The Westminster Schools
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|The Westminster Schools|
Seal of The Westminster Schools
1424 West Paces Ferry Road, NW
|Motto||And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man (Luke 2:52)|
|Established||1951; traces origins to 1878|
|Founder||Dr. William L. Pressly|
|Grades||Pre-first through 12|
|• Grade 1||c70|
|• Grade 2||c75|
|• Grade 3||c80|
|• Grade 4||c85|
|• Grade 5||c90|
|• Grade 6||c170|
|• Grade 7||c185|
|• Grade 8||c190|
|• Grade 9||c200|
|• Grade 10||c200|
|• Grade 11||c200|
|• Grade 12||c200|
|Campus size||180 acres (0.73 km2), suburban|
|School colour(s)||Forest green and white|
|Song||Westminster, Love We Thee|
|Accreditation||Southern Association of Colleges and Schools|
|Newspaper||The Westminster Bi-Line|
The Westminster Schools is a private school (Pre-first–12) in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, founded in 1951 and tracing its origins to 1878. In 2008, the school had the largest endowment of any non-boarding school in the United States.
Westminster originated in 1951 as a reorganization of Atlanta's North Avenue Presbyterian School (NAPS), a girls' school and an affiliate of the North Avenue Presbyterian Church. Dr. William L. Pressly of Chattanooga, Tennessee's McCallie School served as Westminster's first president. The school moved to its current campus in 1953 as the result of a land grant by trustee Fritz Orr.
Also in 1953, Washington Seminary, another private school for girls, founded by two of George Washington's great-nieces in 1878,[third-party source needed] merged with Westminster. The resulting school was co-educational until the sixth grade, with separate schools for boys and girls continuing through the twelfth grade, a practice that continued until 1986 and provided the basis of Westminster's plural name.
In the mid-1950s, Westminster became a test site for a new advanced studies program that would later become the College Board's Advanced Placement program. In 1962, the administration building, later named Pressly Hall, was constructed, bringing the number of permanent buildings on campus to four.
In the early 1960s, the school barred black students and only rarely allowed African-Americans on campus.
In 1965, the school's trustees voted to adopt a non-discriminatory admissions policy.
Until 1978, the school also operated as a boarding school.
In 2006 the school ran a campaign attempting to raise $100 million to further increase its endowment size. The campaign was at the time the third-largest ever for an independent school in the United States.[third-party source needed]
There have been five presidents at Westminster:
- Dr. William L. Pressly, first president and founder, 1951–1973
- Dr. Emerson Johnson III, 1973–1976
- Dr. Donn Gaebelein, 1976–1991
- Dr. William Clarkson IV, 1991–2014
- Keith Evans, 2014–present
Westminster is situated on a wooded campus of 180 acres (0.73 km2) in the Buckhead community of Atlanta. A new campus road, completed in June 2004, rerouted traffic away from central campus. In addition to a new junior high facility, completed in August 2005, Westminster has five main high school academic buildings – Campbell Hall (1952), Askew Hall (1951), and Robinson Hall (1992), Broyles Hall (1987), and Pressly Hall (1962). Pressly Hall houses administrative offices, the Malone Dining Hall, and McCain Chapel. Turner Gymnasium underwent major construction and expansion completed in 2000. Broyles Arts Center houses the orchestra, band, theater, and art programs, and also the Campus Center, an area for students to socialize during free time that includes a concession stand. The recently renovated Scott Hall (2013), once nearly obsolete after the construction of the Junior High School building, now houses the campus bookstore and technology department. Love Hall (1995) serves as the elementary school. Tull Hall, which was once the dorm rooms for boarding students, is now leased by the Georgia Academy of Music, and also serves as a preschool called The Nursery for the faculty's children and select community.
The campus hosted the Atlanta Marathon from 1964 until 1980. During the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Torch was run through campus. The floor used for the basketball games during the Olympics is now in the school's Lower School gymnasium.
As a college preparatory school, one of Westminster's primary goals for its students is that they are prepared for and able to receive a post-secondary education.
Current[when?] school traditions include a student-enforced honor code that forbids lying, cheating, and stealing. In the Middle and Upper Schools, the Honor Council oversees honor violation cases, while the Discipline Council oversees cases involving disciplinary actions not in violation of the honor code.
