Old­fields cel­e­brates 150 years

Girls’ board­ing school in Bal­ti­more County is the old­est in Mary­land

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Pat van den Beemt

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.

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