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Episcopal High School (Alexandria, Virginia): Wikis


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Episcopal High School
Fortiter, fideliter, feliciter
"Strongly, faithfully, joyfully"
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Type Private Preparatory Boarding School
Religious affiliation Episcopal
Established 1839
Headmaster F. Robertson Hershey
Faculty 80
Enrollment 420
Average class size 12
Student:teacher ratio 6:1
Campus City, 135 acres (.55 km²)
26 buildings
Color(s) Maroon and Black
Athletics 15 Interscholastic Sports
Athletics conference IAC (Boys)
ISL (Girls)
Mascot Maroon
Average SAT scores 629 verbal, 647 math  (2005)
Ehs chapel.jpg

Episcopal High School, founded in 1839, is a private boarding school located in Alexandria, Virginia. The Holy Hill's 130-acre (0.53 km2) campus houses 435 students from 30 states, the District of Columbia and 17 different countries.[1] Taking no day-students,[1] Episcopal has claimed to be the only all boarding school in the United States located in a metropolitan area.[2]

Episcopal is a community which encourages development in three major aspects of student life: academic achievement, athletic involvement, and personal growth.

The Honor Code, Mass Meetings, Enrichment Tours, The Bonfire, Dorm Games, Rotation Tables, The Center, Banner Painting, and annual competition with Woodberry Forest are just some of the unique elements and traditions which distinguish the High School Community.



Episcopal High School was founded in 1839 as the first high school in Virginia.[3] It was originally known as The Howard School, from its location at the site of an earlier school.[4] It became known affectionately as "The High School".[3] However, a board decision in fall 2007 removed all public use of the nickname "The High School" to improve the school's public image. The board of trustees agreed that, despite the historical context of the nickname, references to Episcopal High School as "The High School" created an elitist image that could be offensive to those outside the Episcopal High School community.[citation needed]

Initially founded as an all-boys school, Episcopal enrolled its first 48 female students in 1991, a group commonly referred to as “The First 48.” The first girls graduated in 1993, and currently 45 percent of the student body is female.[5]

The school's main building had been the home of Martha Washington's eldest granddaughter Elizabeth Parke Custis Law who called the estate Mount Washington.[citation needed] The house is still used today, mainly for administration offices. The high school was used as a Union Army hospital during the American Civil War; this was the only time in the school's history that it was ever closed. The poet Walt Whitman was a nurse in the hospital during the war.

Although known throughout the South, Episcopal's student body has become more diverse in recent years. The most represented states are Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina, but students come from 30 states, the District of Columbia and 17 countries.[6]

EHS competes in one of the oldest high-school football rivalries in the United States. Beginning in 1900, every fall the Maroon and the Woodberry Forest Tigers have competed on the football field. The location of the game alternates each year; it is either in Orange or Alexandria.[7]

Honor code

According to the school's webpage, Episcopal's Honor Code is one of the oldest among secondary schools in the United States, and it forms the cornerstone of school life.[8] The Honor Code consists of four parts:

  • I will not lie.
  • I will not cheat.
  • I will not steal.
  • I will report the student who does.

At the end of any graded assignment, Episcopal High School students are required to write, and sign their name to the following:

  • I hereby certify upon my honor that I have neither given nor received any assistance on this examination, nor am I aware of any breach of the honor code.

This is called, "Pledging".

The Honor Committee — composed of seven student-elected students and four appointed faculty members — promotes understanding of the code and manages individual violations. Violations of the first three points are serious disciplinary matters that usually result in expulsion; the fourth is enforced less strictly, though it is technically of equal importance to the others.


Aerial photograph of the Episcopal High School campus.

Episcopal students are required to complete 23 credits in order to graduate, in the areas of English, mathematics, foreign language, social studies, science, theology, physical education and the arts.[9]

Students must enroll in at least five academic courses each semester, plus an afternoon athletic or activity option. They may take choir, orchestra or another elective choice as a sixth course, but may not enroll in seven courses without approval from the administration.[10]

The school offers more than 140 courses, including 40 Advanced Placement and honors courses. Students may also work with faculty members to develop independent study curriculum on an approved topic of their choice.[10]

The average class size is 12, with a 6:1 student-teacher ratio. There are 89 faculty members, and 80 percent live on campus.[11]

The grading scale ranges from honors (90-100) to failure (below 60). The honor roll is called the High List.[9]


Episcopal fields 43 boys’ and girls’ interscholastic teams in 15 different sports: football, field hockey, soccer, tennis, cross county, volleyball, basketball, squash, track and field, wrestling, baseball, crew, golf, lacrosse, and softball. Non-interscholastic sports, such as kayaking, rock climbing, dance, cross training, and strength training, are also available.[12]

The boys’ teams compete in the Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC). The school has won 32 IAC Championships since 1979 and seven Virginia Independent School State Championships since 1996. Episcopal’s girls’ teams compete in the Independent School League (ISL). They have won 21 ISL Championships since 1993.[13]

