West Nottingham Academy
Founded in 1744, West Nottingham Academy (WNA) is an independent boarding and day school - the oldest boarding school in the nation. West Nottingham’s early roster of graduates includes many of the most prominent colonial Americans, and the school has for centuries featured the same interest in each student’s development of excellence that typified those early years. The Academy sees the individual in the midst of the crowd, and goes about making responsible, intelligent women and men from the adolescents entrusted to it. That is the school’s heritage, and the framework from which we teach. In 1744, a dynamic Irish Presbyterian preacher named Samuel Finley was called to take charge of the newly formed congregation on the lower branch of the Octoraro Creek, a short distance south of what was soon to become the historic Mason-Dixon line. The congregation that called the young Irishman to be its minister lived on the broad, rolling land known as the Nottingham Lots. Finley, destined in later years to become president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), was a teacher as well as a preacher. Finley held that to be an intelligent Christian one needed to use the mind God provided, and that one’s mind could reach full effectiveness only through training. The task of the church, for Finley, was to administer the sacraments and comfort the sick, to baptize the infants and consecrate marriage, to bury the dead and preach the Word of God. But the task of the church also was to teach men and women to think by exposing them to the great thoughts of the ages in order to produce rational beings capable of creative action in a new and swiftly changing world.