Field Day Service Project for PAW Kids:A School-Wide Initiative

In celebration of our Year of Service, ACA has partnered with PAW Kids to provide snack bags this summer for families across metro Atlanta facing food insecurity. Upper School families generously donated over 1,200 snack items to be packed, while our Lower School students and volunteers assembled over 350 snack bags during field day. 

“We are delighted to culminate our year of service by uniting as a school community to address the practical needs of the children of Atlanta during the summer months,” Dr. Han said. “This serves as a fitting send-off for our students as they embark on their summer break, hopefully more inspired to serve those around them.”

Mr. Stone Named Upper School Teacher of the Year

Mr. Stone, ACA’s middle school history teacher, has been named this year’s Upper School Teacher of the Year. His selection was propelled by an overwhelming response from our community. He received a wave of nominations for the award from both parents and colleagues. Mr. Stone received over 30% of the family nominations submitted and nine of his colleagues across the faculty and staff nominated him.

Known for his dedication and passion, Mr. Stone is beloved because of his ability to build strong relationships with students, deliver ACA’s curriculum enthusiastically, and shape student virtues. He generously shares his time and personal stories and works tirelessly to ensure student success. Almost every day at lunch, you will find Mr. Stone on the basketball court scrimmaging his students. The nominations received highlight Mr. Stone’s irreplaceable presence on ACA’s campus. Here are a few examples:

  • Mr. Stone takes a genuine personal interest in each student, recognizing each as a full person who is worth the time and thoughtfulness required to truly understand him or her.
  • He inspires them to engage with, think critically about, and learn more about history.  He really connects with students and excites them about what he is teaching. 
  • An anchor on the middle school hall who teaches every single 7th and 8th grader. Daily, he can be seen playing basketball with kids during his 30 minute lunch break.
  • Mr. Stone has been the perfect balance of compassionate and challenging to me this year as a member of his department. I very much feel like he has my back and is always checking in on me and my work, even with all that he has going on.

Mrs. Lamb Named Lower School Teacher of the Year

This year’s Lower School Teacher of the Year award winner is first-grade teacher Mrs. Lamb. Mrs. Lamb is a pillar of love and strength, widely admired by her students, their families, and colleagues. She teaches excellently by gently nurturing each student to their fullest potential academically and socially. She is also an example to her fellow teachers, who even coined the phrase, “What would Mrs. Lamb do?” when faced with a challenge. It is impossible to measure Mrs. Lamb’s impact on the ACA community; however, these excerpts of nominations from parents and colleagues will give insight into how invaluable she is to ACA. 

  • Mrs. Lamb is the warmest faculty member I know and ACA is FULL of warm people, so that is saying a lot. She is patient and continuously goes above and beyond to meet the needs of her students. She not only pours into her students but into their parents and caregivers as well.
  • She teaches her students with generosity and love, guiding them as well as admonishing them, not just in educational instruction but also in shaping and forming the children’s character and humanity. 
  • She is blessed with an innate ability to warmly embrace her students and make everyone feel special. She’s organized, direct, on point, fun, and should be an example to all teachers. 
  • She has fostered our daughter’s passions, supported her through her struggles, both academic and personal, and always been a caring, compassionate touchstone for our sensitive child. She is kind, warm, and a tremendous educator, helping our unenthusiastic readers become confident students!
  • I have no doubt that my daughter will remember Mrs. Lamb for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Moore Joins College Advising Team

Mrs. Moore works with the upper school as our College Writing Advisor. With a masters in religion and literature from Yale Divinity School and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Florida, Mrs. Moore has helped many students get accepted into their dream colleges with remarkable college essays. Mrs. Moore loves having one-on-one conversations with her students, who, as a part of preparing for college, are required to reflect on their interests and their high school careers thus far. While helping her students write college essays, she advises them to be authentic.

“Figure out what you love and love it hard,” she said. “Find that thing that’s exciting to you and lean in.”

Mrs. Moore believes that the convergence of the mission of ACA (to form knowledgeable, virtuous citizens) and what colleges want to see, meet at students being “awake”. She strives to help her students become awake to their dignity and responsibility. In our achievement-based culture, Mrs. Moore reminds her students that the purpose of college is to become the best version of oneself, not to receive prestige and accolades. 

