Published January 23, 2014
CUMMING—Pinecrest Academy, a pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade independent Catholic school in Forsyth County, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a day of festivities on Friday, Jan. 31, honoring the vision, perseverance and love of Catholic education that a handful of dedicated founders had in 1993.
Founded on strong faith and humble beginnings, Pinecrest Academy opened its doors on Sept. 8, 1993, at a former elementary school in Crabapple, with a student body of 29. At that time, Pinecrest was the first independent, private Catholic elementary school established to serve Atlanta’s expanding Catholic population.
“Because it was so difficult to get children into Catholic schools in the early 90s, my husband, John, was encouraged by a Legionary priest to come to Atlanta and open a school. At the same time, a priest named Father Martin, LC, encouraged me also,” recalled Arlene Gannon, founding member of Pinecrest Academy. “My husband went on a retreat in February 1993, and God placed on his heart to have a school open by September.” A friend of the Gannons, Cathy Hanson, located a school in Crabapple that was closed, so her husband, David, and John Gannon negotiated a lease for use of the property.
Pinecrest remained at this location for two years, and then relocated to All Saints Church in Dunwoody, where classes were held in the parish’s activities center for three years. By 1997, the 153-member student body had outgrown its temporary facilities, and Pinecrest acquired a 53-acre plot of land in south Forsyth County.
“We always received our lease confirmations on the Feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, and Archbishop (John F.) Donoghue prepared the way for Msgr. Kiernan, pastor of All Saints Catholic Church, to open their activities center to us for the next three years,” said Pinecrest founding member, Judy Guilfoil. “Our current location in Cumming was found by Pinecrest parent, Bruce Carlisle, and a providential change in plans brought us on the east side of the 400 corridor with more land than we originally planned for. God wanted something bigger and better, and he already knew of the growth to come in Forsyth County!”
After receiving accreditation by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, Inc., in 1995, Pinecrest Academy appointed its first headmaster, Dr. Brian Tierney, in 1998. Fifteen additional acres of land were donated to the school in 2001. And now, 20 years after the opening, Pinecrest is comprised of a lower, middle and high school on a 68-acre campus, with enrollment at 800 students and a faculty and staff of 122.
As a tribute to Pinecrest’s founders and all families who have been a part of the school’s mission to form Christian leaders who will transform society, 20th anniversary festivities are to take place Friday, Jan. 31, coinciding with the school’s annual Founders Day celebration. All Pinecrest families—past and present—along with community leaders, representatives of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and friends of Pinecrest Academy, are invited to join in the festivities.
“This 20th anniversary celebration represents an acknowledgment of the Lord’s faithful presence and sure guidance over these years, as well as of the faith, goodness and generosity of the many instruments he has used to establish Pinecrest Academy and move it forward till the present day,” said Legionary Father Robert Presutti, Head of School. “We unite our hearts and minds in humble adoration, thanksgiving and petition for ongoing blessings and protection.”
The 20th anniversary celebration will begin with an all-school Mass at 8:15 a.m. in the Upper School Gym, concelebrated by Bishop Luis R. Zarama; Father Presutti; Pinecrest chaplains Father Richard Sutter, LC, and Father Matthew Kaderabek, LC; Father Matthew Van Smoorenburg, LC, pastor of St. Brendan Church, Cumming; and other archdiocesan and Legionary of Christ priests.
A slide show presentation will immediately follow Mass, showcasing highlights from Pinecrest’s 20-year history.
A campus-wide anniversary parade will begin at approximately 10:15 a.m., featuring school founders and leaders, along with students from the lower, middle and high schools, representing 20 years of history and memories.
A “Twenty Years of Tradition” museum will open Thursday, Jan. 30, 7-9 p.m., showcasing photos of all 20 years and other historic items that depict Pinecrest’s history, traditions and the mission the school was founded upon in 1993. The museum will also be open on Friday, Jan. 31, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.