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Our History

The Cambridge School of Weston has had a wonderful and rich history since our founding in 1886.

We began as a college preparatory school for girls and have since evolved into a leading high school for progressive education.

Learn more about our key moments in history.


The Cambridge School for Girls is established by Arthur and Stella Scott Gilman at 20 Mason Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Originally known as The Gilman School, the school's mission is to prepare young girls for admissions to Radcliffe College. Boys are accepted through third grade. Six years later in 1893, the school moves to 79 Brattle Street, Cambridge (on the Radcliffe campus), and, in 1897, moves once again to 36 Concord Ave, Cambridge.

"Truthe and Gentil Dedes" is adopted from Chaucer as the motto for the school.

Helen Keller is accepted as a student and studies at the school for one year.

The Cambridge School for Girls merges with the Haskell School (formerly on Marlborough St, Boston) and becomes the Cambridge-Haskell School. Mary E. Haskell is head of school.
The Cambridge-Haskell School's upper grades move to the former 25-acre Trapelo estate in Weston, Massachusetts, and changes its name to The Cambridge School of Weston. Under Headmaster John French, the progressive, co-educational, boarding school opens with 106 students and nine teachers. The school shield, featuring our mascot, a gryphon, is eventually embossed on the outside wall of the newly constructed classroom building (now the Kluchman Administration Building).

Students construct the Hobby House during the school's first year in Weston. Used for years as a space for woodworking, it is now the school's Admissions and Development building.

The textbook has been replaced by primary sources. Each classroom houses a mini library of relevant research books and periodicals.

Town Meeting is introduced, underscoring the school's progressive commitment to teaching democracy. Following Robert's Rules of Order, students propose changes in school rules and regulations, write up formal warrants, present them to the entire student body for debate, and vote. This major form of student government continues today.
The Lower School and its buildings in Cambridge are sold to Lesley College and renamed The Lesley Ellis School, ending the school's link to Cambridge.

Marion Aldophus (Dolph) Cheek takes the helm as head of school. For the next seventeen years, Cheek's dynamic energy and imagination lead the school into a renaissance period of growth and expansion. During those years, the school increases its enrollment from 128 to 350, and expands the campus with a new library, student union, science wing, dormitory, and dining hall.

Students begin building the Science Wing, a project that is completed in 1956. This wing now houses some of the foreign language classrooms.

The Caroline Crosby Field Student Union is transformed into the Art Center (the present day Art Building). The first End-of-Mod Art Show is held in the new center.


The groundbreaking Module System is launched by Head of School Bob Sandoe. Classes are expanded to one and a-half hours long, and the school year is divided into seven, five-week modules. The system allows for intense, in-depth study, as well as flexibility for off-campus projects and internships. The same year launches two signature off-campus programs: the Marine Biology course at Woods Hole, and the Wilderness Program.


Ziskind Dining Hall burns in an accidental fire. Within months, it is replaced with a passive solar-heated building designed by neighboring Weston resident Norman Saunders, a pioneer in passive solar design.
The Cambridge School Conference on Progressive Education is held inspired by the school's 100th anniversary year. Catalyzed by Head of School Al Adams, the conference brings together several hundred leading educators from around the country, including Howard Gardner and Deborah Meier, to assess and define the "new progressivism" in education.


Integrated Studies, a signature program combining academic disciplines into thought-provoking courses, is formalized. The first integrated course, titled "Dimensions of Food," appears in the course catalogue. Today, this course has evolved into "Food, Justice, Power" a requirement for all 9th graders.


The Mugar Center for the Performing Arts opens with a state-of the art stage and sound system, recital hall and multiple musical instrument practice rooms.


The school opens the George Cohan building dedicated to history and English departments and classes. Known as the George Building, it pays homage to respected Head of School, George Cohan.


Jane Moulding is hired as Head of School and she begins a 17-year tenure. 
The Garthwaite Center for Science and Art opens. The building is a state-of-the-art classroom, gallery, and laboratory space, with environmentally friendly design and sustainable features. The building wins numerous architectural awards.

During the 2010-2011 school year, CSW offers Mandarin for the first time as part of the curriculum.

CSW celebrates its 125th anniversary, with theme "Honoring Teaching." In keeping with the theme, the school launches a $1.25 million Faculty Salary Initiative to boost compensation for teachers.

Warren House dormitory opens, increasing the overall boarding capacity at CSW. The dorm features environmentally friendly and sustainable design, as well as community building elements, such as a teaching and learning kitchen and large common areas for gathering.

CSW launches the Progressive Education Lab, a visionary teacher training program for aspiring progressive educators. The two-year fellowship would provide the same hands-on, experiential learning that students experience in classrooms.

CSW becomes the first independent school in the country to institute a social justice graduation requirement.
CSW celebrates the opening of the 40,000 sq. ft. Health & Fitness Center, with two regulation basketball courts, three large fitness rooms, a weight training room and a student lounge.

Jane Moulding retires from her role as Head of School and CSW celebrates 17 years of leadership in progressive education.

Lise Charlier is hired as Head of School by a search committee of parents, alumni/ae, trustees, and staff with input from countless other community members. 

CSW launches PACE — Promoting Awareness and Community Engagement — a four-year co-curriculum designed to ensure that all CSW students develop self-awareness, social consciousness, healthy living habits, life skills, and leadership that will serve them well into adulthood.

The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.