St. John's Military Academy was founded in 1884 by Dr. Sidney T. Smythe, whose vision and principles in educating young men was applied in a program of physical, moral, and religious education that trained student character as well as mind. The principles are echoed in the Academy's motto, "Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard." Smythe believed that the way to get the most out of a boy is to challenge him, to make him reach just a little farther than he had supposed his arms could stretch. From its small beginnings, St. John's Northwestern grew steadily as it became recognized as one of the leading schools of its kind in the nation.
Northwestern Military Academy was established in 1888 in Highland Park, Illinois, by Harlan Page Davidson, whose philosophy of education was remarkably similar to Sidney Smythe. Soon after the turn of the century, the Academy moved to new quarters in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The Academy was renamed Northwestern Military and Naval Academy, and gained national recognition as an educational experience with a military emphasis.
In 1995 the schools joined on St. John's 150-acre campus. Though the emphasis has shifted away from the military arts of an earlier day, the discipline, self confidence, loyalty and camaraderie remain just as strong today. Shaped by their strong histories, common goals, and similar philosophies, the Academy continues their long tradition of education and leadership with honor.
Step onto the St. John's Northwestern campus and the school's values come into quick focus. Here is a school where honesty, respect, and self-discipline have taken deep root. The boys and young men who attend our school take part in a lifestyle that demands more, one that results in the strengthening of character and the development of leadership. Established in 1884, our founders' legacy is one of time-honored values and time-tested principles.
Our thousands of graduates boast about their high school experience. They became men at St. John's Northwestern and harnessed a potential many of them never imagined possessing. They went on to college and to careers with an advantage they learned to appreciate more and more with every accomplishment. We are different than most other schools. Our difference is the unique culture that is St. John's Northwestern Military Academy.
As a premier boarding school for boys in grades 7-12, we provide a distinctive environment defined by four simple cornerstones for success: character development, academics, athletics, and leadership. By exploring the pages of this website, you will learn more about how young men can become accomplished and happy. You will see why building an education on our cornerstones is vital to the success of our cadets.
Learn more at: