Congrats, Class of 2023!

On the morning of Saturday, May 20, our beloved seniors, spruce in smart gowns and adorned with gold-trim caps, marched up to greet Mr. Andrew and receive their diplomas. On Mr. Schepps’ command, golden tassels moved from right to left, and thirty-two graduates left the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Many of these new graduates have lived and breathed ACA since arriving in fourth grade. All of these new graduates have been integral parts of ACA’s community. 

One highlight of the event was a beautiful performance by the choir, led by Mr. Franklin. Our very own graduating senior, Lucy Kirby, crafted the music and lyrics as a homage to her school and fellow graduates.

Our main speaker this year was Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, author of Agency, and former CEO of Public Prep. Mr. Rowe spoke eloquently about the importance of community, family, and virtue. Mr. Clausen gave a rousing and heartwarming charge, which included a final life-long homework assignment. Speeches from ‘The Elizabeths’—Stinespring and Richter, our salutatorian and valedictorian respectively—expressed the bitter-sweet nature of the day and awakened our tear ducts. Friends, family, teachers, and students lingered outside the church to celebrate (and wave goodbye to) our newest Atlanta Classical alumni.

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

Upper School Students Attend Latin Fall Forum

On Saturday, October 21, more than 20 ACA students ranging from grades 7-12 participated in the Georgia Junior Classical League Fall Forum for the first time since 2019. This annual event brings together Latin students from across the state to learn, compete, and have fun. This year, the Fall Forum was hosted by Walton High School in Marietta. Students attended workshops to learn about Roman desserts and ancient board games, find out how to make mosaics and signet rings, and lots more. Some students also took exams about Latin, mythology, and ancient history to test their knowledge against that of fellow students from across Georgia. Four seventh grade boys formed a team for Certamen: team Jeopardy with questions drawn from Latin class. Several students submitted artistic creations. Seventh grader Jay Starr depicted this year’s theme (“Many things which are naturally difficult are solved with ingenuity”) with a painting of Alexander the Great displaying resourcefulness by undoing the Gordian Knot, thought to be so complicated that it could never be untied, by cutting it apart with his sword. To demonstrate this theme on a banner for our school, several ACA students worked together prior to the event on an image of Hannibal crossing the Alps with an army (including war elephants), thus taking the Romans by surprise. Judging from the number of awards that ACA students took home in all categories, the event was a tremendous success. The next such event is the weekend-long State Convention in April at the Rock Eagle 4-H Camp.


Academic Tests

History (Latin I) 1st Place Andrew Stoer

History (Latin I) 2nd Place Lorelei Stewart

History (Latin I) 3rd Place James Walker

History (Latin V) 2nd Place Vivian Stewart

Language (Latin I) 1st Place Andrew Stoer

Language (Latin I) 2nd Place Thomas Padanilam

Language (Latin I) 3rd Place James Walker

Language (Latin I) 5th Place Julia Holladay

Mythology (Latin I) 1st Place (tie) Andrew Stoer

Mythology (Latin I) 1st Place (tie) Bennett Plaisance

Mythology (Latin I) 5th Place Lorelei Stewart

Mythology (Latin III) 4th Place Kate Mitts

Mythology (Latin V) 2nd Place Vivian Stewart

Mythology (Latin V) 5th Place Nora Franklin


Black Pencil 5th Place Celia Franklin

Miscellaneous 1st Place Zelia Stewart

Mixed Media 2nd Place Jay Starr


Novice 2nd Place

Team: Andrew Stoer, Thomas Padanilam, Miles Mosteller, James Walker

Sight Reading

Level 2 5th Place Joel Harte


50 Yard Dash (lower girls) 1st Julia Holladay

50 Yard Dash (lower girls) 2nd Rosemary Torres

Many Hands, One World – ACA Joins Together at the Multicultural Festival

On Saturday, October 21, more than 400 ACA community members joined together for the school’s third annual Multicultural Festival. Over 20 different countries were represented by our school families and staff in a celebration of “Many Hands, One World – Serving Together for 10 Years.”

With over 30 food and experience tables, most participants brought traditional dishes to bring a taste of their culture to the ACA community. The tables also had beautiful displays with information about their countries and their heritage. 

The event’s DJ, Marlon Gayle – an ACA parent and representative of Panama – played a variety of songs sent in by each country, which carried attendees away for a few minutes at a time to new places. Our kindergarten through second grade classes, led by Mr. Lusk, sang “Are you sleeping, brother John?” in English, Spanish, French, and German. Other performances included a mariachi band with traditional songs, and ACA parent Iva Ozkan and daughter Sabrina with a traditional Bulgarian folk dance and baton-twirling routine. 

We are grateful to the “many hands” who made this event possible, particularly our PTCA event lead, Mrs. Melissa McFaddin, and our faculty sponsors Dr. Han and Sra. Rey. 

“Our third annual Multicultural Festival was a huge success. Attendees thoroughly enjoyed immersing themselves in the true, good, and beautiful aspects of these diverse nations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the participating families and the PTCA, especially Mrs. McFaddin and Mrs. Beckett, for their invaluable contributions in making this a great event. This cherished tradition at ACA allows us to nurture our students’ appreciation for the myriad of beautiful experiences that our multicultural school community has to offer, and we eagerly anticipate its continuation.” – Dr. Han, Lower School Principal

Ms. Spangler Returns to Teach at ACA

Ms. Spangler graduated from ACA in 2019 with the first graduating class. She was the president and founder of Student Government as well as the class Salutatorian. After graduation, she attended Washington and Lee University where she studied English and math, and she now teaches both subjects in our middle school.

Ms. Spangler notes that ACA has changed academically and socially since she graduated. Academically, Ms. Spangler has noticed that the teachers and curriculum are more “thoughtful and flexible”. As a literature teacher, she appreciates annotation questions, which ensure reading comprehension, instead of study questions. As a math teacher, she commends the stats project for being a practical lesson for students. Ms. Spangler also values that girls can wear pants, the House System, Cav period, and advisory for allowing space for “fun, which is a good thing.”

Ms. Spangler loves teaching and loves her students.

“I know these kids intimately and deeply because so much of my life is shared with them,” she said. She loves to “watch her students be.” From student to teacher, Ms. Spangler has been a part of ACA for 10 years.