History & Traditions
Commendation from the Reaccreditation Visiting Committee of ISAS/SAES, 2013
The rebirth and resurrection of St. Paul’s Episcopal School since 2005 is remarkable and inspiring. The Committee commends all St. Paul’s constituencies for the perseverance, particularly administrators, teachers, and families who returned to rebuild the School after Katrina. The administration and Board of Trustees have provided effective leadership and stewardship during this recovery process. The spirit of generosity and volunteerism in the St. Paul’s community was incalculably important in this regard.
St. Paul’s Episcopal School - Over 50 Years of Growth
Continuing a long history of commitment to education by the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church voted in 1960 to open a day school as part of its service to the community. The original plan was to start the school with a nursery and kindergarten and add one grade a year through the sixth grade.
The school opened in September of 1961 with 52 students. In 1962 a second story was added to the front wing of the educational building. In 1966 it became necessary to expand the second story over the back wing as well, allowing the school to effectively educate approximately 200 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The school’s first eighth grade graduated in May of 1972. St. Paul’s continued to grow steadily.
As the eighties began, the Board of Trustees recognized the need to develop St. Paul’s capabilities beyond the time honored “basics.” During this time St. Paul’s added a science laboratory, a kindergarten room, computer labs, and music room.
In 1983, St. Paul’s completed its application for accreditation with I.S.A.S. (Independent Schools Association of the Southwest) and at its second 10 year self-study, St. Paul’s applied for accreditation with S.A.E.S. (Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools) in 1993.
Beginning in 1985 and continuing through the nineties, the school began a capital campaign consisting of three phases: renovation, classroom additions, and property acquisition. During this time multiple projects took place including:
- Expansion of the main building
- Renovation of kitchen and O’Ferrall Hall
- Houses purchased on Vicksburg Street and the property adjacent to it
Acquisition of the adjacent property continued into the 21st century. The “Behrens Building,” commemorating St. Paul’s first head of school, was located on Canal Boulevard and French Street.
Construction of the Suzy Dunn Early Education Center was completed for the 2002-2003 school year. The building originally housed Pre-K and Kindergarten students and is now home to the Little Saints Learning Center. During the summer of 2002, an area called the “grass yard’ was converted into parking space in anticipation of the construction of Hemenway Hall named after long-term head of school, Charles Hemenway. This facility was in full use for the 2003-2004 school year and houses the gymnasium, science laboratory, art rooms, music room, lower school class rooms, after care, and more.
On August 29, 2005, St. Paul’s was devastated with flood waters when a defective levee collapsed on the edge of the neighborhood shortly after the passing of Hurricane Katrina. For three weeks the church and school sat in eight feet of polluted water and debris. The result was the total destruction of virtually all contents and records of the church and school on the ground floor, as well as two single story buildings.
In October 2005, with over half of the city re-located, the remnants of the Vestry and the School Board of Trustees made a commitment to return to Lakeview and rebuild. The active 260 students and 35 faculty/staff all needed to find another school for the fall semester. While the remediation and renovation began on the school grounds, St. Paul’s school was able to re-open at First Baptist Church in Lakeview, which had not sustained flood waters. First Baptist Church housed the 11 teachers and 100 students who remained. With the assistance of a diligent and heroic staff, the support of schools and churches around the world, and a steadfast congregation, the rebuilding and restoration was accomplished. In August of 2006, St. Paul’s school opened its school year, back on its own campus. Three buildings were torn down and three modular buildings were added over the years to house enrollment growth, while negotiating with FEMA for the building of a new lower school building.
At this time, St. Paul’s saw the need within the neighborhood and continued to expand. The 2007-2008 school year was the beginning of the Little Saints Learning Center opening with a 3 year-old class. The Little Saints 2 year-old class began during the 2009-2010 school year. And in January 2011, the Baby and Toddler Saints were added.
In March of 2013, the new lower school building was opened, with approximately 7,500 square feet of learning space for the children. It houses a number of early childhood and lower school classes. It also contains a large common area on the first floor with a stage, media wall, and technology area with eight computers, space for creative play, and a multi-purpose room. It contains Aquos boards in every classroom and an additional computer lab on the second floor.
The spiritual development of our children is vitally important. Children are taught to be empathetic, caring and respectful of all beliefs. Service learning programs and community service are especially vital and have been significantly developed. Young students participate in programs with special needs children. Middle school students participate in “PAWS” to Work, a weekly program which provides service to the school community such as helping to take care of the school garden. Children have taught music to a group of children in an Episcopal parish in need. Gardens have been built for a Senior Center and an elementary school.
With the vision of renovation and renewal, two major curricular programs grew in strength. In 2014, St. Paul’s received a grant from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation for $5,000 for its sustainability program which was used in part for the “PAWS” to Work Program. The Innovation Station, an outdoor classroom completed in 2015, provided space for the children to produce products using science and gardening knowledge including learning woodworking skills. Hydroponics and a greenhouse were added to the sustainability program.
- Highlights of our programs in recent years:
- Incorporating a sustainability philosophy and outdoor education program
- Redesigning the schoolyard to include a culinary garden, outdoor classroom, outdoor culinary center, and pavilion
- Growing annually in student enrollment and faculty
- Offering cutting edge technology in the new state-of-the-art media lab
- Winning championships in volleyball and basketball; placing in Science Olympiad regionals and state, LEGO League champs, and more
- Hosting visitors from over 30 international countries in partnership with the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council
- Growing our endowment and financial contributions to the school annually
With the importance of history, tradition and innovation, St. Paul’s is an exciting place for learning!