Girls Preparatory School
Girls Preparatory School, often called simply GPS, is an all-female college preparatory school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. It was founded in 1906 by Miss Grace McCallie, Miss Tommie Payne Duffy, and Miss Eula Lea Jarnagin. Its brother school, The McCallie School, was founded in 1905 by the brothers of Grace McCallie.
|Girls Preparatory School|
|Type||Private all-female secondary|
|Head||Dr. Sue Groesbeck|
|Location||Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA|
|Colors||Black and Blue|
In 1906, Miss Duffy and Miss Jarnagin, two public school teachers, asked the city school board to provide a fourth year of high school studies, including modern language and a lab science, so girls, as well as boys, would apply for college. When their request was denied, they decided to create an independent school to prepare girls for higher education and convinced their friend Grace McCallie to join them. The school opened on September 12, 1906, in a four-room schoolhouse at 106 Oak Street.
The school house had been Grace McCallie's home. The three founders used all of their money, $300, to equip and launch the school. In twelve weeks they converted the house to a school. The ground floor contained rooms with second hand desks. There was an alcove library and tiny cloakroom, along with a staircase so narrow students turned sideways to pass.
The school accommodated the 45 students who enrolled for the first day of classes on September 12, 1906. Each girl paid $80 tuition per year and at the end of the first year one of the students was accepted to and enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman's College. In 1915 the school had to relocate to a larger brick building on Palmetto street.
Tuition is now $20,000 per year. Currently 50% of the student body receives need-based financial aid. Every year one rising senior is awarded the "Grace McCallie Scholarship" which pays the tuition for their senior year.
The school is the second largest girl's school in the country and the largest day school(non-boarding school).
Girls Preparatory School celebrated its 100th anniversary during the 2005-2006 school year. The tagline for the celebration was "Beyond the Dream." On September 12, 2005, the school held a "Founder's Day" to celebrate those 100 years and honor the alumnae, faculty, and current students. It was held at Memorial Auditorium on Oak Street, about 20 feet from the original school house. Over 700 GPS students marched across Veterans Memorial Bridge to the auditorium to commemorate the walks that the first students had taken 100 years ago to stay healthy.
There have been five heads of the school, the last being Stanley Randolph "Randy" Tucker Jr., who served for 26 years. The school has an interim head, Dr. Sue Groesbeck, for the 2013-2014 academic year as the school searches for a permanent head.
GPS has many traditions dating back to the school's founding.
The school celebrates "May Day" on the Wednesday closest to May 1 as long as the weather permits. On this day, seniors are presented to the school as was the tradition for educated women at the time GPS was founded. Underclassmen have the opportunity to dance with the school's dance clubs, and all sophomores perform a traditional maypole dance. The tradition dates back to British fertility rites. The dance is meant to symbolize the coming spring and ensure a healthy crop. Some[who?] trace it back to Roman times. GPS's first May Day was in 1914.
The May Court, consisting of a Queen, Maid of Honor, Scepter Bearer, Crown Bearer, and two Train bearers is nominated by the senior class. The May Queen and Maid of Honor are then selected by a vote of the entire student body. Though originally the May Queen was the girl in the class with the longest hair, the May Queen and her court are now to be the representatives of the senior class "in the highest sense". The Queen carries a scepter and wears a white dress. All other seniors wear a solid colored, floor-length dress. No other senior is allowed to wear a white, ivory or very pale colored dress or carry white flowers.
Most students enjoy May Day and are very happy that such a long-standing tradition has been upheld, but a few are disappointed that a day where the seniors stand around in dresses has reached an equal footing in importance to commencement. Some seniors have opted out of participating in the day by writing a letter or speaking to the administration about why they are against the tradition. Very few seniors have chosen this option in the past. Many attempts to bring substance to May Day, such as donating money to charities instead of buying full bouquets and having something the student is passionate about read out along with her name, have been unsuccessful largely due to the administration's unwillingness to change 'tradition'.