Before moving to Atlanta, Mrs. Moore grew up hiking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors in Tellico Plains, a town of 900 people in East Tennessee. While Mrs. Moore appreciates her sense of independence from growing up in such a small town, her high school education left her wanting. Throughout all of high school, Mrs. Moore was only assigned one book to read so she spent most of her time in the public library, which did not contain any Shakespeare.

Mrs. Moore received her bachelor’s from Carson-Newman University and her masters from Yale Divinity School. After graduating from Yale, she worked for a cultural center in Connecticut called Grace Farms where she built a bookstore. She oversaw the curation of the books and the literary programs. Christian Wiman, Mrs. Moore’s advisor at Yale and the editor of Poetry magazine for many years, knew Mrs. Moore wanted to teach. He recommended her to the Florida MFA program where he had recently visited and met many students, including Mr. McClactchey. After Mrs. Moore graduated from the University of Florida with her MFA, she then taught for the University of Florida and worked for the University Press of Florida. When Mr. McClatchey applied to be the American Literature teacher at ACA, Mrs. Moore was asked to do a teaching demo for 6th grade. Loving the students so much, she cried afterward.

“I was so moved. I found the students so bright, and I loved our conversation, their curiosity and imagination, and how polite, serious, and funny they were. I loved 6th grade. It was awesome.”

Mrs. Moore then took the job as the 6th grade literature and composition teacher.

Two years later, Mrs. Moore joined the college advising department when she gave birth to her daughter Penelope. Mrs. Moore loves to write and work with older students while still spending time with her daughter.

The 8th Grade Report and Meeting: A Cherished Tradition at ACA

On any given spring-semester morning in the resource room, you are likely to find 7th and 8th grade teachers discussing the perfect epithet for an 8th grade student. This marks the third year of one of ACA’s most cherished traditions: The 8th Grade Report and Meeting. Beginning in January, members of the 7th & 8th grade teacher team – led by Ms. Younker, Middle School Dean – meet with parents and their students to review a printed “report” about each student that includes a custom epithet: a 2-3 word summary of the student’s best attributes. These are meant to mimic the heroic epithets in the The Iliad which students will read in 9th grade. On each report, teachers have collaborated to write a message identifying the student’s core strengths, and individual teachers write lengthy anecdotes about their favorite moments with and qualities of that student. At the meeting, teachers encourage students about who each one of them has been in middle school and who teachers imagine they can become in high school if they keep cultivating their talents and growing in virtue. 

February Freeze: A Community Success

In February, Atlanta Classical’s administration and health services team invited students and families to participate in the first annual February Freeze challenge to limit social media and technology use as a school community. The middle school team created a House competition around these challenges, and many students, their parents, and ACA’s leadership team committed to accepting the challenge. 

At the beginning of the month, the team surveyed middle and high school students to learn how social media impacted their lives. The survey revealed that 31% of 6th-12th graders rated the value of social media in their lives at either a 1 or 2 out of 10. 40% said they used technology 3+ hours per day, and most reflected that they wished they used it less. Some of the quotes from the survey included: 

  • “My phone is something I wish I could be freer from.” 
  • “Technology is the best and worst thing in my life.” 
  • “I find myself drawn to my phone and use it to escape reality.” 

As the month progressed, parents shared noticeable differences in their students as they limited technology:

  • “My student started practicing the drums again.”
  • “My student started reading again.”
  • “My student hosted a party with his friends, and everyone put their phones away. They had such great conversations!” 

Many parents also noted that their children went to bed without any complaints. Overall, the February Freeze challenge has been a game-changer for many families, and the school looks forward to its second rendition of the challenge next year!

ACA Alumni Spotlight: Will Creech ‘22

Will Creech, graduate of ACA’s class of 2022, is now pursuing his studies in business at Auburn University. At ACA, he participated in various activities such as Varsity Cross Country, Choir, Key Club, Hiking Club, International Club, and Film Appreciation Club. At Auburn, he is actively involved in his fraternity, Sigma Pi, and serves on various committees. Looking back, Will notes several ACA experiences that have impacted his growth academically and as a person.

Will credits his senior thesis advisor, Mr. Stone, as the person who impacted him most significantly during his time at ACA. After reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich, they discussed the significance of treating your family and friends well and how every action should serve those around you rather than yourself. Will also shared that the rigorous curriculum at ACA helped him in college. As a student with a classical education, he says he feels confident in thinking critically in his history, literature, and philosophy classes. He appreciates his ACA teachers’ strong emphasis on discussions and reading challenging texts. 

