966 W. Paces Ferry Rd.
|Motto||"To Have the Courage to Strive for Excellence"|
|Head teacher||Fred Assaf|
|Number of students||1080|
|Color(s)||Navy blue, Columbia blue and white|
Pace Academy was founded in Atlanta in 1958 by an interfaith group of local community leaders. They envisioned a community open to fresh ideas and debate in the great liberal arts tradition. Although the school is not affiliated with a specific church or religion, it adheres to Judeo-Christian values and places a major emphasis on character development. Also in 1958, Atlanta Public Schools' segregationist policies were successfully challenged in federal court. Pace Academy was founded as an all-white school and was among the private schools attended by white children whose parents did not want them going to public schools with African-Americans.
Pace Academy is situated on 37 acres in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood. The school's landmark building, the Castle, was constructed as a private residence in 1932 for the Ogden family. Pace Academy was incorporated on June 30, 1958, with an initial enrollment of 178 students, for the purpose of “training and educating children and operating a school and kindergarten.” Frank Kaley was hired as Pace's first headmaster in 1959. During the period from 1958 to 1962, the Ogden house was renovated to accommodate administrative offices and classrooms, and a playground was developed for the younger children. In 1961, a building was added housing classrooms, a cafeteria, and a library. Athletic fields were established during this time. During this time period, Pace allowed the First Montessori Class of Atlanta (now Springmont) to establish itself in an empty classroom.
In 1964, Pace graduated its first class, with 13 students receiving diplomas. Further improvements to Pace’s athletic facilities were made in 1966 when the school constructed a gymnasium and enlarged the athletic field. This facility was dedicated to the memory of William T. Boyd, who had served as an outstanding president of the Pace Parents Club. In 1971, Bridges Hall was constructed and named in honor of Russell Bridges, who had served as chairman of Pace’s Board of Trustees for 10 years. It housed the Lower School, some Upper School classrooms and the present library. Improvements to the athletic facilities included the addition of a swimming pool and tennis courts.
Pace accepted its first African-American student, a kindergartener, in 1966.
In 1972, George G. Kirkpatrick assumed leadership of the school. Further additions to classroom facilities were made in 1973, along with a new driveway system and additional parking. With the help of Anne and Mills Bee Lane, the gardens were restored in that year.
Although from its incorporation, Pace was accredited by the Georgia Accreditation Committee for its educational programs, 1973 saw the accreditation of Pace by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In 1976 the Randall property adjacent to Pace became available and a fundraising drive was launched to purchase the property. First used to house Pace’s Fine Arts programs in art and music, the Randall House offered Pace the possibility of providing separate classroom facilities for the Upper and Lower Schools. With the concurrence of the Atlanta zoning commission and the input of Pace neighbors, a long-range plan for the further development of the Pace campus was approved by the Board of Trustees. This plan called for major facility improvements to be undertaken in three phases: an addition to the Randall House to house the Lower School in one facility, construction of a fine arts center and auditorium, and construction of an additional gymnasium.
In 1981-83, the Keep Pace with Progress campaign was conducted to achieve the first phase of the Pace campus development plan. Almost $3 million was pledged to build the Lower School addition, build a playground adjacent to the Lower School, and to renovate the classrooms vacated by the Lower School program for improved science facilities, computer labs, and an expanded library for Upper School students.
With the completion of this project, the Board of Trustees updated its long-range plan and focused on three priorities for the Inspiring the Best campaign: construction of a fine arts center, expansion and improvement of athletic and parking facilities and increased endowment. This campaign was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1987 and raised $7.2 million.
The opening of the Fine Arts Center on September 18, 1990 inaugurated a new stage in Pace’s development.
Peter Cobb was named headmaster in 1994, the same year the Castle was officially named Kirkpatrick Hall, in honor of George G. Kirkpatrick, who had led Pace through its greatest growth.
Following Cobb's resignation in 1996, Michael A. Murphy, who had served as head of Lower School for seven years, served as Interim Headmaster until February 1997 when he was named Headmaster.
