Thornton Academy

Thornton Academy is co-ed, nonsectarian, independent school preparing 6-12th grade students for a changing world since 1811 in beautiful Saco, Maine. A rigorous and broad-based program of academic, arts and athletic opportunities challenges students to reach their potential in readiness for lifelong learning and productive participation in our dynamic world.

Elective classes, independent study opportunities, and special interest courses that meet after school offer students the ability to excel far beyond a standard curriculum. Through our private tutor system and the Golden Edge program we to aim to significantly improve our international student test scores so that students have the best chance for admittance to the most competitive universities.

Thornton-Academy-CampusThornton Academy is nestled on 30 acres in a safe and scenic coastal town in southern Maine. Our campus includes over a dozen buildings that blend tradition with innovation. Students study in renovated historic brick buildings that support the latest technological advances. Thornton Academy is a short 15 miles from Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine (a thriving, artistic city that has continually won national awards for its outstanding quality of life), and just 90 miles from Boston, Massachusetts and Logan International Airport. The Amtrak train station is located in Saco, just a few minutes from campus.

Saco is a friendly, close-knit community that boasts of natural beauty. Opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts abound with beaches, rivers, forests, and mountains to explore, including The Eastern Trail and Ferry Beach State Park. Students are involved with many community and volunteer causes throughout the year.


New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Membership with Maine Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Independent School Association of Northern New England (ISANNE), The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS).

Academic Facilities

Thornton-Academy-Students-jpegThornton Academy’s STEM Center offers brand-new laboratories for Honors and AP Biology and Chemistry, which are designed to support 21st century learning. An engineering lab provides space for Robotics students to design and test their creations. The New Media Center contains five brightly lit, modern classrooms with the latest technology, including a digital music lab, computer labs, TV studio, and Green Screen. Thornton has an on-campus, state-of-the-art Dance Studio with refurbished original wood flooring, large windows, overhead lighting, floor to ceiling mirrors, and dressing room cubbies. TA’s performing arts space, Garland Auditorium, has 500 seats, is handicap accessible, and includes professional audio and lighting equipment. It is located next to the O’Neill Gallery, where students display their artwork. The Mary Weymouth Library is a newly renovated historic building that houses thousands of collection materials including books, periodicals, and DVDs. Technology offerings include: desktop computers, laptops, iPads, a projector and large viewing screen for presentations, and customizable flat screen monitors.

Athletic Facilities

Hill Stadium includes a turf field (with lights for night games) for sports like American football, and an eight-lane track. Thornton also has a gymnasium, tennis courts, weight room, baseball diamonds, softball fields, multi-purpose fields, concession stands, and is located next to a patch of woods with a walking/biking path called the Eastern Trail. An indoor track, hockey rink, swimming and diving pool are all located within a short driving distance from campus.

Stasio, Trojan & Nelson Hall (Dorms)

Thornton Academy has three dormitories that are outfitted with Wi-Fi, kitchenettes, washing machines, dryers, modern bathrooms, and lounges with big screen TVs. Rooms include 
a bed, desk, wardrobe, dresser, bookshelf, and chair for each student. The dorm students have their own outdoor basketball court and there are several outdoor barbeque dinners throughout the year.


An alternative to dormitory living on Thornton Academy’s campus, the Homestay Program provides some of our international students with a unique opportunity to reside with a family and to enjoy the benefits of home life. Homestay students strengthen their English language skills through immersion, gain in-depth understanding of Western culture and the American way of life, develop a life-long relationship with a family that is closely connected to the Academy, dine on campus occasionally with dormitory students, and enjoy special excursions and events with Homestay families.

College Preparation

Students receive one-on-one guidance from Thornton Academy’s expert and experienced college preparation advisors over the course of their four years. Counselors assist students with finding colleges or universities that best meet students’ interests, while guiding them through all steps of the application process. This guidance is provided to all students and is included in the cost of tuition. The Director of International College Counseling and the International College Counselor have more than 50 years of experience in college counseling and have sent more than 5,000 high school students to college during their careers.

Thornton Academy arranges college events, which are included in the cost of tuition, without any additional fees. Every year, Thornton Academy hosts one of the largest college fairs in the state of Maine. More than 80 colleges and universities set up on campus and meet with students. Dozens of colleges also send admissions officers to Thornton Academy to meet with students throughout the year and the Guidance Department organizes tours of college campuses throughout New England so that students can visit the colleges and learn about their programs.

Private tutors specialize in SAT and TOEFL prep. This is included in the tuition cost. Thornton is a registered SAT test center; students are able to register and take the SAT multiple times on Thornton’s campus throughout a year. The TOEFL test center is 20 minutes away and transportation is provided. The program’s goal is to have our students score at least 100 on TOEFL iBT.

