Two private schools in Greenville — Shannon Forest Christian School and First Presbyterian Academy — will merge starting next school year, according to a statement from the schools.
Both schools will officially operate under First Presbyterian Academy Inc. but will remain at their current locations. The names of the schools will change to The Academy at Shannon Forest and The Academy Downtown.
The Academy Downtown — which is currently First Presbyterian Academy — will serve students in its preschool and kindergarten program, while The Academy at Shannon Forest will continue to serve students in pre-K through 12th grade.
Tom Roe, head of school at First Presbyterian, said the elementary and middle school students and teachers at First Presbyterian will move to Shannon Forest’s facility.
First Presbyterian Academy opened as a preschool in 1952 before expanding to elementary school in 2008 and middle school in 2015. Shannon Forest Christian School opened in 1968 for kindergarten students and within two years expanded to include elementary and middle school students. Now, the school serves preschool through 12th grade.
Roe said it’s been a goal of First Presbyterian’s to expand into high school, but the current facility and location prohibits that.
“From our side, we were looking at the fact that [Shannon Forest] offered high school, and so we really can matriculate from preschool all the way through high school,” Roe said. “Also, they had green space, which they can offer soccer and other sports with the use of a field, and that has been a challenge for us, and it’s one of the reasons why every sport we have can fit inside of a gym.”
Alternatively, Roe said Shannon Forest Christian School, which was once connected to Shannon Forest Presbyterian Church, had a desire to connect with a church again.
“Shannon separated from Shannon Forest Presbyterian, which is now Eastside [Presbyterian Church], and they had missed that relationship with a church,” Roe said.
Roe said the two school boards will also merge.
The National Center for Education Statistics shows Shannon Forest had an enrollment of 454 students for the 2015-16 school year, and First Presbyterian had 282.
“The unification of these two strong schools promises to provide students of all ages a nurturing environment with rigorous academics taught through a Christian worldview, preparing every child for a future of academic excellence and Christian service,” the statement said.