Germantown Academy Traditions

A school 250 years old understandably enjoys quite a few traditions.  Some traditions are as old as the 1700's, while others have been born in the last decade. All make Germantown Academy the amazing school that it is today.

School Colors

During the middle part of the 19th century, boys who were students at Germantown Academy formed a cricket team to compete against other local cricket clubs.  In those days, hats were used to distinguish each team. Around 1870, the GA Cricket Club team chose red, white, and blue as their colors.

They soon found, however, that the white on their caps turned to yellow after extensive play in the hot weather. This may not have mattered, except that one of their rivals, the Philadelphia Cricket Club, wore the colors of red, blue, and yellow. Late in the season the two teams were practically indistinguishable.
Around 1875, our boys at the Academy decided to clear up that confusion. At that time, the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln, assassinated in 1865, had ascended to legendary status.  Seeking both to distinguish itself from a rival team and to connect GA in still another way to our country’s history, the cricket team changed its colors to red, blue, and black in tribute to our fallen leader.  
The current GA colors were founded.  Then, in 1887, the school held its first Field Day, a tradition that we still carry on in the Lower School.  As part of the celebration, the Academy developed its first red, black, and blue flag.  

The Belfry

Tracing back as early as the Revolutionary War, the Belfry has always sat atop the administrative building. Representing outstanding academics, freedom, and pride, the bell still tolls every year at the start of school and commencement. The Belfry remains the iconic symbol for Germantown Academy.

Harkness Tables

Harkness tables are more than just round tables in the Upper School. They provide a forum for learning and debate. The Socratic Method, learning by debate and inquiry, is a philosophy that GA embraces. Individuals graduate from GA knowing that they have their own voice and are obligated to use it.

The House System

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The House System places students in one of seven Houses where they stay until graduation . The House system increases the amount of individual attention for each student and offers more opportunities for student leadership. It gives students a feeling of belonging to something a little smaller, and perhaps more intimate, than their grade or the entire Upper School can give them.


GA-PC Day is the oldest rivalry between two independent schools in the United States. Begun in 1886, Germantown Academy meets Penn Charter in November for a day of athletic competition which culminates in the GA-PC football game. A beautiful exhibit of both schools' art adds to the festivities.  GA-PC Day is also a time when alumni gather together.

Field Day

Field Day is a Lower School tradition that began in the 1960s.  It can also trace its roots all the way back to the Upper School Tug of War from 1875. The entire Lower School is split between Red and Blue Teams. Once a student is assigned to a team, they are on that team for life.  All students parade around the school and then on to the fields for a morning of fun competition. To view photos on our smugmug gallery, click here.

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