THE BOLLES SCHOOL
History and Characteristics
Established in 1933 as a military school for boys in grades 7-12, Bolles dropped its military affiliation in 1962 and became coeducational in 1971. The independent school is governed by a self perpetuating Board of Trustees. The School's balanced college preparatory program combines academics, offerings in the fine and performing arts, athletics, leadership and service opportunities and activities, and a nationally-known college counseling and guidance program. The boarding program, in which boys and girls reside on different campuses, complements the coeducational learning environment. After-school activities abound on each campus providing numerous opportunities and areas of interest for students.
In addition to the upper school campus at San Jose which is situated on a 52 acre site along the beautiful and scenic St. Johns River, Bolles has three other campuses in the Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach areas. Bolles’ lower school on the Whitehurst Campus opened in 1981 with the first kindergarten class, expanding each year until the full Pre-K through Grade 5 lower school was complete. In 1991, the School acquired the Bartram Campus, formerly the all-girls Bartram School, which allowed for the addition of a separate middle school facility and a girls' boarding section. In addition, Bolles opened a campus in Ponte Vedra Beach in 1999 to serve students from the Beaches area in grades Pre-K through 5. The School enrolls approximately 1700 students each year on its four campuses, approximately 100 of whom are boarding students, representing eight states and 19 foreign countries in 2010.
An ongoing development program has made possible substantial improvements to the School’s physical plant over the years. Just five miles to the northeast of the upper school sits the Middle School Bartram Campus which covers 24 acres along Pottsburg Creek. Middle school students enjoy the addition of the state-of-the-art Betsy Lovett Arts Center and Conroy Athletic Center, along with renovated classrooms and natural campus environment. Upper School San Jose Campus students enjoy two outstanding new facilities on their campus: the Peyton Boathouse & Rice Family Crew Complex and the Bent Student Center. Bolles Hall, the original structure on the San Jose Campus, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has been recognized by the Jacksonville Historical Society and the City of Jacksonville.
Bolles is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Southern Association of Independent Schools, the Florida Council for Independent Schools, and the Florida Kindergarten Council. The School is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Florida High School Athletic Association, among others.
Bolles is one of only 433 official nominating schools for the prestigious Morehead-Cain scholarship, and the first in Florida to have that distinction. Among its professional staff of 169 members, 11 hold Doctoral degrees and 100 hold Master’s degrees. The average teaching experience is 14 years. Bolles classes remain small, allowing no more than 12-15 students in some upper school classes and often as few as eight in others. Bolles offers a consistent quality of excellence and breadth of programs throughout the curriculum—in academics, including “Singapore Math” and updated science and health and fitness programs, the fine and performing arts, athletics, and activities.
Continuing to stress excellent college preparation, the School offers courses in six languages (including Chinese and Japanese), science courses such as physical science and neurobiology, and mathematics from algebra to robotics engineering. Advanced Placement courses are offered in 20 subjects, and Bolles graduates consistently place in the top 10% of Advanced Placement scores achieved throughout the country. In 2010, Bolles’ students exceeded the School’s historical average with an overall pass rate of 97% and of those, 51% received a score of ‘5.’ Bolles sends 99% of its graduates on to college, many earning scholarships and attending the top colleges and universities in the nation.
Publications, musical organizations, debate, drama, visual arts, and more than 40 clubs are available as extracurricular activities. Approximately 85% of our students participate in over 100 performances and gallery openings within the Fine and Performing Arts Department each year. Physical education is required and sports are offered at both intramural and interscholastic levels. With 41 sports teams, Bolles athletics include football, basketball, baseball, swimming, diving, soccer, track, wrestling, tennis, cross-country, crew, volleyball, softball, lacrosse, and golf. The School has received the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) All-Sports Award for 15 of the last 16 years and are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 for overall athletic programs as recognized by Sports Illustrated, MaxPreps, and ESPN Rise.
Bolles students are actively involved in our community and host or provide countless community service hours and events each year. Bolles not only teaches but practices giving back to our School and community by involvement in these projects throughout the year. From local nonprofit groups to individual student clubs, Bolles students and their parents are always taking time to give back and help others. Community service is not required at Bolles. Students have a genuine desire to be involved because they feel it is the right thing to do, not because it is mandatory.
The Bolles Values Statement espouses this involvement and sets the tone for all areas of Bolles student life: We, the members of The Bolles School, strive to reflect in each of our lives respect for the individual. Based on this philosophy, we believe that the following values are important for each of us to understand and follow; Respect for the property and opinions of others, Responsibility for our actions, Hard Work to achieve mental and physical excellence, Concern for Others especially for the less fortunate, Pride in our community.
Diversity within the School’s student body is important to our overall mission. While students are predominately Caucasian, the School actively seeks students without regard to gender, sexual preference, race, creed, or national or ethnic origin and desires students who represent diverse backgrounds ethically, culturally, religiously, and socio-economically. Financial assistance for families has steadily grown in recent years with over $3.5 million being given in financial aid to our students and their families during 2013. In addition to $1.1 million in faculty and staff tuition remission.
While the School has enrolled international students for over 74 years, very successful student exchange programs with schools in France, Spain, and Japan have enriched cultural awareness in our population. Students from schools in these countries are invited to stay with our families and attend classes on both the upper and middle school campuses in exchange for a similar agreement with our students.
Bolles strives to provide all necessary components to allow students to excel in academics, athletics, the arts, and activities and to further the School’s principles of Tradition, Service, and Distinction.