Bryn Mawr School

Bryn Mawr School

: "See Bryn Mawr (disambiguation) for other possibilities."Infobox Private School
background = #f0f6fa
border = #ccd2d9
name = The Bryn Mawr School

"Out of the Earth to the Sun"
established = 1885
motto = Great Minds, Strong Hearts, Bold Voices
type = Private, All-girls|Day
religion = Nonsectarian
head_name = Head of School
head = Maureen Walsh
city = Baltimore
state = MD
country = USA
campus = Suburban, 26 acres on main campus, Conference and Athletic Facilities at the Mount Washington Center
enrollment = 784 in 4 divisions
faculty = 117
class = 15 students
ratio = 7:1
year = 2007colors = Yellow and White
mascot = Mawrtians
conference = IAAM
homepage = []

The Bryn Mawr School (BMS) is an independent, nonsectarian, college-preparatory school for girls from preschool through grade twelve. Founded in 1885, BMS is located in the Roland Park community of Baltimore, Maryland, USA at 109 W. Melrose Avenue, Baltimore MD 21210.

The Bryn Mawr School Community

In 2007-2008, Bryn Mawr has 117 faculty members, 61% of whom hold advanced degrees. Student enrollment is currently 784 and the student to faculty ratio is 7:1. The average class size is 15. Boys are admitted only into the Pre-K and Kindergarten division known as the Little School. Each student in the Middle and Upper Schools is assigned an Advisor in her division who serves as her representative to the school. Advisory groups meet together throughout the week for discussions and celebrations, and work together on a variety of charitable and service projects. ["Experience Bryn Mawr" Application for Admissions, The Bryn Mawr School, 2007.]

School History

The Bryn Mawr School was founded in 1885 by five young Baltimore women, M. Carey Thomas, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, Mamie Gwinn, Bessie King, and Julia Rogers, who sought to provide an education for girls equal to that available to boys. Their families were involved in the creation of the Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, of which M. Carey Thomas was to be first Dean and later President. In her 1883 letter to James E. Rhoads (the first President of the College), M. Carey Thomas shared her concern for how they would find young women prepared for the unprecedented rigorous standards of the new college: "The absence of the regularly organized preparatory schools that exist for boys greatly embarrasses a girl who means to enter college." [ Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, ed., "The Making of a Feminist: Early Journals and Letters of M. Carey Thomas"; Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio; 1979. ] The school that these young women created in Baltimore was the first to offer only a college preparatory program. They set their standards high, insisting upon a well educated faculty which was predominantly female and a curriculum that required Latin and French, German and Greek, laboratory sciences, history, literature, advanced mathematics, elocution, and art. The students underwent examinations by professors from leading universities including Johns Hopkins and Cornell, and to graduate had to pass the exceedingly difficult entrance exam for the Bryn Mawr College. [ Elizabeth Pokempner, '"Unusual Qualifications": Teachers at the Bryn Mawr School, 1885-1901" in "Maryland Historical Magazine", Vol. 93, Issue 1 (Spring 1998), Baltimore, MD; pp. 77-87. ]

Mary Elizabeth Garrett, who became the wealthiest “spinster woman” in the country with the death of her father John Work Garrett, was the benefactress of this experiment in education. She was often onsite during the construction of a unique school building in downtown Baltimore from 1888 to 1890, which cost her the immense sum of $400,000. It featured an indoor swimming pool complete with cold “needle baths”, a gymnasium with suspended track and outfitted with the most modern gymnasium equipment from Sweden and the Sargent School of Boston, as well as a full time physician to oversee the athletic and posture programs. Up the many flights of stairs were complete scientific laboratories, an art room flooded with natural light by skylights, and a library stocked with classics and modern literature as well as scientific and mathematical volumes. The large study hall bore a complete copy of the Parthenon Frieze and there were copies of European and American statuary and artwork throughout the building for the girls to study and draw. The building was so intriguing that a model of it was made for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago and numerous articles about it appeared in newspapers across the country. Women who had reached the highest levels of academic achievement wrote to the founders offering their support and enthusiasm, as well as recommendations for faculty from among their own students. The school was seen as a move forward for women's education reaching far beyond Baltimore and Pennsylvania. [ Unpublished letters, The Bryn Mawr School Papers of the M. Carey Thomas Collection, Bryn Mawr School Archives, Baltimore, MD. ]

After a series of Secretaries who managed the daily running of the school, the Board of Managers brought Edith Hamilton from her doctoral studies in Europe to be the first Headmistress. A gifted graduate of the Bryn Mawr College and winner of the European Scholarship, Edith Hamilton guided the school for 26 years, from 1896-1922. Her love of learning was infectious and the girls worked hard to earn her praise; many later quoted her favorite from Plato, "Hard is the good". The school still bears the stamp of humanism and intellectual curiosity that she instilled.

