In the early 1990’s some Lawrence families became interested in the idea of an independent high school in Lawrence and decided to join the long tradition of Episcopal schools in America. In January 1994, the organization filed for incorporation in the State of Kansas as a not-for-profit institution called “New Episcopal High School, Inc.” A year later the name of the school was changed to Bishop Seabury Academy, in honor of the first Anglican bishop in America.
In 1996, the Board of Trustees conducted a nationwide search for a headmaster and hired J. Kristian Pueschal. He proceeded to find a site, establish curriculum, and hire a faculty. The original site for the school was the former Kaw Valley School, four miles east of Lawrence. A Board member purchased the facility and leased it to the school. Other trustees helped renovate the school and build additional classrooms.
In the fall of 1997, thirty-two students, six teachers, and one headmaster embarked upon an educational journey and opened the doors of Bishop Seabury Academy. On November 19 of that same year, the Rt. Rev. William Smalley, Bishop of Kansas, consecrated the school at the first annual Bishop Samuel Seabury Day Convocation. In April 2000, after three years of work by the board and faculty, the school received its accreditation with the Independent Schools Association of the Central States. In 2001, Chris Carter became the school’s next headmaster, and the Academy was admitted to the Kansas State High School Activities Association as a 1A. In the spring of 2002, Brendan Mark became the school’s first graduate.
The Kaw Valley site was a wonderful place for the young school to begin, but as the student body grew, the facilities quickly became inadequate. The building had originally been designed for elementary students, and it was simply too small. In the fall of 2000, the late Bob Billings, president of Alvamar Inc., offered the school a site and existing structure on generous terms. After a quick and intense Capital Campaign that raised nearly 2.7 million dollars, the Trustees decided to proceed with the plan. The school purchased the property in August 2002, construction began in earnest in January 2003, and the new facility opened on August 20, 2003 with 113 students in grades 7-12.
In 2006, a new Capital Campaign was launched to raise funds for a new building to be built on the school’s existing campus, and Reese Hall, which would house Seabury’s fine arts and foreign language departments, was completed in the spring of 2008. In 2007, Dr. Don Schawang left his position as Director of Arts and became the school’s current headmaster. The Board of Directors decided to add a 6th grade to the school beginning in fall of 2011. In 2012, the school leveraged a FEMA grant and a challenge pledge from a private donor to drive a successful Campaign to raise 1.18 million for campus expansion and renovation, including a FEMA emergency shelter outfitted as locker rooms and dressing rooms.
Over the past twelve years, Bishop Seabury Academy has grown from a dream to a reality and undergone significant changes as it has moved and grown, but our mission of providing a challenging college preparatory education rooted in moral values and of nurturing our students intellectually, spiritually, and morally remains unchanged.
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