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Phillips Exeter Academy

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Phillips Exeter Academy

Phillips Exeter Academy (also known as Exeter or PEA) is an American private college preparatory school for boarding and day students between the 9th and 12th grade. It is a large co-educational school, with over 1,000 students. It was founded in 1781 by John Phillips, a wealthy American merchant and early patron of schools.

Exeter is located in Exeter, New Hampshire, capital of the state during the American Revolutionary War, in the historic New England region, and is one of the oldest secondary schools in the United States. It is a member of the Ten Schools Admissions Organization, founded by ten leading American private preparatory schools in 1956, and the global G20 Schools group. Exeter is particularly noted for its innovation and application of Harkness education, a system based on a conference format of teacher and student interaction, similar to the Socratic method of learning through asking questions and creating discussions. The Harkness method and table is used in every subject taught at the school, and has been widely replicated in private secondary schools throughout the region.

Phillips Exeter Academy students and alumni are called "Exonians," and faculty and staff often refer to the school as "Exeter" or "PEA." The school has the largest endowment of any New England boarding school, which as of June 30, 2014, was valued over $1.2 billion. The Economist has described the school as belonging to "an elite tier of private schools" in Britain and America that counts Eton and Harrow in its ranks. The New York Times stated the school's facilities were "as luxurious as the nation's top universities". Exeter has a long list of distinguished former students. Gore Vidal, John Irving, Dan Brown and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are amongst Exeter's notable alumni. The school has educated generations of the upper-class New England establishment and the American political elite, although the school has made an effort to move away from this reputation and diversify its attendees in recent years. Phillips Exeter Academy had an acceptance rate of 19% for the 2013 school year.

The school's day-to-day operation are headed by a Principal, while management of the school's financial and physical resources are overseen by the Trustees. Trustees are drawn from former Exonians and appoint the Principal. The Faculty of the school are responsible for governing matters relating to student life, both in and out of the classroom. The present principal, Thomas Hassan, is the 14th in the capacity and the 2nd First Gentleman of New Hampshire as the husband of Governor Maggie Hassan. Students are housed in 26 single-sex dormitories, each headed by a dormitory head, selected from members of the faculty. Almost all the school's pupils go on to universities, of whom nearly a third go to the Ivy League.

Exeter has grown over two centuries to become a much larger school than it was for much of its history. The school's first enrolled class counted 56 boys; in 1970, when the decision was made to embrace co-education, there were 700 boys. Present-day enrollment stands at over 1,000 of a roughly equal ratio from both sexes.

Notable Alumni