We are an arts integrated private school grades 6-12. We currently perform over 15 productions/year in Music, Dance, and Theater
Our mission statement is to prepere students for college and life.
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HISTORY In 1983, Seattle Academy was conceived and born in one-and-a-half weeks under less-than-auspicious conditions by a courageous group of trustees, director, faculty, and parents. The challenges that were inherent in the school’s beginning help to explain two characteristics that continue to define the school to the present day: an entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take risks, and a fiscal conservatism and careful adherence to standard models of organization and governance. Since the school’s founding was a reaction to a challenging situation at another institution rather than a commitment to a defined mission or ideal, our task was to create a cohesive community working towards mutual goals. The first five years were a struggle, and the school’s survival may be attributed to a number of factors, including: the incredible dedication, energy, and focus of a core group of trustees, administrators, faculty, and parents; a clear mission, understood by that core group, which guided the development of policies and programs; and a healthy blend of optimism and pragmatism. As the program grew in the next several years, our facilities needs increased, as well. With our main academic program located in a leased classroom building, we began to lease and borrow existing facilities to house our growing program. This gave us a “satellited” campus, consisting of the Temple Building, two warehouse spaces for arts and PE, and a myriad of fields and gyms throughout the neighborhood and the city. Interest in Seattle Academy began to grow, and we started adding sections at the 6th grade entry level while continuing to graduate relatively small senior classes. Our strategy for managing growth was successful, and by 1998 our enrollment had tripled. As growth and demand continued, it was increasingly clear that to control our destiny, we had to control our own campus. The search for a permanent site began. Through a series of very favorable property transactions, the school was able to acquire the Vanderbilt Building and several other properties on the Vanderbilt block. In the fall of 1999, we began a Capital Campaign and issued bonds through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. The funds from these transactions provided the resources needed to build the Arts Center, which opened in the fall of 2001, and the Gym, which opened in the fall of 2002. In addition, the school entered into a new long-term lease agreement with Temple de Hirsch Sinai for the Temple Building, our original site and current home to the Middle School. Following our campus expansion, we reexamined the internal workings of the school, assuring that the curricular and co-curricular program were integrated and cohesive, that systems were in place to support the larger body of the school, and that our community continued to be developed and nurtured. This internal evaluation inspired our 2003 strategic plan People, Diversity, and Community. As a result we launched the Prep for Life campaign to increase socio-economic and cultural diversity in our student body, as well as strengthen the Learning Support Program, which served students with diverse learning challenges. The Prep for Life campaign achieved the goal to expand diversity in the broadest sense at Seattle Academy. In order to protect the culture of inclusivity for the long-term, Seattle Academy launched an effort to build a robust Financial Aid Endowment with the Sustaining SAAS campaign in 2006. Despite the faltering economy, our community successfully raised $7 million which qualified us to receive an additional $1 million matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In June of 2007, a broad cross section of the school community met for the annual Board retreat to set priorities for a Strategic Plan for the school’s future. Top priorities were that the school culture be maintained while the school continued to develop new programs, garner endowment resources, expand the campus, and develop committed leaders throughout the school community. In the strategic planning process, the Board delegated the issue of succession planning to the Committee on Trustees which met regularly throughout the next year with the Board President and Founding Head of School, Jean Orvis, to study the succession options available. In 2009, after working very closely on a thoughtful and well-planned leadership succession, the Board leadership determined that Seattle Academy culture and success would be best preserved and enhanced by hiring from the inside and filling the Head of School position with an experienced administrator already Seattle Academy Self Study 2011 5 steeped in the unique culture of the school. With strong support from Jean Orvis and the Committee on Trustees, it was recommended to the full Board that Joe Puggelli, then Assistant Head of School and Head of the Upper School, be appointed Head of School in July of 2009. The transition was voted on and approved unanimously by the full Board in May of 2009, with the full support from the faculty and administrative team. At the same time that a succession plan was being generated, the school continued its efforts in looking towards the future in terms of campus. In March 2008, Seattle Academy developed a Master Facilities Plan to provide guidance regarding decisions for future design and development of the school’s campus. The plan’s focus was to assess existing facilities and to consider various approaches towards the future development of the school. Today, Seattle Academy’s endowment holds over $9 million, and thanks to continued fiscal prudence, in 2011 we retired $15 million in bonds from our 1999 capital campaign. We own four of the five buildings that make up our urban campus, and during the 2010-2011 academic year, the school acquired two important parcels of land with facilities adjacent to our campus (one building will not be fully owned until 2019). We are currently integrating these recent developments into our Facilities Master Plan, and we anticipate that we will conduct a Development Feasibility Study beginning 2012 for our next capital campaign. As we start the 2011-12 school year, Seattle Academy is a vibrant community of 650 students and 125 dedicated faculty and staff. Our students are as bright, diverse, and intrepid as ever, and our faculty and staff bring an impressive level of subject mastery and a broad range of life experience to their work. Our Culture of Performance continues to define our dynamic college-preparatory curriculum, and programs in our four key areas of academics, arts, athletics, and outdoor/trips programs have all enjoyed state, regional, national, and even international recognition in recent years. Seattle Academy of the 21st century exists because of the efforts and determination of our community throughout our twenty-eight year history. We are yet again at an important crossroads in the continued evolution of the school, and we feel we are positioned to serve the educational needs of students for generations to come.