|“||Memento Mori ("remember you will die")||”|
— The school motto
Prufrock Preparatory School, also known simply as Prufrock Prep, is a gloomy and awful boarding school that serves as the setting for The Austere Academy.
Prufrock exemplifies all the very real, horrible and negative aspects about school:
- Pedantic, biased and strict teachers who play favorites
- Awful cafeteria food
- Tons of stressful homework and exams
- Boring lessons with material that most students will never actually use in real life (Klaus had to constantly measure objects. Violet had to memorize the insignificant and unimportant parts of Mr. Remora's boring self-stories such as how many miles a donkey ran)
The school also has poor treatment of students with unfortunate backgrounds (i.e. orphans), forcing them to live in a small uncomfortable shack known as the Orphans Shack.
The school is likely meant to symbolize a school that is preparing students to die, "killing" their free will and independent thought, and teaching them to become mindless obedient workers who respect and submit to authority.
|“||Here's a fun bit of trivia. The architect who built this school was severely depressed.||”|
— Mr. Poe on the architecture
Nero's office is in the Administrative building, and the school holds at least two classrooms for the different studies. There is an auditorium where Nero's violin recitals are held, and nearby is a large sports field where pep rallies are held, and where the Baudelaires are forced to do S.O.R.E.
The cafeteria is known to serve such meals as a giant lasagna and pasta, with the cafeteria workers masked.
The library is described as a pleasant place with comfortable chairs and huge wooden bookshelves. There are brass lamps shaped like different fish, and bright blue curtains to give it an ocean feeling.
The dormitory is a gray building, entirely made of stone and shaped like a big toe. Inside is a huge living room with a brick fireplace, a game room, and a large lending library. Every student has his or her own room, with a bowl of fresh fruit placed there every Wednesday. However, in order to live in the dormitory, a student must have a permission slip with the signature of a parent or guardian. Since the Baudelaires' parents are dead, and their previous guardians are dead or fired them, they are forced to live in a tin shack.
TV Series Divergent Canon
It is stated that the designer of the school was severely depressed.
When the Baudelaires arrive, the Quagmires were "upgraded" from the Orphans Shack to a broom closet instead of transferred to the dorms. The Orphans Shack was knocked down by Count Olaf during his escape.
The cafeteria food is shown to be dismal and disgusting, though it includes horseradish/apple hybrids. Something rather disturbing is that a rabbit corpse can be found in the freezer, making one wonder if the school is secretly serving such things in their lunch meat.
Vice Principal Nero runs the school and forces the students to attend his six-hour violin recitals every night. The classes seem to be split between Mrs. Bass, the math teacher, and Mr. Remora, the language arts teacher, though Ms. Tench was also listed as a gym teacher.
Mr. Remora (temporarily?) retired after choking on a banana, and Ms. K was hired as his replacement. After Mr. and Mrs. Spats complained about the books she was assigning to the students, she was fired and promptly kidnapped two orphans. Due to the lack of a Language Arts or Gym teacher, and Mrs. Bass constantly leaving to inspect the bank, Nero usually busied students by having them stare glumly at a camera.
The school eventually closed down, sometime after Mrs. Bass was arrested for bank robbery.
One could theorize that the school is probably a VFD-related place. The school notably trains students to be good memorizers and notetakers- two things necessary for volunteers- and the principal is never seen, possibly as they are a Volunteer.
During Kit Snicket's temporary teaching position at the school, she also released VFD propaganda to the students in the form of books that would teach them codes and secret information, and abducted ("recruited") at least two children.
It is also revealed that the librarian is a VFD member who delivers messages to potential recruits as well as other volunteers; as Lemony Snicket was aware enough of this to go to the school for a message, this could imply that the school is known as a VFD-occupied space.
Mrs. Bass's metric system class involved the children measuring random objects and then being tested on their memorization skills.
Mr. Remora's language arts class involved him describing stories of his life and testing the students on the notes they took. After he retired, Ms. K taught VFD books until she was fired. The books she taught included:
- Cleary, Beverly, Ramona Quimby, Age 8
- Dahl, Roald, Matilda
- Doyle, Vincent Francis, Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer
- Grimm, the Brothers, Grimm's Fairy Tales
- Hudson, W.H., Green Mansions
- Poe, Edgar Allan, The Coded Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe
- Pukalie, Lena, I Lost Something at the Movies
- Salinger, J.D., Nine Stories
- Sir (?), The History of Lucky Smells Lumbermill
- Snicket, Lemony, A Series of Unfortunate Events
- White, E.B., Charlotte's Web
- Wilder, Laura Ingalls, Little House in the Big Woods
Ms. Tench was the gym teacher until Coach Genghis took over, in which he ran an exercise program for the orphans.
