As of 2007 and written by Joye Davis
On September 8, 1964, Thomas Sumter Academy breathed its first breath as a teaching institution. The 112 students enrolled in grades one through ten began fulfilling the long-
On January 16, 1959, a group of community parents banded together and purchased the land and existing main building from the state, forming the Hillcrest Center, Inc. The original shareholders in the Hillcrest Center, Inc., were W.M. LeNoir, H.C. Edens, Jr., V.P. Dennis, A.W. James, C.A. McLaughlin, E.M. Dubose, A.M. Burrows, J.M. Edens, Jr., and J.B. Gaddy. Each contributed $100.00 to the corporation to facilitate the purchase. The building was constructed in 1926 and housed Hillcrest School until 1958 when a new and modern facility was built just across from the old building at Highways 521 and 441. For six years, the building sat silent and living only in the dreams of a dedicated few.
In 1964, dreams became reality. By the time the school was ready to open its doors, several other community leaders had joined forces with the Hillcrest Center crowd, as additional investors and/or directors for the new institution, including R.V. Segars, Jr., J.E. Davis, W.J. Carter, M.S. McLaughlin, J.E. Sanders, Jr., J.R. Burrows, J.B. Pate, J.M. Brabham, E.C. Carter, Jr. and V. R. Dinkins. The school became real and continued to grow far, far beyond the greatest expectations of its founding fathers.
Thomas Sumter Academy began operations under the stern but loving hand of Mrs. Frances Mellette (“Fanny”) Dinkins. Mrs. Dinkins served as Headmistress from 1964 through 1966. She turned the helm over to W.W. Wannamaker, III in 1966. Mr. Wannamaker served as Headmaster until 1969, when the first senior class graduated from Thomas Sumter Academy. C.E. Owens III was hired in 1969 to replace Mr. Wannamaker, and continued in the position of Headmaster until 1996 when he resigned to focus full-
Thomas Sumter Academy’s motto, “Acta Non Verba,” was engraved on the class rings of the first graduates in 1967; it has served as a prologue for the ensuing years. By the 1966/67 school year, the South Carolina Independent School Association had established intramural basketball, and Thomas Sumter Academy was ready with their first team. The school added bus services for students in the outlying communities in that same school year. On December 20, 1968, Thomas Sumter Academy established a Chapter of the National Honor Society for students excelling in Character, Scholarship, Leadership and Service. In the 1970-
The school added a Bethel Campus in the 1970-
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit Dalzell with force, destroying the old auditorium and causing more than $300,000.00 in damage to the school. The spirit of the Generals would require more than a hurricane to destroy it. Renovations were completed in 1990, and the school had a beautiful new auditorium in addition to other repairs and improvements to the physical plant. In 1990, Thomas Sumter Academy was fortunate enough to acquire additional property to be used for sports, and the school activities continued to expand. Studio Art was added to the school curriculum in 1991, and a three-
Thomas Sumter Academy proudly celebrated its fiftieth anniversary during the school year 2014-