The Kiski School in Westmoreland County expands enrollment to include girls

For 136 years, The Kiski School has operated as an all-boys prep school, welcoming students from across the country and the world. But now, a new tradition as girls will be accepted into its academic programs as well.

The high school campus located in Saltzburg will become home to two dozen girls in the fall of 2024 after the Kiski School Board of Trustees voted unanimously to expand its enrollment policies to allow girls to attend.

“It’s the start of a new era,” said Chris Brueningsen, Head of School.

It’s a move that’s been considered since the 1970s, but leaders told Channel 11 they did not take this decision lightly. It was made to preserve Kiski’s legacy, as all-boys boarding schools see a 20% decline in enrollment nationwide.

“If you can imagine the narrow slice of parents that will consider boarding school, divide that in half and think about the ones that have sons, only 11 percent of that very small group will consider all boys,” Brueningsen said.

Brueningsen said they’re also seeing fewer international students due to the pandemic and an increased demand for financial aid. He’s hoping to see enrollment numbers jump about 19% over a four-year period, with an eventual goal of a 50/50 balance. Kiski has formed a co-ed advisory board and added a new Dean of Girls position to help with the transition.

“Next year, we’ll be using our most recently renovated dorm — beautiful space, we’ll have to make some minor modifications to it,” Brueningsen said.

Modifications will also be made to its list of programs, with plans for a girls’ soccer team and possibly some co-ed options, while maintaining a strong emphasis on current athletic programs that continue to thrive.

“You think about a golf team, a tennis team, track…” said John Jacob, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We have a high percentage that play Division I, Division II, Division III sports…it’s part of the DNA of the Kiski School, and that’s not going to change.”

Applications for the fall of 2024 are now open.

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