Athens Academy (school)

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Athens Academy
Athens Academy crest.png
Athens Academy is located in Georgia (U.S. state)
Athens Academy
Athens Academy
1281 Spartan Lane

United States
Coordinates33°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
MottoExcellentia Cum Honore (Excellence With Honor)
FoundersJohn Wilkins, John E. Griffin, Harold E. Beasley, Harvey Cabaniss, Tommy Tillman, Mary T. Erwin
  • Colleen Burwell (Preschool)
  • Mark Cunningham (Lower School)
  • Jeff Stachura (Middle School)
  • Susan Zalac (Upper School)
HeadmasterJohn Thorsen
Number of students945
Campus152 acres (61.5 hectares)
Color(s)Green, white and silver
NewspaperSpartan Review

Athens Academy is a private, co-educational, college preparatory school that offers grades K3 through 12. As of 2017, the school enrollment is approximately 945 students.[1]


Athens Academy was founded on September 6, 1967 in Athens, Georgia.[2][3] At the time, the school's students were all white.[4][5] According to the school's website, however, the vision of Athens Academy's founders, as articulated in their original charter, was to establish a school for students from "diverse social, economic, religious, and racial backgrounds who can benefit from a rigorous academic program led by a highly qualified and enthusiastic faculty."[6] Athens Academy opened as a private college-preparatory school on a property that formerly belonged to Harvey W. Cabaniss Sr. It consisted of a Colonial Revival home and a red barn located on Prince and Hawthorne Avenues. The school then moved to a property donated by J. Swanton Ivy.[3][7]

Athens Academy was headed by Ronald Griffeth and D. Alvin Cash before J. Robert Chambers became headmaster in 1983, followed by John Thorsen in 2014.[3][8] The school celebrated its 50th anniversary in September 2017.[9]

Academics and administration[edit]

The Athens Academy curriculum provides general college-preparatory and honors programs. The College Board's 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.[citation needed] The school also offers several studio art classes along with digital art and animation, drawing and painting courses.[10] As of 2008, 21% of graduating seniors were National Merit Scholarship winners.[11]

Athens Academy is made up of four divisions: Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School. It is led by a headmaster who reports to the Athens Academy Board of Trustees. Until his retirement following the 2012–2013 school year, Chambers served as headmaster of the school for more than 30 years.[12] He was succeeded by John Thorsen who became Athens Academy's fifth headmaster on July 1, 2014.[13] Beth Sanders is chair of the board of trustees;[9] Susan Zalac is director of the Upper School;[14] Jeff Stachura serves as director of the Middle School;[15] Mark Cunningham is the director of the Lower School;[16] Colleen Burwell is the director of the Preschool.[17]


The Athens Academy campus is located in Athens, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.[18] J. Swanton Ivy originally donated to the school 105 acres (42.5 hectares) of land just inside Oconee County. As the school continued to grow, it expanded to the surrounding area.[3][7]

The campus has 24 buildings over 152 acres (61.5 hectares) located off U.S. Route 441.[18] The Chambers Center, a new administration building named after the former headmaster, was the latest building to be inaugurated in September 2017.[9]


Athens Academy competes in region 8-A of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA).[19] They field teams in cross country, football, competitive swimming and diving, golf, track and field, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, cheerleading, wrestling, and baseball. The team name is the Spartans. In grades 7–12, 78% of students participate in athletics.[20]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Ford, Wayne (September 4, 2017). "Athens Academy observes 50th anniversary". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  2. ^ Carter, Kate (March 8, 2002). "Athens Academy Celebrates 35 Years". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Prochaska, Michael (September 6, 2017). "Athens Academy dedicates Chambers Center". Oconee Enterprise. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  4. ^ Monica, Knight (2007). Seeking Education for Liberation: The Development of Black Schools in Athens, Georgia From Emancipation Through Desegregation (PDF) (Thesis). University Of Georgia.
  5. ^ Barker, Horace (1971). The South and her Children:School Desegregation 1970-1971 (PDF). Department of Health, Education and Welfare. p. 58.
  6. ^ "50 Years of Excellence". Athens Academy. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Thomas, Frances Taliaferro (2009). A Portrait of Historic Athens & Clarke County. University of Georgia Press. p. 206. ISBN 9780820330440.
  8. ^ "Athens Academy names new headmaster". Athens Banner-Herald. November 1, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Ford, Wayne (September 17, 2017). "Chambers Center dedicated on 50th anniversary for Athens Academy". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  10. ^ Tiller, Katie (August 8, 2018). "Athens Academy offers digital animation course". Oconee Enterprise. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  11. ^ DiLonardo, Mary (January 2008). "Private School Guide 08". Atlanta Magazine. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  12. ^ France, Erin. "Athens Academy headmaster announces retirement". Online Athens. Athens-Banner Herald. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  13. ^ Giles, Blake (November 13, 2013). "New Athens Academy head hopes to put down roots". Oconee Enterprise. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  14. ^ "Athens Academy hires Susan Zalac as Upper School director". Athens Banner-Herald. March 14, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  15. ^ Ford, Wayne (February 2, 2019). "Gov. Kemp attends state robotics competition at Athens Academy". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  16. ^ Prochaska, Michael (May 4, 2016). "Athens Academy hires new lower school director". Oconee Enterprise. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  17. ^ "Faculty & Staff". Athens Academy. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Ford, Wayne (September 4, 2017). "Athens Academy observes 50th anniversary". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  19. ^ Saavedra, Nicole (November 28, 2017). "GHSA releases updated region assignments for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  20. ^ "Welcome to Spartan Athletics!". Athens Academy. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  21. ^ "Athens Academy Press Releases". Athens Academy. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  22. ^ Soccer History Athens Academy Girls Soccer webpage, Retrieved March 13, 2008
  23. ^ Hannon, Shane (April 15, 2000). "Wiggans headed for nets at Charleston". Athens Herald-Banner. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  24. ^ Paschall, David (August 31, 2006). "Even his dad says Georgia QB must 'perform'". Chattanooga Time Free Press. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2019.