Cat-Rat is a tradition where a senior "cat" takes a 6th grade "rat" under her wing for the year. The girls go on a retreat and put on a parade for the school the day after, in which the "cats" dress up their "rats" according to a previously chosen theme. Past parade themes have been "Mall Rats," "I Love the 90s," "Globe Trotters," and "Board Games." 
Each year, GPS also celebrates a "Class Day" near the end of the year when many awards are given for academic and character achievement. The awards for the Upper School Teacher of the Year and Middle School Teacher of the Year are presented at this time, while other awards (notably for seniors) are given at Commencement the next day.
The girls attending GPS wear two uniforms, one during the winter and the other during the summer. The summer uniform, nicknamed the "potato sack," consists of a thin cotton dress with large front pockets, pleats down the front, small white buttons on both the collar and sleeves, a slim leather belt around the waist, and a bow to tie the collar closed. The winter uniform, much more generic, is a simple pleated navy or plaid skirt and an oxford cloth shirt. The summer uniform was adopted in 1924 with the winter uniform making its first appearance in 1988.
After each test or quiz, a girl must write the honor code pledge: "On my honor I have neither given nor received help on this test/quiz, nor will I discuss it." and sign it.
Other traditions include the community service oriented Robin Hood Week, Winterim, and the Honor Code. All seniors are also required to give a talk in front of the school. These talks occur during assembly three to four times a week.
Middle School (grades 6-8)
GPS believes in providing each girl with a superior and rigorous academic program accompanied by opportunities for personal growth in athletics, the fine arts, community service, and extracurricular activities. Starting from the 6th grade, students are immediately expected to work their hardest and excel in whichever subject they put their minds to. In addition, the girls take a computer class twice a week to develop technological, communication, and problem-solving skills. In the 7th grade, they are required to pick up a language: French, Spanish, Latin, or Mandarin Chinese, and in the 8th grade, each student is required to purchase a specific personal laptop for school use. In the past, IBM tablets were the laptops of choice; however, due to several laptop issues over the course of several years, the school switched to requiring the students purchase MacBook Airs for convenience in 2011.
Upper School (grades 9-12)
Because GPS stands among the country's leading schools in educational and technological innovation, its graduates are young women who create a more honorable, compassionate, and sustainable community. The Upper School, along with the Middle School, prepares its students by engaging their minds, stimulating their spirits, and challenging them to become effective leaders in the global community. After every test and quiz, students are expected to write, "On my honor I have neither given nor received help on this test, nor will I discuss it.", followed by their signature.
The Upper School currently offers 19 Advanced Placement courses, ranging from AP Latin Horace to AP Comparative Government & Politics. Students consistently score higher than the national and state average for males and females in every subject offered; in 2010-11, 80% of the sophomores through seniors taking the exams scored three or higher on the five point scale, and in the senior class of 2011, 70% were enrolled in at least one AP course. Class sizes are relatively small, with the student-teacher ratio being 12:1. Although each grade consists of 80-110 girls, the school boasts excellence in every division, with numerous National Merit Scholars, perfect SAT scores, and millions offered in scholarship money per year. Graduates of GPS attend diverse colleges every year, including Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Columbia University, New York University (NYU), United States Military Academy (USMA), Yale University, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Brandeis University, Johns Hopkins University, and Vanderbilt University, to name a few.
The Alma Mater is traditionally sung at many school events.
"Here's to the girls of the GPS. Here's to the lessons too. Here's to the ring we wear for her. Here's to the black and blue. Here's to the hope that we still may be, Proven through every test, Worthy the school we most revere, Here's to the GPS."
Other GPS songs include "GPS We Love, Extol Thee," and the "Where O Wheres."
- Carman Barnes, writer
- Rachel Boston, actress
- Tracy Seretean, Academy Award winning filmmaker
- Andrea Saul, Republican Party operative