125th History Timeline
In 1893, Frank Cramer founded Manzanita Hall, an all-male boarding and day preparatory school, established to prepare boys to enter Stanford University. Show more...
Frank Cramer (1861-1948)Manzanita Hall
Founder & Principal, 1893-1902
Frank Cramer was born on Nov. 4, 1861 in Wausau, Wis. After graduating from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wis., in 1886, Cramer worked as a teacher in his home state before moving to Palo Alto to attend Stanford University. Show more...
Catherine Harker (1865-1952)Miss Harker's School
Founder & Principal, 1902-1938Catherine Harker was born on March 2, 1865, in Portland, Ore., the oldest of three daughters born to James Bartlett Harker and Sarah Ellen Polk Harker. A graduate of Vassar College, she began her career teaching Latin at Mills College in Oakland from 1890 to 1893, and again from 1898 to 1901. Show more...
Miss Harker's School1902-1955Miss Harker's School, also briefly known as the Thoburn School and the Harker-Hughes School, was originally housed in Palo Alto at the corners of Kingsley and Bryant in Castilleja Hall, a building that had been vacated and was remodeled for the use as a school. Show more...
Palo Alto Military Academy1919-1972In June 1919 Col. Richard P. Kelly purchased Manzanita Hall and changed the school name to the Palo Alto Military Academy. Building on Manzanita Hall's fine academic reputation, Col. Kelly created Palo Alto Military Academy as a non-sectarian, though admittedly Christian, boarding and day school. Show more...
Colonel Richard P. Kelly (c.1896-1952)Palo Alto Military Academy (PAMA)
Superintendent, 1919-1950Colonel Kelly was born in New York and graduated from Cornell University in 1896. While at Cornell, he was editor of two of the university’s publications, wrote considerable poetry, and initially planned a literary career. Show more...
Sara D. Harker (1868-1956)Served Miss Harker’s School 1907-1953
Headmistress, 1938-1953Sara D. Harker was born in Portland, Ore., on April 1, 1868, the middle of three daughters born to James Bartlett Harker and Sarah Ellen Polk Harker. Show more...
Major Donald L. Nichols (1911-1997)Served PAMA & Harker Day School 1950-1972
Superintendent, PAMA 1950-1972
President/Superintendent, Harker Day School 1959-1972Donald L. Nichols, "the Major" as he was affectionately known to faculty, staff and students, was born in 1911 in Massachusetts and moved to California in 1923. Show more...
Harker Day School1959-1972The Harker Day School was established in 1959, after Maj. Donald Nichols purchased Miss Harker's School. It was simply The Harker School at the time of purchase and continued under that name for the first two years. Show more...
Harker Academy1972-1992Harker Academy formed as the result of the merger of the Harker Day School (campus) and the Palo Alto Military Academy (campus) when the schools moved to the Saratoga campus at 500 Saratoga Ave., in San Jose in 1972. Show more...
Howard E. Nichols (1940-2008)Served PAMA, Harker Academy & The Harker School 1965-2005
Headmaster, Harker Academy 1973-1992
President, The Harker School 1992-2005Howard E. Nichols was born on Oct. 10, 1940 in Bremerton, Wash. He moved to the Bay Area as an infant, and when he was in second grade his mother enrolled him at Palo Alto Military Academy (PAMA). Show more...
The Harker School1992-PresentIn 1992, we became The Harker School. The boarding program closed in 2002, and the school became one of the largest K-12 independent college preparatory schools in the west. Show more...
Diana Nichols (1942-2018)Served Harker Academy & The Harker School 1973-2005
Head of School, The Harker School 1993-2005
Board of Trustees 2005-18 (Chair 2010-18)Diana Nichols began her teaching career in 1963, as a biology teacher at Marshfield High School in her home state of Massachusetts. In 1965 she moved to Brockton High School, also in Massachusetts, where she taught College Biology and AP Biology. Show more...
The Harker School, Upper School1998-presentThe Harker School opened its upper school (grades 9-12) in 1998, graduating its first class in 2002. Show more...
Christopher NikoloffServed The Harker School 1999-2017
Head of School, The Harker School, 2005-2017Christopher Nikoloff was born and raised in upstate New York, near the famous thoroughbred racing town of Saratoga. Mr. Nikoloff received a B.A. in English with a minor in philosophy and an M.A.T. in education with a concentration in English literature, both from Boston University. Show more...
The Harker School, Preschool2013-2020The Harker School opened its preschool, located on Union Ave. in San Jose. The preschool had classes for 3- and 4-year-olds and a transitional kindergarten program.Show more...
Brian YagerHead of School, The Harker School, 2017-presentBrian Yager has held many educational positions, serving as a teacher, department chair and upper school head. For more than 15 years, he worked in various capacities for the Cate School in Carpinteria, Show more...
Middle School CampusIn 2021-22 middle school students moved from their leased campus at 3800 Blackford Ave. onto the renovated Union Ave. campus. This move completed Harker’s goal of owning all its campuses.
Transitional KindergartenThe transitional kindergarten moved from the Union Ave. campus, which temporarily operated as a preschool from 2013 to 2020, over to a newly purchased building at 888 Boynton Ave. Show more...