Dedham High School

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Dedham High School
Dedham Maruader.jpg
140 Whiting Avenue
Dedham, Massachusetts 02026

United States
Coordinates42°02′13″N 71°41′01″W / 42.036922°N 71.683501°W / 42.036922; -71.683501Coordinates: 42°02′13″N 71°41′01″W / 42.036922°N 71.683501°W / 42.036922; -71.683501
School typeComprehensive public high school
EstablishedMay 12, 1851 (1851-05-12)[1]
OpenedSeptember 15, 1851 (1851-09-15)[2]
SuperintendentMichael Welch
CEEB code220675
NCES School ID250405000548[3]
PrincipalJames P. Forrest [4]
Enrollment748 (2018-19)[6]
Average class size15.8[5]
Student to teacher ratio11.3 to 1[5]
Campus size11.3878 acres (4.6085 ha)
Campus typeSuburban
Color(s)         Maroon and gray
MascotThe Marauders
RivalNorwood High School
AccreditationsNew England Association of Schools and Colleges
NewspaperThe Dedham Mirror
Feeder schoolsDedham Middle School

Dedham High School is a public high school in Dedham, Massachusetts, United States, and a part of the Dedham Public Schools district. The school was founded in 1851 by the oldest public school system in the country.[1] It earned a silver medal from U.S. News & World Report in 2017, ranked as the 48th best high school in Massachusetts.[8]

In the 2010s the school saw growth in both the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and in qualifying scores on the exams.[9] It ranks in the top 10 of Massachusetts high schools with 26.6 percent of students taking at least one AP exam during the 2015-16 school year.[10] The school's athletic program offers 26 varsity sports with a mascot known as the Marauder,[11] and 26 co-curricular clubs and activities. Each student receives a personal computer from the school.


As early as 1827, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts required all towns with more than 500 families to establish a free public high school.[12][13] Beginning in 1844 the School Committee repeatedly began recommending that the town establish a high school.[1][14] It was not until 1850 when, under threat of a lawsuit, that the town meeting voted to "instruct the Town's School Committee to hire a building and teacher, and establish a High School according to law."[1] A sum of $3,000 was appropriated to support it.[1]

The new school was opened on September 15, 1851[15] with 42 students.[16] Charles J. Capen, a private high school teacher, was hired to teach at the new school, and his classroom above the Masonic Hall was rented by the town.[1][14][16] The building, located at 25 Church Street, was previously Miss Emily Hodge's Private School.[17] The school used this space from 1851 to 1854, at which point it was moved to the Town House on Bullard Street.[2][16]

In 1894, the alumni association presented the school with a gift of 350 books as the nuculeus of the Slafter Reference Library, named in honor of principal Carlos Slafter.[15] The books were chosen from a selection of American and English authors as well as many standard reference books.[15] The school committee purchased a special oak book case for the collection and placed a silver plate upon it stating:

Slafter Reference Library
Dedham High School
Formed in grateful recognition of the service of
Carlos Slafter
Principal of the High School 1852-1892
Given by the Alumni Association November 27, 1894[18]

The population of the school peaked in 1972 with more than 2,100 students in grades 9-12, but declined in the following years.[19] The then-middle school (housed in the 1915 High School building), however, was at capacity, and so from 1996 until the new middle school opened in 2007, Dedham High School served grades 8-12.[19]


A postcard of the building that housed Dedham High School in Dedham, Massachusetts from 1886 to 1915 on Bryant Street

After moving from Masonic Hall, the classes were held at the Town House for one year until, in 1855, a new school was built on Highland Street and dedicated on December 10.[2][20] A new school was built on Bryant Street in 1887, and students moved in on October 3.[21][20] That building was 80' long and 77' wide.[20] After 1915, when the high school moved to Whiting Avenue, the building housed the Ames Junior High School, and today it is the site of the Dedham Town Hall.[21][20]

From 1916 to 1959 the high school was located at 70 Whiting Avenue.[21][22][20] Governor Calvin Coolidge took part in the dedication ceremony[22] on March 31, 1917.[20] Students first occupied the school in the spring of 1916.[20] It was three stories tall, plus a basement, and was built of water-struck brick and featured terra cotta trimming.[20] It later served as the Dedham Middle School.[20]

In 1932 a new wing was added at a cost of $200,000.[21][22] It contained an auditorium dedicated to George Frederick Joyce, who was connected to the school for 25 years and principal for 21 of them, on May 12, 1933.[22] Later, this wing was used as the Oakdale Junior High School.

