In 1897, when Phoebe Apperson Hearst gave $200,000 to found what became National Cathedral School, she had a simple but challenging goal for its leaders: Offer a "quality education" for young women. That goal took form in a curriculum that prepared young women for college, at a time when the concept of higher education for women was still in its infancy. Almost immediately, the vision drew interest: 48 girls were enrolled when the school opened on Oct. 1, 1900 — seven years before construction began on the neighboring Washington National Cathedral.
Classes were held in Hearst Hall on the Cathedral Close, and the educational program was daring and innovative for its time, including both modern and classical languages, English, history, math, the latest scientific theories, and a focus on physical education. The school also emphasized "building character" in its students — a legacy that continues in the core values we pursue today.
More than 100 years later, much has changed about NCS. We have expanded across and along Woodley Road. Today, our students study engineering and technology. They play competitive sports. The Washington National Cathedral — which was envisioned but did not exist in 1900 — now plays an important part in everyone's time at NCS, linking today's students with thousands of alumnae around the world.
But our founding ideal remains the same and undimmed. Indeed, it lives on in every classroom, where our innovative teachers prepare girls for a world that needs their intelligence, drive, and enthusiasm. Phoebe Hearst envisioned a school that would educate women for the world, and at NCS, we rise to that challenge today as much as we did in 1900.