Episcopal Academy

The Episcopal Academy, founded in 1785, is a private, co-educational school for grades Pre-K through 12 based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Prior to 2008, the main campus was located in Merion and the satellite campus was located in Devon. The Newtown Square facility is 123-acre (0.50 km2).[1] Episcopal Academy has been consistently ranked as a top private school in the nation by various media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal. The Academy is affiliated with the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The Episcopal Academy
1785 Bishop White Drive


MottoEsse Quam Videri
("To Be Rather than to Seem")
Religious affiliation(s)Episcopal Church in the United States of America
HeadmasterThomas Joseph (T. J.) Locke
Average class size15 students
Student to teacher ratio7:1
Color(s)Blue and White
Athletics29 varsity teams
Athletics conferenceInter-Academic League
RivalThe Haverford School, Baldwin School and Agnes Irwin School
NewspaperThe Academy Scholium


Early years

The Episcopal Academy was founded in 1785 by the Rt. Rev. William White at Old Christ Church in Philadelphia as an all-boys school focusing on education in Greek, Latin, religion, mathematics, and business. It was also a pre-missionary school. Trustees included two signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as bankers, merchants, and reverends. The faculty was composed of notable figures like Noah Webster Jr. of Webster Dictionaries. Its first campus was located on the east side of Fourth Street and was directed by Rev. John Andrews, D.D., the Academy's first headmaster.[2] However, when Dr. Andrews and several of faculty members left to teach at the University of Pennsylvania in 1798, The Episcopal Academy was reconstituted as a free school. In 1816 it became a Second Classical Academy and a free school again in 1828, but at some points the Academy did not operate as an educational entity.

In 1846 the school was reconstituted, this time as a Third Classical Academy, and has operated continuously since. In 1850, the school moved to a building at Juniper and Locust Street, and remained there until its 1921 move to the Merion, Pennsylvania, campus.[3]

Female students

Female students attended the Academy between 1789 and 1818, but a plan for permanent co-education was not implemented until 1974. In 1974, girls were admitted to kindergarten, and then to one higher grade each year thereafter. The class of 1984 was the first co-educational class to graduate from the Academy.[3]

New campus

Episcopal Academy was located in Merion, Pennsylvania, from 1921 until it moved to Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, in 2008.[4] In June, 1998, the Episcopal Academy Board of Trustees directed the "active pursuit of a large tract of land in the western suburbs to serve as a long-term asset and a means of preserving future options."[5] With a $20 million donation the Board purchased a 123-acre (0.50 km2) tract of land in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania on Darby-Paoli Road (Pennsylvania Route 252).[4]

The $212.5 million project was completed in 2008 and opened for the 2008-2009 school year.[6] The new campus has academic, arts, athletic, and spiritual facilities. However, it also features keepsakes from the Merion and Devon campuses: original stained glass windows in the Class of 1944 Chapel, the clock that currently stands on the Clark Campus Green, and several artifacts in the Crawford Campus Center.

Brailsford & Dunlavey served as the Academy's on-site program manager throughout each phase of the campus development project.[7] The architecture firms, including Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Gund Partnership, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and RMJM Hillier, "coordinated the materials used as well as the landscape layout of the campus, with its pastoral central quadrangle and collegiate-village scale".[8] The Episcopal Academy sold its Merion campus to Saint Joseph's University, who renamed it the SJU Maguire Campus.

Current programs

The Episcopal Academy's mission is "Challenging and nurturing mind, body, and spirit, we inspire boys and girls to lead lives of purpose, faith, and integrity." The school has a 100% four-year college matriculation rate, several athletics teams, and a chapel program that meets every other day during the school year.[9]


The Academy is accredited by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools' "Accreditation for Growth" protocol governed accreditation until the current accreditation cycle.[10]

The upper school is a college preparatory program. It operates on an 8-day, rotating block schedule designed by a committee of faculty and administrators. The basic structure of this schedule, which is designed to allow students to take six or seven academic courses, has been in place since 1998. There are two semesters, with each semester representing one-half of a credit (a one-credit long course will meet during both semesters). For the past 5 years, the Upper School did a J-Term immediately following winter break where the students would participate in one course for two weeks straight. This year, 2019, the students are doing a May-Term instead.

Graduation requirements are as follows: 4 Credits (4 years) of English; 3 Credits of Math (including Algebra 2 and Geometry); 3 Credits of Laboratory Science; 3 Credits of History (including U.S. History); 2 Credits of the same modern or classical Language (French, Spanish, Mandarin, Ancient Greek, and Latin); 1 Credit of Religion, 1 Credit of Arts (music, theater, and visual arts). New for the 2019-2020 school year is a 1/2 credit (1 semester) of Computer Science.


The Episcopal Academy is a member of the Inter-Ac league.

For boys the Inter-Ac league includes the Haverford School, Malvern Preparatory School, Chestnut Hill Academy, Penn Charter, and Germantown Academy. For girls this league includes Penn Charter, Germantown Academy, Notre Dame Academy, the Baldwin School, the Agnes Irwin School, and Springside School.

