Members of the First Presbyterian Church recognized the need for a school to provide elementary and secondary education from a Christian perspective. After fifteen years of study, they chartered First Presbyterian Day School in 1970. Their desire was to develop the whole child to live a life pleasing to God, serve the families of First Presbyterian Church, and impact the broader community. The initial facilities, consisting of ten acres of land and an elementary building, valued at $265,000, were purchased through a capital fund drive within the membership of the church.
The planning committee established an independent Board of Trustees and gave authority to govern the school under a charter issued by the state of Georgia. The school opened with 205 students in grades Kindergarten through eighth. Mr. Henry Middlebrooks served as FPD’s first Head of School and was joined by a small team of eleven faculty and staff.
Preparing for Opening Day
Construction began in May 1970, just four months before school was to open. Crews used a new construction method that entailed pre-fabricated brick panels, up to 24 feet wide. Cranes lifted the panels and placed them in position. The walls, roof, and exterior finishes were complete within three weeks. The interior was likewise innovative. Instead of classroom walls, architects proposed moveable partitions on casters to create spaces for large or small groups of students.
In late August, just days before school was to open, founders, new faculty, parents, and students gathered at the school to lay sod, clean the interior, and complete final details so the school was ready to welcome students.
September 8, 1970, the first day of school, followed a heavy rain and cars were not easily able to traverse the muddy, unpaved Calvin Drive. Undeterred, a team of volunteers used a flat-bed truck to carry students to their classrooms. The school the Founders envisioned opened on time and the new teachers were ready to welcome their first students.
The First Few Years
Over the next five years, FPD experienced many changes. The innovative partition method of classroom configuration, while cutting edge, was soon found to be impractical for limiting noise. Crews built interior walls by the second year. The board and administration added a high school building and gym by 1972, as FPD expanded to ninth grade and beyond. Crews laid a gravel parking lot for student parking and cleared land for baseball and football. Adding to the footprint, FPD added kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, building a separate kindergarten building. This initial campus development culminated with the graduation of the first class of 33 students in 1975.
Continuing the Legacy
Over the next two decades, FPD continued to enhance its reputation as a strong academic school with a biblical foundation. In 1997, FPD’s second Head of School, Mr. Gregg Thompson, took the helm and began a process of enhancing and expanding FPD. Major capital campaigns were completed in 2000 and 2007. The Clark Fine Arts Center, Middlebrooks Athletics Center, and a new administration building were constructed in 2000. A new high school building was completed in 2007, as well as extensive renovation of the other classroom buildings including the elementary school.
In 2011, the Investing in Our Future Campaign resulted in a 1,200-square foot addition to the Middlebrooks Athletic Center. A two-story, 20,000 square foot addition to the Clark Fine Arts Center opened in 2013, housing additional art studios and exhibit space, an elementary music room, a dance studio, and chorus room. Later, FPD constructed a new lacrosse field, pavilion, cross country trail, and renovated the stadium and track & field area.
In 2003 and 2015, the elementary school of First Presbyterian Day School was named a Blue Ribbon School by the United State Department of Education. The middle school received the same award in 2012. The school was nominated by the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) based on standardized achievement test scores placing FPD among the top 15% of public and private schools nationwide and showcases FPD as a strong school that can be emulated.
Dr. John Patterson became FPD’s third Head of School in 2020 and continues to build on FPD’s notable foundation. In his first year as Head of School, Dr. Patterson implemented the Chick-fil-a Leader Academy at FPD, improved FPD’s faculty evaluation and development initiatives, and spearheaded the renovation of FPD’s playgrounds as well as the campus entrance and exit. In 2021, FPD will undergo a strategic plan process to provide a vision for the future of the school.
FPD’s campus currently encompasses 176,000 square feet of covered space on 248 acres. Students enjoy 25 varsity sports teams, 35 AP and honors classes, a robust chapel and godly leadership development program, and a comprehensive fine arts program.
FPD is the leader of Christ-centered education in Middle Georgia and accredited by AdvancED, SAIS, ACSI, and CESA. FPD remains committed to its mission of educating and equipping students to change the world for God’s glory by providing strong, Christian mentors who help students develop academically and in their faith. Today, the school is home to over 780 students and 3000 alumni.