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.

10th Anniversary Spotlight: Mr. Henriques

In celebration of our 10th anniversary, we will be interviewing teachers and staff who have been with ACA since the founding of our school. This month’s spotlight is Mr. Henriques.

Beautiful music, a love for teaching, and a hilarious sense of humor – blended together is the perfect 10th anniversary spotlight: music and piano teacher Mr. Henriques. We sat down with him to hear about his time at ACA and why sometimes a change in plans can create the perfect recipe for a life’s journey.

Why ACA? What made you join this school, and what has kept you here through the years?

I originally moved to Georgia to pursue my PhD in musicology at UGA. I needed part time work and applied to ACA, thinking that a music program at a public school would demand one or two days of my time at most. In my first interview, Dr. Moore made it clear that this would be a full time position and asked if I would consider putting my degree on hold for a year. I agreed and started working at the school at the end of July 2014. When I saw the curriculum, I was floored. I think it was probably two weeks into the school year when I made the decision to put my degree on hold indefinitely. This place was too special and the mission too important for me to leave it behind that soon. 

What is your funniest memory at ACA?

Oh, I have a book’s worth of stories from ACA that will be a national bestseller and fund my retirement when I finally publish it. Chapter titles include “When colleagues go bald overnight”, “…just what word were you trying to spell?”, and “Yes, I guess Palestrina did look like Adam Levine.”

What has been the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching students master a new skill or develop a new appreciation for a piece of music tops the list. Whether it’s a student learning a piano piece on her own, calling something by its proper name, listening intently to an especially moving passage, or telling me they prefer one performance of a work over another; the smaller the moment, the more rewarding it seems to be. It tells me they’re living with and absorbing the beautiful, rather than studying it perfunctorily. 

What has been your biggest challenge you’ve faced during your time here?

The hardest part of ACA is saying goodbye. We build relationships with these students and invest ourselves in their education, so when they move on to other things, it’s tough. It gets harder with each passing year. 

ACA is celebrating “10 years of service” this year. What is your idea of service?

I once had a teacher tell me that working as a musician would mean I would constantly be fulfilling the oath to “go where I am needed.” That comment resonated with me 20 years ago and still comes to my mind often. 

What words or phrases do you most overuse?

Probably the music teacher’s greatest lie: “Alright, play it one more time.”

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I honestly have no idea what my greatest is, but I’m always happiest when a student doesn’t need my help anymore. We teachers are constantly working ourselves out of a job. 

Farewell to Our Fall Athletes: A Tribute to Seniors

In honor of the ending of the fall sports season, ACA Athletics hosted a Senior night at the final varsity volleyball game of the season. Senior volleyball, soccer, and cross-country athletes were honored alongside their parents for their perseverance, leadership, and investment in our athletics program. Each student was given a framed jersey to commemorate their final season at Atlanta Classical.

In a touching tribute to the senior volleyball players, Coach Warren recounted not only the growth he has seen in the seniors but also the growth he has seen in himself.

“Four years ago, you young ladies started your high school volleyball journey. It was my introduction to my teaching and coaching journey as well,” he said. “I’ve got memories that will last forever, and I appreciate the role you all have played in making me the coach I am today. I do not doubt that each of you will go on to do great things…I am forever grateful.”

Join us in congratulating these senior athletes: Sarah Adams, Sidney Hoefer, Michael Gullet, Andrew Heiskell, Mason Maynard, Harper Toberman, and Lauren Woods.

October Lower and Upper School Art Gallery

In our art classes, all grades have been discussing warm colors vs cool colors, which makes these photos from each class very cohesive!  

Lower School:

  • Pumpkins with Van Gogh’s Starry Night inspired backgrounds.  

  • Mark Rothko inspired pieces as a study of warm and cool colors.

  • Fall Trees and Pointillism Pumpkins, both exercises are to build fine motor skills.

Upper School: 

  • Fall Scenes in a stained glass window design with warm foreground and cool background.