A Historic, Independent School

Founded in 1811, Thornton Academy is one of the nation’s oldest independent schools. Originally named Saco Academy, the name was soon changed to Thornton Academy by the Board of Trustees in honor of Thomas Thornton, one of the Academy’s earliest and most generous benefactors. 

Throughout its history, Thornton Academy has welcomed and educated students from near and far. As an independent school, Thornton Academy is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees and operates independently of local school boards and municipalities.

Thornton Academy is accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC), and adheres to the rigorous standards of NEASC’s Commission on Independent Schools, considered the gold standard of quality assurance.

Thornton Academy’s independence provides the autonomy to innovate, while remaining true to our traditions, values, and mission of preparing students for a changing world.


Thornton Academy Through the Years

Girls basketball players pose with a ball
Girls in formation stretch their arms
Students in the chemistry lab in the 1950s
students use typewriters in the 1960s
the marching band in the 1940s outside the main building
students in the 1950s at a formal ball in emery gymnasium
posed photo of the 1891 tennis team


Athletic legacy begins


A co-ed tennis team is the first sport offered on campus. While tennis began as a club sport in 1889, the first interscholastic match occurred in 1896.  Many other sports were added in the 1890s including track, football, and girls' basketball. 

We bleed Crimson & Gold!


Five students select Crimson & Gold as colors to represent Thornton Academy. Later, in the 1920s, the official colors were changed to Maroon & Gold. Since then, thousands of Thornton Academy students have been known to "bleed maroon & gold."

First Gymnasium Opens


The George Addison Emery Gymnasium opens with space for fencing and a main gymasium. Today, the building houses the dance studio and Mary Weymouth Hyde Library.

New clubs, new opportunities


Student Council is formed to boost school spirit and improve communication between students and the administration. Other new clubs in the 1930s include National Honor Society, Library Club, Astronomy Club, French Club, and a Literary and Dramatic Society.

Counseling comes to campus


Thornton Academy's first guidance director helped students prepare for standardized tests and college admission. Now, the Student Services Team includes the School Counseling department, Academic Deans, Social workers and provides support for students to be successful at TA and beyond.

Preparing students for a changing world


International exchange programs begin, setting the foundation for the International community that Thornton Academy is today. The first programs included exchange students from Chile, Sweden, Germany, and several African countries. 

First days of computers


As a precursor to today's Technology and New Media department, Thornton Academy began offering its first technology class in Data Processing.

Go Trojans!


Dr. Paul J. Hill stadium opens its gates. The class of 1981 was the first to hold its graduation ceremonies at Hill Stadium. Renovations at Hill Stadium in 2014 included the installation of turf and lights that allow teams to play and practice at night.

Residential program opens


Nelson Hall opens and welcomes its doors to Thornton Academy's first international students. Since then, we have educated students from 35+ countries. International alumni return each November for the International Student Reunion.

200 years and counting


Thornton Academy celebrated its bicentennial with a years worth of activities, parties, and memories. Here's to another 200!

New Leadership, continued traditions


Current Headmaster Rene M. Menard '88 takes the reigns of the school from Carl Stasio. Stasio Hall, Thornton Academy's second dormitory is named for the outgoing headmaster who provided leadership to TA for 25 years.

STEM education at the forefront


Thornton Academy's new STEM center opens with four high-tech laboratories, four modern mathematics classrooms, and one engineering lab. It is also the start of the 1:1 iPad program that places a tech device in the hands of every student and staff member at TA. 


students perform a chemistry lab in the 1950s