The Westminster Schools

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The Westminster Schools
Seal of The Westminster Schools
Seal of The Westminster Schools
1424 West Paces Ferry Road, NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30327
United States
Coordinates 33°50′39″N 84°26′10″W / 33.84426°N 84.436242°W / 33.84426; -84.436242Coordinates: 33°50′39″N 84°26′10″W / 33.84426°N 84.436242°W / 33.84426; -84.436242
School type Private
Motto "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)
Religious affiliation(s) Christian
Denomination Non-denominational
Established 1951; traces origins to 1878
Founder Dr. William L. Pressly
President Keith Evans
Faculty 285
Gender Co-educational
Enrollment 1,873[1]
 • Kindergarten c65
 • 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"
Mascot Wildcat
Nickname Wildcats
Team name Wildcats
Accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Average SAT scores 1390 (2017)[1]
Average ACT scores 31 (2017)[1]
Newspaper The Westminster Bi-Line
Yearbook Lynx
Endowment $274 million[2]
Tuition $24,220 (Pre-first-5)
$28,090 (6-12)[3]
Revenue $49,287,690[2]
Graduates 192 (2017)[1]
Alumni 11,000+
Grades Pre-first through 12

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.[4]


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,[5] 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. Three years later, in 1965, Westminster became one of the first southern private schools to integrate, four years after Atlanta Public Schools integrated by federal order in 1961. Four African American students graduated in 1972.[6] 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.[7]


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


The plaza located on Westminster's campus.

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 six 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 hang out 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 day care for the faculty's children.

The campus hosted the Atlanta Marathon from 1964 until 1980.[8] 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.[9]

Post-secondary education[edit]

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. Westminster has the fifth highest success rate (of students and graduates) and second hardest learning program of any non-boarding school in the southern states.

In 2017, the school graduated 22 National Merit Finalists and 6 U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidates, with more than 45% of the class earning National Merit recognition.[1] The Class of 2017 graduated 192 students, who attended 80 colleges and universities.

The universities with the largest matriculation from the Classes of 2013-2017 were Emory University (33), University of Georgia (135), Georgia Institute of Technology (67), University of Virginia (37), University of Alabama (20), Auburn University (23), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (26), Vanderbilt University (23), Wake Forest University (23), Washington University in St. Louis (28), Dartmouth College (15), Duke University (16), Harvard University (18), Southern Methodist University (19), University of Texas at Austin (19), and Washington & Lee University (18) among others.

Westminster has had eight graduates complete the Rhodes Scholarship.[10]

Minority enrollment stands at approximately 30%, and financial aid is awarded to 15.6% of the student body.[11]


Current 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.[12]

These teams have won 272 state championships since 1951, including seven in the 2016-17 school year.[11] 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.[13] 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.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

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.[11] Notable service clubs include the Community Service Program and the Environmental Campus Organization, an environmental conservation club focused on educating and affecting environmental change. In addition, the East African Children's Education Fund, which has raised more than $250,000, the largest of any student run charitable organization in the United States, was founded by a Westminster student and Westminster students remain active in its operation.

Political and social advocacy groups have become more active in the previous two election cycles, and include Young Democrats and Young Republicans associations and a Human Rights Club.

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. In the Upper School, Rev. David Charney leads Christian Life activities.

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. The station has been recognized numerous times for its extensive coverage, particularly live sports events. WCAT was honored as the "Best Overall School Broadcast Program"[14] by the NFHS Network in 2017. In the same year, the station received two regional student production awards from the Southeast Chapter of the Emmys for Live Event—Sports and Audio/Sound. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), the organization that hosts the Emmy Awards, honored WCAT with the 2017 National Student Production Award for Live Event—Sports coverage.[15]

Policy Debate[edit]

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[16]. 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 school's FIRST robotics team now has more than 25 awards and recognitions to its name.[17]

Notable people[edit]


Notable alumni of Westminster include:[18]



  • The film The Blind Side was filmed on the school's campus in June 2009, with students, parents, teachers and coaches acting as extras.[27]
  • The school offers around 23 Advanced Placement courses each year, with a 90+% pass rate.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Class of 2014 : College Profile". Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Charity Navigator Rating - The Westminster Schools". Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  3. ^ "The Westminster Schools - GA ~Tuition and Financial Aid". 2015-01-30. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  4. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (January 26, 2008). ""At Elite Prep Schools, College-Size Endowments."". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived March 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "History". The Westminster Schools. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  7. ^ "Teaching For Tomorrow Assures Excellence for Today." Adams, Abby. The Westminster Bi-Line, December 8, 2006. pg. 3.
  8. ^ Ludwig, Scott (2013-04-30). Distance Memories: Reflections of a Life on the Run. iUniverse. ISBN 9781475985771. 
  9. ^ "Our Campus - The Westminster Schools". Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  10. ^ "Westminster Magazine Spring 2017". issuu. Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  11. ^ a b c [2] Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "High School Sports News Articles - MaxPreps - Westminster wins 12-13 MaxPreps Cup". MaxPreps. 2013-08-05. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  13. ^ [3] Archived November 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Westminster Magazine Fall 2017". issuu. Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  15. ^ "WCAT Wins National Student Production Award". Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  16. ^ "Debate Team Reaches Semifinals of Tournament of Champions". Retrieved 2017-11-12. 
  17. ^ "Team Achievements - Team 2415". Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "2008-2009 Alumni Donor Proof" (PDF). The Westminster Schools. 2009-06-28. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  19. ^ "Margaret Mitchell (American novelist)". Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  20. ^ 1918 Facts and Fancies Yearbook
  21. ^ 1964 Lynx Yearbook
  22. ^ 1973 Lynx Yearbook
  23. ^ "Helen Ballard Weeks: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  24. ^ 1975 Lynx Yearbook
  25. ^ 1991 Lynx Yearbook
  26. ^ 1992 Lynx Yearbook
  27. ^ Hartstein, Larry (July 2, 2009). "Sandra Bullock movie takes over Atlanta private school". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 

External links[edit]