Girls Preparatory School

Girls Preparatory School

Girls Preparatory School, often called simply GPS, is an all-female college preparatory school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. It was founded in 1906 by Miss Grace McCallie, Miss Tommie Payne Duffy, and Miss Eula Lea Jarnagin. Its brother school, The McCallie School, was founded in 1905 by the brothers of Grace McCallie.Infobox Secondary school
name = Girls Preparatory School
native_name = GPS
type = Private all-female secondary
city = Chattanooga
state = Tennessee
country = USA
established = 1906
head_label = Headmaster
head = Stanley R. Tucker, Jr. (Randy)
grades = 6–12
students = About 660
colors = Black and Blue
mascot = Bruiser
yearbook = Kaleidoscope
newspaper = The Spectrum
literary magazine = The River Review
website = []


In 1905, Miss Duffy and Miss Jarnagin, two public school teachers, asked the city school board to provide a fourth year of high school studies, including modern language and a lab science, so girls, as well as boys, would apply for college. When their request was denied, they decided to create an independent school to prepare girls for higher education and convinced their friend Grace McCallie to join them. The school opened on September 12, 1906 in a four-room schoolhouse at 106 Oak Street.

The school house had been Grace McCallie's home. The three founders used all of their money, $300, to equip and launch the school. In twelve weeks they converted the house to a school. The ground floor contained rooms with second hand desks. There was an alcove library and tiny cloakroom, along with a staircase so narrow students turned sideways to pass.

The school accommodated the 45 students who enrolled for the first day of classes on September 12, 1906. Each girl paid $80 tuition per year and at the end of the first year one of the students was accepted to and enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman's College. In 1915 the school had to relocate to a larger brick building on Palmetto street.

Tuition is now $18,500 per year. Currently 30% of the student body receives need-based financial aid. Every year one rising senior is awarded the "Grace McCallie Scholarship" which pays the tuition for their senior year.

The school is the second largest girl's school in the country and the largest day school(non-boarding school).

Girls Preparatory School celebrated its 100th anniversary during the 2005-2006 school year. The tagline for the celebration was "Beyond the Dream." On September 12, 2005, the school held a "Founder's Day" to celebrate those 100 years and honor the alumnae, faculty, and current students. It was held at Memorial Auditorium on Oak Street, about 20 feet from the original school house. Over 700 GPS students marched across Veterans Memorial Bridge to the auditorium to commemorate the walks that the first students had taken 100 years ago to stay healthy. []

There have been five heads of the school, and the current Headmaster is Stanley Randolph "Randy" Tucker Jr.


GPS has many traditions dating back to the school's founding.

The school celebrates "May Day" on the Wednesday closest to May 1st as long as the weather permits. On this day, seniors are presented to the school as was the tradition for educated women at the time GPS was founded. Underclassmen have the opportunity to dance with the school's dance clubs, and all sophomores perform a traditional maypole dance. The tradition dates back to British fertility rites. The dance is meant to symbolize the coming spring and ensure a healthy crop. Some trace it back to Roman times. GPS's first May Day was in 1914.

The May Court, consisting of a Queen, Maid of Honor, Scepter Bearer, Crown Bearer, and two Train bearers, is nominated by the senior class. The May Queen and Maid of Honor are then selected by a vote of the entire student body. Though originally selected for beauty, the May Queen and her court are now to be the representatives of the senior class "in the highest sense". The Queen carries a scepter and wears a white dress. All other seniors wear a solid colored, floor-length dress. No other senior is allowed to wear a white, ivory or very pale colored dress or carry white flowers. []

Cat-Rat is a tradition where a senior "cat" takes a 6th grade "rat" under her wing for the year. The girls go on a retreat and put on a parade for the school. Past parade themes have been "Mall Rats," "I Love the 90s," and "Globe Trotters." []

Each year, GPS also celebrates a "Class Day" near the end of the year when many awards are given for academic and character achievement. The awards for the Upper School Teacher of the Year and Middle School Teacher of the Year are presented at this time, while other awards (notably for seniors) are given at Commencement the next day.

The girls attending GPS wear two uniforms, one during the winter and the other during the summer. The summer uniform, nicknamed the "potato sack," consists of a thin cotton dress with large front pockets, pleats down the front, small white buttons on both the collar and sleeves, a slim leather belt around the waist, and a bow to tie the collar closed. The winter uniform, much more generic, is a simple pleated navy or plaid skirt and an oxford cloth shirt. The summer uniform was adopted in 1924 with the winter uniform making its first appearance in 1988.

After each test or quiz, a girl must write the honor code pledge: "On my honor I have neither given nor received help on this test/quiz, nor will I discuss it."

2008-2009 Honor Council PresidentAllie Conn

2008-2009 Student Council PresidentHillary Keepahatondeck Holmes

Other traditions include the community service oriented Robin Hood Week, [] Winterim, [] and the Honor Code. [] All seniors are also required to give a talk in front of the school. These talks occur during assembly three to four times a week. []


GPS is known for its rigorous, challenging courses in all levels. There are many choices of course in each subject, ranging in difficulty as well as variety.

Languages offered at GPS include Latin, French and Spanish. Mandarin Chinese was added to the course selections for the 2007-08 year. Language courses begin in 7th grade, but they are not counted as one language course elective.

The AP Program at GPS is equally as various and challenging. AP Courses offered include Computer Science (A & AB), English (Language & Literature), Art, Art History, US History, US Government, Comparative Government, European History, Calculus (AB & BC), Physics (B & C), Biology, Chemistry, French (Language & Literature), Latin (Vergil & Literature) and Spanish (Language & Literature).

Alma Mater

The Alma Mater is traditionally sung at many school events.

"Here's to the girls of the GPS.Here's to the lessons too.Here's to the ring we wear for her.Here's to the black and blue.Here's to the hope that we still may be,Proven through every test,Worthy the school we most revere,Here's to the GPS."

Other GPS songs include "GPS We Love, Extol Thee," and the "Where O Wheres."

Notable alumnae

*Rachel Boston, actress

*Tracy Seretean, Academy Award winning filmmaker

*Catherine Landis, author


External links

* [ Official GPS Site]
* [ Official McCallie School Site]
* [ Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture]


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