Solebury School is a co-educational private boarding and day school located on a 90-acre (36 ha) campus in Solebury Township, Pennsylvania (near New Hope, Pennsylvania). Solebury School’s academic program features a college-preparatory curriculum, with courses and electives in various subject, with a focus on interdisciplinary and experiential education models.
Solebury School was conceived by Laurie Erskine, Julian Lathrop, Robert Shaw and Arthur Washburn in the early 1920s. It opened in September 1925 in a rented quarters with four boys and four teachers. A year later, the founders purchased Michener Farm, which remains the institution's site today. In 1949 the school merged with another local school, the Holmquist School for Girls, which had a similar educational philosophy and often shared events and productions. It became one of the first coeducational independent schools in the country.
Solebury is often described as a socially progressive or liberal institution. In the 1980s, local activist and noted anarchist Abbie Hoffman would give speeches to the student body. The school is vocally supportive of its LGBTQ students; it produced an entry for the It Gets Better Project in 2011 and has an active campus club which pertains to gender and sexuality. By participating annually in a local AIDS funraiser walk, Solebury School has raised thousands of dollars in fundraisers to benefit AIDS patients. Currently, students are required to complete between five and ten hours of community service each academic year.
After several alumni came forth with claims that they had been sexual abused as students at Solebury, the school issued a letter of acknowledgement and apology publicly online and to alumni by mail in 2014. In a second letter to alumni and parents, the school revealed one of its founders had a sexual relationship with a student. A Philly.com article detailed the school's view on the process:
"I know we unleashed a process when we sent that letter," [headmaster] Wilschutz said in an interview. But he said the school's goal was to help victims while living up to its values, including transparency. "When we were given this information, we took action," he said. "We believed the allegations. And we believe, as great a school as Solebury is, we have to live up to our past."
On January 26th, 2017, Bucks county published the results of a 2015 Grand Jury investigation detailing testimony considered credible by the District Attorney from six former students alleging sexual abuse at Solebury School from the 1950s through 2005, identifying nine living adults formerly connected with the school who could be prosecuted. The report was critical of the Solebury School's campus culture as facilitating the abuse.
Prior to this, the only public sexual abuse scandal at Solebury was an affair between a music teacher and an underage student, which occurred in the mid-1990s and was settled in a civil suit in 1998.
Solebury's curriculum consists of required curriculum courses, Advanced Placement courses, Honors courses, and electives. A Learning Skills Program assists approximately 30 students who have learning differences in the basic language areas. For international students, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are offered during the full year. ESL classes are small and concentrate on communication skills.
Solebury students are required to participate in a sport or activity every trimester. Fall sports include boys and girls varsity soccer, cross country, and field hockey. Winter sports include boys and girls varsity and junior varsity basketball, and varsity wrestling. Spring sports include varsity baseball, softball, ultimate frisbee, track and field, lacrosse, tennis, and golf.
A majority of Solebury’s approximately 235 students come from Pennsylvania and New Jersey; past students have come from at least 7 states and 8 foreign countries. Of the graduates in the past three years, 98% have gone to four-year colleges; the remaining 2% attend community colleges, pursue a post-graduate year of high school, or do not attend college subsequently following graduation.
For the 2015-2016 school year, Solebury School tuition costs $53,950 for high school boarding students and $37,700 for high school day students, and $29,900 for Middle School students in grades 7 and 8. Approximately 30% of students receive some financial aid.
Students may lead any campus clubs. They may also be elected by the faculty to serve on various groups:Student Academic Committee Representatives a part of the Academic Committee, which reviews the status of students in poor academic standing and offers advice and strategies to help them.
Community Council, an organization with both students and faculty representatives. It plans events throughout the year: dances, a Halloween costume contest, a Valentine's Day carnation sale, and others. The group is also the primary means for students to express their needs and concerns, and to see that action is taken.
Diversity Committee, which aims to ensure that the school strives to accept ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity. Students and faculty may address the committee with concerns.
Judiciary Committee consists of a small group of students and faculty. Serious rule infractions are referred to the Judiciary Committee for review, who then make suggestions to the Head of School.
Juniors and seniors can be selected to be mentors to Middle School students, providing social and academic guidance when needed.
Peer Leaders receive special and extensive training on how to counsel their peers on common adolescents issues.
Peer Tutoring,a program with program a number of student volunteers to tutor other students who are struggling in classes.
Proctors are student leaders who oversee the daily routines and guidelines in the dormitories.
Chris Langhart - formerly head of the theatrical technical department at New York University, and served as Technical Director for the 1969 concert at Woodstock. He is an integral part of Solebury's theater program, leading the theater tech crew in light, sound, and stage building. He teaches courses in Metalworking, Engineering (both mechanical and electrical), Acoustics, Scene and Computer-Aided Design.
Anna Whelan Betts - famous late 19th and early 20th century illustrator in the Victorian style.
Joyce Bulifant - Actress
Jack Coleman - Actor* Peter Hobbs - Actor
Brian Gilgeous '89 College basketball player at American University
Robert Kenner '68 - Emmy-winning Documentary Filmmaker
Benjamin La Farge - Professor of English at Bard College
James MacArthur - Actor
Elizabeth Pitcairn - Classical Violinist
Rachel Simon '77 - Writer
Langhorne Slim - Folksinger
J. B. Gunn - Physicist
Andrew Bynum - basketball player center
Chris Jarrett '74 - Composer
Shaun Cassidy - Actor, Singer, Television producer