Pace Academy was founded in 1958 by an interfaith group of community leaders who envisioned an educational environment open to fresh ideas and debate.
Located in Atlanta, Ga., the school’s iconic “Castle” was originally a private home, built in 1931. Mills B. Lane, then president of the C & S Bank and one of the prime movers behind Pace's establishment, helped the new school acquire the Ogden property and its 20 acres of gardens, fields and hills. Frank D. Kaley became Pace’s first headmaster and, with an initial enrollment of 178 students, the school opened its doors. Renovations to the Ogden house took place from 1958 to 1962 to accommodate administrative offices and classrooms. An additional academic building was constructed in 1961, adding classrooms, a cafeteria and a library to the campus, and athletic fields were established. In 1964, Pace graduated its first class of 13 students. Boyd Gymnasium, dedicated in memory of Parents Club President William T. Boyd, was constructed in 1966.
The 1971-1972 school year was one of the most formative in Pace’s history. A new library and additional classrooms were added to the academic building, renamed Bridges Hall; a natatorium was erected behind Boyd Gymnasium; and tennis courts were installed at the rear of the campus. One hundred new students joined the student body that fall; the faculty expanded to accommodate the influx; and Pace launched its successful debate and service learning programs.
Kaley retired as headmaster in 1972, leaving as his legacy the Pace motto, “To have the courage to strive for excellence,” and the school’s coat of arms. Headmaster George G. Kirkpatrick assumed leadership of the school. Although Pace was accredited by the Georgia Accreditation Committee from its inception, 1973 saw its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1976, Pace purchased the Randall family property adjacent to the school. First used to house Pace’s fine arts programs, the Randall House offered the possibility of providing separate classroom facilities for the Upper and Lower Schools. The Lower School classroom building was built as an addition to the Randall House in 1983.
Pace had long been known for its outstanding theatre and arts programs, and the opening of the Fine Arts Center in 1990 cemented the school’s status as a leader in the arts. The Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects named the building one of 10 outstanding architectural additions to the city, featuring it in its 1991 “Architecture in Atlanta” tours. Peter Cobb became headmaster in 1994, the same year the Castle was officially named Kirkpatrick Hall, in honor of Headmaster Kirkpatrick, who led Pace through its period of greatest growth. Cobb’s tenure as headmaster was brief and, in 1996, Michael A. Murphy, previously head of Lower School, took over as interim headmaster. He was officially named headmaster in February of 1997. During Murphy’s tenure, Pace embarked on a campaign to build a new athletic facility and Middle School building and, in early 2000, dedicated the multi-purpose Inman Student Activities Center. The 57,000-square-foot Middle School was completed in August 2004 and included 25 classrooms and labs, a 200-seat natatorium, faculty offices, an assembly hall and art, music and computer facilities. For the first time, Pace was segmented into three divisions: the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools.
In the fall of 2005, Pace Academy welcomed current Head of School Fred Assaf, its fifth headmaster. Under Assaf’s leadership, the Board of Trustees embarked on an ambitious long-range and master campus plan that outlined Pace’s commitment to remaining a small, family school and educating the whole child.
In 2007, Pace entered into an historic agreement with the neighborhood association that both preserved the school’s small family feel and expanded its facilities to accommodate a moderate increase in enrollment. As a part of this plan, Pace realized its need for expanded athletic facilities and acquired two parcels, an eight-acre baseball/softball complex on Warren Road and a 23-acre tract on Riverview Road in Cobb County to accommodate the new football program and other athletic teams. The Board also authorized SHINE, a capital campaign to build the new athletic facilities, refurbish and add onto the Lower School, and enhance the school’s faculty endowment.
In 2009, the Board of Trustees authorized the creation of the Global Education program to provide students with a range of curriculum-based travel opportunities. The 2011-12 year marked the 40th anniversary of Pace’s successful debate and service learning programs. In 2012, the school launched Aim High, a $32-million campaign to build a new Upper School. The campaign exceeded its goal, raising more than $35 million and allowing for the construction of the Arthur M. Blank Family Upper School and Walsh Field, a stadium and track at the school’s satellite Athletics Complex. Both facilities opened in August 2014.
Pace continued to fulfill its mission to create prepared, confident citizens of the world with the launch of the Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) in 2014. The collaborative, cross-divisional program supports a well-rounded global education for every Pace graduate by exploring an annual, school-wide global theme.