Augusta Preparatory School was founded in 1960. Thirty-eight students enrolled in grades seven through nine arrived for their first day of school on September 5, 1961. By the autumn of 1963, Augusta Preparatory School had purchased a 55-acre site in Martinez and erected a school building. Prep’s current campus began to take shape. This initial building, complete with classrooms, administrative offices and a science lab, was dedicated by Governor Carl E. Sanders (now a Prep grandparent) as McCampbell Hall and was followed by the construction of Cullum Auditorium in 1966 and a field house in 1969. In the fall of 1972, another classroom building, Founders Hall, opened and a gymnasium complex, Boardman Gym, was completed in 1973. In the early 1980s, funds were raised to erect the Baird Library and Science building, in Morris Hall. Augusta Preparatory School became more established in its traditions, athletics, and most important, in its role as a respected college preparatory independent school and the only non-sectarian school in Augusta.
While Augusta Preparatory School was solidifying its secondary school offerings, Augusta Country Day School, an elementary school for students in grades one through six, was forming to provide an educational environment that promoted intellectual, social and personal growth, encouraged a sense of self-esteem, and enabled students to realize, at their own pace, the fullest potential of their abilities. The relationship between these two schools began in 1973 when Augusta Country Day leased a portion of Augusta Preparatory School’s campus to house an elementary school. As the schools matured throughout the 1970s and 1980s, conversations about merging became a reality. In 1988, Augusta Preparatory School and Augusta Country Day School united to form Augusta Preparatory Day School. The 1988-1989 school year marked the first year for the new school with grades kindergarten through twelve in three divisions (Lower, Middle, Upper), as well as the first graduating class of APDS.
Augusta Preparatory Day School entered a new round of construction, and a new Lower School wing opened in 1989. During the 1990s, enrollment grew 140% and, following the example of stewardship set by the founding families, the school community again gave back to the school monetarily to support the Visions Capital Campaign. Each division building (Lower, Middle and Upper) was expanded and the academic learning space was doubled. In addition, a track, a baseball diamond, and a commons area were added to campus.
Now, with financial security, a stable enrollment, talented faculty, and confident leadership, Augusta Preparatory Day School implemented an aggressive strategic plan in the first decade of the 21st century. From 2003 – 2006, the school raised an unprecedented $7.3 million and added Boardman Athletic Center and Hull Fine Arts Center. Combined, these two spaces opened up 40,000 square feet of space for our students. The 2006-2007 school year was perhaps the most transformational in school history as these new facilities raised the school’s public profile and matched the standard of excellence that had always existed in the faculty, students, curriculum, and programs.
Campus enrichment continued through the 2007-2008 school year. The Knox Music Suite opened in November of 2007 and gave our students a facility with four practice rooms and two instrumental music classrooms to accommodate private and group instruction. In February of 2008, Augusta Preparatory Day School dedicated the Nalley Tennis Center, a five-court facility, to further enhance the most outstanding athletic programs at an independent school in the CSRA. During this same period, two Lower School classrooms, the Stachura Reading Room and Phelon Collaboration Center (additions to Baird Library), and an improved Health and Wellness program were added to the School’s programs.
In 2008, the School secured a $2 million endowment for financial aid for the education of gifted students and was named a Malone Scholar School, the only school with that distinction in Georgia and one of only 50 schools in the country. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, a year-long outreach effort brought scores of alumni and friends back to the campus to celebrate with current families and faculty. During this time, an additional $1.5 million was raised in response to a small, but significant, endowment campaign aimed at Framing the Fiftieth.
Separate campaigns to install field lights (Fall 2012) and to build the Cavalier Stadium (Spring 2013) further enhanced the outdoor athletic facilities and added to the aesthetic appeal of the center of the campus. Vital improvements in technology infrastructure allowed the School to install wireless technology throughout the campus (Summer 2013) and to purchase devices for teachers.
In 2013, the Board of Trustees endorsed a fund-raising plan requiring 100% of cash and pledges in hand for the cost of additional buildings or programs (plus 30% additional funds raised for unfulfilled pledges and/or endowment support) before construction of any new/expanded/renovated building or implementation of any new program begins. The School continued to aggressively pay down its debt and prevented, with board policy, the accumulation of additional debt for the purpose of adding facilities or programs. The School became debt free in August, 2018 upon making the final bond payment of its 1998 $4,500,000 bond series.
Since earning reaccreditation in the spring of 2014, the school has continued its tradition of excellence, while managing through a stream of leadership changes and, most recently, declining enrollments. Revolving leadership was most noticeable at the Head of School and Head of Upper School levels. Prior to the end of the 2013-14 school year, Head of School Becky Gilmore exited the community, and Head of School duties were absorbed by two members of the Board of Trustees for the balance of the academic year. The School was led by an interim Head of School during 14-15, before installing Mr. Peter Huestis, who served in the role from July 2015 through June 2019. In February 2019, Augusta Prep hired Mr. Derrick Willard as the next Head of School. He officially assumed his duties on July 1, 2019.
In Mr. Willard's tenure, Augusta Prep has launched new programs and initiatives, including the Augusta Prep’s Toddler Twos program, extending the reach of the Lower School. Also, groundbreaking for the $11.2 million state-of-the-art W. Rodger Giles Institute for Inquiry took place in January 2023. This one-of-a-kind STEM facility is scheduled to open in 2024.