The Thacher School, a coeducational boarding high school perched at the foot of the Topatopa Mountains in Ojai, California, is anything but typical. Here, students encounter a combination they won’t find anywhere else: demanding academics, tough character-building challenges, and a healthy, authentic community culture that supports them every step of the way. It’s how Thacher succeeds in shaping resilient, compassionate, and ambitious young men and women who are prepared to take on the challenges of today’s world. We invite you to dive in and see for yourself what makes Thacher, Thacher.
We know that teenagers are hard-wired to take risks—harmful, healthy, or otherwise. The key is to channel their energies into positive, calibrated risk taking. It’s why our students spend time learning in classrooms where there are no back rows, galloping on horseback around the gymkhana field, hiking in the High Sierra, and engaging in required arts and athletics programs. The result: Thacher graduates carry into the world a solid, lasting confidence—the kind that comes from facing, and overcoming, real challenges with real consequences.
Peer pressure isn't always bad. What matters most is who your peers are—the standards they set, the culture they foster, the actions they encourage. It's why we're so conscientious about the students we enroll and the community they help us build, one where honor, fairness, kindness, and truth are more than words in our mission statement.
The research is in: Happy kids achieve at a higher level. It’s why Thacher works continuously to cultivate and nurture a balance between achievement and excellence and health and happiness. The work has paid off—our graduates attend top colleges and we’re regularly cited as having one of the happiest and healthiest cultures of any high school in the nation, setting students up for success in each aspect of their lives.
We know firsthand that amazing things begin to happen in the classroom when caring, supportive educators make room for students to follow where curiosity leads and explore topics about which they are genuinely passionate. It’s why our teachers emphasize meaningful project-based work, often with multidisciplinary, real-world applications, that allows students to channel their individual interests. In this context, students grow to become stewards of their own learning, following those interests beyond the classroom and across disciplines, applying skills and knowledge in new ways, and increasingly framing and solving problems of their own choosing.
At Thacher, some of our best classrooms aren’t classrooms. Our beautiful, rugged 427-acre campus, with its steeply winding trails and expansive mountain views, provides a place like no other to learn, explore, and call home. We also regularly stretch the boundaries of our learning environment, taking off from our idyllic campus for weeklong backcountry trips in the High Sierra and Channel Islands, service projects in surrounding communities, cultural adventures in nearby Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, and faculty-lead immersion experiences in places like China, Senegal, and Cuba.
Teaching young people “the art of living for their own greatest good and for the good of their fellow citizens” has always been at the heart of a Thacher education. Each successive year, students take on greater responsibility and independence. They start by caring for a horse freshman year and go on to lead backcountry trips, captain teams, and head dorm life as senior prefects. They live by Thacher's Honor Code and learn to do the right thing even when no one’s watching. Graduates come away knowing how to lead with confidence, compassion, and integrity—and what it takes to work for the benefit of the greater community.