The sports requirement requires all students to participate in athletics during each of the three seasons. Freshman and sophomores are required to participate in at least two inter-scholastic sports with the option of participating in the "Fitness" option for one season. Juniors may elect to participate in the "Fitness" option for two seasons. "Fitness" consists of organized athletic activities three days a week and community service two days a week. There is also a theatre offering (both on the stage and in technical theatre) in the spring (a musical) and the fall. This counts as a "Fitness" option as well. Seniors are permitted to take a "Senior Cut", that is they do not have to participate in any athletics for one season so long as they never received an "unsatisfactory" effort grade in any sport during their four years in the upper school.

As a co-founder of the oldest High School sport's league in America, the "Inter-Academic League," and in the second oldest school rivalry in the nation, (against the Haverford School, later adding Agnes Irwin School) Episcopal Academy athletic teams have gained a national reputation. The boys basketball team, coached by Daniel Dougherty, gained national attention in 2005 and 2006, with full team effort including players Gerald Henderson '06 and Wayne Ellington '06. Both were nationally ranked high school basketball players. Henderson signed to play for Duke University while Ellington signed to play for the University of North Carolina.

Sports offered in the fall include cross country, soccer, water polo, and crew for both boys and girls. Football is offered just for boys, and tennis and field hockey are offered just for girls.

Sports offered in the winter include basketball, squash, swimming and diving, and winter track for both boys and girls. Ice hockey and wrestling are offered just for boys. A coed team is fielded in ultimate frisbee.

Spring sports include crew, golf, lacrosse, and track for both boys and girls. Baseball and tennis are offered just for boys. Softball is offered just for girls.

Intramural sports such as paddle tennis and bike polo are also offered.


A Centennial athletic tradition

The Episcopal Academy carries a tradition of inter-league competition, notably through Haverford-Irwin's Weekend. Formerly known as Haverford Day, this tradition of competition with the Haverford School of Haverford, Pennsylvania, was established when EA was still an all-boys school, but in 2006 the rivalry and day of events was extended to include girls' athletic competition against the Agnes Irwin School of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Every November, the three Inter-Academic rivals meet to compete against each other in cross country, football, soccer, field hockey, girls' tennis, and water polo. The venue alternates each year between the schools. The weekend is preceded by "Spirit Week," marked by various activities intended to energize the students for the weekend of competition and spectatorship. Spirit Week concludes with an Upper School Pep Rally on Friday. On Friday, Episcopal and Agnes Irwin (female competitors) compete in cross country, soccer, field hockey, and tennis. On Saturday, Episcopal and Haverford compete in soccer, cross country, waterpolo and one of the oldest football rivalries in the nation. The girls compete for the "banner" and the boys compete for the "sweater" which is presented to the school which wins 3 of the 4 competitive events. In the event of a tie the schools split ownership of the banner or the sweater for the year.

Religion and service

The chapel program

Upper School students meet once every other day for a morning chapel service in the Class of 1944 Chapel. Middle School Chapel also meets once every other day for a morning chapel service in Christ Chapel. Lower School Chapel meets once a week. The Chapel service typically gives students a thirty-minute break during the school day and consists of student musical offering (violin, piano or an organ-prelude), hymns, prayers, and an address by the chaplain, a member of the faculty, a student, or a guest. An elected student vestry plans most aspects of the chapel program. The students casually exit the chapel in single-file as a postlude carries through the campus.

Community service

The Academy also runs an extensive community service program, and organizes weekly visits to a soup kitchen in Philadelphia as well as monthly visits to a nursing home and to a facility for adults with AIDS. The Academy also participates in a tutoring program where students help younger children with their homework after school. In addition, the Community Service office sponsors other special events throughout the year, including a clothing drive, a toy drive, and a blood drive.



  • Academic Center, with the Middle School, Upper School, and Science Center.
  • Lower School Building
  • Crawford Campus Center, including the Annenberg Library
  • Theater with Stadium Seating
  • Chapel, at the Center of Campus
  • Athletic Center, with a competition gymnasium and pool
  • Stadium Football Field
  • Black Box Theatre
  • Head of School's House
  • Chaplain's House

Notable alumni, faculty, and others

Academy Founder William White wanted EA to be a place to produce "leaders of society." Episcopal also has a tradition of distinguished faculty.

Alumni have won Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, Pritzker Prizes and one a knighthood. Alumni have also been national sport stars, successful CEOs and presidents of corporations and businesses such as Hyatt Hotels, Young and Rubicam, Philadelphia Flyers.


  1. "The Future of Episcopal Academy". Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  3. "US Handbook: History and Traditions". Archived from the original on 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  4. Gammage, Jeff (2007-10-21). "Episcopal Academy Prepped for Big Change". Philadelphia, PA: The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-05-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "The Future of Episcopal Academy: About the Move". Archived from the original on 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-15. Retrieved 2015-01-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek07/0803/0803p_episcopal.cfm%5B%5D
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2015-08-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. https://inside.episcopalacademy.org/htm/Admin/directors/AFG2.htm%5B%5D

Further reading

  • Lyons, Robert S. (2010). On Any Given Sunday, A Life of Bert Bell. Philadelphia:Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-59213-731-2

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