Special laws were passed by the Massachusetts General Court in 1957 allowing the town to use Stone Park across the street to build a new high school.[23] Classes began at 140 Whiting Avenue in 1959, and continue to the present.[21] An addition to this building was constructed in 1967, which consisted of a new academic wing and an additional gymnasium. In 1976 a new library, a larger cafeteria, modern science laboratories, swimming pool, and more classrooms were added.[19] The old cafeteria was converted into an auto body shop,[19] and is currently the home of the town's Facilities Department.

The library was renovated and expanded in 1999,[19] and the C-Wing of the school was renovated with state-of-the-art new science labs in 2002.[24] The superintendent and other central administrators have offices in renovated classrooms in the B-wing, and the town's Youth Commission has offices in the A-wing.


There have been 18 principals of Dedham High School, a position currently held by James Forrest.[25] The longest serving was Carlos Slafter, who served for 40 years,[25] and who hired his own daughter as a teacher.[26] Peter Smith served twice, from 1976-1987 and from 1997-2000.[25]

Years Principal Length of service
1851-1852 Charles Capen 1 year[25]
1852-1892 Carlos Slafter 40 years[25]
1892-1913 George Joyce 21 years[25]
1913-1918 William Sprague 5 years[25]
1918-1919 William Lee, Jr. 1 year[25]
1919-1953 Ralph Eaton 34 years[25]
1953-1955 Harold Cowan 2 years[25]
1955-1962 Lawrence Brown 7 years[25]
1962-1973 Thomas O'Donnell 11 years[25]
1973-1976 John Benn 3 years[25]
1976-1987 Peter Smith 11 years[25]
1987-1992 Anthony Zonfrelli 5 years[25]
1992-1997 Denise Walsh 5 years[25]
1997-2000 Peter Smith 3 years[25]
2000-2008 Alan Winrow 8 years[25]
2008-2011 Jacob Santamaria, Jr. 3 years[25]
2011-2017 Ron McCarthy 6 years[27]
2017- James Forrest [27][28]


The approximately 60 teachers[29] at the school serve 734 students,[5] giving the school a student to teacher ratio of 11.3:1.[5]


Between 2006 and 2013, scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System improved 20%.[30] In 2012, 91% of students scored proficient or higher on the English Language Arts portion. For the math and science portions, the numbers were 89% and 79%, respectively, both of which were at least 10% higher than the state as a whole.[31] In the biology subject exam, Dedham High School has ranked as one of the best in the state, with three students earning perfect scores.[32]

College courses[edit]

Students taking some honors or AP courses can dual-enroll for college credit at the nearby Massachusetts Bay Community College.[33] The three credits can then be transferred to another state college or some private colleges, allowing students to place out of those classes in college. Courses eligible for dual enrollment include English 4, calculus, pre-calculus, world and U.S. history, psychology, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and environmental earth science.

Mass Math + Science Initiative[edit]

More than 260 sophomores, juniors, and seniors, which amounts to nearly half of those classes, are taking at least one Advanced Placement course.[9] In 2009 the school joined the Mass Math + Science Initiative, a program sponsored by Mass Insight Education, and by 2012 the number of students who have scored a qualifying score on the exam had risen by 57%.[9] By 2013, the number of qualifying scores had risen 68% to 141.[34] During the 2015-16 school year, 26.6 percent of students took at least one AP exam.[10]


The town of Dedham has made a substantial commitment to making sure every student has access to the latest educational technology. Beginning in 2011, each incoming freshman was provided with a new netbook computer to use in class and take home at night.[35] While the computers remain the property of the school district, students are responsible for them. As the district has a policy of replacing computers every five years, and since one of the machines would be nearly depreciated by the time a student is graduated four years later, the district allows students to keep the computers after commencement.[36]

The original plan was to provide each new freshman with a netbook until, four years later, the entire school would be outfitted with them. In the 2012-2013 school year freshmen were given netbooks, while sophomores received iPads.[37] The schedule was accelerated beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, when freshmen received netbooks while all sophomores, juniors, and seniors received iPads.[37] Eventually all students will be issued iPads.[37]

