As reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, Athens Academy is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The academy was created because of a small group of parents who saw a need for their children to be challenged more than they were in the public-school system. The committee who helped the school come to fruition included John Wilkins III, John “Buck” Griffin, Dr. Harvey Cabaniss, Tommy Tillman, Harold Beasley and Mary Erwin.
Athens Academy Head of School John Thorsen said that this group formed a school that began with 12 teachers and 147 students.
Having first started out at a farmhouse at Hawthorne Avenue and Jefferson Road, it was not until 1970 when J. Swanton Ivy donated 105 acres off U.S. Highway 441 inside Oconee County that would become the future location for the academy.
The first headmaster was Ronnie Griffeth, and in 1975, the school hired its first football coach, Mike Castronis.
In the 1990s, thanks to the efforts of Robert Chambers and Reinhard Mohn, the school houses the Bertelsmann Media Center, which offers the latest innovations in technology and education.
The school also acquired a new Science & Art Building and the Harrison Center for Arts and Preschool.
And just recently the academy added the Chambers Center, a new administration building named for Robert Chambers, who was the school’s headmaster from 1983 until he retired in 2013.
The new administration building is a 14,500-square-foot office space which provides space for receptions, gatherings and meetings.
“It’s excellent,” Thorsen told the paper about the Chambers Center. “Everyone who has come in has been very pleased. The thing I love about it is we have a lot of student traffic in here every day.”
Throughout the years, many notable graduates had their beginnings at the academy, including Secretary of State Brian Kemp, professional golfer Vicki Goetze, Aaron Rental’s CEO John Robinson, Landmark Properties CEO Wes Rogers and actress Mallory Moye.
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