Brent as a Christian boarding school was based on the example set by Rev. Endicott Peabody at Groton, Massachusetts and on the pioneering educational principles of Dr. Thomas Arnold of Rugby and Tring of Uppingham, England. Most Brentonians have never heard of either of these Victorian gentlemen or of their schools, and so it is necessary to give some explanation. For Bishop Brent and his role models, the development of character was of greater importance than the acquisition of grades, although scholarship as such was given a very high priority. This character development was conceived in an Episcopalian tradition that was essentially both Catholic in its attitudes and critical in its approach. This itself was based on a confident assumption that certain values were not only absolute in their rightness, but could and should be easily understood by the great majority of students and staff.
Charles Henry Brent, the school’s founder, was born in Canada in 1862. After his ordination in the Anglican Church in Canada, he went to the United States and
in 1901 was elected Missionary Bishop of the Philippines for the Protestant Episcopal Church. As the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, he had a three-pronged mission to fulfill – Evangelism, Education, and Health – which resulted in the establishment of Episcopal churches, schools, and hospitals (such as the renowned St. Luke’s Medical Centers in Metro Manila) from north to south in the Philippines.
Bishop Brent was a figure of international prominence, particularly as the pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement of Christian Unity with the attempt to reconcile all Christians of different traditions and denominations. He attended the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1901 and eventually became Presiding Officer of the 1st World Conference on Faith and Order held in Switzerland in 1927. As an advocate of high standards in education, Bishop Brent’s dream for a Baguio School (later renamed Brent School) was to set up an educational institution modeled on the prestigious boarding schools found in the United States such as the Groton School. Brent School was established in 1909 (just when Baguio City also received its charter) primarily to provide for the educational needs of the families of American missionaries and military personnel in the country and in Baguio and its environs where there was a small foreign community of mining prospectors. In 1925, a girls’ boarding home was added and Brent School then became the first coeducational day and boarding school in East Asia.
During World War II, from 1942 to 1945, the school was closed and a semblance of school life continued in the concentration camp known as Camp Holmes in La Trinidad. The Brent School campus consequently was converted by the Japanese Imperial Army into a hospital and a military officers’ residential area.
The start of a new era in the school’s history came with the reopening of Brent School in November 1947. By this time, student admission included Philippine nationals on the basis of their character and scholarship. This paved the way for Brent School’s blossoming into an international school to serve both the foreign and local communities of Baguio City.
Years of growth followed with the transition from an American curriculum to the International Baccalaureate program in 1982, the construction of more buildings, a sports program shared with the City, a semestral theatrical production, and a student leadership and community development program among other ventures.
In 1984, as Brent celebrated its Jubilee Year (75th foundation year), a request from some parents of the international community in Manila led to the opening of a Brent School campus in Manila. Eventually more campuses were established elsewhere in the country totaling three campuses to date: Baguio, Manila, and Subic.
The earthquake of July 1990 led to a significant turn in Brent School’s history. The loss of three school buildings, doldrums in the Philippine economy, and a decrease in enrolment due to the closure of the U.S. military base and the mines as well as the localization of church missions, a super typhoon, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, and the continuing lahar flows from the volcano all posed threats to the continued existence of the school and to the foreign community in the country and in the city.
Brent School Baguio was not to be daunted. Immediate rebuilding and rehabilitation ensued to enable the school’s opening a month later in August 1990. By November 1990, a school building was completed: Bridger’s Hall which now holds the distinction of having been the very first building constructed and completed in Baguio after the earthquake – a testimony to Baguio’s determination to rise from the ruins!
In 2001, the Philippine Historical Commission granted Brent School Baguio the distinction of being a National Historical Site – the second one to be recognized in the city.
In 2004, by a historical action of the Brent Schools Inc. Board of Trustees, all three campuses then were aligned and consolidated to be under one Headmaster, Mr. Dick B. Robbins. In 2014, Mr. Robbins assumed the title of CEO/President of Brent Schools Inc. Headmasters were appointed to manage the day to day affairs at each campus.
Today, Brent School continues to still stand for sound scholarship and Christian ideals with a steadfast adherence to the high standards set by Bishop Charles Henry Brent. As an international school, we take pride in the variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds that our students have