W. Lee Pierson, the interim Head of School following the departure of Kerry P. Brennan in 2004.[18] Levison announced his intention to retire in December 2018, causing the board of trustees to immediately commence a search for his replacement.[19]

On May 31, 2019, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint David S. Lourie, Head of the St. Anne's-Belfield School since 2009, as Collegiate's 29th Head of School.[20][19] He began his tenure upon Levison's retirement on July 1, 2020.


In 2007, The Wall Street Journal ranked Collegiate number one in the world in terms of percent of the senior class matriculating to eight selective American colleges.[21] A 2019-20 survey concluded that Collegiate was the 3rd best boys school in the country, the 4th best K-12 school in the country, and the 13th best private high school in the country.[22]

Sports and co-curricular activities

The school's athletic success has mainly been with the varsity basketball, baseball, track and field, soccer, and cross country teams. The Collegiate soccer team won the NYSAIS state championship in 2010, 2011, and 2012.[23]| The Collegiate varsity basketball team won five straight state championships in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.[23] The Collegiate cross country team won 25 Ivy League Championships in a row from 1990 to 2014.[23] Collegiate also has wrestling and tennis teams. Students not participating in a sport take physical education. Yearly fitness tests are administered in the lower and middle schools.

The school has a number of clubs, especially in the Upper School, including The Collegiate Journal. its newspaper operating since 1932; The Dutchman, the yearbook published every year since 1906; and Prufrock. its literary magazine, first published in 1973.[24]

Notable alumni

9th graders David Duchovny & JFK, Jr. in the 1975 Collegiate yearbook

Affiliated organizations

Other Languages