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.
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 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.
Each year in September we celebrate the day our three founders took the courageous step to form our school. Filled with activities and fun, the occasion includes new student sorting into house teams—aptly named Duffy, Jarnagin, and McCallie—a look back at our legacy during Chapel, games, and more. The festivities allow students to not only see but participate in the rich history of women celebrating women alongside members of the greater GPS community.
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.
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.
The most exciting day of junior year—and it’s a surprise! The ring design, which has changed just subtly since its introduction more than a century ago, is worn proudly far beyond GPS, connecting alumnae across the globe. When girls receive their rings, they have classmates turn them a specific number of times, based on their graduation year, for good luck!
“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 senior, and May Day is my favorite day of school each year.” —Julia Caroline (JC) Wiedmer ’22