The Kiski School sits on a wooded bluff high above the confluence of two sparkling streams that form the Kiskiminetas River, which then flows north and west toward the Allegheny River. To the Native Americans who originally fished and hunted near this junction, Kiskiminetas was a metaphor for enlightenment. Early settlers to the area also recognized the energy of this place in the form of its rejuvenating mineral springs, whose refreshing attributes came to be so well known by the mid-nineteenth century that a group of enterprisers built a resort hotel on the grounds where the school now stands.
In 1888, Andrew W. Wilson, cousin of President Woodrow Wilson, purchased the resort for the purpose of transforming the facility into a first-class preparatory school for boys to rival any of its East Coast counterparts. Appropriately, Dr. Wilson named his institution The Kiskiminetas Springs School, based upon his belief that the beautiful setting would enhance the education of the young men who studied here. From its beginnings, academic rigor in the classroom and healthy competition on the athletic field were the hallmarks of the educational experience at Kiski. By 1894, Kiski had graduated 42 boys, 26 of whom matriculated to Princeton University, the alma mater of Dr. Wilson.
Dr. Wilson brought a talented and loyal faculty to The Kiski School, a tradition that endures to this day. Originally, the faculty numbered two: Wilson, who received a degree from Pennsylvania Law School after graduating from Princeton, and R.W. Fair, who co-founded the school and taught mathematics. An early addition came through the appointment of Dr. W.H. MacColl, who eventually succeeded Wilson as president in 1930. Other faculty members, such as J.L. Marks and Colonel J.J. Daub, also made significant contributions to the character and traditions of the school during these critical early years. Currently, a faculty of forty men and women serve the school’s two hundred boys.
Upon his election to the presidency of the Board of Trustees in 1941 and his appointment as Headmaster of Kiski in 1942, Dr. L.M. Clark began a tenure that would result in many additions and improvements to the campus and the school. When Dr. Clark retired in 1957, the trustees chose the promising young assistant to the Headmaster of Deerfield Academy, John A. Pidgeon, to succeed him.
Under Mr. Pidgeon’s tutelage, The Kiski School commissioned the construction of a new classroom building, dining hall, library, fine arts center, and renovated the administrative complex. A new baseball stadium, swimming pool, outdoor track, and field house were also added. In addition, all of the buildings and student rooms were wired for our local area network, and, in order to take advantage of this capacity, the school began to issue laptops to all students and faculty at the start of each academic year.
The evolution of the Kiski campus continued with the appointment of Mr. Christopher A. Brueningsen as Head of School in 2002. The physical plant has been modernized to surpass the standards and expectations of parents considering Kiski for their sons. Two outdated dormitories (Clark and Wilson Halls) were taken offline and razed. Since 2005, five of the six current dorms have undergone major renovations to improve their sustainability measures and amenities, while maintaining student capacity.
The Swank Student Center was constructed in 2009 to serve as the social hub of campus and house the College Counseling Office. The versatile Great Hall hosts events throughout the year. It is also the preferred location for study halls and other downtime activities for boys that have earned those privileges by maintaining good standing in the classroom and community. The athletic facilities experienced sweeping renovations and expansions: in 2014 the track was resurfaced to surround a multi-purpose turf field and in 2015 the Ross Athletic Center was completely renovated and expanded to include a new fitness center and multi-use gymnasium.
The academic facilities were expanded in 2015 with the addition of a dedicated Makerspace complete with cutting-edge hardware and with the completion of the Zeigler Science Center in 2019. Anticipated renovations to the main classroom building will include handsome upgrades to the wet science labs and other classrooms within the building. A major renovation is also being planned for the most frequently visited structure on campus, the E. William Turley dining hall.
More importantly, throughout the entire history of The Kiski School, teachers and other school leaders have paid special attention to the meaning of education for boys. Mr. Brueningsen is now engaged in preserving the traditions of civility, tolerance, and concern for the community initiated by Dr. Wilson in 1888. In the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the non-curricular areas of school life, Mr. Brueningsen and the Kiski faculty are devoted to the learning and development of boys. As a result, Kiski provides a supportive environment in which boys can realize their potential. At Kiski, boys grow in their knowledge of self and appreciation of others as they learn the mastery of academic disciplines and the lessons of athletic trials. All boys graduate from Kiski fully prepared for lives of responsibility and success.