David Brearley High School is a four-year comprehensive public high school that serves students in ninth through twelfth grades from Kenilworth in Union County, New Jersey, United States, operating as the lone secondary school of the Kenilworth Public Schools. The school is named for David Brearley, a signer of the United States Constitution.
The district participates in the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program at David Brearley High School, having been approved on November 2, 1999, as one of the first ten districts statewide to participate in the program. Each school year, slots are made available for seventh through tenth grades. Prospective Choice participants must be residents of Union County eligible for placement in grades 7-10 who were enrolled in a public school during the full year prior to entry to the Kenilworth Public Schools. Seats in the program for non-resident students are specified by the district and are allocated by lottery (if there are more applicants than available slots), with tuition paid for participating students by the New Jersey Department of Education.
Students from Winfield Township attend the school as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Winfield Township School District.
As of the 2014-15 school year, the school had an enrollment of 719 students and 63.6 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.3:1. There were 115 students (16.0% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 55 (7.6% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.
David Brearley Middle-High School opened as the David Brearley Regional High School in June 1966 for summer school courses, after years of fighting with the Union County Regional School District to open a high school in Kenilworth. The school opened to 640 students from Kenilworth and Garwood that fall. John L. Dixey served as the inaugural principal and George Cuzzolino served as the assistant principal. The original building contained 40 classrooms, an auditorium with a capacity of 820, a cafeteria with a capacity of 430, a gymnasium with a capacity of 2000, and offices.
By 1971, the school was becoming overcrowded. The Regional Board of Education built a three-classroom portable building on the campus to address immediate overcrowding issues, and an addition was quickly planned afterward. The two-story addition, containing a special education room, business education room, two health classrooms, an expanded art room, and a large, flexible group area, opened in 1972. A second gymnasium was added to the school shortly thereafter. By 1990, however, it had become apparent that closing one of the four Regional high schools would be an efficient cost-cutting measure. Brearley had shown a sixty percent decrease in enrollment since its opening, making it a prime candidate for closure. A Save our Schools campaign was quickly formed by concerned parents with the goal of keeping Brearley open. In September 1992, the Regional Board of Education voted 7-1 to re-open talks discussing the possibility of a school closure. The following month, Regional superintendent Donald Merachink recommended the closure of Brearley, due to its low enrollment. In early 1993, the Union County Regional Board of Education voted to close Brearley, and despite a court battle between the Committee for Concerned Parents and the Board, Brearley closed after the 1992-3 school year. Kenilworth students were sent to Jonathan Dayton Regional High School in Springfield and Garwood students were sent to Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark. Over the next three years, the Save our Schools committee lobbied the dissolution of the Union County Regional School District and the transfer of its four high schools to local control. A dissolution referendum was held in May 1996, the result being the dissolution of the Regional district. As such, the ownership of the David Brearley building was transferred to the Kenilworth Board of Education. In 1997, the school re-opened as the David Brearley Middle-High School. To boost enrollment, nearby Winfield began to send their high-schoolers to the school, the seventh and eighth grade moved in, and the Choice program was started to attract kids from nearby communities. In recent years, the school has added a Scholars' Academy to challenge the top students in the district, constructed a small addition to house athletic training offices, and renovated the courtyard.
In 2014, the school completed a garden and extensive mosaic mural dedicated to a former student who died while enrolled at Brearley. The mosaic was the continuation of a four-year project that has seen numerous mosaics installed inside and outside the school.
The school was the 194th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology. The school had been ranked 127th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 113th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. The magazine ranked the school 178th in 2008 out of 316 schools. The school was ranked 162nd in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which surveyed 316 schools across the state.
In 2001, students from David Brearley High School and Hillside High School collaborated to develop literary and art projects about bigotry presented at an exhibit, "Making Connections: Two Culturally Diverse Schools Address Prejudice and Hatred by Studying the Holocaust Together." The exhibit was presented at Kean University, and was viewed together with local Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators.
The David Brearley High School Bears compete in the Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which includes public and private high schools in Union County and is overseen by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). With 354 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2015-16 school year as North II, Group I for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 73 to 457 students in that grade range. Prior to the NJSIAA's 2009 realignment, the school had participated in the Mountain Valley Conference, which included public and parochial high schools in Essex County and Union County in northern New Jersey. School colors are navy and gold.
The school operates as the lead agency for a cooperative wrestling program with Jonathan Dayton High School, under an agreement that expires at the end of the 2016-17 school year; David Brearly participates in cooperative programs in gymnastics, ice hockey and co-ed swimming with Jonathan Dayton as the lead agency, all expiring in 2016-17.
Brearley's soccer team won the New Jersey Group I state championship in 2015 with a 1-0 victory over Arthur P. Schalick High School. The game's lone goal came from Brearley's Justin Estremera; teammate Nick Minio shut down Schalick forward Michael D'Orio, who had scored in every tournament game until the final. Brearley previously won the Group I state championship in 2013 with a 3-0 win against New Egypt High School in the tournament final and were co-champions with Haddonfield High School in 1990.
Brearley's football team defeated Verona High School 21-20 on December 2, 2006, at Giants Stadium to win the North Jersey Section II Group 1 state sectional title.
David Brearley wrestling, operating in combination with Jonathan Dayton High School, won the 2011 Group II state championship at the Poland Spring Center in Toms River.
The girls competition cheerleading team won the Group I NJCDCA state championship title in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2014. They are also the reigning Mountain Valley Conference Champions.
The Brearley baseball team won its first state sectional title when it won the 2009 Central Jersey Group I state sectional championship, defeating Point Pleasant Beach High School by a score of 6-4 in the tournament final.
Core members of the school's administration are:Brian Luciani, Principal
Andrew White, Assistant Principal
Jack Grondin (class of 1969), drummer who was a founding member of the southern rock band 38 Special.
Tony Siragusa (born 1967), Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle, and 'on-the-field' reporter for FOX NFL, was born and raised in Kenilworth and starred in football and wrestling for David Brearley High School.