As the city became more congested and families moved out to the country, there was an urgent need to move the school as well. The 26 acre property known as The Orchards was purchased in 1928 from the Gordon family north of the city line, and the school spent several years acquiring the funds to gradually move out of its home downtown and into renovated and new buildings in the country. The Depression and then the Second World War made it difficult to sell the former school building to the eventual buyers, the German Singing Societies, but the Alumnae and the Parents Associations worked dutifully to raise funds for the needs of modern education. Over the years buildings have been added as needed. The same stone that had been used to build the Gatehouse in the 19th century was found at the Butler quarry in Pennsylvania and was used in the construction of Garrett (1931), Hamilton (1953), and the North Building (2007). Other structures built of complementary materials include Howell (1969) which houses the Upper School and the Edith Hamilton Library, Hardy (1969) for science and math, the Cafeteria (1948), Katherine Van Bibber Gymnasium (1959), the Lower School complex designed by Marcel Breuer (1972), Centennial Hall (1987), the Barbara Landis Chase Dance Studio (1992), the Lower School Science building (1996), the Admissions Cottage (1997), and a variety of small outbuildings and additions. Many of these structures have been recognized for excellence in design.


Coordination of classes with the adjacent boys' school at Gilman School and girls' school at Roland Park Country School at the Upper School level offers Bryn Mawr students a variety of electives and the opportunity for coeducational classes. These coordinated classes are concentrated in the junior and senior years.

Most students take two years of Latin and three years of either French or Spanish in Middle School. They often continue one or both in the Upper School and have the option of following a double language track. Offerings in other foreign languages including Chinese, German, Arabic, and Greek begin in the ninth grade and are usually coordinated with Gilman and Roland Park.

Graduation Requirements: Arts and fine arts (art, music, dance, drama), emerging technology, English, foreign language, history, mathematics, physical education (includes health), public speaking, science, 50 hours of community service, and a convocation speech. [Peterson's, "School Overview" ]


On November 25, 1901, Bryn Mawr and St. Timothy's School began what is believed to be the longest continuous girls' high school basketball rivalry in the country, with a silver cup dedicated to the game passed between the schools. The game was quite different from basketball today, played nine on nine on a court divided into three sections, with groups of three in each section. The uniforms were high-collared white blouses over heavy corduroy skirts that came almost to the ground, black stockings and white athletic shoes. The game was played outdoors without a backboard, on a dirt field which would be covered with straw to absorb dampness if necessary. The headmistresses of both schools agreed to a list of rules and conditions, which included prohibiting male spectators (with the exception of William Marston, the Headmaster of Marston School who officiated the game) and guaranteed that none of the girls' names would be published in the newspapers, considered unseemly at the turn of the century. The game was finally moved inside in 1928 as interest in field hockey as an outdoor fall sport grew. [ Katherine Dunn, "St. Tim's-Bryn Mawr: no equal in tradition" in "The Sun", Baltimore, MD, November 30, 2001; p. 1D. ] [ Nelson Coffin, "Feelings never old as rivalry renewed" in "Baltimore Messenger", Baltimore, MD, November 29, 2001; p. 9. ] [ Kathy Frazer, "Oldie but goodie: This rivalry is antique" in "The News American", Baltimore, MD, February 1, 1985; p. 5D. ]

In 1926 Rosabelle Sinclair established the first American women's lacrosse team at The Bryn Mawr School, bringing the Native American game back to the United States from St Leonards School in Scotland. [ St. Leonard's Lacrosse History ] In 1992 she was the first woman inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. [ Rosabelle Sinclair: National Lacrosse Hall of Fame ] The first game was held against Friends School of Baltimore and other games with Roland Park Country School,

The athletics program today provides a wide range of offerings for competitive play including softball, crew, squash, ice hockey, swimming, and dance. There are 17 sports in the Upper School available on the varsity and junior varsity levels, and 13 sports at the Middle School level. [ Bryn Mawr School Athletics Opportunities ]


* Founders’ Day: On a day in late September/early October, the entire school gathers in the morning in the Graduation Garden to celebrate the founding of the School in 1885. Faculty and staff awards are presented for recognition of outstanding service to the community.

