In 1835 the citizens of Bethel, Maine formed an organization as trustees of the Bethel High School. A hall was fitted up for a school-room and N. T. True was employed as principal. Encouraged by their success, the trustees reorganized and obtained a charter for an Academy, which by act of the Legislature on January 27, 1836, was incorporated as Bethel Academy. A building was erected, Isaac Randall was the first instructor, and the school opened for its first term on the second Wednesday of September, 1836.
Bethel Academy accepted its first tuition-paying students in 1836, both locals and boarders. Reverend Daniel Gould left his $842 fortune to the school when he died in 1843. Gould stipulated that the school be named for him; from then on it was known as Gould's Academy and eventually Gould Academy.
[Significant dates in the Gould family, pronounced as Gold, are: the 1836 year of the birth of Jay Gould (Jason Gould/Gold), were in family documents, there being noted, Daniel Miller II (1763–1839) the father of Daniel Stratton Miller (1798–1878) Married to Ann Kip Bailey, which is relative in those records as being a guardian of Helen Dey, born 1838, wife of Jay Gould, them having one of their 6 children a daughter named Helen Miller Gould born 1868, the town's first pastor who settled in 1799 from Cape Cod.]
In 1921, plans to build the Bingham Gymnasium were announced by then president Frank E. Hanscom. In 1933, construction began on Hanscom Hall. In 1936, the Academy earned accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
William Bingham II, who came to Bethel from Cleveland for John George Gehring's medical care, was a major school benefactor from the 1930s to his death in 1955 and thereafter via the Bingham Betterment Fund. Since the town of Bethel lacked a public high school, all local children were educated at Gould until 1969, when Telstar High School opened.
Core departments include English, History, Math, Science, Computer Science & Technology, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and World Languages. Gould offers honors and AP classes.
Gould operates on a trimester system, and students typically enroll in five to six courses per trimester. Class periods are affectionately known as "dots" (periods), and rotate on an irregular weekly pattern with four dots of each class per week. The fall and spring term schedules include a half day every week on Wednesday, a late start every Thursday, and occasional Saturday classes. The Winter term schedule is based on half days Tuesday through Friday to make time for athletics, mainly the On-Snow Competition programs.
The Academic Skills Center is a special academic support program where students work closely with a learning specialist to develop learning strategies and skills.
Gould's high school teams compete in the MAISAD league of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council. Most sports also branch outside of the league and conference. Fall Sports include Cross Country Running, Dance, Equestrian, Field Hockey, Golf, Mountain Biking, and Soccer. Winter Sports include Basketball, Dance, Snowboarding, Alpine Skiing, Freestyle Skiing, Freeride Skiing, and Nordic Skiing. Spring sports are Baseball, Equestrian, Lacrosse, Rock Climbing, Road Cycling, Skateboarding, Softball, and Tennis.
The On-Snow Competition Program includes Alpine, Snowboard, Freestyle, and Nordic Skiing. The program is designed to prepare athletes to compete at the highest levels in every age group. A winter term is available for 8th grade students, from Thanksgiving through March.
Special class schedules and flexibility are available for students competing in the program, especially during the winter.
At the end of the winter trimester, each Class pursues a week-long assignment called Four Point, designed to emphasize experiential learning outside of the classroom. Ninth grade students travel abroad as a class, Tenth grade students engage in community service on or near campus, Eleventh grade students take a class winter camping trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and Twelfth grade students take on an independent project.
Gould's 436 acre campus is located in the town of Bethel, Maine, just on the Western edge of "Bethel Village". Bethel sits in the Androscoggin River Valley, with the Sunday River Ski Resort 6 miles up the road and New Hampshire's White Mountains about 20 miles to the west.
Major academic buildings include the 18,000 SF McLaughlin Science Center built in 2002, Hanscom Hall built in 1935 with the newly renovated Sanborn Family library, the cottage-like Owen Art Gallery building, and Bingham Hall Auditorium for Performing Arts. Gehring Hall is the Girls' Dorm renovated extensively in 1998, Holden and Davidson are the Boys' dorms, and Ordway Hall is where Gould's dining facility is located. There is also a working farm on campus.
The Farnsworth Field House is a multi-purpose complex that his home to Lombard Basketball Court, a fitness and weight-training center, an athletic training room, a trampoline room, an indoor skate park, two tennis courts, and a team room. Outdoors are four tennis courts, four full-sized athletic fields, an artificial turf field, a baseball and softball diamond, and an 18-hole golf course at the Bethel Inn Resort.
The on-snow competition programs utilize Sunday River for training. There are 40 km of trails connecting directly to campus utilized for running, mountain biking, and groomed for Nordic Skiing in the winter.
About 250 students attend Gould. 45% of the student body come from Maine; 22% of the student body are local day-students. 26% of Gould’s student body is international, while 15% of students come from New England states other than Maine and 14% come from US States outside of New England. Domestic students of color represent 5% of the community. About 30% of students compete in the On-Snow Competition program.
In the Class of 2011, 43 students (63% of the class) took 134 AP exams by the end of their junior and senior years combined. 56% earned a 3 or better, and 34% earned a 4 or 5. 99% of the graduating class matriculates at four-year colleges and universities.