Woodberry Forest School is a private all male boarding school located in Woodberry Forest, Madison County, Virginia, United States. It was founded in 1889 by Captain Robert Stringfellow Walker, a former member of Mosby's Rangers during the American Civil War.
HistoryThe school occupies approximately 1200 acres in Orange, Virginia. The campus is bounded on one side by the Rapidan River. It was originally the estate of William Madison, brother of President James Madison. The headmaster's residence is taken entirely from an architectural design by Thomas Jefferson. The property eventually passed to the Walker family. The school was founded when Captain Walker hired a tutor to teach his six sons and other local children.
J. Carter Walker, son of Captain Walker, and a graduate of the school, graduated from the University of Virginia in 1897. According to Elizabeth Copeland Norfleet in A Venture in Faith, the history of the school's early years, his plans to go on to law school was interrupted by his father's request that he serve as "head teacher". Carter Walker later explained his decision to his brother thus, "I always did what Father and Mother told me to."
Other headmasters of the school include:
Student bodyWoodberry currently enrolls 388 students, all male, from 30 states across the United States and six other countries.
The Honor SystemA principal feature of life at Woodberry is its uniquely effective Honor system. The Honor System is student run and led by a Prefect Board of 19 senior students. They decide the fate of any students that lie cheat or steal, though their decision is approved or vetoed (though rarely) by the headmaster and the dean of students. Woodberry's Honor System is simple; if one lies, cheats, or steals, on any scale, he is dismissed from the school. While this may seem harsh, students past and present agree that this principle of integrity has significantly shaped their lives.
The Prefect BoardThe Prefect Board is determined through a process involving students, faculty, and administration. In the Spring trimester an election among the students is held; students are given a roster of the rising senior class and asked to select the nineteen they feel are best suited to the role. Faculty undertake a similar process, and after that the administration interview the individual candidates as determined by the initial elections. Finally, the headmaster makes the executive decision as to who makes the board, which is announced before the close of the year.
Aside from maintaining the Honor System, the Prefect Board has several other responsibilities. At the very start of the year they are in charge of guiding the new students though orientation. At the assembly commencing the school year, the Senior Prefect is announced (elected by the prefect board alone), and he gives a speech. The Senior Prefect serves as leader, to a degree, of the student body, even giving a speech at graduation in spring. During the year, though, prefects serve in a function similar to that of college and university Resident assistant, organizing dorm events and informing the students of administrative goings-on, school-wide events, and the like.
AthleticsWoodberry competes in the Virginia Prep League in a variety of sports including basketball, soccer, baseball, golf, swimming, lacrosse, wrestling, cross country, tennis, and track. However, the most popular sport is football. Home football games are played on Saturdays in the fall. Students typically dress in a shirt and tie, and exhibit much school spirit during the games. The longest running high school football rivalry in the country takes place each year between Woodberry Forest and Episcopal High School of Alexandria, Virginia. Beginning in 1901, as of November 2007 they will have played 107 consecutive games against each other. The Game, as it is known, draws back many alumni and is a defacto homecoming for both schools. The 100th contest, in which Woodberry emerged victorious, was staged in the fall of 2000 and drew nearly 15,000 spectators. Woodberry alumni paid to film a documentary of the season to commemorate the event.
Notable alumniNotable alumni of Woodberry Forest School include:
- Randolph Scott, actor
- Marvin Bush, youngest son of George H. W. Bush and brother of George W. Bush
- Johnny Mercer, American songwriter
- J. Sargeant Reynolds, politician and executive vice-president of Reynolds Aluminum Credit Corp
- Halsey Minor, founder of C/NET
- C.D. Spangler, former president of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
- Gordon Gray, National Security Advisor to President Eisenhower 1958-1961
- James D. Robinson III, former CEO of American Express
- Roger Wilson, actor Porky's
- Seth Hancock, owner of Claiborne Farm, syndicator of Secretariathttp://www.ca.uky.edu/AGC/Magazine/2002/spring2002/Articles/htmlfiles/UK-Ag_Grad.htm
- Frank Wisner, CIA official
- Bosley Crowther, film critic New York Times
- James McMurtry, singer/song writer