Student Experience

More Than A School

Student Experience at GPS

While academics are an integral part of the educational process, a girl becomes her best self when she steps outside of the classroom—and her comfort zone. At GPS, girls are encouraged to explore new interests and activities—to spark passions that speak to who they are and who they wish to become. From century-long traditions to leadership and service opportunities, once-in-a-lifetime travel, signature programming, coed life, and more, the breadth of programming at GPS allows students to face their fears, fuel their confidence, find their voice, and develop lifelong friendships with each other and their coed peers.
“For the past five years, GPS has been my home away from home. It has given me outlets like Terpsichord, Partnerships in the Community, and Candlelight where I can express myself by doing what I love. Through GPS, I have been able to build the most special relationships that will last a lifetime. To me, GPS is a place where I feel loved and supported by those around me.”—Rowan Espy ‘23

Traditions

With a school as rich in history as GPS, it’s no surprise beloved traditions have formed over the years. With each comes a valuable experience from which our girls shape their views of sisterhood, honor, integrity, and purpose. 

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  • + Cat-Rat

    Before her first day of school as a GPS student, a sixth-grade “Rat” meets her twelfth-grade “Cat," an older girl with whom she has been paired—one who readily assumes the roles of friend, role model, and big sister. While the two will participate in fun activities throughout the year such as the Cat-Rat retreat and Cat-Rat parade, this tradition digs deeper. It is the beginning of demonstrating the power of women who support each other and build each other up. This concept of “sisterhood” forms lifelong friendships. It’s also beneficial for young girls as they begin their new journey at our school and in their development. 
  • + May Day

    May Day is among the most highly anticipated events of the school year, where tradition and the values of GPS culminate in one beautiful outdoor celebration resplendent with flowers, dresses, and the winding of May Poles. Family and friends gather on the Front Lawn to fete the members of the senior class, and the May Queen and her court receive special recognition. Their peers have nominated the May Court for reflecting inner beauty in the highest sense: girls who actively and enthusiastically contribute to the life of the school and who embody the ideals of character and integrity.

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  • + Chapel Talks

    Chapel Talks are given by each senior during her last year at GPS. For a soon-to-be graduate, it is a celebration and a rite of passage. A Chapel Talk can be profound, humorous, or personal—sometimes all three at once. But it is here, in this tradition, surrounded by family and friends, that our seniors mark an important moment in their educational journey. For, during their talks, they can express themselves freely and use their strong voices—developed and cultivated during their years at GPS—to make a statement.
  • + Honor Code

    At the heart of GPS lies our most important tradition, the Honor Code. Developed around the belief that “a girl’s honor is her most valuable possession,” the honor system provides the guidelines for the community while allowing each student her individual freedom. Every GPS girl bears responsibility for abiding by and upholding the system, creating a solid foundation of honesty, trust, and respect upon which she and her classmates can learn and thrive. 

 “I love the variety of traditions GPS has, my two personal favorites being Cat-Rat and May Day. My "Cat" and I are still very close today, even though she's out of college and I am a junior, and May Day is my favorite day of school each year.”—Julia Caroline (JC) Wiedmer ’22

Clubs + Student Organizations

Finding Their Purpose

From cooking to coding to current events, participation in clubs creates opportunities for GPS girls to explore and pursue their interests, further their learning and exposure to things that matter most to them, and begin to discover their purpose. In addition, new friendships across many grades are made, and connections with people and organizations outside of GPS give girls a chance to engage on a larger scale. 

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  • + Middle School Clubs

    • Art Club
    • Ball Club
    • Book Club
    • Card Sharks
    • Christian Forum
    • Dance Club 
    • Environmental Club
    • Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)
    • Games Club
    • Girls Who Code
    • Improv Club
    • Kindness Club
    • MBD Girlpreneur Club
    • Music Masterclass Club
    • River Girls
    • Sidewalk Chalk Club
    • Shark Tank
    • Sudoku Club

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  • + Upper School Clubs

    • Amnesty International
    • Candlelight Chorus
    • Christian Forum
    • Computer Science Club
    • Creative Writing | Calliope
    • Current Events
    • Entrepreneurship Club
    • Environmental Club
    • Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)
    • Girl Scouts
    • Health Club
    • Honors Orchestra
    • Junior State of America (JSA)
    • Kaleidoscope
    • MarComm Club
    • Outdoor Club
    • Peer Power
    • Photography Club
    • Science Club
    • Science Olympiad
    • Spectrum
    • SWENext
    • Tech Crew
    • TED-Ed
    • Video Club
“GPS has so much to offer. Don't be afraid to try a club or an after-school activity totally outside your comfort zone. Try a sport for fun, work backstage for a theater production, try an instrument, take a dance class. You don't have to be good at something to have fun and learn from it!”—Catherine Hitchings Plating ’10

Leading By Example

In addition to Middle and Upper School clubs, GPS offers girls a chance to represent their class as members of various student organizations. With leadership opportunities and decision-making potential, girls are tasked with listening, learning, and choosing what is best for their peers and the GPS community as a whole. 

