Mission, Heritage, and Values
Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our rigorous educational program encourages intellectual growth, creativity, and personal responsibility. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the School welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.
Chatham Hall private school for girls was opened in 1894 by the Rev. C. Orlando Pruden as a regional school for educating young women of Southern Virginia and neighboring North Carolina. From the outset, the school—originally named Chatham Episcopal Institute—provided a rigorous academic program designed to equip girls for the challenges of the future. It was initially housed in the “Chatham Hall” estate of the late John Gilmer.
The end of World War I brought changes in American culture that ultimately resulted in the 1927 transformation of the Chatham Episcopal Institute into Chatham Hall. During this time, the school’s student body became more national than regional in composition, and the school’s reputation for excellence was solidified.
Chatham Hall has a long tradition of encouraging girls to extraordinary accomplishment. Georgia O’Keeffe, for example, graduated in 1905 and not only went on to art schools dominated at the time by men, but also succeeded in becoming one of the foremost American artists of the 20th century.
The school has a long-standing affiliation with the Episcopal Church.
At Chatham Hall, an exemplary private school for girls, the core of everything we do, both in the classroom and beyond, is the Honor Code and Purple and Golden Rule. Together, these principles help maintain our unique, trust-based community, one in which every person is challenged to live each day with integrity.
At Chatham Hall, trust is given before it’s earned; once given, each person has the responsibility to keep it. Students, teachers, administrators, and staff all live by a system of shared values, rather than one of restrictive rules. The special privilege of the seniors is to lead the school by upholding the Honor Code and Purple and Golden Rule and by educating the student body on these principles.
The Honor Code is our overall governing rule. It states:
I will not lie.
I will not cheat.
I will not steal.
I will report all infractions of Honor.
All members of the Chatham Hall community – students, faculty, administrators and staff – live under and are committed to the cultivation of honor and integrity at this private school for girls.
The Purple and Golden Rule is our governing philosophy (a philosophy that takes the place of a demerit system). Instead of living under a set of punishments, we choose to live with a set of principles: respect, responsibility, citizenship and trust. Also inherent in the Purple and Golden Rule is accountability. In other words, it’s each person’s responsibility to make sure these principles are upheld and to confront anyone who betrays the school’s inherent trust. Clearly, following “the Rule” has its benefits – when the community successfully lives within these ideals, the school thrives.
The basic tenets of the Purple and Golden Rule are as follows:
- I will respect all people and recognize that other people may have customs and beliefs different from mine.
- I will respect and follow the rules of Chatham Hall, taking responsibility for my actions and mistakes
- I will honor the concept of "White Flag" -- I will respect the property and domain of others.
- When faced with a choice, I will endeavor to do the honorable and right thing.
- I will set an example for my peers by my actions and words.
- I will support others when they are following the Purple and Golden Rule and counsel those who are not.