Seattle Prep is a Catholic, Jesuit college preparatory school. We embrace the Ignatian ideals that God may be found in all things, that each person is sacred and that we are created to serve others in community. Our mission is to form discerning, transformational leaders who are intellectually competent, spiritually alive, open to growth, loving and committed to justice.
Seattle Prep has a long history of educational excellence in the Jesuit tradition. In 1891, the first class of students enrolled in what was then called Immaculate Conception School (the name changed to Seattle College in 1898). Each school day began with Mass, and the young men were expected to master a traditional Jesuit curriculum patterned after the Ratio Studiorum (established by the Society of Jesus in 1599): Latin, Greek, math, literature, science and religion. In order to provide access to Jesuit education, in 1899 Seattle College charged a modest $15 per year in tuition, although costs far exceeded the charge.
In 1919, T.C. McHugh purchased Adelphia College, a Swedish Baptist seminary and school, and donated the property to Seattle College. In fall of that year 143 students began classes at the new Interlaken campus, and our school has been located on this property ever since that time.
In 1933, the high school officially changed its name to Seattle Preparatory and in 1948 Seattle College became Seattle University (the two had split into high school and college in 1931). In the ensuing decades, the Seattle Prep community continued to meet every challenge and seize many opportunities including numerous building projects:
- 1950s Fr. Christopher McDonnell, SJ Hall
- 1960s Peyton Hall (former Jesuit residence)
- 1980s McHugh Gymnasium
- 1990s Ignatius Hall, the redesigned Parking Garage and Plaza
- 2000s Lee Family Arts Center, PACCAR Commons and The Fr. Thomas Healy, SJ Theater and Chapel
- 2010s Ohno Field at Montlake, Muglia Science Lab, Fr. Paul Fitterer, SJ Community Ministry Center, the Learning Resource Center, Adelphia Memorial Hall, Our Lady of Montserrat Chapel and Rudolf Athletic Field.
The 1970s witnessed equally dramatic changes inside Prep’s buildings, both in structure and educational vision. In 1975, Seattle Prep, having determined that Jesuit education should not be restricted to half the population, celebrated its first female graduates. At the same time, Matteo Ricci College was born out of a fruitful collaboration between Seattle Prep and Seattle University. This unique program continues to connect Prep students to the outstanding teachers and innovative curriculum offered at Seattle University through MRC.
These structural changes in the 1970’s were accompanied by a re-visioning of Prep’s educational philosophy. While retaining the academic rigor of the Ratio Studiorum, Prep shifted to an integrated approach to studies designed to develop students’ abilities to analyze, synthesize, reflect, and problem solve. Prep’s emphasis on integration and collaboration challenges students to grapple with ideas, not fact memorization, and emphasizes building connections between concepts instead of merely assimilating information.
Prep’s Collegio model is illustrative of this unique approach. Collegio synthesizes the core humanities – English, history and theology – into one class taught by two instructors. What would this mean, for example, in a Sophomore Collegio? In one unit, students analyze The Tale of Two Cities while exploring broader historical and religious movements in 18th century Europe. The learning experience transitions from fact mastery to connecting ideas, from the specific to the general: What are the root causes of all revolutions? And back from general to specific: How do the root causes of all revolutions apply to the recent uprisings in the Middle East? What religious movements contributed to these revolutions? This integration happens within a spirit of collaboration as students and teachers work together toward the common goal of deeper understanding.
To borrow a phrase from the early Jesuits, our “way of proceeding” is not like other ways. We eschew, for example, curricula focused on rote memorization and standardized tests. Rather, our way challenges students to extend their reach beyond information toward formation and, at special moments, transformation, thus creating a learning environment that is fully responsive to the expectations of an active, responsible global citizen in the 21st century.
Today, both the opportunities and challenges are clear. Seattle Prep’s 720 students and more than 10,000 graduates - educated in the 475 year Jesuit tradition and formed within Prep’s unique educational vision - strive to transform our city, state, nation and world. And they leave Prep fully equipped to do so.