Portsmouth Abbey School is a coeducational, Catholic Benedictine boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12. Founded in 1926 by the English Benedictine community, the School is located on a 525-acre campus along Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay.
|Portsmouth Abbey School|
285 Cory's Lane|
Portsmouth, (Newport County), Rhode Island 02871
|Type||Private, Day & Boarding, College-prep|
|Average class size||13|
|Color(s)||Crimson and Black|
|Athletics conference||Eastern Independent League|
|Sports||45 athletics teams in 16 sports|
|Accreditation||New England Association of Schools and Colleges|
The Raven (Literary Magazine)|
Between the Lines (Scholarly Journal)
Portsmouth Abbey School Alumni Bulletin
|Abbot/Chancellor||Right. Rev Dom Matthew Stark, O.S.B|
|Assistant Headmaster||John Perreira|
|Admissions Director||Steve Pietraszek|
|Athletics Director||Alfred Brown|
The school and monastery are located on land originally owned by the Freeborn family beginning in the 1650s. The land was later owned by the Anthony family, and in 1778 it was the site of the Battle of Rhode Island during the American Revolution. In 1864 Amos Smith, a Providence financier, built what is now known as the Manor House and created a gentleman's farm on the site with the help of architect Richard Upjohn. After buying the Manor House and surrounding land in 1918, Dom Leonard Sargent of Boston, a convert from the Episcopal Church, founded Portsmouth Priory on October 18, 1918. The priory was founded as, and remains, a house of the English Benedictine Congregation. It is one of only three American houses in the congregation, and maintains a unique connection with sister schools in England, including Ampleforth College and Downside School.
The school was founded as Portsmouth Priory by John Hugh Diman, a Benedictine monk, and a former Episcopalian. Portsmouth was not Diman's first school. In 1896, Diman founded Diman's School for Small Boys - later, St. George's School - in Middletown, Rhode Island. In 1912, aware that St. George's School catered to the sons of more affluent families and eager to provide educational opportunities to working-class students, Diman founded the Diman Vocational School in Fall River, MA. A conversion experience brought Diman to Catholicism and ultimately to the Benedictines who were just beginning a priory in Portsmouth. After joining the Order of Saint Benedict, Diman was again moved to found a school. In 1926, Diman founded the Portsmouth Priory School, which would be redesignated as Portsmouth Abbey School - indicating the increased size of its monastic community - in 1969.
Originally, Portsmouth Priory offered a classical education to boys. Using the British "public" school model, the Priory School employed a form system, and supplemented a student's education with co-curricular activities, such as athletics and the arts.
The school's campus is located on more than 525 acres (2.12 km2) on the shores of Narragansett Bay within the Diocese of Providence. Many of the buildings were designed by post-modern architect Pietro Belluschi, dean of the architecture and planning school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2000, a parcel of the school's land was leased to the Carnegie Abbey Club where the student golf team practices and holds its interscholastic golf matches.
Today the school, often referred to as "the Abbey," has students from 17 nations and 26 states. Its enrollment totals over 350 students, living in the school's eight residential Houses or commuting from nearby towns.
Internet access is available in computer labs and all House libraries. The average size for a class is 12 to 14 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 7 to 1. Activities and clubs include the Appalachia Service Project, The Beacon (the student newspaper), The Raven (the art and literary magazine), Scriptorium (scholarly journal), The Gregorian (yearbook), Model United Nations, New England Math League, Future Problem Solvers, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Community Service Projects, Debate Club, Red Key (campus tour guides), Social Committee, Abbey Road a cappella group, Astronomy Club, Peer Tutors, Pro Deo Orchestra, Student Athletic Advisory Board, Teens Leading Children (TLC), and Student Council. The school also has a fine arts center, a photography lab and darkroom, a digital art studio, an art gallery (which alternatively displays traveling exhibits and selected student work), a drama program (which produces three plays per year, including the annual musical), a music tech lab, voice and instrumental offerings, and private music lessons.
Other green initiatives at Portsmouth Abbey School include the construction of two energy efficient faculty residences in September 2011, "unfolded" on campus by Blu Homes, a company building eco-friendly, prefabricated homes.
In addition, one of Portsmouth Abbey School's girls' residential houses, St. Brigid's, and the newest boys' residential house, St. Martin's, employ a number of conservation features, including recycled wood and low-VOC construction materials; hot-water solar panels; flooring materials from renewable and recycled sources; energy-recovery ventilators; low-flow shower heads and toilets; and high-efficiency/low-emission Viessmann boilers.
Portsmouth Abbey School's security and maintenance departments operate two electric vehicles on campus, and the School's dining services department has implemented a "tray-less" dining program, a composting program, and a partnership with Newport Biodiesel (the School provides the waste cooking oil used by its dining services to Newport Biodiesel for clean-burning alternative fuel).
Each office on campus maintains paper and plastic recycling bins, and the Portsmouth Abbey School Alumni Bulletin, the School's bi-annual magazine, is printed on FSC-certified paper, a product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sources.
In addition to the Carnegie Abbey Club golf course next door available for use by the faculty and by the golf team, the school's athletic facilities include eight squash courts and a fitness center, a six-lane, all-weather track, a multi-sport synthetic turf field, six tennis courts, an indoor ice hockey rink, two gymnasiums, and multiple outdoor playing fields.
Portsmouth Abbey is a member of the Eastern Independent League and has occasional contests against ISL (Independent School League) schools and other non-league boarding and day schools in New England. The Abbey's rivals include St. George's School and Pomfret School. Teams include a sailing team, golf team, wrestling team, squash team, and track & field teams, and a football team. Equestrian activities are offered at Abbey Club's Equestrian Center adjacent to the School. Portsmouth Abbey School's co-ed varsity sailors were New England champions in 2009, 2010 and 2013; they competed in Nationals in four of the past five years, earning 4th Place nationally in 2013.
The school has a number of traditions such as the Raven Cup, a year-long school-spirit competition among the student residential houses; a six-day week with classes on Saturday mornings followed by athletics games; the Headmaster's Run, an annual all-School run through the fall campus; and a required year of Latin language study.
In the center of the School campus is a large quadrangle used exclusively for commencement exercises.
The Abbey’s Church of St. Gregory the Great contains a wire sculpture titled Trinity, created by the late American sculptor Richard Lippold in 1960. The sculpture is made of a 22,000 foot web of gold plated wire surrounding a gold and silver Crucifix, created by Meinrad Burch. The sculpture underwent an award winning restoration in 2009, carried out by Newmans’ Ltd., of Newport, Rhode Island.