research by Mr. Glenn Astolfi
How did my school get its name?
Olive Chapel is named for the community of Olive Chapel, which is just a few miles west of Apex. The community was named for one of the first settlers of this area, James Olive. Born in England in 1720, he was forced to work as an apprentice for a cruel master of the leather trade. He heard attractive tales about the success of those who had gone to America and decided to seek his fortune in one of the colonies of the New World. He arrived in New York harbor in 1740. Not liking the looks of that city, he worked his way south, doing odd jobs on farms for food, board, and a little pay. When he reached North Carolina, he was referred to a large farm near a village called Raleigh. There he was given temporary employment as a caretaker of tools and mender of leather harnesses.
In a few years, he had saved enough money to buy a farm on the Southwest Ridge, which divides Wake and Chatham counties. He married and had seven sons and two daughters. Most of his sons fought in the Revolutionary War. They came back and settled in this area.
There was an Olive Chapel School long before Olive Chapel Elementary. In 1850, the people of the community built Olive Chapel School, led by the preacher, Johnson Olive. It became a college preparatory institution. People from all over the area came to the school and it continued well into the 20th century. The building was torn down in the late 1970's.
Why are we the Clippers?
In the early to mid 1800's, clipper ships were developed. They became the ultimate sailing ship, designed for speed. The best of the clippers could cover more than 400 miles a day. Speed was important to clipper captains because speed meant big profits for the owners and captains. Each captain sought to set new records for speed, outpacing their rivals in their quest to bring products to market. Clippers also brought passengers around Cape Horn to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. Pirates liked to capture clipper ships. These ships had wonderful names to represent their speed and power such as Comet, Flying Cloud, Flying Dragon, Wizard, and Lightning.
Why does my school look like it does?
The style and function of each part of Olive Chapel Elementary reflect the Clipper theme of the school. Some of the unique features of the school are the ceilings in the media center and café that look like the ribs of a ship, the harbor light fixtures outside the café, and the glass block near the music room. Also the wings of the school are not straight, but on an angle to allow light to enter. The terrazzo floor features a primary color ring and associated pictures throughout the building. The crooked roof on the entry way was meant to be fun and different.
Is it true there are secret messages outside of my school?
Yes! There are messages written on the outside of the building using nautical flags. Each flag represents a letter of the alphabet. Flags were used to communicate at sea before the advent of radios. The messages could be seen and read across long distances. The Olive Chapel flags spell out... You didn't think we'd tell you, did you? You have to do a little research to find out. Click on this link to learn about nautical flags and to crack the code.