In spring 1997, following a gift of $2 million by the Hugh M. Inman Foundation, the Educating for Life – Pace 2000 capital campaign was launched, with a goal of $16 million. This goal included $7.8 million for the Inman Center, a student activity center with state of the art athletic facilities, a new cafeteria, faculty offices, and additional parking. The Inman Center was opened in January 2000. In addition, the campaign funded new athletic fields and tennis courts, renovated classroom space in the Upper School, and established an endowment supplement of almost $4 million.
During Murphy's tenure, Pace embarked on a campaign to build a new Middle School building, and out of that the Campaign for The Middle School was born. After only 16 months the school had raised the necessary $16 million to build the new facility, which houses grades 6, 7, and 8. Additionally, the Board completed a five-year strategic plan.
In fall 2005 Pace welcomed its fifth Head of School, Fred Assaf. He was installed at the opening of school and Mayor Shirley Franklin was the guest speaker. The board of trustees embarked on an ambitious long-range plan and master campus plan. These documents, called for in the Strategic Plan, outlined the commitment of Pace to remain a small, family school which educated the whole child.
In 2007 the school resolved longstanding issues with the neighborhood association and entered into an historic agreement which provided for both preserving the small family feel of Pace and expanding the facilities to accommodate a moderate increase in enrollment.
As a part of this plan, Pace realized its need to acquire expanded athletic facilities and acquired two parcels, an eight-acre baseball/softball complex on Warren Road and a 23-acre tract on Riverview Road in Cobb County, which now features a stadium for soccer, lacrosse, and football with seating for 2000, a track & field facility, an additional soccer/lacrosse/football field, a baseball field and stadium, and a softball field and stadium. Development of the softball field and the renovation of the baseball field were funded by the sale of the Warren Road complex to The Galloway School in 2016.
The board also authorized SHINE, The Pace Capital Campaign for $32 million that will help build the new athletic facilities, refurbish and add onto the Lower School, and enhance the endowment for faculty.
During summer 2012, Pace Academy launched a new capital campaign with a purpose of building a new high school. The campaign was led by Elizabeth Richards and Robert Sheft, and had an objective of raising a little over $32,000,000. The campaign's lead donor was Arthur Blank, who was both the owner of the Atlanta Falcons and a Pace parent. Preparation for the new high school began during summer 2012. The Arthur M. Blank Family Upper School officially opened on August 18, 2014.
Awards and recognition
Pace Academy also has a robotics team for both Middle and Upper School, the Roboknights. The Middle School team participates in the FIRST Lego League, while the Upper School team participates in the FIRST Tech Challenge.
The school's Isdell Center for Global Leadership runs global education programs.
The aquatic department was run by Trent Trees from 1983 to 1997. Per student request and interest, he was responsible for bringing the sport of water polo to the Atlanta Area Schools in the late 1980s. It paid off for the school and him when in 1995, the 1996 Olympics contacted him to work poolside during the events. He also coached gymnastics, swimming, diving, pole vaulting, and track.[relevant? ]
Under the man, the myth, the legend: Charlie Owens, the baseball team won the Georgia Class A State Championship from 1993 to 1995, all of which included future Major League Baseball player Michael Barrett.
Led by Ricks Carson, the boys' soccer team won the final three Fall Soccer League championships (2002 to 2004), and finished second nationally in the final NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches of America) poll during the fall of 2003. In its first season in the GHSA Spring League in 2006, the team captured the Class AA/A State Championship and finished 19th nationally and 5th in Region II in the Final NSCAA poll.
The boys' lacrosse team, coached by Grady Stevens, has consistently contended for the GHSA All-Classification championship. The team reached the state finals twice, and has played in three other state semifinals.[relevant? ]
In 2006, the school announced plans to add a football team, with varsity play scheduled to begin in 2009. For most of its existence, the school focused on its soccer and baseball programs, opting to take part in a smaller fall soccer season to allow players to play baseball in the spring. However, the cancellation of the fall soccer season left the spring season the only option, encouraging the school to finally develop a football program.
The middle school football team reached the championships of the Atlanta Metro Football League in its first year in existence. Matt Hall is the head coach of the varsity football team, playing its first season in 2008. He is a former player on the Amherst College football team.
