St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School is one of the six Episcopal Church Schools in the Diocese of Virginia and has a long tradition of providing an excellent college preparatory education in Northern Virginia.
The school began as two separate schools—St. Agnes School (SAS) and St. Stephen's School (SSS)— which merged to form a co-educational school in September 1991. The 2024-2025 school year will mark the 100th anniversary of the original school’s founding.
St. Agnes Episcopal School for Girls (1924-1991) was founded to provide young girls in the area of Alexandria, Virginia with a much-needed private school option. During the first year, the school consisted of 45 pupils and a single building - Lloyd House, which was constructed in the 1860s and is now the flagship of the lower school campus.
Miss Mary Josephine White was principal during the first school year; she was followed by Miss Margaret Chapman, who served as the Head of School from 1925-1932. In the beginning, SAS did not have a high school, but a grade was added each year until there was a graduating class.
The school celebrated the graduation of its first senior, Miss Helene Haskins, in 1927. Over the years the school added new buildings, events, athletics teams, and clubs and organizations to keep up with the growing number of students who enrolled each year.
St. Stephen's Episcopal School for Boys (1944-1991) was founded by the Reverend Edward Tate to fulfill a need for a private school option for boys in the Alexandria area during the post-World War II era. Originally, SSS was comprised of 97 students, a single large residence, and a tract of land off of Russell Road. Like its sister school, SSS added a new grade each year until the first three boys - George Ford, Gene Golien, and Howard Whellan - received their high school diplomas in June of 1950. A steady growth in enrollment, faculty, and staff caused the school grounds to relocate in January 1957.
Throughout their history, SSS maintained a close relationship with SAS: SAS cheerleaders attended SSS athletic games, school dances were intermixed, and joint drama club productions were performed. There were also a number of years where SAS accepted elementary school-age boys up through the second grade and then many would transfer to SSS from third grade onwards. Both schools accepted their first students of color during the 1960s; over time this decision led to a more diverse, inclusive student population at both schools.
In an effort to create a single, co-educational episcopal school, St. Agnes School Board of Governors and the St. Stephen's School Board of Governors explored the possibility of merging the two schools together into a single institution. After a few years of intense discussion with the heads of schools, long term staff members, alumni, and parents of current students, the two boards eventually voted to form St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School (SSSAS). The new school was dubbed St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School; it opened in September 1991. Joan Ogilvy-Holden was the first head of the newly merged school; she was succeeded by the current Head of School, Kirsten Adams, in 2014.
In its thirty years of existence, SSSAS has built upon the history and traditions established by the previous two institutions while forging its own path as a school devoted to helping its students succeed in a complex and changing world. The school continues to celebrate such beloved annual events as the basketball invitational tournament (now named the Sleepy Thompson Basketball Invitational Tournament) and grandparents and special friend’s day. It has also evolved to serve the needs of a student body that continues to grow in size and diversity, creating new annual traditions such as Fun Friday and the Seminary Hill Cup.
The archives at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School was established in 2011 to preserve the records, photographs, media items, and artifacts documenting the history of all three institutions. Organized under the Advancement Office, it is a repository of information recounting the daily lives of the generations of students, faculty, and staff who have passed through our halls.
Examples of the many types of materials included in the collection include yearbooks, school newspapers and magazines, student handbooks, event programs, recordings of student performances, uniforms, banners, medals, pins, sports equipment, and many, many photographs. It does not contain the permanent academic records of students or any financial or medical records.
The archives' current hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Please contact Erica Williams, the school archivist, if you have any questions about the school’s history, records or memorabilia to donate, or research work you would like to perform onsite, at [email protected] or (703) 212-2756.