St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School, one of the six Episcopal Church Schools in the Diocese of Virginia, has a long tradition of providing an excellent college preparatory education in Northern Virginia. The school began as two separate single-gender schools, St. Agnes, founded in 1924, and St. Stephen's, founded in 1944.
Establishing Lasting Principles
Established by a group of Alexandria Episcopalians, both schools' original aims included the intellectual, physical, and moral development of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Over the years, each school established its own curriculum and developed its own rich traditions, often coming together as brother-sister schools on important academic, athletic, and social occasions. Both schools instituted an Honor Code, which remains in place to this day.
During the years of the New Deal and World War II, the burgeoning population of the Washington, D. C. area caused enormous growth in the number of students at St. Agnes. At the time, St. Agnes was co-educational from grades kindergarten through eighth grade, and offered a secondary program to girls through the twelfth grade. St. Stephen's was founded in 1944 by the Rector of Emmanuel Church, Rev. Edward E. Tate, who also served as chaplain for St. Agnes. The school provided a day school option for boys attending third through eighth grade. The program was so popular that the high school grades were soon offered, with the first three seniors graduating in 1950.
St. Agnes and St. Stephen's Come Together
In 1991, the two schools merged to become one co-educational Episcopal day school with one administration and two campuses. Joan G. Ogilvy Holden, head of St. Agnes from 1984-1991, was appointed head of the new St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School. The old St. Agnes and St. Stephen's campuses underwent extensive renovations in preparation for the merger, and a third campus was created in 1995 when the acquisition and renovation of the former Ascension Academy property on Braddock Road enabled the Middle School to move to its own campus. The spectacular new Chapel/Performing Arts Center was built on the Upper School campus in 2003 upon the completion of the New Century Fund, directed by the Board of Governors and Mrs. Holden.
Who We Are Today
Since its beginning, the school has grown to include more than 1,100 students from diverse backgrounds and a talented faculty and staff of more than 200 men and women whose aims for their students include high standards of academic and artistic achievement, moral growth and behavior, service to others, and athletic endeavor. While St. Stephen's & St. Agnes students undergo rigorous preparation for college, the school equally promotes the good character, spiritual development, and social awareness embraced by the Episcopal school tradition.