Golden Edge Program

At no additional fee, the Golden Edge Program assists international students with adjustment to life in America and with preparation for college. This afternoon program will coach students on how to participate in the community and on campus, and how to use all the resources available to them. It will also help them understand how to prepare college applications and for testing.

Diploma Endorsements & College Articulation Agreements

Thornton-Academy-Students_Weekend-Activities-jpegCollege admissions have become more competitive and the applicant pool continues to expand. In response to this trend, TA has initiated a unique and challenging diploma endorsement program to allow motivated students to call attention to academic strengths and goals for future study. Students who successfully complete a rigorous curriculum of STEM courses at Thornton Academy may earn a STEM Endorsed Diploma or an Applied STEM Diploma. They also may gain admission to the University of Maine at Orono’s renowned engineering program with sophomore standing. Through taking a very challenging collection of courses while in high school, students may earn an Arts and New Media Diploma Endorsement and may gain admission to the University of New England’s College of Arts & Sciences program with sophomore standing. The Advanced Studies Diploma Endorsement program affords students the opportunity to engage in our most demanding course offerings, preparing them for admission into competitive colleges and universities. Upon successful completion, the endorsed diploma is recognized in college application materials, including letters of recommendation and transcripts.

Aspirations Program (Early College Program)

The Aspirations Program, which is sponsored by Maine’s public universities and colleges and the Trustees of Thornton Academy, enables juniors and seniors to enroll in college-level courses to earn college and high school credits. Courses are offered at the University of Maine System (USM Portland, Gorham, Saco Island), Southern Maine Community College, and York County Community College. Successful completion of courses (up to as many as twelve fully matriculating credits) will qualify a student to earn academic credits that may satisfy both TA diploma requirements and those required for a college degree.

  • Estimated Start Date
    Late August
  • Estimated End Date
    Mid June
  • Number of Students
    1630 (10% international)
  • Grades
  • Teacher/Student Ratio
  • Teachers with Advanced Degrees
  • ESL Programs
  • AP Classes
  • Tests Accepted
  • School Uniform
    Dress code
  • Year Established
  • Campus Size
    30 hectares
  • Boarding
    Yes (3 dorms)
  • Countries Represented
    20+ countries including: Azerbaijan, Brazil, Czech Republic, China, France, Georgia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Russia, Rwandese Republic, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
  • Foreign Languages Offered
    Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Homeric Greek, Latin, and Spanish.
  • Arts
    Over 35 courses in music, dance, theater, visual and digital media arts.
  • AP Arts Courses
    AP Arts Courses.
  • Honors Arts Courses
    Drawing, Fine Art Portfolio Preparation, Jazz Band, Painting, Pottery, Visual Arts.
  • Other Arts Offerings
    Acting I/II, Art History, Chamber Singers, Concert Band, Concert Choir, Dance I, II, and III, Dance Company, Design For Stage, History of Rock ’n Roll, Illustration, Jazz Band, Music History, Music Technology, Music Theory I and II, Orchestra, Photography, Piano Lab, Printmaking, Sculpture, String Orchestra, Studio Art, Theater Basics, Treble Choir, Visual Arts I, Wind Ensemble.
  • AP Courses
    Economics, Government, Physics I, Physics I & II, Physics C, Psychology, English Literature/Composition, English Language/Composition, Calculus (level AB), Calculus (level BC), Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, United States History, European History, Computer Science A, Environmental Science, Human Geography, Latin, Studio Art: 2D Design, Spanish, French, Chinese, Music Theory.
  • Honors Courses
    42 Honors courses are designed to encourage creative thinking for students who want to push their knowledge of a subject to a higher level. Honors courses are offered in all seven foreign languages, at every grade level for English, in all of the hard science fields, engineering, in six mathematics disciplines, and for Modern U.S. History, Jazz Band, TATV Studio, and Chamber Singers.
  • Activities
    Academic Decathlon, Action Team, Anglers’ Society, Ambassador Program, Amnesty International, Animal Rights Group, Anime Club, Art Club, Chinese Club, Classics Club, Concert Choir, Cycling Club, Environmental Club, Game Development Club, Gay Straight Transgender Alliance, German Club, Student Council, INK—Literary Arts Magazine, Interact Club, Math Team, Music Appreciation Club, National Honor Society, Pep Band, Political Action Group, Robotics Club, Reducing Sexism and Violence Program, Science Olympiad Team, Ski Club, Speech Team, Student Media Team, TA Players, Tabletop Gaming Club, TATV Club.
  • Sports Offered
    Fall: Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Golf, Soccer, and Volleyball. Winter: Basketball, Cheerleading, Ice Hockey, Indoor Track & Field, Swimming, Wrestling. Spring: Baseball, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track & Field, Softball, and Tennis.
  • University Acceptance Rate

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