THE SGP PREP:
An Elementary School for Young Girls
by Elaine Fitch Scagnelli
From the very beginning, St. Genevieve’s included an elementary school called the Prep. In its early years, boys and girls attended class together, but in later years, classes were for girls only in kindergarten through eighth grade. In 1949, Gibbons Hall was added as an elementary school for boys.
The Prep shared the same goals as the Academy: a strong education based on Christian principles. The faculty consisted of lay women and sisters. The extensive, broad curriculum included language arts, math, social studies, science, French, music, art, physical education, and religion for Catholic students. In the mid-1960s, St. Genevieve’s Prep and Gibbons Hall were the first non-public elementary schools in North Carolina to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The Prep’s many traditions included choral presentations and square dances. On Halloween, students paraded to Sousa marches in the auditorium while competing for prizes awarded to the most creative costumes. Field Day was modeled on the Academy Field Day with four teams - Red, Blue, Green and Gold. In the spring the seventh and eighth grades enjoyed a class trip to visit important historical sites in North Carolina, or to Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine. Other years the students visited Washington, New York and Boston. For their eighth grade graduation, the girls wore white dresses like the academy graduates, but shorter.
The Prep held classes in the old Victoria Inn building until 1961, when their classes moved to the newly constructed classroom building, Sharry Hall. Beginning in 1969, the Prep seventh and eighth grades became part of the Academy, reducing the Prep to Kindergarten though sixth grade. In 1971, the Academy closed and the Prep and Gibbons Hall joined to form St. Genevieve/Gibbons Hall.
Elaine Fitch served as:
Principal of the Prep 1968-1970
Assistant principal of the Prep and teacher 1967-1969
Teacher in the Prep 1965-1966
Student in the Prep and Academy 1949-1959