Rules and Punishments
The school enforces strict discipline and punishments:
- If anyone is late to class, their hands are tied behind their back during meals. The student must lean down and eat their food like a dog.
- If a student is late to the cafeteria, their cups and glasses are taken away and the beverage is served in large puddles.
- If a student goes to the administrative building without an appointment, they are forced to eat their meals without silverware.
- If a student misses one of Nero's 6-hour violin recitals, they are forced to buy him a large bag of candy and watch him eat it.
Gym teacher evaluations are worth 51% of a student's grade, meaning if a student isn't very good at doing physical activities and sports, their overall grades can dramatically worsen to the point they may be expelled, which occurred to Count Olaf. For example, if a student is a regular straight-A student in all classes, but has a D in gym, their overall grade can sink to a C.
TV Series Divergent Canon
In the TV series, the school is depicted as being located in the middle of nowhere, possibly in the Hinterlands. A fence around the perimeter makes the school reminiscent of a prison. It is mentioned that that the school suffers from budget cuts, which is why Vice Principal Nero can not afford an administrative assistant without resorting to child labor, and why the library is out-of-date. Their mascot is a dead horse as a result of the expression, "You can't beat a dead horse."
The episode "The Penultimate Peril: Part Two" revealed that the Taxi Driver used to go to Prufrock Preparatory when he was young during a discussion with Nero. When the Taxi Driver asked him to give his regards to the principal, Nero mocked what he said, stated that his role is more important, and that nobody has seen the principal in ages.
The episode "The End" revealed that Ishmael used to be the principal of Prufrock Preparatory. When he noticed children with a "gleam" in their eye, he would recruit them into V.F.D in order to stand up against the ignorance and injustice in the world, making it a quieter, safer place (This contradicts book canon, which describes VFD as being several generations old).
- Vice Principal Nero - Vice principal
- Mrs. Bass - Metric system teacher
- Sunny Baudelaire - Nero's administrative worker and secretary, briefly
- Coach Genghis (Count Olaf in disguise) - New gym teacher (briefly)
- Ms. K - Teacher
- Ishmael - Former Chemistry teacher
- Mr. Remora - Language arts teacher
- Ms. Tench † - Gym teacher who "fell" out of a third story window
- White-Faced Women - Two cafeteria workers in disguise (briefly)
- Male Librarian (mentioned in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, confirmed VFD member)
- Bald Man with the Long Nose - Mascot Performer
- Olivia Caliban † - Librarian, Cafeteria Worker
- Ishmael - Principal
- Fernald - Mascot Performer
- Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender - Teacher for indeterminate studies
- Larry Your-Waiter - Cafeteria worker
- White-Faced Women - Cheerleaders
- Klaus Baudelaire (Mrs. Bass's student)
- Violet Baudelaire (Mr. Remora's student)
- Duncan Quagmire (Mr. Remora's student)
- Isadora Quagmire (Mrs. Bass's student)
- Carmelita Spats (Mr. Remora's student)
- Two orphans who are kidnapped and recruited into VFD
- Several other unnamed students
- Count Olaf †
- Jacques Snicket †
- Lemony Snicket 
- Kit Snicket †
- Larry Your-Waiter †
- Taxi Driver 
- The school is named after "J. Alfred Prufrock" of T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
- In the TV series, it is mentioned the school was founded by Sir Barrymore Feint. "Barrymore" may be a nod to producer Barry Sonnenfeld. "Feint" may be an allusion to Ellington Feint and Armstrong Feint.
- The Wide Window (indirectly mentioned)
- The Austere Academy
- Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (mentioned)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 PROSE: The Austere Academy
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 PROSE: Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
- ↑ TV: The Miserable Mill: Part One
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 TV: The Austere Academy: Part One
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 TV: The Austere Academy: Part Two
- ↑ PROSE: The Vile Village
- ↑ PROSE: The End
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 TV: The Miserable Mill: Part Two
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 TV: The End
- ↑ TV: The Penultimate Peril: Part Two