Selwyn School

By: David Minor

Type: General Entry

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: June 22, 2018

Selwyn School, a nonprofit, nonsectarian private preparatory school located on West University Drive in Denton, dates from 1955, when residents established the Denton Civic Boys Choir School. In 1957 a nonprofit organization headed by John Ross, assistant general sales manager of Moore Business Forms, reorganized the school and named it Denton Preparatory School. That year Englishman John D. Doncaster resigned as an instructor of English literature at Southern Methodist University to become headmaster of the school, a position he held for more than thirty years. In 1959 the school left its original location, an abandoned dormitory across the street from Texas Woman's University, and leased a 156-acre farm on the Dallas Expressway in Denton. In 1961, however, Houston developer and former Dentonite Newton Rayzor donated 100 acres of land on West University Drive to the school. Construction at this new site, which included the labor of students, faculty, and parents, was completed in the fall of 1961. The following year the school changed its name to Selwyn School, in honor of Rayzor's daughter, Selwyn. Selwyn School, financed exclusively through tuition and private donations, quickly became known as one of the leading private preparatory institutions in the Southwest. In part this reputation resulted from Doncaster's rejection of a progressive philosophy of education in favor of a traditional, academic approach emphasizing "discipline and the disciplines." The school was accredited by the Texas Education Agency in 1963. The lower school offers classes from pre-kindergarten through the sixth grade; the upper school offers classes in grades seven and eight. After the Selwyn School suffered a major fire on January 26, 2012, the Denton campus reverted to the Denton Public Schools and relocated the school to its current location in Argyle.

C. A. Bridges, History of Denton, Texas, from Its Beginning to 1960 (Waco: Texian Press, 1978). Denton Record-Chronicle, January 27, 2012.

  • Education
  • Private Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

David Minor, “Selwyn School,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

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June 1, 1995
June 22, 2018