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Community & Traditions

NPS traditions are not just for our students, though they are an important part of childhood and making memories.

As an essential piece of the NPS mission to focus on this fleeting and foundational time of life, the school offers countless opportunities for parents to be a part of the NPS experience with their children.

NPS Head of School shaking student hand

Every day at NPS begins the same way. Students approach the front door where they are greeted by our Head of School, who shakes their hands and wishes them “good morning” as they enter.

The Morning Handshake may be the first tradition students encounter at NPS, but it’s one of many.

Our youngest students look forward to receiving their red bags. Kindergartners anticipate being the live Nativity in the NPS Christmas Service. First Graders create a Memory Book and celebrate the day when they move to the Upper Division. Pre-K 4 students look forward to Buddy Match Day when they are paired with Third Graders who will serve as their big buddy until they graduate. Meanwhile, Third Graders are excited to finally serve as the big buddy and role model for the first time. Even losing teeth is a big deal here, a reason to celebrate growing older and becoming more mature. 

Like traditions everywhere, those NPS celebrations carry special meaning. They mark important rites of passage in our students' lives, confer new privileges and responsibilities, honor accomplishment, and help us remind one another of the things we value.

Field Day
Red team cheering during Field Day

Each spring, students from Grades 1 to 6 eagerly take part in our lively and spirited red-and-white competition. From hula hooping to ball tossing, sprinting to long-running, sack-racing to jump roping, the day is filled with an array of activities. Upon assignment to either the RED or WHITE team, every student becomes part of an energetic rivalry that culminates in a triumphant winner. Yet, regardless of the outcome, the event ensures that every NPS Cardinal departs with a sense of joy, having embraced the spirit of healthy competition.

Service Saturdays
Two Girls Smiling with Sandwiches
Throughout the year, families in each division gather on a Saturday to make sandwiches for Martha's Table. Always well attended, there are many hands, which make light work, and our community makes at least 500 “Hammiches” in no time at all. This favorite Cardinal service opportunity is organized by the Parents Association and NPS Chaplain Rev. Todd Sutton.


Fall Festival
Children Painting Pumpkins
Fall Festival is an annual community celebration, organized by the NPS Parents Association leadership, for families to enjoy an afternoon of inflatables, crafts, pumpkin painting, and more! Among the many festival attractions, a standout favorite is undoubtedly the dunk tank, where the likes of Rev. Sutton, while brimming with enthusiasm, may also display a hint of hesitation as he subjects himself to the playful spectacle of being submerged!
Opening Ceremony
Head of School Speaking to crowd.
To mark the beginning of each new school year, the NPS community gathers on the first day in the Sanctuary of National Presbyterian Church for the Opening Ceremony. A Sixth Grade students signals the new year by ringing an old school bell down the aisle and the community is welcomed back for a year of joyful learning. 
Sunset with Santa
Boys Posing with Santa
Sunset with Santa is another annual school-wide event organized by the NPS Parents Association leadership. Children have the opportunity to deliver their list to Santa and snap a photo, have a holiday treat, and even do some shopping at the “Santa Shop.” In the holiday spirit of giving, Sunset with Santa takes place alongside the Greg Gannon Canned Food Drive where NPS families provide non-perishable items for donation.
Graduation Group Photo
Graduation is the culmination of the NPS journey. It is a celebration of the academic growth, personal development, and community engagement fostered throughout a student’s time at NPS. It signifies the preparedness to embrace a new chapter while carrying knowledge learned and Core Values, and to contribute positively to the wider world, living our mission.
mom sharing family stories with class

Pre-K 3

  • For many, the first school experience
  • All students receive a red NPS Bag
  • Family Sharing days are a favorite element of the social studies curriculum. 

Pre-K 4

  • Pre-K 4 and 3rd Grade Buddy Match Day
  • Building the NPS Community Construction Project
  • Field trip to the National Building Museum


  • Wishie, a stuffed animal "class pet" that visits every Kindergartner's home
  • Nativity in the Christmas Service
  • Field trip to Butler's Orchard

First Grade

  • Serve as Chapel Leaders for Lower Division Chapel
  • Tenleytown Walks
  • First time at Field Day for Grades 1-6
  • At the end of the school year, 1st Graders become 2nd Graders in Training

Second Grade

  • Moves upstairs to the Upper Division
  • Snazzy Snack! A fun and delicious way to practice writing skills
  • Transitions to Upper Division Chapel
  • Grade-wide community days such as Polar Express Day and Read Across America Day
  • Dino Dig

Third Grade

  • 3rd Graders become big buddies
  • St. Mary’s Field Trip
  • Persuasive essay presentations to school leaders
  • Non-Fiction Book Share
  • Native American studies Independent Learning Day

Fourth Grade

  • 4th Grade Mentors
  • Calleva Day Trip
  • 4th Grade joins Chorus
  • Jazz Musical
  • Lead Portfolio Conferences with parents and teachers
  • U.S. History States Presentations and Celebration

Fifth Grade

  • 5th and 6th Grade Spring Musical
  • 5th and 6th Grade Outdoor Education Overnight Trip
  • 5th and 6th Grade Core Cardinals/Student Council
  • Compete in 5th & 6th Grade Athletics

Sixth Grade

  • Next School Shirts Day at the end of 6th Grade
  • 6th Grade receives gift from 2nd Grade buddies at Farewell Assembly.
  • Graduation Ceremony
  • Serve as Chapel Leaders for Upper Division Chapel
  • Serve as Admissions Ambassadors
  • Compete in 5th & 6th Grade Athletics
  • Poetry Festival