Frank Kaley (left), was the first headmaster and was influential in creating the academy we know today. Photo: Hayley Shoji

Pace Academy, from when it first opened in fall 1958 until this year, has managed to create a strong sense of community. No matter the changes over time, the school has touched students’ lives and altered them in ways large and small. As Pace celebrates its 60th year, we look back to some of the earliest years.

The school was founded by an interfaith group of community leaders who purchased the Ogden property, what is now known as the Castle, and its 20 acres of land. Mills B. Lane, president of C&S Bank at the time and one of Pace’s founders, helped with the purchase of this private home to house the school. This group also hired the first headmaster, Frank D. Kaley, who was charged with hiring the staff as well as teaching and advising students. “The unconditional acceptance and support that we received from Frank Kaley and his staff at Pace continue to touch those of us who knew them,” said Martha Pafford Schindhelm ‘64. “He was everywhere – kneeling to speak to a young student, conversing with a teacher, stopping by a class or watching students play sports on the back field.”

In the following four years, the Castle was renovated in order to accommodate administrative offices and classrooms. In 1961, another academic building was added with classrooms, a library and a cafeteria. In 1966, Boyd Gym was built and named in memory of the first Parents Club President William T. Boyd. During the 1971-72 school year, a new library and more classrooms were added to the academic building, which was renamed Bridges Hall. The natatorium was finished and used for the first time, as were the tennis courts atop Pace Mountain.

In 1958 when the school opened, tuition was only $300. There were 13 seniors in the first graduating class of 1964. Compare this to the 113 seniors who were handed diplomas in 2018. The school opened in 1958 with 178 students. By fall 2018, the number had grown to 1,105. Pace began with 17 faculty and staff members. Now, there are 241. However, these numbers do not capture the whole story.

In accounts written by some of the first students at Pace, a common thread is praise for Headmaster Kaley. He created the Pace motto, “To have the courage to strive for excellence.” Teachers were memorable as well, like the first French teacher, Wynn Creal, or first grade teacher Sarah Parker. These teachers made time to develop true and lasting relationships with their students and create a close-knit community that is prevalent today. “The outgoing and the shy, the leaders and the followers, all blended into a natural band of brothers and sisters,” wrote Schindhelm.

“Pace welcomed me with hugs and handshakes,” wrote H.L. Singer ’64, who enrolled at Pace for his senior year. “It was as if I had always been a student there. The atmosphere of acceptance and support buoyed my spirits and helped me focus on my education. The close nature of classes, athletics and all the other activities left a permanent impression on me. I have carried that warmth and friendship with me my entire life.”