Annual events include the Pigskin Picnic, a performance of Handel's Messiah, WestFest, Christian Emphasis Week, Homecoming, Senior Mudslide, and Salute to the Arts. Former events include Fieldigras, which was discontinued circa 2000, Westafest, which was discontinued in 1994, and Big Day Off, which was discontinued in 2010.
Westminster maintains a rivalry with the neighboring Lovett School, as well as other area private schools including Woodward Academy, Marist School, Holy Innocents' Episcopal School, Pace Academy and Blessed Trinity.
Westminster fields 84 athletic teams, including baseball, basketball (boys' and girls'), cheerleading (football and basketball), crew, cross country (boys' and girls'), football, golf (boys' and girls'), gymnastics, lacrosse (boys' and girls'), soccer (boys' and girls'), softball, swimming and diving (boys' and girls'), tennis (boys' and girls'), track and field (boys' and girls'), volleyball, squash, and wrestling.
For the 2012–13 school year, Westminster was named the nation's best overall sports program for its eleven state championships and four second-place finishes.
These teams have won 272 state championships since 1951, including seven in the 2016–17 school year. Westminster has received the Georgia Athletic Directors' Association Directors Cup in its respective classification in 17 of the 18 years it has been awarded, 2000–2008 and 2010–2017. The varsity boys' tennis team won the Georgia State High School AAA State Championship in ten seasons in a row, 1999–2009. The boys' team has yielded many Division 1 NCAA scholarship tennis players over the years, and it has won several regional tournaments as well. The men's and women's swimming & diving teams have won 34 state championships under former coach Pete Higgins, whose accolades through 51 years of coaching include membership in the Georgia Aquatics Hall of Fame, recognition of January 5, 1990 as Pete Higgins Day by the City of Atlanta, among others. Westminster fields the sole varsity squash team south of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia featuring full interscholastic competition; the team placed 16th in the 2004 U.S. National High School Team Championships, held at Yale University, and the Squash Cats also won the title in 2012 and 2016.
In 2014, Westminster moved up a class from AA to AAA. In 2015, Westminster's football team won the AAA state championship for the first time in 37 years against rival Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in overtime, with a final score of 38–31. In 2016, Westminster's baseball team won the AAA state championship for the first time in 41 years, also against Blessed Trinity Catholic High School, sweeping the championship series in a pair of one-run victories.
Westminster places a great deal of focus on extracurricular clubs and activities, with students and faculty devoting time before, during, and after school to these activities. Among the academic extracurricular pursuits are an academic quiz team, debate team, math team, and math honors society.
Only one year of an art is required, but many extracurricular opportunities in that field are available to students, including a vocal ensemble and men's and women's a cappella, as well as a symphonic band, chorus, orchestra, and theater program.
Student publications include The Lynx, the annual yearbook, The Westminster Bi-Line, a monthly newspaper publication, Crossroads, a literary magazine in languages other than English, Embryo, an arts, music, and literature magazine, and Evolutions, a poetry and creative writing periodical.
Service has received increased focus at Westminster in recent years, centered around a Community Service Club, and 56% of high school students participated in non-required service projects in 2008–2009.[third-party source needed]
Religious and cultural groups on campus showcase the diverse heritage of the student body. A student-run Christian Life Committee oversees that aspect of student life, including many Bible studies and a branch of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Other groups of this type include Tikkun Olam, a Jewish fellowship club for junior high students; Nosh, an all-encompassing religious discussion group; and Far Out Far East, a cultural club that explores Eastern cultures and traditions. In the Middle School, the Chapel Council, led by Rev. Tina McCormick, organizes chapel services once a month, along with a few service projects.
Freshman go through a two-week Discovery program, and seniors can be members of Peer Leadership, a guidance and counseling program for freshmen.
WCAT, the school's Internet television station, broadcasts athletic events and school activities. In the 2016–17 school year, more than 45 students from all three divisions helped stream more than 220 events. Since its inception in 2010, the program has won 8 awards and 7 honorable mentions from the National Academy of Television of Arts and Sciences Southeast division. In 2017, WCAT won its first ever National Emmy from NATAS for best Sports – Live Event broadcast.
