Custom Class: header-main-wrapper

Custom Class: header-navigation-wrapper

GAC is a great school.

Custom Class: header-utility-buttons

Custom Class: landing-title-overlay alumni

Always a Spartan.

title_Alumni

GAC Alumni Build and Carry a Legacy to Be Greater.

Custom Class: landing-hero slideshow

Refresh page when toggling 'compose' mode on and off to edit.

Recommended Image Size: 1440px wide by 1000px tall
(this text will not display with 'compose' mode off or on live site)

Together, alumni are greater.

You are a life-long Spartan. Although campus may appear a little different on the outside than your days as a student, GAC will forever be your school and your “home away from home”. You are always welcome here.

As an alumnus, you have a unique understanding of how GAC cares actively, innovates wisely, nurtures with intentionality, and operates with excellence in every endeavor. You inspire us with how you live out these principles and the mission of your school. Thank you for the valuable part you play in the lasting legacy of GAC.

Upon graduation, Spartans are welcomed into a diverse and engaged community of over 5,300 worldwide. A key distinction of the student and alumni experiences are that they are relational and not transactional. Alumni relationships matter because relationships based on common bonds and shared experiences can be life-changing.

The GAC Alumni Office is your resource to stay connected with each other and your school through news, networking, sharing expertise with students, participating in reunions and school events, giving back to students on financial aid, visiting campus to see teachers and for alumni admissions tours, cheering on the Spartans, and more.

We count it a blessing to reconnect with you and to serve as your bridge with the greater GAC community. It’s an honor to see how God continues to do His marvelous work in the lives of our alumni and current Spartans, every year. Please reach out to us anytime!

- Kaleigh W. Hartley ‘09, Alumni Relations Officer

770-243-2000

khartley@gac.org  

Get Involved

Network & Share Expertise

Alumni love to network with fellow Spartans, which offers a great resource when the job industry is “all about who you know”! Network with alumni by career field, city, and more on the GAC Alumni LinkedIn page. Share expertise with students in the classroom, host a student through the GAC Fellowship Program, participate in a networking event, and contact the GAC Alumni Office for one-on-one networking connections.

Support

Alumni believe in supporting GAC through their time, talents, and treasures. You show your support by sharing alumni and school news, being a school ambassador through word-of-mouth, cheering for Spartans, giving back to designated programs and to students on need-based financial aid, volunteering at events, supporting alumni businesses, and engaging with students.

Alumni News

The Detroit Lions Go "Under the Helmet" with GAC Alum Kalif Raymond

Kalif Raymond (GAC Class of 2012) is currently playing in his seventh season in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Raymond has battled several obstacles during his journey to professional football, and the Detroit Lions went "Under the Helmet" to learn more about his life. 

Read More about The Detroit Lions Go "Under the Helmet" with GAC Alum Kalif Raymond
GAC Alumna Elise Karinshak '19 named 2022 Goldwater Scholar, earning highest award of its type for the fields of mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences

Today we celebrate alumna and Gwinnett native Elise Karinshak '19, who was recently named a 2022 Goldwater Scholar, earning the highest and most prestigious award of its type for the fields of mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences. She was among only 417 undergraduates selected from 5,000 applicants across the nation.

Read More about GAC Alumna Elise Karinshak '19 named 2022 Goldwater Scholar, earning highest award of its type for the fields of mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences
“NFL Sunday” Features GAC Alumni for Veterans Day

GAC wishes all the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces a happy Veterans Day. We thank you and your families for your service to our country. If you are a football fan, you may have seen the Fox Sports “NFL Sunday” show broadcast from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) this past sunday. The show honored several midshipmen including GAC’s own Jessica Carothers, Class of 2019.

Read More about “NFL Sunday” Features GAC Alumni for Veterans Day
GAC Trailblazers: The Manley Family

As GAC opened its doors for the first time in 1968, Nilas and Ellen Manley took a step of faith and enrolled their two eldest daughters Debra and Cathy. In the years that followed, all eight Manley children joined the GAC family, with seven eventually graduating from GAC. Both Ellen and Nilas went to work as involved, dedicated parents, supportive of young GAC with their time, wisdom, resources, and energy. 

Read More about GAC Trailblazers: The Manley Family
GAC Alumni Ashley Van Ryn reaches success with the USA Women's National Handball Team

God. USA. Sports. These three things say a lot about fierce competitor and devoted follower of Christ, Ashley Van Ryn. While a GAC student, Ashley competed in volleyball, basketball, track, and softball. After graduating in 2004, Ashley attended the University of Central Florida on a softball scholarship. Remarkably, today Ashley is an accomplished member of the USA Women’s National Team for the sport of handball

Read More about GAC Alumni Ashley Van Ryn reaches success with the USA Women's National Handball Team
GAC Alumni Chris Jackson '99 Opened a Home Care Agency during a Pandemic and Thrived

While most business owners faced great uncertainty and disruption when the pandemic hit in 2020, it’s all BrightStar Care franchisee Chris Jackson has known.

