Annie Wright School

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Annie Wright Schools
Annie Wright Sign.jpg
From strength to strength
Tacoma, Washington
Coordinates 47°16′06″N 122°27′35″W / 47.268414°N 122.459641°W / 47.268414; -122.459641Coordinates: 47°16′06″N 122°27′35″W / 47.268414°N 122.459641°W / 47.268414; -122.459641
Type Coed day school (grades PS-8); all-girls upper school, International Baccalaureate, day and boarding programs (grades 9-12), independent
Established 1884
Head of School Christian Sullivan[1]
Grades Preschool-12
Number of students 480
School color(s) Blue and Gold
Mascot Gators

The Annie Wright Schools are two schools on one campus. Annie Wright Day School serves boys and girls in preschool through grade 8, while Annie Wright Upper School offers all-girls day and boarding programs for grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is an International Baccalaureate World School.

Founded in 1884, Annie Wright Schools are located in the North End neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington. Its historic campus includes an indoor pool, two gyms, science and technology labs, art and music studios, theater, outdoor gardens, play areas, athletic fields and open spaces.


Annie Wright Schools were founded on the dreams of the Right Reverend John Adams Paddock and the hard work of Charles Barstow Wright. Paddock was appointed the first Missionary Bishop for the Episcopal Church in the Washington Territory in 1880. He moved to New Tacoma in 1881 with his wife Fannie Paddock and their five children.

Charles Wright was a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His business was one of banking and railroads, which brought him to Tacoma. He was part of the committee that ventured to the Pacific Northwest in 1872 to determine the final destination for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He later became president of Tacoma Land Company and spokesman for "the City of Destiny" that was Tacoma.

In 1881, Wright wrote to Bishop Paddock and asked him how he could further support Tacoma. Paddock answered that the little town of some 1,000 people needed a church and a school which would "make possible Christian education for the rising generation of daughters of the pioneers." Wright agreed and outlined his vision for the school:

“The school will provide education for the rising generation of daughters of the pioneers, children who will lay a firm foundation for the great state that is to be, a state which will require them to have kind, not callous hearts; joyous, not pampered spirits; broad, not petty minds; refined, not tawdry tastes; direct, not shifting speech – women who will meet wealth with simplicity, and poverty with dignity, and face life with quiet strength – developing from strength to strength; contributing to the righteous up-building of this great country.”

The original location of the new seminary was established near Wright Park in Tacoma, Washington. Paddock named the school in honor of Wright’s daughter, Annie.

Annie Wright Seminary opened its doors to 46 students from the Washington Territory, Oregon, British Columbia and Hawaii. At that time, there were ten members of the faculty. The first school catalog outlined the offerings of Annie Wright Seminary: "For board, furnished room, tuition in English branches and Latin, and laundry service, $350 a year."

The first headmistress recalled, "The school opened with a small attendance, but grew rapidly and soon was full to overflowing, so that we had to put cots at the ends of the halls and every other available space."

By the early 1900s, it became apparent that the school building was becoming too small to meet demand. A new location and building were desired to give the school its much needed space. Property was purchased on North Tacoma Avenue where the cornerstone of a new building was laid on June 9, 1924. Construction of the school was completed in time for the start of the 1924-25 school year and the doors opened to students September 18, 1924.

As the student body grew and diversified over time, the role the church played in curriculum began to wane. In 1947, Headmistress Ruth Jenkins worked with the Bishop to reform the school's religious curriculum with the belief that chapel attendance was for all faiths and forms of worship.

Beginning in the 1930s, boys were allowed to enroll in the kindergarten classes only. After the 1949 earthquake damaged nearby Lowell School, concerned parents who had daughters at Annie Wright besieged Headmistress Jenkins with urgent pleas to educate their young sons while the elementary school was under construction. An outbuilding was quickly erected on Annie Wright’s campus for the temporary schooling of boys in the early elementary grades. The temporary school for boys was called Charles Wright School. Parents looking for a permanent option for their sons later founded Charles Wright Academy in the Lakewood area (now University Place, Wa.) in 1957. The two schools remain independent of one another.

Annie Wright Seminary was renamed Annie Wright School in the early 1970s when the coeducational structure was extended through the upper elementary grades. Annie Wright’s middle school graduated its first group of boys in 1990. The name changed again slightly to Annie Wright Schools in 2011 to help identify the institution as two schools on one campus: Annie Wright Day School for boys and girls in Preschool to Grade 8, and Annie Wright Upper School for girls only in Grades 9 to 12.

Annie Wright launched a $10 million remodel as it moved into the 21st century. Klarsch Hall was constructed in 2003, housing a new dining room and additional classrooms. Most of the original classrooms were remodeled and seismic improvements were made to the original structure. In 2012 a complete renovation of all dorm facilities was completed, fully bringing the 1924 building into the 21st century.

In 2011 Annie Wright’s first students earned the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. The Day School is currently in the process of adapting the IB Primary Years Programme and IB Middle Years Programme, which would make Annie Wright the only school in the Pacific Northwest an IB school throughout its curriculum.

Annie Wright Upper School[edit]

Annie Wright Upper School is an all-girls day and boarding school offering the prestigious IB Diploma Programme. The boarding program has a 5- and 7-day program and caters to girls from all over the world.

Annie Wright Day School[edit]

Annie Wright Day School provides an inquiry-based education. It is a place where boys and girls discover and develop their passions and individual learning styles while being held to international standards of excellence. Highlights of the program include small class sizes, technology, lab science, swimming, foreign language, PE, library, theater, music and high test scores.


The Upper School fields competitive teams in volleyball, basketball, track, tennis and golf. Girls wishing to participate in other sports can do so at the closest high school offering a team. Annie Wright currently holds the state 1A championship in 400 meters women's track, and also had state showings in volleyball, golf, and tennis during the past academic year. Its volleyball team has qualified for the state championships for several years.

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]