Cranbrook Schools is a private, PK–12 preparatory school located on a 319-acre (1.29 km2) campus in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The schools comprise a co-educational elementary school, a middle school with separate schools for boys and girls, and a co-educational high school with boarding facilities. Cranbrook Schools is part of the Cranbrook Educational Community (CEC), which includes the Cranbrook Institute of Science, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and Cranbrook House and Gardens. (Nearby Christ Church Cranbrook remains outside this formal structure.) The Cranbrook community was established by publishing mogul George Booth, who bought the site of today's Cranbrook community in 1904. Cranbrook was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 29, 1989 for its significant architecture and design. It attracts tourists from around the world. Approximately 40 acres (160,000 m2) of Cranbrook Schools' campus are gardens.
As of 2015, Cranbrook Schools had an endowment of $233 million, among the 15 largest held by America's boarding schools. In addition, the Cranbrook Educational Community, of which the Schools is a member, has an endowment in excess of $300 million.
In 1915, George and Ellen Booth opened a portion of their property to the general public with the construction of a small Greek Theatre. In 1918, the Booths built the Meeting House, which became the Bloomfield Hills School, opening for local children in 1922 (grades 1–12).
Subsequently the Booths decided to build a middle school and a college preparatory school. Cranbrook School for Boys, which began operations in 1927, was designed by world-renowned Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. Completed in 1928, it was Saarinen's first executed architectural work in the United States. The name "Cranbrook" was chosen since Cranbrook, England was the birthplace of George Booth's father. Kingswood School Cranbrook (for girls), also designed by Saarinen, opened in 1931. Cranbrook and Kingswood enrolled students from grades 7–12. The Bloomfield Hills School became an elementary school and was renamed Brookside School Cranbrook in 1930.
Unlike the Cranbrook School for Boys, which has several buildings, the Kingswood School has only one building, which includes supporting facilities. It houses dormitories, a dining hall, an auditorium, classrooms, lounge/common areas, a bowling alley, and a ballroom. The education at Kingswood School Cranbrook was initially primarily viewed as a "finishing school".
For the Booths and Saarinen, the conception and design of the Cranbrook and Kingswood schools, were greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, which began in 19th-century England.
In 1923, Booth founded an Episcopal church to serve the nascent Cranbrook community, as well as surrounding communities. He chose the firm of Goodhue Associates to design the church. Groundbreaking took place in 1925, and Christ Church Cranbrook was consecrated on September 29, 1928. Originally Cranbrook and Kingswood schools were affiliated with the Episcopal Church, but they have since secularized. However, special occasions are still celebrated at Christ Church Cranbrook.
Cranbrook School, Kingswood School, and Brookside School operated separately until 1970, when it was decided to govern them together. This was followed by the creation of the Cranbrook Educational Community. In 1985, Cranbrook and Kingswood schools were merged to create a co-educational upper school institution.
The middle school did not become co-educational; it was divided into gender-specific campuses in 1984. The Community acquired Vaughan School to house the boys' middle school. The basement of Kingswood was at one point the girls' middle school. A new Middle School building opened in 2010. For boys and girls of grades 6–8, all classes are separate. The exceptions are those for the performing arts (Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and Choir). English, religion, and history classes are taught separately to boys and girls through the 10th grade.
Architecture critic Paul Goldberger of the New York Times called the Cranbrook campus "one of the greatest campuses ever created anywhere".
In 1985, Cranbrook School and Kingswood School were merged to create a coeducational upper school, the Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School. While the majority of the classes are coeducational, Conceptual Physics and 9th and 10th grade English and History classes are taught separately to gender for educational purposes. Classes are taught on both of the original Cranbrook and Kingswood campuses.
Frequently, the school is referred to as "CK" by its students, faculty, and alumni. Cranbrook Kingswood now lays claim to 70 athletic teams, which have recently won state championships in hockey, tennis, lacrosse, golf and swimming. As of 2011, there were 795 students, approximately 1/3 of which are boarding students who live in single-sex residence halls.
A college preparatory school, Cranbrook Kingswood offers a comprehensive program that includes 15 Advanced Placement courses in its upper school. More than a third of AP Scholars in Michigan attend Cranbrook Kingswood. Despite the fairly extensive AP offerings, the school still restricts students to a maximum of 3 AP courses per school year. Its graduates often matriculate into Ivy League schools and other highly regarded colleges and universities. Cranbrook Kingswood accepts slightly less than half of all applicants, placing it in the most selective 25% of preparatory schools in the United States.
