125th History Timeline

  • 1893

    Manzanita Hall

    Manzanita Hall
    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
    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...
  • 1902

    Catherine Harker (1865-1952)

    Miss Harker's School
    Founder & Principal, 1902-1938
    Catherine Harker
    Catherine 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...
  • 1902

    Miss Harker's School

    Miss Harker's School
    Miss 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...
  • 1919

    Palo Alto Military Academy

    Palo Alto Military Academy
    In 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, 1919-1950
    Col. Richard P. Kelly
    Colonel 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...
  • 1938

    Sara D. Harker (1868-1956)

    Served Miss Harker’s School 1907-1953
    Headmistress, 1938-1953
    Sara D. Harker
    Sara 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...
  • 1950

    Major Donald L. Nichols (1911-1997)

    Served PAMA & Harker Day School 1950-1972
    Superintendent, PAMA 1950-1972
    President/Superintendent, Harker Day School 1959-1972
    Major Donald L. Nichols
    Donald 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...
  • 1959

    Harker Day School

    Harker Day School
    The 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...
  • 1972

    Harker Academy

    Harker Academy
    Harker 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...
  • 1973

    Howard E. Nichols (1940-2008)

    Served PAMA, Harker Academy & The Harker School 1965-2005
    Headmaster, Harker Academy 1973-1992
    President, The Harker School 1992-2005
    Howard Nichols
    Howard 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...
  • 1992

    The Harker School

    The Harker School
    In 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...
  • 1993

    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
    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...
  • 1998

    The Harker School, Upper School

    The Harker School, US
    The Harker School opened its upper school (grades 9-12) in 1998, graduating its first class in 2002. Show more...
  • 2005

    Christopher Nikoloff

    Served The Harker School 1999-2017
    Head of School, The Harker School, 2005-2017
    Chris Nikoloff
    Christopher 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...
  • 2013

    The Harker School, Preschool

    The Harker School, PS
    The 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...
  • 2017

    Brian Yager

    Head of School, The Harker School, 2017-present
    Brian Yager
    Brian 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...
  • 2021

    Middle School Campus

    Union Campus
    In 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.
  • 2021

    Transitional Kindergarten

    TK Campus
    The 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...