In the fall of 2008, the boys' varsity soccer team completed a perfect IAC season with a 23-0-0 record.[14] They also went on to become the number one team in the state of Virginia by defeating NSCAA-nationally-ranked #3 Norfolk Academy 4-0 in the VISAA Championship final.[citation needed] They finished the season ranked as the #13 team in the country.[15] In the 2009 fall season, the boys' varsity soccer team finished the year with a double overtime win over Collegiate School(Richmond, VA) which brought two consecutive state championship trophies back to Alexandria.[16] Episcopal was also the 2009 IAC champion and was ranked as the number 3 team in the country.[17]

There are varsity, junior varsity, and, for some sports, junior-level teams. Students are expected to complete three seasons of sports as freshmen, at least two as sophomores and juniors, and at least one as seniors. However, these requirements may be met by participation in non-interscholastic sports or by serving as managers for the scholastic sports teams.

Arts Programs

Episcopal offers arts courses in instrumental music, vocal music, acting, dance, ceramics, photography, drawing, painting, music theory, and music recording.[18] All students entering as freshman are required complete one credit in the arts, and older students must complete one-half credit in order to graduate.[9]

Arts courses take place in the Ainslie Arts Center, named for former headmaster Lee S. Ainslie ’56. The building opened in 2003 and includes a black box theater and a recording studio.[19]

The school regularly offers student and professional art shows, concerts and workshops. The National Chamber Players perform at the school several times each year, and student musicians often perform with the Youth Symphony Orchestra.[20]


Callaway Chapel in a snow storm.

Students are required to go to a 15–20 minute chapel service three times a week. There is a voluntary church service each Sunday, and once a month there is a mandatory vespers service at night. The Friday chapel service is always student-led. Students of all religions are accepted to the school and allowed to lead Friday Services should they wish to do so. The school is informally affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, yet all are welcome. Often there will be a guest speaker in the chapel services. Among these speakers is Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.[21]


There are several student run clubs and organizations at EHS. Among the most active are The Young Republicans and Young Democrats, The Environmental Club, Spectrum (a club dedicated to student diversity), and The Students' Association of Performing Artists (known as S.A.P.A. throughout campus). Spectrum is one of the most influential clubs on campus, sponsoring several activities such as "In The World This Week" during Community Meeting, cultural meals, Halloween Dance, Valentine's Day carnation fundraiser, dress-down days, school-wide movie and discussion nights, Breast Cancer Awareness, Africa Outreach, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly. Members of the club also participate in the Alexandria Diversity Forum. S.A.P.A. is another very active club, hosting a variety of weekend activities. Past events include musical open mic nights (known as coffee houses), charity concerts, air guitar competitions, a Faculty-Student poker tournament, and video game tournaments.


The comprehensive tuition fee for the 2007-08 school year was $38,200, in addition to the technology fee ($250), cost of books (about $600), and spending money. Student activities are included in the tuition, although there are some exceptions. [11]

Each student is also required to purchase a laptop from a designated vendor before entering the school as part of the school’s laptop program. The computers are frequently used in the classroom.[22]

The school offers financial aid in the form of grants, based on financial need and the individual student’s merit. About 30 percent of the student body received aid for 2007-08, with a total of over $3 million awarded.[11]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b "EHS: At a Glance". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  2. ^ Price, Douglas C.. "EHS: Admissions". Episcopal High School website. Archived from the original on 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  3. ^ a b "EHS: History". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  4. ^ Kinsolving, Arthur Barksdale (1922), The story of a southern school: the Episcopal High School of Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland: The Norman, Remington Co., pp. 18–21,,+Alexandria+1839+howard&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 
  5. ^ "EHS: History". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  6. ^ "Admissions: Frequently Asked Questions". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  7. ^ Morones, Mike (2007-12-01). "'THE GAME': HIGH NOON For 107 years, two rival high-school football teams have squared off with one overriding goal: Sweet victory". The Free Lance-Star. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c "EHS: Academics". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  10. ^ a b "EHS Curriculum Guide". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  11. ^ a b c "EHS: At a Glance". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  12. ^ "EHS: Sports Offerings". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  13. ^ "EHS: Athletics Brochure". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "EHS: Academic Offerings in the Arts". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  19. ^ "EHS: Ainslie Arts Center at Episcopal High School". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  20. ^ "EHS: The Arts at Episcopal High School". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  21. ^ EHS News: "Dream About a Better World"
  22. ^ "EHS: Technology at Episcopal High School". Episcopal High School website. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  23. ^ William Gaston Caperton III
  24. ^ McCain has repeatedly noted in speeches that his high school days, and in particular the influence of William Bee Ravenel III were an important formative influence on his life. See McCain, John S. (2008, 1 April). Episcopal Offered Me a Home Text of speech at Episcopal High School (Alexandria, Virginia). Retrieved on 2008-05-04. Also see Ringle, Ken (2008, 12 May). A Hero's Life. The Weekly Standard Volume 013, Issue 33. Retrieved on 2008-05-04. Also see NNDB entry on John McCain. Retrieved on 2008-05-04.

External links



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