The Policy Debate team has won 16 state championships as well as many large national tournaments, including the national Tournament of Champions five times. The team also won the National Debate Coaches' Association Championships in 2007, 2014, and 2017.[third-party source needed] The team has produced more national championships in the last decade than any other school in the country and has received the Baker Cup, the award for the top ranked team in the country, three times in 2007, 2009, and 2011.
The robotics team at Westminster began in 2008 and is identified as FRC Team 2415, the WiredCats. The WiredCats are very competitive. They have qualified for the FRC international championships every year since their inception, which is more than any other team in the state. They placed 5th at the Houston International Championships in 2017 after winning their subdivision at the International Championships, being one of few teams in Georgia to have made it to the Einstein Field Bracket. The team won the Peachtree District Championship in 2018. They have many other accolades including seven regional/district event wins in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017, the chairman's award in 2010, and the engineering inspiration award in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2018. The robotics team works in a small space with their 40+ members, last counted in 2017. Their small shop includes many machines: lathe, mill, brake, 3D printer, plasma cutter, and CNC router.
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- Margaret Mitchell (Washington Seminary, 1918), author, Gone with the Wind
- Dorothy Kirby (Washington Seminary, 1938), sportscaster and golf champion
- Lynne Rudder Baker (1962), philosopher, University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Jeff Galloway (1963), Olympic 10k runner 1972
- Taylor Branch (1964), historian and author
- James H. Shepherd, Jr. (1969), chairman of the board, Shepherd Center, the United States' largest catastrophic care hospital
- Daniel R. White (1971), author
- Clark Howard (1973), consumer advocate and nationally syndicated radio talk show host
- Helen Ballard (1973), founder and chief executive officer of Ballard Designs; independent director of Oxford Industries
- Michael McChesney (1974), founder and chairman, Security First Network Bank
- Lisa Borders (1975), president of WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association), Atlanta City Council; serves as trustee of school
- Jennifer Chandler (1977), Olympic gold in 3 meter springboard diving, 1976 Summer Olympics
- Hannah Storm (1979), co-host of The Early Show and anchor for ESPN's SportsCenter
- Stan Whitmire (1980), GMA Dove Award-winning pianist and recording artist
- Phillip Alvelda (1982), co-founder, chairman and CEO, MobiTV
- Shuler Hensley (1985), Broadway actor
- Laurie Dhue (1986), former anchor (2000–2008), Fox News Channel
- Lauren Myracle (1987), author
- Rob Kutner (1990), writer, The Daily Show
- Brian Baumgartner (1991), actor, The Office
- Ed Helms (1992), actor, The Office, The Hangover, former correspondent for The Daily Show
- Brooke Baldwin (1997), news anchor, CNN
- Sedrick Hodge (1997), former NFL linebacker
- Jennifer Stumm (1997), concert violist
- Morgan Jahnig (1998), stand-up bassist, Old Crow Medicine Show
- Kaki King (1998), musician
- Ansley Cargill (2000), professional tennis player, WTA Tour
- Julian Dorio (2000), musician, "The Whigs"
- Sada Jacobson (2000), 2008 Summer Olympics silver medalist and 2004 Summer Olympics bronze medalist, sabre
- Noah Britton (2001), of Asperger's Are Us
- Parker Gispert (2001), musician, The Whigs
- Charles Judson Wallace (2001), professional basketball player
- Hamilton Jordan, Jr. (2002), musician
- Emily Jacobson (2004), 2004 Olympic fencer
- Gordon Beckham (2005), professional baseball player, 2009 winner of The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award
- Harrison Butker (2013), kicker for Kansas City Chiefs, 233rd pick in 2017 NFL Draft by Carolina Panthers
- Tyler Mitchell (2013), first black photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue Magazine
- Will Benson (2016), baseball player, selected 14th overall in 2016 MLB Draft
- Cynthia Potter, Olympic bronze in 3 meter springboard diving, 1976
- Mike Swider, current football coach at Wheaton College
- The film The Blind Side was filmed on the school's campus in June 2009, with students, parents, teachers and coaches acting as extras.
- The school offers around 23 Advanced Placement courses each year, with a 90+% pass rate.
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