St. Stephen's Episcopal School (Austin, Texas)

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St. Stephen's Episcopal School
St.StephensEpiscopalSchoolSeal.jpg
The official seal of St. Stephen's Episcopal School
Address
6500 St. Stephen's Drive
Austin, Texas, 78746
United States
Coordinates 30°19′49.04″N 97°48′58.78″W / 30.3302889°N 97.8163278°W / 30.3302889; -97.8163278Coordinates: 30°19′49.04″N 97°48′58.78″W / 30.3302889°N 97.8163278°W / 30.3302889; -97.8163278
Information
Type Private, Boarding
Religious affiliation(s) Christian
Denomination Episcopal
Founded 1950
Founder Bishop John E. Hines
Authority Episcopal Diocese of Texas
CEEB Code 44315
Chairperson The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle
Head of school Robert E. "Bob" Kirkpatrick
Staff 80
Grades 6‒12
Gender Coed
Enrollment 665
Average class size 16
Student to teacher ratio 16:1
Education system College Preparatory
Campus size 370 acres (150 ha)
Campus type Suburban
School color(s) Purple and Red
Athletics Various
Athletics conference Southwest Preparatory Conference Division II
Mascot Spartan SpartanHelmet.jpg
Team name Spartans
Endowment $8.2 M
Budget $18.9 M
Tuition $20,870 (Upper)
Website

St. Stephen's Episcopal School is a private diocesan Episcopal boarding and day school in Austin, Texas. Enrollment is approximately 665, with roughly 460 in Grades 9–12 and 205 in Grades 6–8. Its campus overlooking Lake Austin is spread over 370 acres (1.5 km2) of the Texas Hill Country.[1]

History[edit]

Bishop John E. Hines of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas founded St. Stephen's Episcopal School in 1950 with the support of the Episcopal Church. He was once quoted as saying that it was the duty of Christians "to live on the bleeding edge of the human dilemma, and to bear the exquisite penalty of such an exposed position." Cast in the image of these leaders, the school has played a minor part in the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement as the first co-ed Episcopal school in the United States and the first integrated boarding school in the South.[1]

The early years of the school were marked by internal and external struggles. Although situated today at the western edge of the city of Austin and surrounded by affluent housing developments, for many years the school was quite isolated from the outside world. A number of the early buildings at the school were constructed by local "cedar choppers," with the assistance of students and staff members, using locally-available materials. This rugged environment led students to nickname themselves "Spartans," which became the school's mascot.

During these early years, external pressures occasionally affected life at the school, with heavy pressure sometimes exerted on Bishop Hines and other school officials to modify the school's position on integration. The school faced down these threats, and in 1968, following the death of Martin Luther King, the school established a scholarship in his name.

St. Stephen's is overseen by a board of trustees, comprising alumni and community leaders. Day-to-day operations of the school are overseen by a head of school, who is appointed by the board of trustees with the consent of the Bishop of Texas. The current headmaster is Robert E. Kirkpatrick. Rules and policies of the school are adopted by the faculty at faculty meetings.

Religion[edit]

Being an Episcopal school, chapel services are held most mornings. Chapel features a traditional Christian worship service, sometimes featuring guest speakers and announcements. A weekly church service is conducted during the school year on Sunday evenings. Boarding students are required to attend this service. Prayers are also offered after meals and important occasions.

The school is served by an Episcopal chaplain. The current chaplain is Father Todd FitzGerald. Apart from conducting chapel services, he also teaches a senior theology class and is the faculty sponsor of St. Stephen's Gay-Straight Alliance.[2]

Demographics[edit]

In the 2009-2010 school year, about 152 of the 460 upper school students were boarding students from 5 U.S. states and 18 foreign countries.[1]

Academics[edit]

Every student at St. Stephen's is assigned a faculty advisor during their time at the school. Additionally, the group of students assigned to a faculty member are known as an "advisory", and often meet jointly with the advisor or to partake in group activities. Morning advisories also serve the purpose of verifying attendance. The advisor approves the student's course schedule and is responsible for ensuring his or her academic progress. In the middle school, the advisory meetings are held once a week on Wednesdays, whereas in the upper school, advisory meetings are held every day before chapel.

The academic year at St. Stephen's is organized into three terms, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Each term is punctuated by a series of breaks, including 'free weekends', which are extended holidays designed to accommodate boarding students, and fall and spring breaks. Final examinations are held at the end of both the Fall and Spring terms. Classes are currently held five days a week on a rotating schedule which ensures that course periods will be held at different times throughout the day, according the day of the schedule. Until the fall of 1973, classes were also held on Saturday mornings.

