Mount de Sales Academy (Georgia)

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Mount de Sales Academy
Mount de Sales Academy Crest.png
851 Orange Street
Macon, Georgia 31201
United States
Coordinates 32°50′4″N 83°38′24″W / 32.83444°N 83.64000°W / 32.83444; -83.64000Coordinates: 32°50′4″N 83°38′24″W / 32.83444°N 83.64000°W / 32.83444; -83.64000
Type Private
Motto "Touching hearts, shaping lives"
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1876
Founder Sisters of Mercy
Authority Independent
President David Held
Dean Mary Pat Dadisman
Principal Michael C. Franklin (Upper School),
Kari Alderman (Middle School)
Chaplain Father Frank Critch
Staff 87
Grades 612
Gender Coeducational
Student to teacher ratio 17:1
Color(s) Blue and gold          
Mascot Monty
Nickname Cavaliers
Accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Southern Association of Independent Schools
Publication de Sales Sheet Magazine
Yearbook Salesian
Affiliation National Catholic Educational Association

Mount de Sales Academy is an independent, Catholic college preparatory school in Macon, Georgia, United States. It was founded in 1876 by five Sisters of Mercy as a boarding school for girls. In 1959, it became coeducational and closed boarding school operations in 1963. The Sisters served in an administrative capacity until 2002, when the first lay head of school was selected by the Mount de Sales Academy Board of Trustees. The school is governed by its trustees and continues to be sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy. It is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah.

Mount de Sales—commonly referred to as MDS—is the oldest school in Macon. For more than 140 years, the school has remained at its original location atop Beall's Hill, the former home of Georgia Governor George W. Towns (1801—1854), in downtown Macon, overlooking the antebellum city. In 1963, it became the first school in Middle Georgia to desegregate.[1]

While it has a Catholic heritage, the school attracts students of all faiths and hosts dozens of international exchange students. Upwards of 600 students in grades 6-12 are enrolled in the upper and middle schools. Approximately 32 percent of the student body is from ethnically diverse populations. The athletic teams, as well as academic, literary, debate and thespian clubs, are nicknamed the Cavaliers and compete in the Georgia High School Association.


Early history[edit]

In 1871, a group of five Sisters of Mercy from Columbus, Georgia, began a small school known as the Academy of the Sacred Heart Jesus on the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets in Macon.[2] The school taught students of a variety of faiths, and along with a free school that was operated out of the basement of St. Joseph Catholic Church, predated the Bibb County public school system by nearly a year. The free school became one of the area's first public schools in 1872.[3]

The former mansion of Governor George Towns c. 1880s, the original building and site of Mount de Sales Academy

When the mother house of the Sisters relocated from Columbus to Macon in 1876, the Sisters, area Catholics and other donors provided funds to purchase the former governor's mansion on Beall's Hill on the corner of Orange and Columbus streets as the new home for the sisters and novices as well as for the school's boarding students.[2] The name of the school was changed to Mount de Sales, in honor of Saint Francis de Sales, and the new school was chartered as a women's junior college with the right to confer degrees by the State of Georgia in 1876.

The school grew quickly and a second building was completed by 1877. When the school's first graduation exercises were held in 1882, Mount de Sales had expanded to comprise three divisions: primary, preparatory, and senior, and was a boarding school for girls in grades 1-12, housing girls from around the southeastern United States and Latin America.[4]

Modernization and expansion[edit]

Sheridan Hall

In 1936, Mount de Sales discontinued its primary school, but continued to serve as a girls' secondary school for boarding and day students until 1959, when the first boys were admitted as day students. The girls' boarding school closed in 1963. The school's movement toward becoming a coeducational institution was at the request of the Bishop of Savannah. The first coeducational graduating class included 16 boys of 46 total graduates in 1963. The fall of 1963 also marked the racial integration of Mount de Sales as a result of a diocesan edict, making it the first school in Middle Georgia to do so.[3]

David J. Zuver Performing Arts Center

The admission of boys and the racial integration of the school was the culmination of the expansion and modernization of the school that had begun in the 1950s. In addition to the existing Cavalier Hall, newly constructed buildings on the campus included St. Joseph's Hall, McAuley Hall, Burke Hall, Mercy Hall, and De Sales Hall. In 1970, the original convent and boarding school building was demolished after the Sisters moved to a new convent building erected on College Street. Mount de Sales' expansion and modernization continued at a steady pace throughout the last quarter of the 20th century. In 1975, the middle school returned with the re-addition of an eighth grade. A seventh grade was reinstalled in 1988, followed by a sixth grade 16 years later.[3]

In 1990, Sheridan Hall was constructed and dedicated on the site of the original boarding school building. In addition to classrooms, the building houses a computer lab, administrative offices and a chapel. This was the most recently constructed building on the campus until the completion of the David J. Zuver Performing Arts Center in 2004. Opened in 1998, Cavalier Fields, a 70 acres (0.28 km2) athletic complex, was completed four years later with the addition of a field house. It is located approximately 7 miles (11 km) west of the downtown campus. In 2014, Father John Cuddy Hall, a middle school building, was constructed on the northern end of campus off College Street.[5]


The upper school's curriculum includes honor, Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment college courses in most subject areas, along with a broad range of elective courses. Students may choose to deepen their knowledge in one of six academic concentrations through a Diploma Endorsement Program. In the spirit of servant leadership, upper school students must complete 20 hours of community service annually, while middle school students are required to complete service projects. All students take theology courses and attend Mass on Holy Days. Middle school core courses include math, science, social studies and language arts. Students have the opportunity to earn high school credit. The middle school's House System places students in cross-grade level groups to foster positive social development.[6]


Mount de Sales regularly competes in a number of interscholastic athletics in Class A of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). Teams compete at the varsity, junior varsity and c-team levels. Additionally, the school sponsors cheerleading and a band. Cavalier Fields is home to a football stadium and practice fields, soccer playing and practice fields, track, softball and baseball fields, tennis courts and concessions. Most indoor athletics are held at McAuley Hall, the downtown campus gymnasium. The Cavalier Sports Hall of Fame honors athletes, coaches, administrators and supporters who have made significant contributions to the athletic program.[7]

Accreditation and membership[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


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  2. ^ a b Woodall. "Photograph of Mount De Sales Academy, Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, ca. 188-". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  3. ^ a b c "About Us: History". Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
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  5. ^ Hubbard, Julie (2009-02-18). "Fundraising for new Mount de Sales middle school under way". Macon Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
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  8. ^ "SACS CASI Accredited Schools". Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 2007-12-10. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  9. ^ "SAIS: Mount de Sales Academy". Southern Association of Independent Schools. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  10. ^ "Georgia Independent School Association: Mount de Sales Academy". Georgia Independent School Association. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
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