Seattle Prep: 129 Years and Counting!

Abby Allen, Staff Writer

Seattle Prep is 129 years old! Despite Prep’s ripe old age, the school remains a home for intellectual and spiritual growth, as it was intended when the school was founded. Since then, Prep has developed into a spirited, open, and supportive community that raises successful students.

Alumni Service Core Member Ms. James identified that “Prep has always been welcoming”, both when she started high school and started working at the school.

Seattle Prep’s history began in 1891 in downtown Seattle, consisting of a class of both boys and girls. Seattle Prep represented a religious mission like schools in New Orleans, San Francisco and New York. Then, students began every day with mass.

Three years later, the school became all-boys and that same year, the school moved to a new building on the now Seattle University campus. The name changed to “Seattle College”. Believe it or not, tuition was only fifteen dollars.

Integral parts of school spirit now, Blue and White became the school colors in 1902. Since then, Prep has bled blue and white.

In 1918, Ella and T.C. McHugh purchased Adelphia College, and donated that land to Seattle College. One year later, nearly one hundred and fifty students began to take classes at the current Prep campus.

Ten years later, Seattle College and Seattle College High School (Seattle Prep) parted. Seattle College High School became Seattle Preparatory School.

Fast forwarding to the 1970s, Seattle Prep faced closure. At this time, Father Thomas Healy spearheaded the inclusion of females at the school. Because of the historical connection between Seattle U and Seattle Prep, the Matteo Ricci College was launched, lasting for forty years. Through this program, students studied three years at Prep and then went to Seattle U for another three years of studying. Mr. Peterhans described this program as “doing less but going deeper” and “learning how to learn”.

Since then, Prep has seen construction of the McHugh Gymnasium, Ignatius Hall, the Lee Family Arts Center, the PACCAR Commons, and The Fr. Thomas Healy, SJ Theater and Chapel, SJ Community Ministry Center, Adelphia Memorial Hall, Peyton Plaza, Our Lady of Montserrat Chapel, Rudolph Athletic Field, Regina Melonson LRC, the Lico Atheltic Center and much more.

Mr. Hendricks noted that one of the biggest changes as he has taught at Prep are the buildings. Since he started in 1987, three buildings have been replaced.

He also shared that “the way we structure our time has also drastically changed”. Prep used to have trimesters and a modified block schedule before moving to a straight block schedule.

Twice a week a Seattle Prep student would have Collegio for two hours and fifteen minutes. Hendricks identifies that time as “the glory days”. Collegio also used to consist of three teachers and sixty students.

Mr. Stearns, who has worked at Prep for seven years, recognizes technology as one of the biggest changes in Prep life. When he first started, Seattle Prep was experimenting with iPads. Since then, Prep has switched over to Microsoft Surfaces.

Mr. Peterhans said that “our Community Ministry does an amazing job with student spiritual formation”. When he started in the 1980s, there was no Community Ministry program.

Despite all the changes in Prep life since 1891, some aspects of Prep will never change. Mr. Peterhans said that “some of my colleagues are the finest human beings. They work hard and are committed to their profession”.

He also says that collaboration is a large part of Prep academics. This can be seen through the Mateo Ricci Program, the combination of literature, history, and theology in Collegio, and the informal collaboration of many of the teachers within their different disciplines.

Most importantly, Prep has remained committed to its Jesuit Mission since 1891. Mr. Stearns said, “the Mission (Grad at Grad) is everywhere”. Similarly, ASC Peyton James said that the Grad at Grad was “emphasized by almost every teacher at least once”. Many students would agree, as they can see it on flags as the walk from one building to another.

Throughout the years, “the kind, accepting, thoughtful culture of Prep is something that has stayed constant” (James). Undoubtedly, Seattle Prep has touched the lives of many different generations of people in its 129 years.