Thacher with Cate

The long neighborly history between two boarding schools in the West.
It’s a familiar memory for many Toads: Winding up the road to the Mesa, a car full of teammates chanting “Beat!” and then “Cate!” as the bus lumbers over each successive speed bump along the way. But it was this very same institution—the Cate School, our neighbors for almost 120 years—that, in Thacher’s most recent hour of need, we knew we could turn to for help.

The Thomas Fire

On the evening of December 4, 2017, as the Thomas Fire burned through Ventura County at a frightening pace, Thacher’s leaders made a quick game time decision to proactively evacuate in advance of any mandatory orders from the authorities. And so, in the middle of the night, around 300 members of the Thacher community packed up and headed to that familiar Mesa, where they were warmly met by Ben Williams, Cate’s head of school. Our entire community was soon bedded down in their sleeping bags in the Cate gymnasium, safe and sound for the evening.

And it’s this—the goodwill and support, the warm collaboration and community spirit—that truly marks the Cate-Thacher relationship. It’s why this year’s annual March Magic fundraising initiative will be Thacher with Cate instead of Thacher vs. Cate. Together, our schools will work to secure a 65 percent giving rate among GOLD (graduates of the last decade) alumni at both schools in order to unlock two $10,000 grants (one per institution) for local disaster relief efforts in our communities.

[You can learn more about this year’s March Magic initiative by visiting].

A History of Collaboration

It is by no means the first time that the two institutions have enjoyed a partnership. From the earliest days, the schools’ histories and communities have always been, and continue to be, deeply intertwined. Did you know, for example, that…. 1895, a fire burned down most of Thacher’s buildings. Sherman Day Thacher, at the suggestion of an acquaintance, briefly considered an offer to move his school to a tract of land in Santa Barbara. Thacher stayed put, but, some years later, Curtis Cate, a young educator who had spent an enjoyable year teaching English at Thacher, would open up his own school in that area, thus beginning a long neighborly history.

...the boys of Thacher and Cate (then known as the Miramar School) first met on the baseball diamond in 1910, the year of Cate’s founding. Since newly-founded Cate didn’t have quite enough players to field a full team, three Thacher boys stepped in to fill out their roster. From the first, they competed amiably against one another and continue to meet on Bard and Jackson Fields each spring.

...the annual spring gymkhana was, for decades, a highly anticipated joint Thacher-Cate gathering. Until Cate (then known as the Santa Barbara School) suspended its program in 1942, both schools required their boys to care for a horse and ride every afternoon, and the yearly tradition of coming together for pole bending, ring spearing, and socializing and refreshments was a well-loved one. Today’s Blue Team is a callback to that time.  

...the first-ever interscholastic lacrosse game in California was played by Thacher and Cate in the spring of 1967. Together, they ushered in a whole new era for lacrosse in the Sunshine State.

...together, Thacher and Cate worked to bring the annual College Fair and Case Studies workshop to our area starting in 2000, which offers our own students and the students of other nearby schools the chance to explore the college admission process through “mock admission committee” workshops. Our schools take turns hosting the event each year.

Do you have more Cate-Thacher connections to share? Email them to or share them on social media using #ThacherwithCate.

More About Thacher

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