Welcome to The Academy…
I pulled into the parking lot of the Upper School (formerly Shannon Forest Christian School) and was immediately lost in a sea of cars. Grandparents and Special Friends Day. The display of support from family and friends was heartwarming. Less than twenty minutes on campus and I was already impressed.
First Presbyterian Church and Shannon Forest Christian School joined forces for the 2019-2020 school year to bring the ultimate educational experience to children in the Greenville area. Leaving the preschool and kindergarten on the downtown campus, First Presbyterian united with Shannon Forest to serve students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
This new institution, First Presbyterian Academy, is built on four pillars – Academics, Fine Arts, Athletics and Service.
The Lower School, kindergarten through fifth grade, has an aide in every classroom with a student to teacher ratio of 14:1. Upper grades student/teacher ratio is 7:1.
Third through fifth graders, identified as gifted, participate in a challenging Ignite Program. A C.A.R.E. Center governs a Learning Differences Program for students who need accommodations. High schoolers can sign up for seven AP courses. College representatives visit the campus throughout the school year and college fairs are held every fall and spring. The Academy currently has 100% college acceptance rate. “Part of being a family here is having the support when college rolls around,” says Lisa Muse, Director of Admissions at Shannon Forest. “Our middle school program is unique. The teachers really ‘get’ the students. They are challenged while feeling loved and understood.” This resonated with me because I’m the parent of a seventh grader. Kids at that age need to feel heard and understood.
Related Arts, at all grade levels, include P.E., music, library, and art. They also have a STEM Lab. If my son had been with me on the tour, he would have camped out in the lab. In fact, we would still be there.
While traditional public schools don’t focus on communication skills, The Academy assigns all middle and high students an email address. The goal is to steer them away from texting and towards written communication. “We want our students to be great communicators, written and oral,” Muse says. As a writer, this makes me so happy!
Bible is integrated into each class and students attend weekly chapel services.
The award winning Concert/Chamber Choir is only one aspect of the prestigious Fine Arts program. The 2019 Yearbook won the National Program of Excellence Award. Only ten of one hundred eighty-five schools achieved this honor.
First Presbyterian Academy sponsors twenty one athletic teams. The long list even includes swimming. The volleyball team has won multiple state awards. Eighty percent of middle and high schoolers participate in extra curricular sports. Sixty percent of those are three sport athletes. That’s a really big deal.
Seniors are offered the opportunity to go on a mission trip each year. Select students gain valuable life experience by shadowing at non-profit agencies in the community.
The Academy recognizes that each child has different needs. Lisa Muse tells us that “as a school, we partner with families to meet the emotional, social and academic needs of our students.”Current families are expected to re-enroll each year. January kicks off early enrollment. “We are almost at 100% re-enrollment this year,” she adds. Sounds like the best kind of advertisement to me.
Focusing on the four pillars the school was built on, the dedicated faculty and staff work tirelessly to meet the needs of their student body. The Academy strives to prepare every child to reach their full potential.
A huge thank you to Patti Wilusz and Lisa for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share the school with us. We’re excited to pull up a front row seat and watch the future of Presbyterian Academy unfold!
You can schedule your own tour at firstpresacademy.com.
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