Parents are asked to pay a $100 technology fee to help cover the cost of the equipment. However, for students who receive free or reduced price lunch, the fee is waived.[35] The program may be extended in future years to include middle school students as well.[37]


Dedham High School participates in the Tri-Valley League (TVL) of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. Dedham High School joined the TVL for the 2017-18 school year, leaving behind the Bay State Conference after 58 years of membership.[38] They were previously invited to join in 2009, but declined the offer.[39] Dedham's enrollment had shrunk to 719 during the 2015-16 school year, when the move was announced, nearly one-third the size of some larger schools in the Bay State Conference, such as Newton North, Framingham, and Weymouth.

In recent years the school has seen a number of new athletic directors. Tom Arria left in 2010 to take a position at a bigger school in Nashua, New Hampshire.[40] He was replaced by Michael Plansky, who left three years later to join a foundation with which he has family ties that assists veterans with addictions.[41] Steve Traister, the current athletic director and director of health and physical education in the Milton public school system, took over for Plansky in 2013.[42]

As the town of Dedham is the seat of Norfolk County, the school's athletic teams informally used the name "Shiretowners" until 1968. The name "Marauders" was officially adopted and an American Indian was chosen as the mascot.[43] The name and the colors of crimson and gray were retained, but the logo changed to a pirate in 2007.

  • Fall
    • Cheerleading
    • Boys' cross country
    • Girls' cross country
    • Field hockey
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Boys' soccer
    • Girls' soccer
    • Volleyball
  • Winter
    • Boys' basketball
    • Girls' basketball
    • Cheerleading
    • Boys' ice hockey
    • Girls' ice hockey
    • Boys' indoor track
    • Girls' indoor track
    • Swimming
    • Wrestling
  • Spring
    • Baseball
    • Boys' lacrosse
    • Girls' lacrosse
    • Boys' outdoor track
    • Girls' outdoor track
    • Softball
    • Boys' tennis
    • Girls' tennis

Stone Park[edit]

Most teams play at Veteran's Memorial Field at Stone Park, which was rededicated on Thanksgiving Day, 2011, following a major upgrade and renovation.[44] The land where the stadium and school stand was originally donated by Col. Eliphalet Stone.[45][46] Stone deeded 49,897 sq. ft of land to the Dedham Improvement Society, an unincorporated organization, on June 2, 1884, to be used as a park.[47]

On January 2, 1895, Town Meeting took the property, per Stone's instructions, and purchased an adjoining parcel for from Louise M. Morse for $8,750, bringing the entire parcel up to 6.25 acres.[48] It was later expanded again to 8.49 acres.[48] Town Meeting appropriated $2,500 on September 16, 1895, and the land was graded and developed with a cinder track of .2 miles and a dressing house.[48] The original land donated by Stone became a playground of 250' by 425'.[48] In 1957, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts passed laws allowing the town to use the land to build a new high school.[49]

Co-curricular activities[edit]

Dedham High School currently offers 26 co-curricular activities:

Senior class play[edit]