Chris opened his home health care agency in Greeley, Colorado shortly before COVID-19 hit the U.S., yet he has found a way to become one of the leading agencies in the network of BrightStar Care franchisees. He credits the team around him for being able to launch his agency and consistently build momentum throughout 2020.

Read More about GAC Alumni Chris Jackson '99 Opened a Home Care Agency during a Pandemic and Thrived

Follow Alumni on Social Media

    Alumni Spotlights

    GAC Art Teacher Commemorates Life of Student  by Finishing his Sculpture

    GAC 3D art teacher, Tim Baker, was recently looking through the art storage room on campus and uncovered an unfinished sculpture by former student, Christo Heotaky. From the class of 2007, Christo was in a tragic motor accident in 2005 at just 17 years old.

    GAC 3D art teacher, Tim Baker, was recently looking through the art storage room on campus and uncovered an unfinished sculpture by former student, Christo Heotaky. From the class of 2007, Christo was in a tragic motor accident in 2005 at just 17 years old. 

    When Tim found his piece, he remembered Christo’s original goal for the stone carving was for it to be a lion head. So, he felt a calling from The Lord to bring the vision to fruition, while leaving Christo’s handmade chisel marks intentionally untouched. 

    When it was finished (in its perfectly unfinished way), the Heotaky family was invited to campus to hear the story of “Christo’s Lion” and to take the precious sculpture home where it belonged. This was the family’s first visit back to campus since the accident - 15 years later, almost to the day. 

    With a warm welcome back, President Scott Harsh, High School Principal Shane Woodward, Tim, and others reconnected with the family. Tim shared the story of how the carving came to be and they all reminisced about favorite GAC memories. As an extra thoughtful detail, the wood base mounting the sculpture was made from an art table Christo used in class. 

    Today, “Christo’s Lion”, created by both his namesake and Tim, now sits proudly on display in the entryway of the Heotaky family home.       

    Read More about GAC Art Teacher Commemorates Life of Student by Finishing his Sculpture
    GAC Trailblazers: The Manley Family

    As GAC opened its doors for the first time in 1968, Nilas and Ellen Manley took a step of faith and enrolled their two eldest daughters Debra and Cathy. In the years that followed, all eight Manley children joined the GAC family, with seven eventually graduating from GAC. Both Ellen and Nilas went to work as involved, dedicated parents, supportive of young GAC with their time, wisdom, resources, and energy.

    As GAC opened its doors for the first time in 1968, Nilas and Ellen Manley took a step of faith and enrolled their two eldest daughters Debra and Cathy. In the years that followed, all eight Manley children joined the GAC family, with seven eventually graduating from GAC. Both Ellen and Nilas went to work as involved, dedicated parents, supportive of young GAC with their time, wisdom, resources, and energy.  

    In 1977, Nilas was named to the GACS Board of Trustees, becoming the first Black Board member. He continued to serve with great dedication until 1998. For decades, Ellen dedicated herself to GAC, working as the first administrative assistant to the Elementary School principal and also doing a great deal of volunteer work to improve GAC. Together, they and their children shaped GAC with their deep commitment to Christ, and toward deeper inclusion of the full family of God.

    Today, 52 years after their first steps of faith, the Nilas and Ellen Manley Plaza has been named in their honor and memory. Many people influence our individual and collective lives and purpose; then a few make a lasting impact.  In the first decades of GAC, the Manleys were difference makers. They were deeply engaged in virtually every aspect of GAC’s emerging culture and mission. Whether in a class or at school functions, from arts to music to athletics, you’d find yourself with one or more of the Manley children, or gathered in a parent function or spectator crowd with their steadfast Mother and Father. Their children, now adults, also made their own positive marks on GAC. 

    After serving in the Air Force and a veteran of three wars, Nilas and Ellen raised their family in Atlanta. They believed deeply in their God-given responsibility to raise their children with great faith and high caliber learning combined. From their personal commitment to advance their children, to engagement in board governance, the Manleys helped further GAC’s focus on faith and learning. And all of GAC was made better.  

    Leading the Way in Faith, Diversity, and Inclusion

    The Civil Rights era was a time of great tension, and often schools were the battleground. Well after Brown vs Board of Education (1954), school systems found ways to maintain institutional racism and segregation through the 1960’s and 1970’s. Tragically, many private and Christian schools were established as “segregation academies,” either publicly or quietly acknowledging their central goals. In another landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared school-sponsored prayer unconstitutional in the case of Engel v. Vitale (1962). GAC launched during that time with the purpose to provide a “quality education in a Christian environment” with one the core goals of being a racially integrated school,” remarked Jesse Long in his book The Early Years. Leaders then believed they couldn’t be otherwise and still be Christian.

    Nilas and Ellen both thought that education should support their faith and further Christian diversity, so they invested their lives in it.  That also meant taking the leap to become personally engaged early with their children’s school. Nilas helped with fundraising. Ellen joined moms leadership and service groups like L.A.C.E. (GAC’s Ladies Association for Christian Education).  And year after year, brought more of their eight children into the GAC family.  Chris Manley (‘85) remembers his parents’ “Intentional and faith driven lives...lives
    of impact and service.”  

