In October of 2016, the Board of Trustees of both Hawken School and Birchwood School announced the agreement to merge our two institutions after over a year of careful consideration. Birchwood—an exceptional preschool through grade 8 coeducational, independent school that has served families on Cleveland's near west side since 1984—has a richly diverse student body and a reputation for producing some of the most accomplished students in Northeast Ohio. Over the years, many have gone on to attend Hawken.
Hawken and Birchwood share deeply aligned missions that focus on the development of both character and intellect. Both schools are forward-focused, have similar visions for the future of education, and are committed to Cleveland. The merger of these two great schools strengthens the future of both institutions without changing the Hawken our alumni know and without changing the Hawken experience our current students enjoy on both our Lyndhurst and Gates Mills campuses.
Through this merger, all Birchwood students are now automatically accepted to Hawken's Upper School, just as our Lyndhurst students are. Birchwood and Lyndhurst intentionally prepare students for their Hawken Upper School experience, where our focus seamlessly shifts to preparation for college and the real world.
Birchwood founders Chuck and Helene Debelak will continue to run Birchwood through the 2023–2024 school year. They recently announced that as of July 1, 2024, Ryan Wooley, who was named Associate Head of School in 2023, would assume the position of Head of School at Birchwood. At that time, Chuck and Helene will move into their new role as Founders in Residence, assisting Ryan with administrative leadership and staying engaged in the life of Birchwood School.