The ABCs of French Camp Academy

By Sylvia Dickson

In 1885 the foundation was laid for a boarding school in central Mississippi. In 2014, 129 years later, that foundation still stands the test of time: French Camp Academy is solidly built on Jesus Christ. Its mission is to serve young people and their families for the glory of God.

Photos by Sylvia Dickson Pioneer Day is a great event to attend if you like food, crafts, music, skillet throwing and crosscut saw competitions. Mark your calendar for May 10 to stroll through the French Camp Historic District.

Photo by Sylvia Dickson
Pioneer Day is a great event to attend if you like food, crafts, music, skillet throwing and crosscut saw competitions. Mark your calendar for May 10 to stroll through the French Camp Historic District.

Anchoring the Past

Treasure on the Trace by Livingston and Rich, tells us that as far back as the 1820’s, French Camp has served as a center for Christian education. Greenwood LeFlore, the last Chief of the Choctaw nation in Mississippi, believed that ignorance was a great curse to his people and sent missionaries throughout the Choctaw Nation to teach and bring Christianity to them.

In 1884, the Central Mississippi Presbyterian Synod opened the Central Mississippi Institute for ladies. Following its successful opening, French Camp Academy was established in 1885 by the Presbytery for male students. In 1915, the two schools combined under the name of French Camp Academy.

Annual Celebrations

Pioneer Day, Harvest Festival, and Alumni Day are just three ways of celebrating French Camp and Choctaw County heritage.

French Camp Academy’s Alumni Day is held on the first Saturday in May. Former students, staff, and their families gather to reminisce and renew relationships. Alumni from the past few years as well as years past bring scrapbooks and memorabilia to share. Honors are given out for Alumnus of the Year, Young Alumnus of the Year, and Church Service Award.

Pioneer Day is a great event to attend if you like food, crafts, music, skillet throwing and crosscut saw competitions. Held the second Saturday in May, people come from all over to stroll through the French Camp Historic District, buy a few of the handicrafts, and sit a spell and enjoy the music. Mark your calendar for May 10, 2014.

Harvest Festival occurs on the second Saturday October. Highlighted by the grand auction, people travel from miles around to bid on handcrafted items. Crowds mill around the Country Store buying anything from a basket of potatoes to a piece of handcrafted jewelry. 2014’s date is October 11.

Blazing the Trail

Change happens, plans change, and sometimes change is planned. So it is at Lake Ann with a newly designed lakefront and hiking trails. Campers and attendees of retreats and conferences will find an expanded, enjoyable beach and piers and well-marked trails through the scenic woods.

  • Camp of the Rising Son is gearing up for a summer filled with campers. Learn more at CRS’ website, www.campoftherisingson.com. The Run for the Son is held the first Saturday in April followed by an open house with tours of the CRS campus and activities such as the climbing tower, canoeing, and horseback riding.
  • Start your plans now for a reunion, conference, or a family get-away at the Rising Son Retreat Center. Contact FCA guest services online at www.frenchcamp.org/retreatcenter, or call 662 547-6835.
  • Rainwater Observatory is a unique facility offering a window into the splendor of the heavens that few around the country. Contact Edwin Faughn at 662-547-7283 or visit www.rainwaterobservatory.org for information on programs and workshops. You can star gaze at Rainwater anytime of the year. But the special Mid-South Stargaze event each Spring attracts astronomers from across the nation. It has attracted more than 3,000 through the years. See the website for the next Stargaze event.

Building the Way

Thanks to W. A. Taylor* and Taylor Industries of Louisville, MS the foundation for Taylor Home was poured in 1969. In 2013, the Taylor Foundation committed to a major remodel. This newly refurbished and expanded facility opened in December, 2014. * W. A. (Alec) Taylor, born in 1901 in French Camp, later moved to Louisville and established Taylor Machine Works.

The dedication for the Riding Arena & Stables at French Camp Academy is April 4th. This new horse facility is a huge addition to the ministry of FCA, impacting the students, CRS campers, and surrounding communities. The arena will be available for hosting events such as horse shows, merit badge programs, and barrel racing. Contact Kim Steen at (662) 547-7296 for more information.

Competing for Excellence

Academics—2013 was an exceptionally big year in the academic area with the addition of seventh and eighth grades. The time spent creating space, hiring teachers, and interviewing students was well worth the effort. ACT scores are also at a new high, and many graduating seniors are being offered good scholarships for college.

Photo by Sylvia Dickson FCA scored big with its first 1A State Football Championship in 2013.

Photo by Sylvia Dickson
FCA scored big with its first 1A State Football Championship in 2013.

Athletics—FCA scored big with its first 1A State Football Championship in 2013. Starting the season out with losses and injuries, the team plowed ahead under the leadership of Coach Nathan Wright. Starting with a 0-4 record, the season ended 11-5 before the state playoff against Smithville. That game went to French Camp, 27-6. Head coach, Nathan Wright, was chosen The Starkville Daily News, The Choctaw Plaindealer, and Kosciusko Star Herald Area Coach of the Year.

The Panther Girls’ Cross Country team won the MHSAA District 3, Class 1A, Region 2 championship, and placed fifth at State. Coach Hugh Long received the 2012 National Federation High School State Coach of the Year award, and the Roy Garcia Award of 2013.

Photos by Sylvia Dickson This year’s play, It’s a Wonderful Life, was performed before more than 350 people. Pictured are Jessica May as Mary and Sam Howard as George.

Photo by Sylvia Dickson
This year’s play, It’s a Wonderful Life, was performed before more than 350 people. Pictured are Jessica May as Mary and Sam Howard as George.

Arts—FCA furthered its reputation for presenting quality stage performances with this year’s play, It’s a Wonderful Life. Performed before more than 350 people, the production involved more than thirty students and staff.

Crafting the Future

New handcrafted pottery items show up weekly at the Log Cabin Gift Shop. Susan Donald, FCA’s potter, is also delighted to show people around the Children of God studio where she and FCA students create the pieces. Prearranged tour groups are welcome.

The FCA bakery, managed by Kevin O’Brien, is producing sorghum wheat bread in addition to the famous French Camp white bread. He and his staff also produce cookies, sauces and dressings for sale in the Gift Shop.

Corporate Gifts—Combine any of the above items in gift boxes for clients, employees, friends and family. Contact Tekoa Miller at 662 547-6482.

French Camp Academy is providing healing to brokenness and foundations for successful futures. From 1885 to the present, we are a work in progress.

For information on admissions, employment, service opportunities, giving and more, visit our website www.frenchcamp.org, or call 662 547-6482.