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  • + Class Leadership Council

    Working closely with their class dean, students in each grade are elected to be responsible for planning and leading class events and activities. Selections are made in the spring, and those chosen coordinate activities for the upcoming year.
  • + Honor Council

    Honor Council members encourage a successful honor system, counsel girls who may have violated the honor system, and help them re-establish honorable character. They also help to instill a sense of pride and integrity in others. Girls from all classes may participate.
  • + Student Council

    Student Council representatives provide leadership in an array of services to their fellow classmates, including social functions and enforcement of discipline, as well as serving as spokespersons for the student body.

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  • + GPS Ambassadors

    GPS Ambassadors have a passion for GPS and willingness to assist the Advancement Office with alumnae and admission events as well as school tours to prospective parents and students.
  • + GyPsieS

    GyPsieS are all about S-C-H-O-O-L S-P-I-R-I-T! This group is responsible for fostering that spirit by celebrating Bruisers in sport, drama, arts, and beyond! 
  • + Partnerships in the Community

    Each class elects two representatives who organize and identify community service opportunities. The primary objective of Partnerships in the Community is to prepare GPS students to be the most engaged members and leaders of our current and future communities.
"93% of girls' school grads say they were offered greater leadership opportunities than peers at coed schools and 80% have held leadership positions since graduating from high school." —The Girls' School Experience: A Survey of Young Alumnae of Single-Sex Schools


Signature Programming

Winterim

Dog sledding in Montana, exploring the workings of state government, traveling to NYC, learning archery skills, or appreciating the natural world in day hikes, GPS students and faculty enjoy stepping into new and unfamiliar territories during a one-week Winterim program each February designed by faculty eager to teach more than the required academic courses. 

Tucker River Fellows

Tucker River Fellows is an endowed, multi-year cocurricular program started by the Board of Trustees and named after longtime former headmaster Randy Tucker. In year one of the program, Fellows engage in experiential learning about the many issues impacting their local watershed. In year two, Fellows focus on leadership skills and work with local experts as they collect, analyze, and publish data, and propose solutions for healthier watersheds in the Chattanooga area and beyond. River Girls is a Middle School club led by members of Tucker River Fellows.


At GPS, I have found the most kind and loyal friends and teachers who really care about helping us. I am challenged every day and we are given so many new and exciting opportunities. I have learned so much and made so many amazing memories during my time at GPS, and I’m excited for the rest of my time here!—Anisha Phade ’23

Advisory

Building A Community At School

Advisory groups meet weekly and seek to provide an opportunity for students and teachers to forge meaningful relationships in a less structured environment. 

Advisory helps girls:
Understand the school environment | Understand themselves and others | Make decisions and solve problems | Develop interpersonal skills | Develop school success skills | Foster community pride and involvement
 

“I truly enjoy helping girls, their teachers, and advisors come together for a successful GPS experience. Each year, I learn the names of all of the incoming girls, so they can instantly feel welcome. Throughout the year, our teachers hold advisory groups to help support Middle Schoolers in self-identified areas of interest, as well as to help them meet girls across sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.” —Debbie Glasscock, Middle School Dean of Students


Coed Life

Including Boys

It is important to help students grow in their ability to communicate well and establish healthy relationships with male peers. Our coordinate program with our brother school, McCallie School, allows both our students and their students to reap the benefits of a single-sex education while still having an abundant number of ways to interact, work side-by-side, and make lasting friendships.

Coordinate Opportunities
  • Social: Dances, field days, football tailgates, movie nights, trips to Six Flags, talent shows, concerts
  • Fine & Performing Arts
    • Theatre: GPS/McCallie Middle School Fall Production, McCallie Middle School Spring Production, GPS Fall Play, McCallie Fall Play, GPS/McCallie Spring Musical
    • Instrumental: GPS/McCallie Honors Orchestra, McCallie Tornado Winds Pep Band
    • Vocal: GPS/McCallie Middle School Coordinate Choir, Candlelight Choir
  • Athletics: Cheerleading, climbing, rowing, swimming, track, tennis
  • Clubs & Student Leadership: GPS/McCallie YoungLife, Student Council, Mock Trial, Model UN
  • Academics: Coordinate classes focusing on common interests such as social justice, poetry, bioethics, etc.
  • Outdoor Program: Kayaking, backpacking, climbing team league competitions, caving, etc.
  • Community Service: Mission: Remission Walk to raise funds for cancer research, Habitat for Humanity

Service Opportunities

Making A Difference

At GPS, community service goes beyond volunteering—it is about creating positive change and educating future leaders. GPS students hammer nails for Habitat, but they also serve on selection committees; they tutor at community centers, but they also serve on government bodies that plan recognition of our community’s history and its people; they study the ecological issues impacting the Tennessee River’s watershed, but they also work side-by-side with girls from a local charter school who want to collaborate in learning.  

Partnering with Chattanooga community agencies, schools, and volunteer organizations can help students discover their heart to serve, answer the call to lead, and exercise the courage to engage in improving the larger community.

Local Partnerships
  • Chattanooga Area Food Bank
  • Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy
  • City of Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs 
  • East Side Elementary School 
  • Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Chattanooga Area 
  • Northside Neighborhood House

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