Hall honors grads, faculty of one of nation's oldest high schools

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The Academy of Richmond County was chartered in 1783. It has undergone many changes and transformations.

ARC began as a private, all-white-male academy and slowly morphed into a public school, accepting females in 1950, followed by integration in the 1960s, and the addition of an International Baccalaureate Program in 2000. As a former student, teacher and principal atARC, I am extremely proud of the academy’s historical accomplishments, along with the exceptional quality of education that has spanned 231 years.

FROM THE ONSET, classes were housed in two framed buildings on Bay Street on the Savannah River. It is well-documented that in the spring of 1791, during President Washington’s Southern tour, the academy played host to him as the guest speaker at commencement exercises. In 1802, the students moved into a new campus on Telfair Street. From 1863 to 1865 the building was used as a military hospital for Confederate wounded, while classes were moved across the street to the old Richmond County Courthouse. Between 1865 and 1867, Union troops used the building as a headquarters. In 1867, the academy was returned to its trustees and students. In 1926, ARC moved to its current location, in Summerville, between Baker Avenue and Russell Street.

Throughout the changes over the past 231 years, the academy has continued to produce top graduates who have made outstanding contributions. These individuals have made an impact not just locally, but on the national and international stages, in areas including medicine, politics, business, law, sports, music and many other notable fields.

During the three years I served as the principal of ARC, I worked with dedicated administrators and teachers who recognized the importance of renewing relationships with alumni, and we worked hard to preserve the heritage that made the academy a great high school. I also realized the value of educating current students about the academy’s long and successful history in an effort to let them know that each and every individual has potential for greatness.

Our efforts paid off. We invited alumni back to tour the school, shared our successes with the community and recognized the great state championship teams of the 1950s (including seven straight baseball championships from 1951 to 1957, golf championships from 1951 to 1954, a football championship in 1951 and a track championship in 1957). I am proud of the many guest speakers who shared their memories, and our ARC alumni and friends who worked diligently to organize an Academy of Richmond County Hall of Fame.

THE ARC HALL of Fame is a way to recognize our most prominent and noteworthy graduates. I solicited alumni to make up the hall’s committee and we, as a committee, developed criteria for alumni to become eligible for nomination. The committee also tackled the daunting task of making the final decision of which nominees were to be inducted. Nomination forms were posted on the ARC website in December 2011, and recommendations began streaming in.

Present, first-year inductees are:

• U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Lamar;

• Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders;

• Physicist Bernie Ward;

• Federal judge Frankie Hull;

PBS News Hour anchorwoman Judy Woodruff;

• Gen. James Longstreet, second-in-command of the Confederate Army;

• U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess, Medal of Honor recipient;

• Forrest “Spec” Towns , 1936 Olympic gold-medal hurdler;

• Pat Dye, football coach and member of the NCAA Hall of Fame;

• Frank Inman, legendary ARC coach;

• A.L. “Granddaddy” Williams, baseball coach and former principal;

• Jacqueline Marshall, former ARC English teacher, who began her career in 1951.

This year’s 2013 inductees include:

• Joseph Jennings, former music director and artistic director of the acclaimed male classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer;

• Georgia Gov. George Crawford;

• U.S. Rep. Doug Barnard;

• Jack Connell, former businessman and longtime Georgia legislator;

• Pioneering U.S. psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley;

• Maj. George P. Butler, former ARC principal and commandant;

• Ruth McAuliffe, former ARC teacher;

• Orthopedic surgeon Lamar Fleming;

• George T. Stallings, manager of the 1914 World Series champion Boston Braves.

The portraits of each of our Hall of Fame members are proudly displayed in the ARC Media Center.

This year’s Hall of Fame banquet will be 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Enterprise Mill Café. Tickets cost $35, which includes a buffet dinner. Tickets may be purchased in advance at ARC or the café on Greene Street.

(The writer is deputy superintendent for the Richmond County school system.)

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avidreader 09/29/13 - 07:56 am
Good letter!

It's always nice to read about what's right with education. ARC is a noteworthy landmark. And now that the school has its first woman principal, another historical bridge has been crossed.

Fiat_Lux 09/29/13 - 11:15 am
You should include Augustin Smith Clayton

He was 7 years old when he won the oratorical contest judged by George Washington during his visit to Augusta. Smith Clayton was a member of the first class of UGA, a Congressman from Georgia and judge of the western circuit of Georgia. Clayton County is named for him as is the town of Clayton, Georgia.

He ghost wrote Daniel Boone's autobiography and was a very influential Georgian during the first half of the nineteenth century.

His eldest daughter married Henry W. Grady, founder of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, and his youngest son lived on Greene Street, was a cotton factor and built the warehouse still standing across 9th Street from Beamies.

Clayton deserves to be included among this list of illustrious ARC students. He was one of the first and surely was a credit to his school.

floridasun 09/29/13 - 07:27 pm
Proud to be an ARC graduate

It's a great school!

Aristotle_Undergrad 10/14/13 - 10:00 pm
On Education

Richmond Academy has a wonderful Honors program. The instructors show great enthusiasm in what they teach. The information obtained is highly useful for those who attend college. However, those that are obtaining only a regular course diploma may not be receiving that 'Quality of education' that is desired. As an Alumni of ARC, I recommend to all school boards to look deeper into the curriculum being taught within the classes. I mean no disrespect to the school board or to the school, I only wish to offer a suggestion that will be considered.
ARC has an incredible history, I would hope that in later years, people will look back and be able to say the same.

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