Description of Sparhawk Academy

Sparhawk Academy plans to open for our first academic year in September 2018 at 376 Orchard Street in Millis. We have selected this site after an extensive search through the suburbs southwest of Boston because we believe the size and beauty of the site, its proximity to the Montrose School in Medfield, and its accessibility on Route 115 will make it an appealing location for many families looking for a great education for their boys.

Sparhawk is a private, independent elementary school for boys in grades 3 through 8. Many of our founding families have daughters enrolled at the Montrose School and want to provide a similar opportunity for their sons. We anticipate starting with 25-35 boys and growing over several years to around 240 students, the approximate size of Montrose. We have been guided in our planning by several other similar schools around the US, including Western Academy in Houston, our most direct model. Western began in 2010 with 50 students. We have also been engaged in talks for “twinning” arrangements with schools of similar size and philosophy in Australia, England, and Mexico, with whom we would compete in online contest in debate, chess, poetry, etc.

The school will have a Catholic ethos and Opus Dei will provide a chaplain and oversee the religious instruction of the Catholic boys enrolled. Non-Catholic students will not be required to take religion classes. As a private, independent school Sparhawk has its own Board of Directors and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Boston, and so the Board is entirely responsible for the financial maintenance of the school. Cardinal O’Malley is aware of the project and supports it.

We believe that the existing buildings on the property can be easily adapted to house the school for the first couple of years, meeting all relevant codes. We plan to adapt 4 or 5 rooms on the first floor and walk-in basement in the house as classrooms, and use the rooms on the second floor as office space. We plan to modify the three car garage into 2 classrooms, and remodel the interior of the barn as a chapel.

As we grow we anticipate we will add a classroom building to the property capable of supporting an elementary school of 240 boys. With 56 acres we are sure we can locate a building on the property in a way that maintains the beauty of the landscape, respects and even enhances the quality of life of our neighbors and the town, and meets our pedagogical needs. We envision creating a kind of quad with the existing buildings defining the front closer to Orchard Street and new construction toward the back away from Orchard Street. This layout supports a circular traffic pattern entirely on the property that would keep all pick up and drop off activity off of the street, and would accommodate parking well beyond the minimum required.

We plan to incorporate the extensive fields, woods, trails, and wetlands into a curriculum that emphasizes first-hand interaction with the natural world, an approach especially suited for studies in natural history, art, religion, and physical education. We are influenced Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, in which he makes a strong case that children today benefit from eliminating ‘nature deficit disorder’, the consequence of moving away from spending time out of doors, making and growing things, and observing the beauty of nature first-hand. Having our school at 376 Orchard Street will allow our students to explore the woods and wetlands to identify local species of birds, mammals, plants and insects, fostering an aptitude for careful observation, appreciation, and greater awareness of the dynamic natural world surrounding them.