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First Presbyterian Academy accredited

POSTED: October 11, 2007 5:03 a.m.
“Experience the difference” is this year’s theme for First Presbyterian Christian Academy and just a couple months into the new school year, the academy has moved beyond experiencing to celebrating their distinction.
The academy is excited to announce it received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Sept. 18 after a two-day inspection from the Quality Assurance Review Team.
Reggie Burgess, the academy’s headmaster, said the SACS accreditation “validates the school and all we’re doing.”
Sammi Chisholm, FPCA upper school principal, said the review team was especially impressed because it was the first time in 10 years a private school has been accredited initially with no recommendations.
The review team looks at 12 core areas and after review, accreditation is determined and a school is classified as “Does Not Meet Requirements,” “Meets Requirements with Recommendations” or “Meets Requirements”.
The team gives recommendations for improvements when a school is deficient in an area.
Chisholm said how it was amazing for FPCA to rank as “Meets Requirements” on their first evaluation because it means that all was in order and nothing needed to be changed.
“Everyone here has worked quite hard to get to that point,” Chisholm said.
To become a “Meets Requirements” SACS accredited school Amy Swindell, lower school principal, said it took “a lot of hard work, a lot of focus on curriculum.”
In addition to the Curriculum and Instruction Design standard, another one of the 12 standards that needed  to be met was Communication and Community Relationships. Chisholm describes it as “how community works together as a whole, how everyone interacts.”
“(The review board) referred to us as a family about 15 times,” Chisholm said. She attributes it to “everyone (being) on same page.”
The review team called the staff “state-of-the-art.”
While currently accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, FPCA was especially eyeing SACS accreditation to better equip their students with more options in higher education.
“The college prep curriculum makes sure students can go to any college,” Burgess explained. “(The accreditation) opens doors for students to go to colleges that are also SACS accredited.”
The academy has stair-stepped grads, adding one level every year since 2002, to allow its oldest students to continue their secondary education. Next year, the school will start its first 12th grade, making the class of 2009 the first to graduate from the academy.
FPCA guidance counselor Lisa Kuhaneck said the academy also received commendations for its military support program for students dealing with deployment. Roughly, one-third of students come from military families.
Besides the faith-based curriculum that includes weekly services, Chisholm described FPCA as a “well rounded school with lots of extracurricular activities.”
The varsity boys’ basketball team made it to the Georgia Independent School Association Final Four last year.
Burgess is looking to further expand the academy by adding another building within three years. The building would include a gym for lower grades.
The school’s bi-annual blood drive is scheduled for Oct. 2 and a community chili cook-off is planned for Nov. 3.
An open house is planned for Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call 876-0441.
 

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