* Bazaar: The Bazaar, begun in 1948 by the Parent's Association, is held always on the first Saturday of May and includes activities for all the members of the school community including games, rides, and markets. 3rd Graders open the Bazaar by performing a Maypole dance.

* Gym Drill: After the Bazaar the Bryn Mawr community gathers at the upper athletic field for Gym Drill. The Middle and Upper School perform an all-school dance and school exercises which have been performed since 1927, followed by each class in the Middle and Upper Schools performing a folk dance. In addition, the seniors perform a dance that they have choreographed. Reunion alumnae classes join in the Banner March in which the Gym Drill captain in each class passes down her banner to mark the completion of the year. The Fifth Grade marches onto the field at the end to receive their first banner, marking the end of their Lower School days. Upper School girls receive awards for distinction in athletics and dance. Each of the girls wears a sash with her graduation class year, as well as ribbons that she has earned over the years in dance class.

* Bell Ringing: The day before senior projects, each senior rings the bell in the 1992 Belltower with another Bryn Mawr student of her choice.

* Class Day: The day before senior graduation, Grades 8-12 gather for a ceremony to mark the end of the school year. Seniors selected by their class make brief speeches, and a variety of awards are given out.

* Graduation: At 5:00 p.m. on a day in early June, the Upper School, faculty, trustees, senior parents, alumnae, and friends of the School gather in the Graduation Garden to celebrate the Seniors’ completion of their Bryn Mawr education. The graduating girls wear long white dresses and carry baskets of daisies, the school flower. [ Upper School Student Handbook, 2007.]

School Prayer

Watch over our School, O Lord, as its years increase,
and bless and guide its children wherever they may be,
keeping them ever unspotted from the world.

Let their hearts be pure, their faith unshaken, their principles immovable.

Be Thou by their side if dark hours shall come upon them;
strengthen them when they stand; comfort and help
them when they are weak-hearted; raise them up if they fall.

Let Thy light never grow dim to their eyes, but through
the struggle and the business of their everyday lives,
let its radiance lead them heavenward, and in their
hearts may Thy peace which passeth understanding abide
all the days of their lives.


Bryn Mawr School Song

Joyous the love
That rises in our heart;
To Thee, Bryn Mawr, we sing
Of thy dear world apart;
Thy happy halls, thy fearless world
Of calm and strife, where hope unfurled
Wild dreams of youth, a wakening world
Of wider realms a part.

Shout, shout the love
Our praise to thee, Bryn Mawr
For golden hopes and dreams
That shine where’er we are.
In sorrow, joy, in wisdom's quest
In work, in play, achievement’s zest,
If years from now we meet the test,
We’ll thank thee then, Bryn Mawr.

Class of 1936
Welsh Air


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, Unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

William Blake
Traditionally sung at all school events by the Upper School singing group, Dayseye.

Notable alumnae or faculty

* Julia Randall, BMS 1941, American poet
* Esther Boise Van Deman, BMS Classics faculty, archaeologist
* Edith Hamilton, Headmistress 1896-1922. Author of "The Greek Way" (1930)
* M. Carey Thomas, Bryn Mawr School founder, and Dean and later President of Bryn Mawr College [ Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas. 1999. ]
* Mary Elizabeth Garrett, Bryn Mawr School founder, whose philanthropy was also fundamental in the support of Bryn Mawr College and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine [ Mary Elizabeth Garrett ]
* [ Margaret Barker] , BMS 1924, actress (an original member of The Group Theatre, 1931).
* Mildred Natwick, BMS 1924, actress.
* Eleanor Phelps, BMS 1924, actress.
* Bess Armstrong, BMS 1971, actress.
* Nancy Soderberg, BMS 1974, foreign policy strategist and author.
* Millicent Carey McIntosh, BMS 1916, Headmistress of The Brearley School for 17 years and the first married woman President of a Seven Sisters College, serving at Barnard College from 1947 to 1962. [ Millicent Carey McIntosh. Feminist Centennial ] [ Barnard News, January 4, 2001 ]
* Kisha Ford, BMS 1993, WNBA player.
* Margo Lion, BMS 1962, award winning Broadway producer.

References and notes

External links

* [ The Bryn Mawr School]
* [ Aerial view of campus]

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