In fall 2010, after a 9-1 regular season, the Pace Knights football team made its first GHSA playoff appearance. The team's seniors were in the class of eighth graders who had been on the original middle school football team.[relevant? ]
On November 9, 2013, the varsity girls' cross country team brought home a class 1A state championship title.
In December 2015 the Pace Academy Knights won the GHSA AA state championship, defeating Fitzgerald County at the Georgia Dome, 42–21. The Knights were the 4th seed in region 6-AA, and played four away games and then the state championship in the Dome. The Knights were coached by Chris Slade. The Knights went 13–2, avenging one of their losses in the state semifinals versus Greater Atlanta Christian School in a 45–20 blowout.
For the 2016–2017 school year Pace Academy will compete in AAA classification for all athletics.[needs update]
Safety Issues, Controversy and Scandals
In 2013, after an investigation spanning multiple years, the FBI arrested William "Joey" Villemez, the middle school theatre teacher, middle school dance teacher, and upper school dance teacher, for the illegal purchase and possession of child pornography. Prior to his arrest, Joey was well beloved by the student body, other teachers, and parents.
- Lydia Dean Pilcher (1976), film and television producer
- Matt Towery (1978), columnist, author, political analyst, pollster and attorney
- Tyler Prochnow (1984), team owner, sports agent, entrepreneur, Kansas City Command
- Rich Middlemas (1993), documentary film producer, Undefeated
- Clay Johnson (1995), technologist
- Michael Barrett (1995), major league baseball catcher
- Randy Harrison (1996), actor, Queer as Folk
- Sarah-Elizabeth Langford (1996), Miss America and Miss USA contestant
- Wendell Carter (2017), basketball player for the Chicago Bulls
- Henry, Elizabeth E., "Halting White Flight: Atlanta's Second Civil Rights Movement." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2012. https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/history_diss/31
- Purdy, Michelle A. (February 2016). "Blurring public and private: the pragmatic desegregation politics of an elite private school in Atlanta". History of Education Quarterly. 56 (1). Retrieved 17 March 2019.
- Michael Gannon, “From White Flight to Open Admissions: The Founding and Integration of Private Schools in the City of Atlanta, 1951–1967” (Master’s thesis, Georgia State University, 2004).
- "AJC.com: Atlanta Georgia News, AJC Sports, Atlanta Weather". ajc.
- "Pace Academy opens new Upper School". Reporter Newspapers. 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "Atlanta Schools Named No Child Left Behind Blue-Ribbon School", Atlanta Inquirer, October 2, 2004. Accessed November 9, 2007.
- U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 2003 through 2006 (PDF), United States Department of Education. Accessed May 11, 2006.
- "RoboKnights". RoboKnights Wiki. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
- "Isdell Center for Global Leadership - Pace Academy". www.paceacademy.org. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "High School Boys Fall Rankings -- National, Nov. 24, 2003 - Week 11". National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
- "High School Spring Rankings Boys, National Last Poll - June 13, 2006". National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
- "High School Spring Rankings Boys, Region II Last Poll - June 13, 2006". National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
- "Unknown title". Pace Academy. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
- "Former Pace Academy teacher sentenced to 5 years on child porn charges". ajc. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "Pace Academy teacher charged with possession of child porn". Buckhead News. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
- "Brigade getting warm K.C. reception". LJWorld.com. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- "Knight Times Fall 2013". ISSUU.com. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- "Pace Academy - Rich Middlemas '93 Wins Oscar". PaceAcademy.org. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- "Barrett passes on Clemson, signs with Expos", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 10, 1995. Accessed November 9, 2007. "For most folks, the entire experience might be overwhelming, but when former Pace Academy shortstop Michael Barrett signed a professional contract Friday with the Montreal Expos, it seemed to his family like little more than the ordinary course of business."
- "SPEED READS", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 12, 2001. Accessed November 9, 2007. " Harrison, a 1996 graduate of Pace Academy in Buckhead, stars in Showtime's "Queer as Folk," which depicts the lives and loves of a group of gay men and lesbians."
- "FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 13, 1996. Accessed November 9, 2007. "Blessed with a lot of natural talent, a positive attitude and an unusual amount of inner strength, Pace Academy's Sarah-Elizabeth Langford used those qualities to become a two-sport standout for the Lady Knights."