FROM 1902 - TODAY
Following the establishment of a successful series of annual summer Bible and social conferences called the Stony Brook Assembly in 1909, our founders intended to open a school that would answer two calls. With the increasing isolation of Biblical study from school curricula, they envisioned a school that would value intellectual rigor without ignoring the study of the Christian faith. Secondly, they envisioned a school where not merely the forming of the mind, but also the forming of character would take extraordinary precedence. The new school would not merely churn out graduates of privilege and knowledge who lacked in Christian virtue.
On September 13, 1922, The Stony Brook School was inaugurated with its motto “Character Before Career.” In his inaugural address, founding headmaster Frank E. Gaebelein, who became one of the premier philosophers of Christian education in the 20th century, stated: “Education without character is a dangerous thing. For character, not intellectual agility, is the source of right living. But character itself has a source. It springs not from moral maxims, rules of conduct, proverbs, or thou-shalt-nots. Its derivation is higher. It grows out of religious experience that is the result of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… Many schools boast that they build character. Diverse indeed are the methods which they employ to this end. We know that we are right in our emphasis upon the Christian gospel. We know that we have stricken at the root of character-building.”
This firm educational mission set the course for the new school. Recognition from outside organizations and colleges quickly followed. In 1923, the University of the State of New York accredited the School and it was granted membership in the Middle States Association of Schools. In 1927, Stony Brook appeared in the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools first member accreditation list.
By 1930, both the State University of New York and Princeton had granted the unusual distinction of giving college credit to Stony Brook’s Bible curriculum, recognizing its rigor. That same year Stony Brook was granted a chapter in the Cum Laude Society at a time when there were fewer than sixty member schools—a sign of the society’s selective academic reputation.
Though a Christian school in identity, Stony Brook differed from other religious schools in neither making its faith dogmatic, nor embracing anti-intellectualism. As a non-covenantal school, Stony Brook never required its students to share the faith of its faculty. The curriculum also reflected the pursuit of inquiry and truth, leaving no subject untouched. Frank E. Gaebelein embraced the mantra “All truth is God’s truth,” firmly believing that no truth can be separated from its divine source. The integration of faith and learning meant that truths found in mathematics and the sciences, the humanities, and the arts all consistently found cohesiveness with theological and philosophical truth.
The unique educational mission of The Stony Brook School has always had global relevance and attraction for families seeking academic rigor coupled with character formation. In its first year, the student body encompassed boys from multiple U.S. states and two sons of missionaries in China. A decade later, the School had multiple students attending from the Caribbean and South America. The expansion of diversity increased in the 1940s to include its first European and Asian students and its first Black and Middle Eastern students by the 1950s. In the fall of 1971, after its first fifty years as a boys’ school, Stony Brook admitted girls, thus expanding a Stony Brook education to all. Now at its centennial year, Stony Brook continues to expand the opportunity of a Stony Brook education on campus and globally.
In recent years, Stony Brook has continued to build upon the foundation of its core principles by expanding academic and advising opportunities for students to find points of interest through the implementation of mini-courses, as well as to know themselves better as learners. By creating room for curiosity to flourish and by understanding one’s gifts, students have been better prepared to make the most of their college experience and ultimately to more effectively “serve the world through their character and leadership.”
Though the faces of its people and the landscape of the campus has changed, The Stony Brook School’s distinctive mission and approach to the molding of minds and character has remained consistent and relevant through each era of its history.