Wonder: Is Beecher Prep a Real School in Brooklyn?

Image Credit: Dale Robinette/Lionsgate

Based on the book of the same name, ‘Wonder’ follows the story of a boy named Auggie, who has a medical facial deformity that causes him to feel othered. He has been homeschooled by his mother, but now, her parents think it’s time for him to attend a proper school, which is incredibly intimidating for Auggie. He is scared of how he will be treated by other kids, but the school’s principal helps ease that tension by inviting three children to show Auggie around a day before the classes begin. At first, Auggie is worried that he might be bullied, and his concerns are not unfounded. Soon, however, he finds a place for himself and eventually ends up liking the school. Any parent would want their child to go to a school like this, but is it even real?

Beecher Prep is a Fictional Private School in Wonder

The characters and events in ‘Wonder’ are entirely fictional and are a result of RJ Palacio’s imagination. Like almost every other thing in the story, Beecher Prep is also a fictional location. The story takes place in Brooklyn, and there is no school with that name in real-life Brooklyn. There is a school named Beecher Prep in New Jersey, but it is not the one referred to in ‘Wonder.’ The similarities between their names are entirely coincidental.

Interestingly, for a story that took place in a Brooklyn school, the majority of the film wasn’t even shot in the United States. The cast and crew turned to Vancouver. While some scenes were filmed in and around New York, a huge part of it was actually filmed in the Canadian city. The school that we see in the movie is actually two different locations. The exteriors for Beecher Prep were filmed in Vancouver College, a Catholic private high school and private elementary school. Several scenes were also shot in the Heritage Woods Secondary School, a co-ed high school in Port Moody.

A blend of the locations in and around Vancouver created a seamless narrative for ‘Wonder.’ Because the school is such an important part of his story, considering that this is the plot point that pushes the narrative and leads to the primary conflict in the story, it was important to present it in a way that would come across as realistic to the audience, allowing them to see themselves in Auggie and his struggles and empathize with him, as well as with the other characters whose perspectives also find a place in the storytelling.

Going to school turns around Auggie’s life and makes him realize that while something might seem scary and intimidating in the beginning, it will eventually find him the right people to surround himself with, and he will make friends for life. He learns this lesson by the end and even thanks his mother for giving him the push in the right direction, knowing that without her trusting that he would be fine, he probably would have never left the confines of his house and found the great things he does at Beecher Prep.

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