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Flora Macdonald Academy is an independent, college preparatory, coeducational day school for grades PK - 12, serving Red Springs, Raeford, Fayetteville, Laurinburg, Pembroke, St. Pauls, Maxton, and surrounding areas. The school provides a values-based college preparatory education in a small, safe, and nurturing environment.
The size of the student body allows for diversity without sacrificing a concerned and caring atmosphere. Every child is known by "name and by need."
All of our students have opportunities for success in small classes, where they are actively involved and where there is a meaningful student-faculty rapport. Parents, community, staff, and students work collaboratively to meet high expectations in a curriculum which stimulates ethical, physical, creative, and social development and opportunity to begin lifelong learning.
The campus exudes a sense of history. Located in historic Red Springs on the campus which was originally Flora Macdonald College, its extensive gardens and grounds surround a building on the National Historic Registry. The past inspires the future, defined by students, ages four to seventeen, who come here looking for a history of their own.
Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
A movement in North Carolina for the higher education of women led to the founding of Flora Macdonald College in 1896. The Fayetteville Presbytery decided to establish a seminary for girls somewhere in the area. Red Springs came forward with the promise of $2500, four acres of land, and forty students, if the school should be located there. The offer was immediately accepted. Red Springs was also chosen because, in addition to the fact that it was a center of religious and social activity and abounded in the health giving mineral springs which gave the town its name, it was largely populated with the Scottish Highlanders to whom education and religion were life's most important requisites.
When Dr. Charles Vardell was asked to take charge as president of the proposed school, there was very little money for the new project. He came, a young and inexperienced man, to look the situation over. As he stood at the edge of the swamp, he saw two visions and dreamed two dreams. He said, "Here is a place for a garden, the like of which cannot be found, and here is a place for a girls' school, the need for which is unequaled."
Always a man of quick decisions, he went to work with characteristic energy, putting his heart, mind and body into the task to which he now dedicated his life. With the meager resources at his command, he worked as one inspired, with the result that September 30, 1896, Red Springs Seminary opened in a small wooden building with ninety students and a faculty of six cultured educators.
Along with Dr. Vardell came his talented wife, the former Linda Lee Rumple, an honor graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, and universally conceded to be the foremost musician in the Carolinas. To her goes the credit of founding the Conservatory of Music, which she modeled along the lines of her then famous Alma Mater in Boston. In the meantime, the influence of the college was felt throughout the South to such an extent that the name was changed in 1903 to Southern Presbyterian College and Conservatory of Music.
These two dedicated educators worked side by side for thirty-four years and the college continued to gain prestige and recognition. The original building had long be replaced by a lovely brick building on the campus.
Along with its high scholastic standards, Flora Macdonald College, as it was renamed in 1916, held fast to its traditions and to the individuality and spirit which combined to make it the distinctive small college of the Carolinas. The "different" atmosphere of the campus was recognized and felt by even the most casual visitor. Its Scottish background was evident in authentic relics, which include many of the prized possessions of the famous Scotswoman whose name it bore, as well as some personal possessions of the "Bonnie Prince."
The students were taught the traditional folk dances of Scotland, and in their pretty Highland costumes were constantly in demand for programs which were highlighted by the spirited Highland Fling, taught each new class.
The college continued to grow and flourish, and in 1950, the Conservatory of Music was accepted into the National Association of Schools of Music, and early in 1951, the college itself was received into full membership of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. It was the only four-year, fully accredited liberal arts church school in Southeast North Carolina and the only Scottish American college in the United States.
During its creation and growth, Flora Macdonald was under the ownership and control of Fayetteville, Wilmington, and Orange Presbyteries. In 1952, the Synod of NC, who now controlled Flora Macdonald College, began a study into reorganizing and merging two junior colleges and Flora Macdonald and setting the location at Laurinburg. The merger took place in 1961, and Flora Macdonald College and Conservatory of Music existed no more.
In September of 1964, the doors of Vardell Hall opened on the former campus of Flora Macdonald College. Vardell Hall was a girls preparatory school and junior college. It stayed in operation for ten years and holds many wonderful memories for all the students that were there. As their Alma Mater clearly states, "Proud of our heritage, we face now the future--our lives blessed by the training received on her campus--We stand now united to honor her name--As molders of patterns and aims that shall last." These words honor not only Vardell Hall but Dr. Charles Vardell and Flora Macdonald College for the vision which was created and realized 100 years ago.
Robeson Country Day School, formerly housed in Lumber Bridge, moved into the building in 1973. In 1980, the Corporation, parents of Robeson Country Day students, voted to change the name to Flora Macdonald Academy, the name the school has today. In the early spring of 1984,when a killer tornado hit the town of Red Springs, Flora Macdonald Academy did not escape. Thousands of dollars of damage was done to the building. The building was unusable for months, and classes were held in two churches in town. Extensive renovations were done to the building after the tornado and finally in the spring of 1985, a year after the devastation, classes were resumed in the building.
Flora Macdonald Academy carries on many of the traditions of the old Flora Macdonald College. One of these is the annual May Day celebration held the first Saturday in May. Stemming from Roman celebrations of the coming of spring and borrowing traditions from the English holiday, the college and now the academy celebrates May Day. English customs are combined with Scottish music and dance, acknowledging the Scottish heritage of the school. The May Queen and her court process from the beautiful gardens to the front portico where they are entertained by the day's festivities. The traditional May Pole Dance, Sword dance and bagpipes are a part of these festivities. Along with many others, this time honored tradition has become an integral part of life at Flora Macdonald Academy.
Information taken from Flora Macdonald--Celebrating 100 Years of Education