St. Stephen's eschews traditional marks in favor of a system of letter grades devised by the school, known as HVGPUX. In this system, grades 90 and above are classified as 'honors', 80–89 as 'very good,' 70–79 as 'good,' 60–69 as 'passing', 40–59 as 'unsatisfactory', and anything below 40 as "X", which is failing. Under this system, a grade of 80, or "V", roughly corresponds with an "A" under the standard grading system. Although instructors often use number grades to mark coursework, the only grade reflected on the student's transcript will be a letter grade, which may be accompanied by a "+" or "−" sign to indicate its position within the grade range. However, in some classes, particularly those in the humanities and social sciences, no number grades are ever used. Students are not assigned a grade point average, and it is not common for students to be awarded an "H" or "H+" grade. Additionally, each instructor prepares a written evaluation on the student that is shared with the student, his or her parents and his advisor.

At St. Stephen's, grades of "V−" and above qualify for the honor roll, and grades of "H−" and above for the high honor roll, although a student may sometimes be placed on the honor roll through the practice of allowing an "H−" mark to pull up a "G+" mark, however, if more than one grade of G+ or below is present on the student's report card, honor roll status is denied. Students who remain on the honor or high honor roll during their last two years at school are allowed to graduate with honors, or high honors, respectively.

Two papers on the literary themes of various books of a single author, known as the "author papers," until the graduating class of 2012, was required of all Seniors. It was replaced with a "novel project," a series of three comprehensive papers on three novels and one text (play, movie, novel, etc.) exploring a singular theme. A smaller version of this paper on short stories, rather than entire books, is required of all Juniors and has come to be known as the "Junior author paper." Special projects are also required of eighth graders in order to advance to the Upper School. Additionally, students completing grades 6–12 will be required to take theology at least twice during their academic career: once in 8th grade, and once in 12th grade. Unlike many church-affiliated schools, theology classes at St. Stephen's give equal treatment to the beliefs of other religions.

Additionally, each student is required to participate in some sort of physical activity per term, whether it be a sport or PE, and to take at least two years of fine arts classes (or at least one year of a full-credit Fine Arts class, such as Music Theory or Art History).

A number of prizes and medals are awarded to St. Stephen's students each year. The Bishop's Medal is awarded to the student with the highest level of academic achievement. Numerous other awards are given for achievement in academic and athletic fields.

Athletics[edit]

St. Stephen's Episcopal School is home to the Chrysalis dance company, which is taught by Deirdre Strand. Also, St. Stephen's is aligned with the Southwest Preparatory Conference (Division II, South Zone), the athletic organization for several private high schools in Texas and Oklahoma.

Student government[edit]

The overall body for student government is the Executive Board, which is led by a president and vice president, who represent the entire student body. Each class elects five representatives (at least one boarding student and at least one day student) to the Government. The student president represents the students before the faculty and school administration, and in consultation with the Student Government develops proposals for presentation to the faculty.

Each year in the Boarding program, a certain number of juniors and seniors are elected proctors by their peers and the faculty. These students are charged with overseeing the dormitories and conduct other staff functions for the school. Within each dormitory, a certain number of faculty living on campus are designated as house masters. These faculty members periodically check the dormitories and provide guidance and support to the boarding students. Generally, one or two of these faculty members will reside in an apartment adjacent to the dormitory.

Additionally, discipline at the school is the province of the Discipline Committee (DC), a body comprising three students and three faculty members. Students accused of an infraction of school rules go before the committee, which weighs their guilt or innocence and, as warranted, recommends punishment to the head of school.

For many years, students at St. Stephen's were also assigned tasks known as 'school keeping' and 'table waiting.' Under the table waiting system, underclassmen were responsible for serving and clearing away food to their table. This system was abolished, however, for practical reasons when meals in the dining hall began to be served "cafeteria style," and the practice was later rendered impractical when the lunch period was divided to accommodate the growth of the school.

Examples of school keeping included cleaning class rooms, clerical work in the administration office, conducting attendance and ringing the bell that marked time at the school. Late in the school year of 2004–2005 radio-synchronized clocks were installed in every classroom to aid in keeping everyone on the same schedule.

Alumni[edit]

Notable alumni, in order of the most recent year of attendance (if known), then alphabetically by last name:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Us". sstx.org. St. Stephen's Episcopal School. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  2. ^ http://sstx.org/experiment.php?page=mikeWallens

External links[edit]