The Gunnery, a private school in Washington, recently welcomed 306 students to its campus, representing a milestone accomplishment unmatched in the school’s 169-year history.

The school experienced a nearly 20 percent increase in applications during the 2017-18 admissions cycle, supporting the strong enrollment outcome and making for an extremely competitive admissions process.

“It is increasingly clear that The Gunnery is shifting from a well-kept secret into a school that more families want to learn about when considering a boarding school experience,” Head of School Peter Becker said.

The current student body consists of individuals from 20 states and 16 countries. Boarding students represent 72 percent of enrollment, while day students account for 28 percent.

Day students commute from Washington and other Litchfield County towns, while others travel from as far away as Wolcott each day.

International students make up 20 percent of the total enrollment, including notable arrivals from China, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Domestic boarding students hail from all four mainland time zones, coming from as far away as California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, and as near as five of the six New England states.

The freshman class remained intentionally small with a total of 55 students divided equally between boys and girls.

According to Becker, who is now in his seventh year leading The Gunnery, the school welcomed more than 600 students to campus last year for interviews, representing a 15 percent year-over-year increase.

“To us, that was a strong indication that our approach to a character-based education is resonating with prospective families as more people are becoming acquainted with our alumni base, existing parent community, students and faculty,” Becker said.

“The new members of our student body also represent a dynamic and accomplished group, which, when combined with returning students who have interests and talents that range from the classroom to sports, the arts, and the outdoors, sets the stage for an exciting new school year,” he said.

Aside from its record enrollment, The Gunnery campus is abuzz with the construction of the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center, a 32,000-square-foot center that will showcase the school’s already vibrant Visual and Performing Arts programs.

Scheduled to open in winter 2019-20, the center will include The Tisch Family Auditorium with a 415-seat, state-of-the-art theater, along with the Richard C. Colton, Jr. Art Wing, which will house gallery spaces, classrooms and studios.

In conjunction with the development of this project, the school’s engineering program, known as IDEAS (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Applied Scholarship), has introduced an innovative Construction Management class designed to let students interact with all phases of the building project on a real-time basis.

IDEAS students, which include nearly 20 percent of the student body, will also benefit from the recent purchase of a CNC milling machine and a reverse osmosis machine, tools that will allow the program to expand its classroom offerings for the 2018-19 academic year.

“As I prepare to start my sixth year as a member of the admissions team, I have never been more excited about the interest in our school and by the transformation taking shape in the middle of our campus with the construction of the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center,” said Alexandra V. Ince, interim director of admissions, who is now in her eighth year with The Gunnery.

“In terms of our educational philosophy and the traditions established by Mr. Gunn, we are undoubtedly the school that we have always been, yet it’s exciting to see the momentum we’ve achieved as more families are seeking us out. Our intentionally small boarding school approach, combined with unique offerings such as our engineering program and our Outdoor Program, where students are intentionally encouraged to confront challenges outside of their comfort zones, are all working together to gain the attention of prospective families in a market that is otherwise filled with sameness,” she said.

“We have expanded our admissions team in recent months and look forward to a busy fall season as we get to welcome and know an entirely new group of accomplished candidates who are interested in making The Gunnery their school,” she said.