At one point, Will considered leaving ACA. During 10th grade, he was accepted into a private school and intended to leave ACA. However, both Mr. Nugent and Mr. Andrew gave him a call to discuss his decision, not to convince him to stay but rather to emphasize his special place and role at ACA. Through this process, Will realized how unique and special ACA was and decided to stay. 

“I’m 100% sure I made the right decision. My relationships with my friends and teachers from ACA are unmatched, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything,” Will shared.

Will advises current ACA students to build relationships with their teachers as much as possible, even after graduation. He believes that they are some of the brightest people students will ever meet, and they care deeply about their students.

Introducing: ACA’s Faculty and Staff Lending Library

Take a walk down the fourth and fifth-grade hallway, and you will pass a new hidden gem at ACA: the Faculty and Staff Lending Library. The inviting little bookshelf is filled with classics and modern books handpicked by Mr. Barfield, one of our fifth-grade teachers. This lending library is available for the ACA faculty and staff to take and leave books as they enjoy them and want to share with co-workers.

But how did this Lending Library come to be? Mr. Barfield shares that it all began with a conversation about one of the ACA’s 11th grade American Literature books he began reading on his own, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. He discussed the book’s beauty with Mr. Hawkins, which Mr. Holt overheard, and prompted him to recommend Gilead by Marilynne Robinson as Mr. Barfield’s next book. Later, Mr. Barfield found himself in a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Andrew about how Robinson’s writing felt like “being wrapped in a warm hug.” Mr. Barfield realized that the conversations and community surrounding great books should extend beyond the classroom.  The Lending Library collection began with a few of Mr. Barfield’s favorite authors but has grown to house over 30 books. 

“I like the bookshelf because it reminds me to persevere with reading and to challenge myself,” Mr. Barfield said. ”I like the perspective that books offer. I think it’s important to remember the vast amount of knowledge available, our inability to read or understand all of it, and the virtue of appreciating what we can.”

Curious about Mr. Barfield’s Lending Library must-reads? Here are his top 5 titles:
1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
2. The Shining by Stephen King
3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell 
4. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The Visual Art Scholars Program Offers Photography Class

The Visual Art Scholars Program is about to finish its second class offering of the year, Photography, taught by Mrs. Egan. Mrs. Egan, ACA’s K-2 Art teacher, majored in photography in college and worked as a photographer for many years. She feels passionate about this class being included in ACA’s Visual Art Scholars program. “In today’s world, where almost everyone has a camera in their pockets or hands all the time, it is essential to understand the true art of photography,” Mrs. Egan said. “Students are learning to create rather than just take a photograph.” Thanks to the Sara Roby Foundation and their generous donation to ACA’s Art Department, Canon DSLR cameras have been purchased for the photography students. The students have learned how to operate the camera in manual mode and how to control exposure with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. They have also studied the history and great masters of photography, from photojournalism to portraiture to still life, and have practiced taking their own photos. Furthermore, the students practiced multiple printing methods, including cyanotype and polaroid transfers. They even had the exciting opportunity to visit The Long Arc, a recent photography exhibition at The HIGH (pictured above).

Poetry Out-Loud Launches at ACA

This year, ACA joined over 18,000 schools across the country to compete in Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition. It was met with enormous enthusiasm on the part of our students and was a great success! This will become an annual event as we continue to encourage our students to love poetry and to perform it well.  

The competition started in the classroom; late last semester, every ACA student in grades 9-12 performed a poem of their choice from the list provided by Poetry Out Loud, and on January 12, nine winners competed in our gym in front of grades 6-12. ACA’s very own poet, Mr. McClatchey, served as our master of ceremonies, joined by a panel of literature teachers as judges who scored each student based on their poem presentation. Senior Maria Harle was our winner, with sophomore Miles McNeese scoring so well that a runoff competition was required to determine our winner. Maria will compete in the Metro Atlanta Regional competition on February 16 at the Woodruff Arts Center. Congratulations to each one of our classroom winners for helping us launch Poetry Out Loud this year!

Kaida Clarke

Jim Coleman

Hudson Kreafle

Sally Berry

Miles McNeese

Andres Wright

London Morton-Weeks

Maria Harle

Michael Gullett