Episcopal Collegiate School

Episcopal Collegiate School is an independent college-preparatory school in the Episcopal tradition located on thirty-four gated acres near downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). Founded in 1998, it teaches students in grades Pre-K through the twelfth grade, with a total enrollment of 780 students in 2015.

In 1996, a small group of parents sought to establish a new middle school in Little Rock with a similar Episcopal educational experience as the Cathedral School, an established Little Rock K–6 school. As a result of this effort, the Cathedral Middle School was established in 1997 and began operations in 1998 as an independent and separately incorporated educational institution. In the fall of 1998, the new Cathedral Middle School began teaching its first students (grades 6 and 7) in temporary classrooms located in the Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church at 1601 South Louisiana. Within a short time, the school purchased a thirty-one-acre property at 1701 Cantrell Road to build a middle school, with plans to expand to an upper school.

In fall 2000, grades 6–9 began at the new Jackson T. Stephens Campus, named in honor of Jackson T. Stephens for his lifelong support of education and his significant financial role in establishing the Cathedral Middle School. Construction of the Upper School was completed in December 2001. In July 2003, the board of trustees unanimously voted to change the name of the Cathedral Middle and High Schools to Episcopal Collegiate School to better reflect the heritage, identity, and mission of the school. The first graduation ceremony took place in May 2004.

Also in May 2004, Stephens, along with his son and daughter-in-law, Warren A. Stephens and Harriet C. Stephens, made a gift of $30 million to establish a permanent endowment for the Episcopal Collegiate School Foundation. By August 2014, that endowment had grown to just under $75 million through additional gifts from Harriet and Warren Stephens, the Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Art Trust, and numerous parents and alumni.

In 2006, the board of trustees voted to expand the program of Episcopal Collegiate School by constructing and developing a Lower School. This expansion provided a cohesive Pre-K–12 program on one campus. Episcopal Collegiate School’s Lower School opened in August 2009.

The school maintains a student/teacher ratio of 8:1 with ninety-nine faculty members, seventy percent of whom hold advanced degrees. Graduating students earn an average score of 28 on the ACT, with forty percent of the 2015 graduating class earning a 30 or above. The forty-seven-student graduating class of 2015 also contained four National Merit Scholars, eight National Merit Finalists, and one National Merit Presidential Scholar. All of the students in the graduating class of 2015 were admitted to four-year colleges, and the class received a combined total of over $5.6 million in merit-based scholarship offers. Approximately twenty percent of enrolled students receive some level of financial aid, and the endowment provides significant support for the school’s operating budget, helping to keep down the cost of tuition.

The educational philosophy of Episcopal Collegiate School is that students should complete an academically rigorous curriculum with a hands-on, inquiry-based approach that supports individual developmental levels and learning styles in a challenging yet nurturing environment. The curriculum of Episcopal Collegiate School is focused on preparation for university education and is benchmarked against national and international standards and curricula. In grades 9–12, the school offers many advanced courses, including sixteen Advanced Placement courses.

Students participate in a daily chapel service in the Episcopal tradition. The goal of this service is to be welcoming to students of all religious backgrounds. The school also stresses the importance of community service. The Class of 2015 performed approximately 9,200 recorded hours of service during grades 9–12.

The school participates in the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) and fields fifty-six teams in twelve sports with an average of eighty percent of 6–12 students competing in at least one sport.

Episcopal Collegiate School holds accreditation from numerous professional and independent school associations, including the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools (SAES), and Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association (ANSAA).

In 2023, the Stephens Family Foundation donated $25 million to the school in honor of its twenty-fifth anniversary.

For additional information:
Episcopal Collegiate School. https://www.episcopalcollegiate.org/ (accessed August 18, 2023).

Holt, Tony. “Episcopal School Receives $25M on Anniversary.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 18, 2023, pp. 1A, 8A. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2023/aug/18/episcopal-school-receives-25m-on-anniversary/ (accessed August 18, 2023).

Howell, Cynthia. “Students Help Sow Education.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 20, 1999, p. 5B.

“Private LR School To Hold Open House.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 10, 2003, p. 4B.

Sandlin, Jake. “Middle School Selects Land On Cantrell For Campus.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. October 3, 1998, pp. 1B, 3B.

Bruce W. Hall
Episcopal Collegiate School


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