Oldfields celebrates 150 years
Girls’ boarding school in Baltimore County is the oldest in Maryland
It was 1867 when John and Anna McCulloch moved their family from New York to a farm named Oldfields on Glencoe Road in northern Baltimore County. The Civil War had ended two years prior, the United States was welcoming Nebraska as the 37th state and Russia sold its Alaskan territory to America for $7.2 million.
In their new home, Anna McCulloch began teaching her children, as well as nieces and nephews and a few neighbor youngsters. By 1884, 20 girls were living with the family. They gathered in front of a wood stove and studied Shakespeare, physics, botany and Latin.
Oldfields School, now Maryland’s oldest girls’ boarding school, is marking its 150th anniversary. Founded on McCulloch’s goal of providing “intellectual and moral stimulation,” the school now has 180 students in grades eight through 12, with a student body that hails from 28 states and 15 countries.
“I think Anna McCulloch would be honored to see how successful the school she started is,” said Francisca Cuppen, a 10th-grader from Virginia.
Fatima Fahnbulleh, a classmate from Kenya, added, “This was her vision and it’s still going strong 150 years later.”
The school recently held its annual Founders Day celebration and an open house this past weekend; the formal 150th celebration will culminate in April during Alumnae Weekend.
“Our hallmark is, and always has been, that we bend over backward to support and nurture our students. We want them to succeed,” said Parnell Hagerman, head of school since 2013.
“And they do,” Hagerman said. “One hundred percent of our graduates last year went on to college.”
The school has a 5-to-1 student-toteacher ratio, with 75 percent of the faculty living on the 180-acre campus.
Its academic schedule calls for three 80-minute classes a day, with time between for students to receive help. “That extra time gives girls a chance to decompress between classes,” Hagerman said. It also allows them time to attend clubs and participate in any of a dozen sports teams.
Each May, students spend two weeks away from campus traveling and undertaking hands-on experiences. Last year, girls spent time at the Olympic training center at Lake Placid, N.Y.; traveled to London, Germany and Normandy to study World War II history; and volunteered at an animal sanctuary in Utah.
There have been notable Oldfields alumnae, including Wallis Warfield — later Wallis Simpson, for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne to marry — several Rockefellers and du Ponts, as well as the daughters of David Niven and Larry King.
Annual tuition in early years of $600 included room, board, tuition and laundry. Today, boarding students pay $54,645 while day students pay $31,000. The school maintains an endowment that helps support about 30 percent of students.
Anna McCulloch led the school until her death at age 80 in 1904. During the Founder’s Day event last month, students proceeded across Glencoe Road to Immanuel Episcopal Church’s cemetery, where they placed a floral wreath at McCulloch’s headstone.
Students walk to lunch at Oldfields School, a girls’ boarding school in Sparks Glencoe.