Tampa Preparatory School
Tampa Preparatory School is a coed, independent school serving grades 6-12 located on the Hillsborough River across from downtown Tampa and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, enrolling 680 students. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Florida Council of Independent Schools, and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the College Board, the Secondary School Admissions Test Board, the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, the Southern Association of College Admissions Counseling, and the Educational Records Bureau.
Tampa Preparatory School was founded in 1974 by a group of citizens dedicated to the idea of an independent secondary school rigorous in its college-preparatory curriculum and also committed to the arts and athletics.
In 1991 seventh and eighth grades were added and in 1997 the school began offering classes for the 6th grade. In 2002 the campus moved to its new campus across the street from the University of Tampa whose campus it once shared.
Philosophy of education
Classes are taught as seminars, labs and lectures in which students form and express ideas rather than merely receive and dispense information. Classes frequently are taught in the Socratic method so that maximum participation is encouraged. The School stresses the development of self-confidence, a sense of worth, and the importance of a sense of humor - of having fun in the pursuit of one's goals.
In the first years of the school, the Harkness system was employed, where pupils sat around large tables that accommodated up to only twelve seats. The unique positioning allowed pupils to discuss the day's assignments face to face. The school's founding motto, "A Higher Purpose than the Self" was created by the founding Headmaster, George B. Wolfenden, BA, Haverford College, and MA, Brown University, with the help of his wife, Barbara Wolfenden, MA Brown University, who served for five years as Director of Studies. Textbooks and curricula were originally based heavily on those used by Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts, from which both educators had been recruited. (George served as Housemaster of Wolcott House and History teacher, and Barbara taught Spanish. They served from 1970-1974.)
Some of the school's original Board of Trustees included Alfred A. Austin, major building contractor of the city; Philip Adler, MD, pediatrician still serving Tampa for over fifty years as of this posting; the Rev. George S. Burchill (ret.), pastor of St. John's Episcopal church and Headmaster of St. John's Parish Day School; and Bob Courtney, MD.
Both Upper School and Middle School emphasize a liberal arts education. Classes are taught at the Honors, Advanced Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) levels with opportunities for accelerated study in mathematics or independent study in other areas. Courses are taught in the following areas: English, Mathematics, Science, History, Foreign Language, Arts, and Physical Education. As of 2005 Tampa Prep had a 100% college placement rate for its graduates.
Classes may have guest speakers, take local field trips, role-play mock trials and otherwise incorporate non-traditional ways of learning. Sixth grade students take camping trips to the North Carolina mountains, seventh grade students study marine science in the Florida Keys, and eighth grade students visit Boston, Massachusetts, to enhance their study of American History and American literature. Juniors in the Upper School take a class trip camping and hiking in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Tampa Prep also requires all of its students to participate in what are known as Declamations. The Declamation is an oral presentation traditionally presented during the third quarter (between winter and spring holidays). The grade level of the student determines the declamation’s length and subject matter. Grades 6 and 7 present a 2 - 4 minute oral interpretation on a selection of prose or poetry but excluding plays. Grades 8 and 9 are required to present a 2 - 4 minute speech written by someone else and delivered in a public forum. Grades 10 through 12 will present a 3 - 4 minute speech that they will have written themselves. The speech must be 75% original, allowing only 25% quotes (no notes allowed). A winner of Declamations is selected from each grade level.
The school’s 11.2-acre (45,000 m2) campus includes a 150,000-square-foot (14,000 m2) school complex including a 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) sports complex. The campus features seven science labs, four computer labs, a library, a photography lab, a gymnasium (including two full- size basket ball courts), a swimming and diving center, wrestling room and an exercise facility, a black- box theater, 2 art rooms, a dance studio, music facilities, and numerous classrooms.
The Peifer Library houses over 12,000 books and periodicals.
Tampa Preparatory School has recently opened a new student center on January 2013 that replaced the courtyard by the Smith Black Box Theater. The new center consists of a motorized drop down screen with a high definition projector, a digital hub for charging and using student personal devices, a wi-fi hotspot, and room for vending machines. The new student center serves as the new designated dining area, replacing the Student Commons on the third floor. This new dining area complements as a serving area for the lunch service catered by the restaurant FRESH. The new student center is roughly 4,000 square feet.
Tampa Prep is a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association and fields teams in sports including cross-country, swimming and diving, crew, volleyball, soccer, basketball, track and field, golf, tennis, wrestling, and cheerleading. Athletic teams and individual student athletes have won numerous State championships, including boys basketball, volleyball, golf, crew, swimming, tennis, wrestling, diving, and boys soccer. Tampa Prep does not have a football team.