The senior class at Dedham High School has a long tradition of putting on a play, usually a musical, as one of their final efforts as a class. Tryouts are usually held in December, and the production is staged in mid-March. While the play has been held annually since at least the late 1960s, the tradition is much older than that. Connie Hines, a member of the class of 1948, tried out for a role in her senior class play but did not make the cut. After graduation she went on to Hollywood and starred in a number of television shows, including Mr. Ed.[50]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Beginning". Dedham Public Schools. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  2. ^ a b c "The First Opening of the Dedham High School". Dedham Public Schools. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  3. ^ "Search for Public Schools - Dedham High School (250405000548)". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  4. ^ "Dedham High School Principal Leaving For Florida Job". Dedham Patch. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Student Data". Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  6. ^ "Enrollment Data (2018-19) - Dedham High (00730505)". Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Dedham High School in DEDHAM, MA". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  9. ^ a b c Tom De Santes (Sep 25, 2012). "Dedham High celebrates AP students, program". Wicked Local Dedham. Archived from the original on 2015-06-10. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  10. ^ a b Libon, Daniel (October 16, 2017). "AP Participation: Dedham High School Among Top 10 In State". Patch. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "DedhamHigh School Coaches" (pdf). Dedham Public Schools. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  12. ^ "A Brief History of Education in America" (PDF). Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-08-13. Massachusetts enacts law requiring public high schools (O 180).
  13. ^ "American Educational History Timeline". August 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 1827 - The state of Massachusetts passes a law requiring towns of more than 500 families to have a public high school open to all students.
  14. ^ a b Smith 1936, p. 126.
  15. ^ a b c Smith 1936, p. 127.
  16. ^ a b c Dedham Historical Society 2001, p. 17.
  17. ^ Heald, Hana Janjigian (July 3, 2015). "Celebrating July 4th, Our National Holiday". The Dedham Times. p. 1.
  18. ^ Smith 1936, pp. 127-8.
  19. ^ a b c d e "Dedham High School after World War II". Dedham Public Schools. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dedham Historical Society 2001, p. 18.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Dedham High School 1887-1959". Dedham Public Schools. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  22. ^ a b c d Smith 1936, p. 128.
  23. ^ Chapters 64 and 65 of the Acts of 1957
  24. ^ Hartzel, Peter (Aug 19, 2002). "Spruced-up schools ready for students". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on August 14, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Dedham High School Principals". Dedham Public Schools. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  26. ^ Slafter, Carlos (1905), A Record of Education: The Schools and Teachers of Dedham, Massachusetts, Dedham Transcript Press, retrieved 2013-08-13
  27. ^ a b Libon, Daniel (May 17, 2017). "Dedham High School Principal Leaving For Florida Job". Patch. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  28. ^ Bowen, Max (May 8, 2018). "New Dedham High principal speaks to need for long-term plan". The Dedham transcript. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  29. ^ "Teacher data (2012–2013)". Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  30. ^ Feijo, Sara (October 10, 2013). "Dedham School Committee suggests fun activities to boost test scores". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on October 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  31. ^ "Achievement Data". Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  32. ^ Keith Ferguson (October 3, 2008). "Dedham High School's scientific marvel". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on August 14, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  33. ^ Sara Feijo (Aug 22, 2013). "Dedham School Committee member talks up high school program". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on August 22, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  34. ^ Charis Anderson (October 16, 2013). "Rallying Dedham High School students to college success". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  35. ^ a b Edward B. Colby (March 18, 2011). "Dedham High: 'One-to-one' netbook program wires teens for success". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on August 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  36. ^ Johanna Seltz (December 2, 2010). "Dedham considers giving netbooks to high school freshmen". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  37. ^ a b c d Feijo, Sara (Aug 27, 2013). "Technology becomes a large part of Dedham High School learning". The Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on August 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  38. ^ Frangolini, Christopher (May 26, 2016). "Dedham making move from Bay State to Tri-Valley". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  39. ^ "2009 Year in Review: Town spurns Tri-Valley League offer, remains in Bay State Conference". Daily News Transcript. Dec 31, 2009. Retrieved 2013-08-13.[permanent dead link]
  40. ^ Tom King (July 25, 2010). "Nashua AD Tom Arria left some fans, detractors in Dedham, Mass". Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  41. ^ Keith Pearson (Apr 17, 2013). "Plansky to step down as athletic director". Daily News Transcript. Archived from the original on May 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  42. ^ Feijo, Sara (June 18, 2013). "Milton Athletic Director gets Dedham job". Dedham Transcript. Archived from the original on August 14, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  43. ^ Brian (May 1, 2007). "M, A, RAU, DERS! Lets Go!". myDedham. Archived from the original on September 16, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  44. ^ "Rededication of Stone Park". Town of Dedham. Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  45. ^ Dedham Historical Society 2001, p. 89.
  46. ^ Smith 1936, p. 149.
  47. ^ Smith 1936, p. 389.
  48. ^ a b c d Smith 1936, p. 390.
  49. ^ Chapters 64 and 65 of the Acts of 1957
  50. ^ Percy Shain (Sep 14, 1961). "Home Grown Talent Stars This Season" (pdf). The Boston Globe. p. 23. Retrieved 2013-08-13. I remember trying out for the senior class play and not making it. What would Miss Grant say now?[permanent dead link]

Works cited[edit]