Many of the interscholastic and extracurricular programs offered at Cranbrook have won awards and recognition. The student newspaper "The Crane-Clarion" has been recognized by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. In 2009, the Upper School's student literary arts magazine, "Gallimaufry", received a Gold Crown award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The robotics and forensics team have also won several state and national awards. Their Model United Nations team has also been placed in the top 75 in North America as of Spring 2012.
Total enrollment at Cranbrook during 2007–08 was 1626, with 780 enrolled in the upper school, 333 in the middle schools, and 513 at the lower school Brookside. (Brookside's numbers include children enrolled in pre-kindergarten, junior kindergarten, and kindergarten at the Vlasic Early Childhood Center, which opened in 1996.) Approximately 11% of Cranbrook Kingswood's students are international students. Traditionally, Cranbrook School also has an exchange program with Cranbrook School, Kent, a boarding school in Cranbrook, Kent, England in honor of George Booth's heritage.
During the summer months Cranbrook Schools conducts a variety of day and boarding programs on their campus. These include day camps, a soccer clinic, a filmmaking seminar, a compensatory educational program for students from low-income families, a jazz ensemble, ice hockey, lacrosse, and tennis camps as well as the Summer Arts Institute and the Cranbrook Theater School. The actor Robert Englund taught one summer at the theater school.
The Archer, the symbol of Cranbrook school, is based on an episode in Book V (Latin) of the Aeneid, by Virgil, line 519:...tamen aerias telum contendit in auras...
...he aimed an arrow high into the breezes of the air...
In an archery contest, a bird is tethered to a cord, and there are four archers. The first three in turn miss, then hit the bird, while the fourth, Acestes, instead shoots his arrow into the air, where it bursts into flames. For this miracle, Acestes is declared the victor.
The design was chosen by William Oliver Stevens, the first headmaster of Cranbrook School, who sketched it. The actual logo was designed by Eero Saarinen.Although Cranbrook School for Boys and Kingswood School Cranbrook merged in 1985 to become a single co-ed institution, the school reflects in many ways its history as separate, single-sex entities. (Alumni and alumnae who were enrolled prior to the merger consider themselves graduates of either Cranbrook or Kingswood.) Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School has two different hymns: The Cranbrook Song and the Kingswood Song, which are sung at many school events. Only the boys are invited to attend the Cranbrook Senior Pageant. Freshmen year science, and Freshmen and Sophomore English and history are single-sex, and boys and girls have separate graduation ceremonies (although they do share in the same Baccalaureate service).
Since 1971 sophomores have taken part in the Wilderness Expedition, a 10-day backpacking and wilderness camping trip in March that takes place in the Smoky Mountains along the North Carolina-Tennessee border
Junior leadership ceremonies to celebrate the transition of the juniors to the senior class: A Junior Ring ceremony for girls and the Passage of Leadership ceremony for boys is held at Christ Church Cranbrook
Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School maintains a relatively strict dress code: Jeans are not allowed and on Wednesday (the so-called Dress Day) boys have to wear a dress shirt with a tie and girls have to wear dresses or dressy tops with skirts.
A convocation ceremony at the opening of the school year
Paper Lion, George Plimpton's non-fiction account of his faux tryout as quarterback for the Detroit Lions in 1963 was set in large measure at Cranbrook (where the Lions trained from 1957 through 1974).
Eminem's character, Rabbit, in the 2002 film 8 Mile mentions the Cranbrook Kingswood School in a rap battle with Papa Doc (portrayed by Anthony Mackie) when he questions Papa Doc's "gangsta" act because he attended Cranbrook.
The Cranbrook School is also the model for the preparatory school portrayed in Edmund White´s controversial and classic autobiographical novel A Boy's Own Story.
Lisa Birnbach makes note of Cranbrook in The Official Preppy Handbook and True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World.
Cranbrook has many notable alumni, including designer Florence Knoll, former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson, Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney (née Davies), columnist Michael Kinsley, Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy, former professional soccer player Alexi Lalas, Big Bang Theory Producer Bill Prady, actress and Tony award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry and actress Selma Blair.Elizabeth C. Clark, Beside a Lake
Bruce N. Coulter, Forty Years On
Kathryn Bishop Eckert, The Campus Guide: Cranbrook
Ben M. Snyder III, Once More With Joy