I'm often asked what makes Lawrenceville distinctive. I always respond that Lawrenceville is "the best of both worlds." On the one hand, we are large and diverse enough to offer students a broad array of challenging opportunities.
At the same time, because of our unique House system, our collaborative Harkness approach to teaching and learning, and the strong commitment of Lawrenceville faculty to get to know students, Lawrenceville is a friendly place, with a warm sense of community more typically found in small schools.
The House system has been a central feature of Lawrenceville since the late 19th century. All Second Formers live together in the Lower School; Third and Fourth Formers reside in Circle and Crescent Houses, and the Fifth Form is reunited as a class in senior housing. Such an arrangement allows us to provide age-appropriate supervision and responsibility and generates many leadership opportunities. Particularly the Circle and Crescent Houses feel like families, with fellow housemates becoming effective siblings and housemasters serving as surrogate parents and lifelong mentors. All Lawrenceville students—both boarding and day—develop a very strong sense of House pride and allegiance that persists even after they graduate and is evident when they return for reunions and other alumni events.
Another essential feature of Lawrenceville is our discussion-based approach to teaching and learning. Since 1936, humanities classes at Lawrenceville have been conducted around Harkness Tables, oval tables that accommodate a master and a dozen or so students. The small clusters of desks in the mathematics classrooms and the intimate science labs are similarly designed to promote student engagement. In these settings, students and teachers explore course material together. Such collaborative learning develops critical thinking skills and fosters a life-long love of learning that characterizes Lawrentians.
At Lawrenceville students are able to pursue their passions to the highest level and try new things. Students admire each other's excellence, but they also respect their peers who venture beyond their comfort zones—the musician who plays House football, the varsity athlete who participates in the Spring Dance Concert, the student who produces films and conducts science research.
During our most recent reaccreditation visit, a student aptly described the School as "a place of abundant opportunities." Indeed, Lawrenceville offers an extensive sports program for athletes of all levels, world class performing and visual art opportunities for artists of all backgrounds and interests, and over 100 other co-curricular activities, including a weekly paper, a political discussion magazine, a variety of student research opportunities, an environmental club, a religious life council, and various ethnic associations, to cite just a few examples.
The mission of Lawrenceville is to inspire and educate students to be responsible leaders, so community service and international travel are also integral parts of the Lawrenceville experience. Each year, students volunteer at more than 90 area social service agencies in the greater Princeton-Lawrence-Trenton community, and over the past few years hundreds of students have traveled with classes and campus activities to every continent except Antarctica. We have also recently introduced formal leadership training opportunities.
While Lawrenceville's programs are impressive, the School's greatest strength is the people. Lawrenceville's faculty are passionate about their disciplines, about teaching, and about mentoring students, and their passion is infectious. Similarly, Lawrenceville attracts outstanding students who inspire each other to excel. Today, students from 32 states and 34 countries attend Lawrenceville, creating a vibrant, multi-cultural community. The School's generous financial aid program ensures that students from all socio-economic backgrounds are able to take advantage of and contribute to the Lawrenceville community. Parents are an integral part of campus life too. Parents receive weekly e-mails from me or another member of my senior staff, and we have a comprehensive Parent Portal. Parents also visit campus often to attend productions, cheer for our teams, host "House feeds," meet with faculty and volunteer.
But don't take my word for it. I invite you to visit the School to see for yourself what makes Lawrenceville distinctive and such a stimulating and supportive place to learn and grow.
Liz Duffy H'43 '79
The Shelby Cullom Davis '26 Head Master