St. Thomas More School
"In the 1950's and early ‘60's these boys were seen as 'lazy with the books', disinterested students whose failure was seen as part of the weeding out process. Mr. Hanrahan knew better." St. Thomas More School's commitment to bringing out the best in each and every one of our students in an environment that provides encouragement, allows time for extra-help and expects success is tied to our founder's vision, our mission and our history. Our promise to our students comes from our founder, James F. Hanrahan, Sr., who as an experienced teacher and a coach, had come to believe that many boys were not reaching their potential in traditional, highly competitive classrooms. In the 1950's and early ‘60's these boys were seen as "lazy with the books", disinterested students whose failure was seen as part of the weeding out process. Mr. Hanrahan knew better. Too often he had turned around an underperforming student with encouragement, extra-help and the expectation of success. He knew he wanted to create a school where the habit of not trying and failing would be replaced with the virtue of hard work supported by teachers fully invested in the success of their students. Mr. Hanrahan's goal became the creation of an all-boys boarding school steeped in the Jesuit tradition of educating the student intellectually, morally, socially and physically. In the fall of 1962 St. Thomas More School opened with 64 students, 8 faculty members and several recently winterized cabins on 100 wooded acres in Oakdale, Connecticut. The school's mission was to provide the structured, nurturing environment necessary for formerly lackluster students to achieve their potential. Small classes, deeply committed teachers, a full athletic program and supervised evening study hall would be the cornerstones of a St. Thomas More education. St. Thomas More saw a tremendous amount of growth during its first decade as a campus was carved out along the shore of Gardner Lake. Students and faculty alike would aid in the clearing of the land in the early days. Three dorms, two classroom buildings, a gym and numerous athletic fields were constructed, and by the end of the decade 210 students were enrolled. At that size the school found itself to be large enough to enjoy robust financial health while remaining small enough to fulfill its mission. In 1972 a Board of Trustees was formed so that St. Thomas More School could become a not-for-profit institution. The school was now able to earn full accreditation from the New England Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges that it still holds today. Over the years St. Thomas More School has continuously worked to update its curriculum, provide grants for faculty to pursue graduate degrees and expand its financial aid program to ensure a diverse student population. The capstone of Mr. Hanrahan's leadership as Headmaster of St. Thomas More came in 1995 with the construction of Our Lady's Chapel. Mr. Hanrahan infused the school with his sense of purpose, can do spirit and high moral standards until his retirement as Headmaster in 1997. Then, as Chancellor, he remained an active member of the St. Thomas More community by attending morning chapel and school events, serving as a trustee, mentoring faculty and hosting honors students each term. Until his passing in May 2006 he was a living icon of what can be accomplished through personal effort. James F. Hanrahan, Jr. became St. Thomas More School's second headmaster in 1997, and over the past decade he has improved and modernized the school without wavering from the founder's original mission. During this time there has been increased acquisition of technology for the curriculum as well the construction of the new administration building. With an eye on the future, St. Thomas More remains true to its original mission of providing a community where boys are given the opportunity to grow into their potential.