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DEA holds groundbreaking



On December 14, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. David Emanuel Academy celebrated the groundbreaking of the new administrative and classroom building. Haylee Free, Head of School at David Emanuel Academy, spoke to the crowd gathered, “Any time a private school is at the point of expansion, that’s a good sign and for sure a testimony! The reality of private school life is that circumstances CAN change and that leadership can never take a minute of success and growth for granted.”

In 1969, under the leadership of the first Head of School, Mrs. Virginia Snell, DEA opened its doors. Mrs. Patterson recalled the beginning days. Without any textbooks, she said they did what they could. Cutting pictures out of a Humpty Dumpty book was what began the adventure of education at DEA. Simple beginnings. A common desire. A fire in the souls of many.

In planning the event, Mrs. Free spoke with Mrs. Parke Patterson, a former employee of DEA. Mrs. Patterson was a part of DEA the first day the school opened its doors and was pleased to be part of the groundbreaking event. Mrs. Patterson was a part of the foundation that built the Academy. What struck the DEA Head as an “ah-ha” moment with Mrs. Patterson was when she said, “Haylee, all you need is a building, students, and willing parents.”

Mrs. Free shared this and the following in her groundbreaking speech:

This is exactly what we are here celebrating today!

Our building has been a safe haven for hundreds of students throughout the last 53 years. This building has endured many storms. From connecting the two historic buildings, to adding a gymnasium, athletic fields, an elementary, and pre-k building, to a lighting strike burning a significant portion of our campus in 2010, DEA’s building is still here. In the little town of Stillmore. It’s still a place that many families will forever call home.”

Our Students. We have to have students to call this home a schoolhouse. The Lord has blessed us with students of all types, ones who have received Athletic State Championships and countless titles and awards. Upon graduation we have had attorneys, doctors, dentists, protectors of our homeland, contractors, pharmacists, politicians, journalists, artists, pastors, welders----most importantly, contributors to our community and our society. They accomplished big, they accomplished what they desired. All because of the foundation paved by those that love children and love this school.

Willing Parents. The only way for a private school to “tick” is for parents to pour into it. We have had parents do just about everything to keep DEA alive. From scrubbing toilets to painting the library, to substitute teaching for free. Our parents are the backbone of our school. Their efforts in volunteering and serving are what keep the fires burning. Tuition does not cover all expenses that are required to keep DEA running. We have to find other ways of “bridging that gap.” Parents are the key element in adding the much needed money (or savings of money) to support the day in and day out expenses of running a school. We cannot have athletic events without fans and concession workers just as we cannot have a book fair without mamas dedicating their personal time to this cause. Campus work days have always been a key component in the beautification of our facilities. On cleanup days parents bring their time and resources to get the job done. From trimming bushes to laying straw, to bringing tractors to move heavy equipment. Our parents pave the way for our building to run smoothly and our students to have a place to be proud of.

Many thank you’s are necessary. To our Trustees, faculty and staff, parents, volunteers, and donors (past and present), thank you. Your sacrificial service to our Academy is why we are here today. To James W Buckley and Associates, Craig Buckley, Eric McDaniel and Will Martin, Thank you! Craig, many times in the history of DEA we’ve called on your brilliant and phenomenal services. Many times we have not been able to follow through with our end of the deal. Thank you for taking this leap of faith and trusting that this time was different. Thank you for listening and designing us a beautiful building that will meet our needs now and continue to expand to meet the needs of the future. To the wonderful people of GA First Bank, President Maury Beasley and Vice President Michael Thigpen, thank you for also taking a leap of faith and your assistance in helping us make this dream, this need, and turning it into a reality for all of us! To Pope Construction- thank you for caring about our little school. Thank you for understanding that we’re a private school and that we must watch out for each and every dollar. Thank you to Bill Vickery and to Savannah Page for the countless hours you’ve already poured into our project and the hundreds of hours ahead in seeing our dreams come to fruition. We really do consider ourselves blessed to be in the same company as Buckley and Associates, GA First Bank, and of Pope Construction, each of which are Cadillacs in reputation and have already proven to be great friends of David Emanuel Academy.

Tomorrow, our goal is to keep marching forward with further plans designed by Buckley to add five more classrooms and a new field house. We are excited and ready! Thank you, thank you, thank you to ALL that have made this dream come true!

From the wise lips of my forever friend, alumna of DEA, school improvement coordinator, and one of the wisest and most Godly and passionate DEA lover I know, Jill Powell, “May DEA continue to work for the Lord and may it be the beacon on the hill, always working to shine the light of the Lord amongst our communities.”

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