For over a century, St. Paul Academy and Summit School has been guided by the principle of academic excellence.
The origins of St. Paul Academy and Summit School lie in the late nineteenth century, when St. Paul was undergoing a transformation from a small river town into a bustling city. The population and building boom of the 1880s and 1890s laid the groundwork for a wide array of institutions and the emergence of civic and cultural leaders. Many of these leaders had strong ties to the East coast, and they wished for their children an educational experience similar to the Eastern private day schools.
St. Paul Academy for boys was thus founded in 1900 in a building at 155 Western Avenue in St. Paul. The school soon grew out of this space, and undertook in 1916 to build the handsome brick building at 1712 Randolph Avenue that still houses the Upper School today. Overseeing the move and construction was Headmaster John deQuedville Briggs, a seminal figure in the school's history for whom Briggs Gymnasium is named.
The Summit School for girls opened in this same time frame, offering a liberal arts education for the girls of St. Paul in 1917 at 655 Holly Avenue in St. Paul. The legendary Summit Headmistress Sarah Converse, for whom the auditorium on the Goodrich campus is named, soon came to the same realization as her Academy counterpart about the need for a bigger space, and in 1923 the Summit School moved to a new brick building at 1150 Goodrich Avenue, now the home of the Lower School.
For more than six decades, Summit School and St. Paul Academy operated as sibling schools. As schools and American society as a whole moved towards coeducation in the 1960s, the two schools followed suit. In 1969, the Summit School and St. Paul Academy merged, combining curricula, faculty, and students in a process that was later referred to as "the Big Bang" of the school’s history. The intense work before, during, and just after the merger gave rise to a new and exciting chapter in the newly-merged school’s history, one that fully embraced the future of schooling while drawing from both schools’ traditions.
The innovative and dynamic school that grew out of the 1969 merger is now recognized as one of the top independent schools in the country. St. Paul Academy and Summit School's innovative curriculum, its exceptional faculty, the accomplishments of its students and alumni/ae, and its culture of engagement and intellectual curiosity are a testament to the promise and ideals of a strong liberal arts education.
SPA is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, the Cum Laude Society, The College Board, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and is a founding member of the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools.