Athens Academy (school)

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This article is about the secondary school in the United States. For the ancient academy in Athens, Greece, see Academy. For the modern national academy of Greece, see Academy of Athens (modern).
Athens Academy
Athens Academy is located in Georgia (U.S. state)
Athens Academy
Athens Academy
1281 Spartan Lane
Athens, Georgia
United States
Coordinates 33°54′01″N 83°24′09″W / 33.900328°N 83.402371°W / 33.900328; -83.402371Coordinates: 33°54′01″N 83°24′09″W / 33.900328°N 83.402371°W / 33.900328; -83.402371
Type Private co-educational
Motto Excellentia Cum Honore (Excellence With Honor)
Established 1967
Founder John Wilkins, John E. Griffin, Harold E. Beasley, Dr. Harvey Cabaniss, Tommy Tillman, Mary T. Erwin
Principal Preschool: Melton Weekly
Lower School: Mark Cunningham
Middle School: Jeff Stachura
Upper School: Susan Zalac
Headmaster John Thorsen
Grades K3-12
Number of students >950+[1]
Campus 154-acre (62.3 ha)[1]
Color(s) Green, white and silver
Mascot Spartan
Newspaper Spartan Review
Yearbook Academia
Affiliation Independent

Athens Academy is a private, co-educational, college preparatory school that was founded in Athens, Georgia, and is now located in Oconee County, Georgia, United States. The school offers grades K3 through 12.[2] The school's motto is Excellentia Cum Honore (or "Excellence with Honor"). The 152-acre (62 ha) campus has fourteen academic buildings (including two state-of-the-art media centers), two gymnasia, six tennis courts, a football/soccer field, a cross country course, a track, baseball field, and indoor baseball facility.[1][3] The school's mission statement is "Athens Academy seeks excellence with honor in the educational and personal experience of each student."

Athens Academy is an independent, college preparatory, co-educational school located on a 154-acre (62 ha) wooded site south of Athens, Georgia. The school enrollment is approximately 955 students in K3 through grade twelve.[4]


Athens Academy was founded in 1967.[5] At the time it was an all-white school.[6] Since that time, Athens Academy has committed to serving students of any race, color, sex, religion, or national origin;[4][third-party source needed] the current minority enrollment is over 17%.


The curriculum provides general college preparatory and honors programs. The College Board Advanced Placement Program is offered as an outgrowth of the Academy's honors program. Art, music, physical education, and drama classes are offered in addition to traditional academic disciplines. Co-curricular activities include clubs, student service organizations, and a full athletic program. The Ward B. Lewis Center for International Studies and Cultural Exchange offers students the opportunity to learn more about the world through exposure to the world's cultures, including their own.

Athens Academy currently has more than 2,250 alumni.

The school awarded $1.2 million in need-based financial aid during the 2014-15 school year.

In 2013, Athens Academy's thirty-year headmaster, J. Robert Chambers, Jr., retired. Chambers was named Headmaster Emeritus by the Board of Trustees at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.[7] In the fall of 2013, the Board of Trustees announced John Thorsen as the school's fifth headmaster, effective July 1, 2014.


Athens Academy is known for its exceptional curriculum, which prepares students for college and beyond; 100% of graduates are accepted to college. Academic rigor is obvious in the innovative Upper School courses, an international studies program, integration of media and technology, visual and performing arts, service opportunities, student-led Honor Code in the Upper School, and a highly dedicated faculty and staff. Advanced Placement courses are also offered in the Upper School; from 2010-2014, there were 38 AP scholars, 20 AP scholars with honor, and 94 AP scholars with distinction (29 of whom were also recognized as AP National Scholars).

Innovative Upper School courses include Evolutionary Genetics, Learning About Home, Global Challenge since 1945, and Multivariable Calculus with Differential Equations. These unique courses challenge students to broaden their perspectives while exposing them to college-level material and workloads.

Media, technology, and robotics[edit]

Athens Academy integrates hands-on robotics and programming activities to reinforce STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts for all students in grades 1-8. In the Upper School, electives are offered in robotics and advanced media production, which includes digital video editing and webcasting/broadcasting. Beyond the classroom, many students also participate in local and regional robotics competitions at the Middle School and Upper School levels. Athens Academy's campus has served for many years as a regional and super-regional competition site, and its teams have earned titles at the regional and state levels.

Fine arts[edit]

At Athens Academy, the visual and performing arts are a vital component of every student's education. Essential in developing creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity, the arts deepen students' understanding of the world around them while fostering an appreciation for other cultures. The goal of the department is to nurture each student as an artist or a performer and to provide the tools to be successful.

Drama participation begins in Pre/Lower School with grade-level plays and continues into Middle School with drama class; students learn presentation skills, teamwork, problem solving, and creative expression. Seventh and eighth graders may participate in the annual Middle School play, while Upper Schoolers may audition for the one-act play, the spring play, and the Shakespeare competition. The US drama curriculum also offers courses in film and advanced acting, Mock Trial, and the Literary Meet.

In Pre/Lower School, students explore the world of music through singing, playing instruments, movement, composition, and music history. Students in grades 2-12 may choose to participate in the string orchestra program. The band program is open to students in grades 5-12; additionally, Upper Schoolers may participate in the Jazz and Pep Bands.

In Lower School, students learn about art history, artists' styles, and famous paintings. The elements of art and principles of design are incorporated through a variety of art media. Middle Schoolers are encouraged to express themselves through drawing, painting, collages, sculpture, photography, and architecture. Students in Upper School continue their art education with courses including sculpture, 3D design, painting, drawing, and photography.


Athens Academy competes in region 8-A of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). They field teams in cross country, football, competitive swimming, golf, track and field, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, cheerleading, and baseball. The team name is the Spartans. In grades 7-12, 78% of students participate in athletics.[8]

Athens Academy's competitive athletic program has a rich history and has won many accolades. Collectively, the school has over 50 state championships, 41 state runner-up titles, 209 regional championships, and 108 regional runner-up titles.

In 2001, Athens Academy's Media and Technology Club began webcasting football games, marking the first student-led webcast in the United States.

Service and involvement in local community[edit]

The importance of helping others is emphasized beginning in Preschool. Service projects include Toys for Tots and canned goods collections, volunteering weekly at the homeless shelter and food bank, Relay for Life, Special Olympics, three Red Cross blood drives per year, and many more. Students raise an average of $10,000 for local charities each year.

For 16 years, the school has organized Service Day, a student-run day during which Upper School students and faculty serve the local community through a wide variety of projects. Service Day was started by Jessica Tarleton (class of 2000) with the goal of encouraging students to explore the many different ways they could give back to their community. Tarleton's efforts led to a prominent movement at the school, and now service is an integral part of the curriculum from the youngest preschoolers up through the Upper School.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Education/Schools". Oconee County Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "At a Glance". Athens Academy. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Our Campus". Athens Academy. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-08-05.  Athens Academy About Us, retrieved 8-05-2008
  5. ^ Carter, Kate. "Athens Academy Celebrates 35 Years". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  7. ^ France, Erin. "Athens Academy headmaster announces retirement". Online Athens. Athens-Banner Herald. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Welcome to Spartan Athletics!". Athens Academy. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Athens Academy Press Releases". Athens Academy. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Online Athens, "Gaines' leadership rallies Spartans together," retrieved 10-3-2008
  11. ^ Soccer History Athens Academy Girls Soccer webpage, retrieved 3-13-2008
  12. ^ John W. Robinson III