50 Years of St. Paul’s Episcopal School History
Continuing a long history of commitment to education by the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dick Page and 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. St. Paul’s continued to grow steadily. 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.
As the eighties began, the Board of Trustees recognized the need to expand 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.
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 (these buildings were torn down after Hurricane Katrina).
Acquisition of the adjacent property continued as we moved into the 21st century. The “Behrens Building” commemorating St. Paul’s first head of school was located on Canal Boulevard and French Street. The building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The location is now the site of a state-of-the-art building for lower school which opened March of 2013.
Construction of the Suzy Dunn Early Education Center was completed for the 2002-03 school year. The building originally housed Pre-K and kindergarten students and is now home to the Little Saints. During the summer of 2002, an area called the “grass yard’ was converted into parking space in anticipation of the construction of Hemenway Hall. This facility was in full use for the 2003-04 school year and houses our gymnasium, science laboratory, art rooms, music room, lower school class rooms, aftercare, and more.
On August 29, 2005, St. Paul’s “drowned” when a defective levee collapsed on the edge of our neighborhood shortly after the passing of Hurricane Katrina. For three weeks the church and school marinated in eight feet of stinking, 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 having re-located, the remnants of the Vestry and the School Board of Trustees made a commitment to return to our Lakeview home and rebuild. With the assistance of Bishop Charles Jenkins and the Diocese of Louisiana, our diligent and heroic staff, the calling and drive of the Reverend Will Hood, the support of churches and faith groups around the world, and our own steadfast congregation, the rebuilding and restoration has largely been accomplished.
Better Than Ever!
In the years since Katrina, St. Paul’s has worked hard to come back even better than before and has achieved many milestones including but not limited to:
- 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
- Adding the Little Saints program for two and three year-olds
- Winning championships in volleyball and basketball; placing in Science Olympaid regionals and state, Lego League champs, and more
- Hosting visitors from over 30 international visitors in partnership with the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council
- Growing annually in financial contributions to the school
- New this year, Baby Saints for 6 week olds – two years old
- Beginning a new and exciting summer camp called St. Paul’s Adventure Camp beginning Summer 2011.
There is so much more to include, but hopefully the message is clear St. Paul’s Episcopal School is standing strong and looking ahead to another amazing 50 years!