August 18, 2014
As we begin First Presbyterian Day School’s forty-fifth year of educating and equipping students to change the world for God’s glory we naturally reflect on the many families, students, faculty, staff and board members who have been on the journey with us. The past few decades have been filled with blessings from the Lord.
To start our new blog, we found it appropriate to recount the beginning of FPD from the perspective of a dear FPD friend who served on the school’s initial Planning Committee, Mrs. Dallis Jones. Below are excerpts from a speech Mrs. Jones gave in 1986 to the members of First Presbyterian Church. Who would have known that First Presbyterian Day School almost went by another name?
Sunday Night Church – November 23, 1986
The idea that came to us from the Long Range Planning Committee of the church was that the school was to be located here at [First Presbyterian Church]. We had this big facility, including a kitchen, that was available. At that time Stratford was located downtown on Coleman Hill, so a downtown location seemed logical. The School Planning Committee submitted a plan to Macon’s Planning and Zoning to locate a grammar school [at First Presbyterian Church]. Planning and Zoning turned us down- citing traffic as an impossibility. All of a sudden our committee was back to square one in a big way, and I realized that this committee was going to take a lot more time than I had thought!
However, land off Foster Road was donated for the school, and on December 3, 1969, the Board of Governors of the Grammar School of the First Presbyterian Church held its organizational meeting. The officers of the Board of Governors were Jim Collins, John Clark, John Marbut (Sr.), and I.
John Comer, our Board attorney, told the Board that a charter and bylaws for the Board could not be drawn up until the school had a name. The Board then asked members of the church to submit suggestions for a name. What a can of worms! Here is the list submitted by the church:
Ocmulgee Valley Academy
Macon Presbyterian School
Presbyterian Day School
First Presbyterian School of Macon, Georgia
John Knox School
First Presbyterian Church Day School
Christian School of First Presbyterian Church
The John Calvin School
Saint Andrew’s Academy
The Scots Kirk School
The Caledonia School
John Richards Christian Academy
Each Board member then sent to Harriet Comer the one name he liked best. A list was compiled consisting of the three names receiving the most votes. I want now to quote from the minutes concerning the final selection:
(Quote) “Harriet Comer presented the three names chosen by the Board for consideration as name for the school. She said twenty members of the Board had responded and the names receiving the highest number were Presbyterian Academy, Calvin Academy, and the Knox School. (Do you notice a name missing?)
Dr. Robert Jones moved that the three names be discussed, and that a name be chosen which may not be on the list. (Aha—now we were on to it!)
During the ensuing discussion, of the original motion, the list of names was enlarged to include the following names.
First Presbyterian Academy
The Knox School
The John Knox School
The John Calvin Academy
Saint Andrew’s School
First Presbyterian Day School
My last vignette concerns the hiring of the headmaster. I served on the Faculty Committee with Chairman Ren Milor, and members Robert Jones, Anne Peake, Dan Morse and Lucille Burns.
Our committee received applications from prospective headmasters and we interviewed the applicants. I remember one or two that we were not very impressed with, but we were all high on the applications of Russell Floyd and Henry Middlebrooks. We wound up interviewing Henry over lunch at Howard Johnson’s on Riverside. Everything was going smoothly, and then Lucille asked, “Mr. Middlebrooks, do you send your children to Sunday School?” Henry replied, “No, Mrs. Burns, I don’t.” I thought, “Oh, Henry, did you have to be so honest?” Then Henry said, “I don’t send my children to Sunday School, Mrs. Burns, I take them!”
Many days later while we were in the midst of our deliberations concerning Russell and Henry, we received a lovely letter from Russell. He stated that he understood that Henry had applied for the headmaster, and Russell wished to withdraw his application in favor of Henry. He felt that Henry was better for the job, and Russell hoped that we would consider him for a teaching position. Russell was at a great teacher at our school, later became assistant headmaster.
The unselfish spirit exhibited by Russell pervaded our early days. Board members gave generously of their time and talents, and our efforts seemed always to be blessed. Certainly the turndown by the Planning and Zoning saved us from a grievous error. Also the school began with partitions rather than with walls and doors. It did not take long for the teachers to tell us we needed to go back to the old way of school construction! But through it all, the first Board had a big sense of humor and a tremendous sense of camaraderie.
Thank you for giving me a chance tonight to bring back all of these good memories.