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Thaden School

This prep school prepares its students not just for college but also to be responsible global citizens. Its hallmarks are discovery and passion, but its halls are where the Arkansas Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (APYO) rehearses and the professional APO performs the occasional concert.

Our story

With the generous support of the Walton Family Foundation, we opened in the fall of 2017 and will continue to grow incrementally to serve approximately 500 students in Grades 6 through 12. 

Our school is named in honor of Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979). Born and raised in Bentonville, she was a proud Arkansan and one of the greatest aviators of her time. Her childhood home (McPhetridge House), which originally stood on West Central Avenue in downtown Bentonville, was saved from demolition in 2017 and now serves as our Office of Admissions. Our 30-acre campus also has a rich history: it served as the home of the Benton County Fair for nearly 80 years and, prior to that, was the site of other educational institutions, including Bentonville High School when Louise McPhetridge was a student there in the early 1920s.

Her pioneering and innovative spirit inspires our efforts to create a school that gives students roots and wings as they build strong foundations and soar to new heights in pursuit of their dreams.


Our mission is to provide a balanced and challenging education that ignites in our students a passion for discovery and learning, prepares them to succeed in college, and inspires them to lead lives of integrity, purpose, and responsible global citizenship.

In pursuing our mission, we are guided by these principles:

  • The diversity of a school is essential to the quality of education that it provides.
  • In a small school students are better able to form close relationships with teachers that will give them a stronger sense of belonging, self-confidence, and responsibility.
  • There is an art in masterful teaching, which requires resources, mentorship, and recognition.
  • A well-balanced curriculum empowers students:
    • To think ethically, critically, and creatively about global issues and their local manifestations;
    • To see connections among the humanities, sciences, and mathematics as integrative disciplines in the search for knowledge, meaning, and beauty;
    • To build coherent, compelling, and innovative arguments;
    • To establish their voice in the world by writing and speaking well and expressing themselves creatively;
    • To work independently and collaboratively.
  • Activities outside of the classroom (such as acting in a play, competing on a team, or working on a sustainability project) give students essential opportunities to develop as leaders, volunteers, and contributors to the life and spirit of the greater community.
  • A school must create a safe and healthy environment where students have time and space for reflection, freedom to make important decisions, and opportunities to learn from mistakes.
  • The harmony of a school community depends on a shared commitment to honesty, compassion, and fair play.