    The Manleys led in church progress too. Dr. David Fincher, GAC Chancellor, remembers “My first church home in Atlanta as a young adult was Moreland Avenue Church of Christ, one of the very few integrated churches in Atlanta then. I was shepherded there by a handful of elders--including Nilas Manley.  As I came to teach and then serve as an administrator at GAC, there again as one of my leaders was board member—Nilas Manley.  Mr. Manley was one of my “bosses” everywhere I went: in my spiritual growth at church, in GAC decision-making. His always gentle, wise guidance affected me in just about every aspect of my young adult Christian life and work.” Cathy Manley Cooper (GAC, ‘73) remembered that “Our parents provided needed strengthening for GAC, and we were up to the task. But that task was always first and foremost that we are children of God, co-heirs with Christ and that the color of our skin was simply our outer shell. Yes, it brought and still brings more than its share of challenges. But we were created by an all-knowing being who knew that we would strive to help others see beyond our outer shells into the persons of our very being and the amazing spirit residing within.”

    Lasting Accomplishments. Yet Seldom Easy

    Though there was a deep desire by many for GAC to be inclusive and diverse, that didn’t mean acceptance by all, nor an easy path. Growing through adolescence is challenging, no matter what. Going to a new Christian school added to the complexity of teen life. Tony Manley (GAC, ‘76): “This was the mid to late 1960s, and it was not-so-good a time to be a black male teenager living in a black community but going to a private (predominantly) white high school. This was a turbulent time not only in our public society but also in the church. I thought I wanted to go to public school, but Dad wanted me to have the best there was to offer and told me so more than once… No it was not always easy, but with my parents behind me and many of the leaders at GAC, I persevered.” 

    Mary Manley Rice (GAC, ‘74 ) points to the racial strife of our current times, and a hurtful time her parents experienced: “These past two months have been very difficult nationally. The atmosphere [today] is so charged as painful realizations are made. (GAC’s founding President) Jesse Long took a stand against a racial slur toward my parents in the 1970s by another student’s father at an Appreciation Dinner. Jesse called the father and explained GAC would not tolerate that type of behavior. David Fincher recounted the incident at my mother’s funeral. David clarified GAC’s stance for inclusion and equity for all. I appreciate what GAC represents and [the] work it is doing.”

    Yet the Manleys were not looking for the “easy” road.  Cathy saw that resolute commitment in her parents. “They saw a purpose worth pursuing in a godly and caring fashion,” she offered. “I would say that my parents led a providential life. Dad and Mom were not the type of people to just give up when things got tough. They were raised in families where backing down was not an option. There was always some way to get things done. I’d like to think that they passed that trait on to us kids.”

    Impact and an Enduring Remembrance

    After a life of service, Nilas Manley passed away in 2009. Ellen continued caring for others as loving mom and grandmother until her own homecoming to God in 2019. Dr. Fincher was asked to conduct Ellen’s funeral and recalls “It was my honor to recall my time with the family on the GAC campus. Even with eight children, the Manleys gave generously of time, talents, and financial resources to the school. Their children were truly special and beloved. And that says something about the parents who shaped them. The Manleys were equal partners in causes for God, and they taught me and others so much. Both because of the Manleys, Jesse’s full commitment, and  GAC’s young board of that time, inclusion of the full family of God is built into GAC’s DNA today.” 

    Current Chair of the GACS Board of Trustees, Fernando Nasmyth said, “Hearing stories about the Manleys from those who knew them well is a testament to their deep faith in God and their service to our country.  Their love for their children was evident in the sacrifices they made to ensure that they were nurtured in a loving community of faith. Nilas and Ellen are a lasting example for all of GAC, and for that we are eternally grateful.”

    With Ellen’s passing, discussion began in late 2019 about a lasting GAC remembrance of the Manley’s legacy, among some Trustees and administrators. Through the years, there have been several honorary namings of parts of the campus for significant difference-makers, such as Hollis Smith, Clif Jones, Jimmy and Jean Jones, H.A. Fincher, Jackie Bradford and others.   

    As a result, at the next Board meeting in the Fall of 2020, the GAC Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming of The Nilas and Ellen Manley Plaza. In the heart of campus and adjacent to GAC’s newly expanded GAC Park and Fincher Student-Family Center, the Manley Plaza is a hub of activity and is used daily by students from kindergarten through high school. It is the central outdoor walkway between today’s Combee Elementary Complex and the Middle and High Schools’ cluster of buildings. Appropriate signage with a brief biography is now being designed, with a dedication day planned for early 2021. 

    Jim Combee, GACS Board Chair Emeritus, was glad for the opportunity to recognize long time partners. “I’ve known and respected the Manley family for many years, first serving with Nilas on the Board of Georgia Agape and also the GACS Board of Trustees. This honor of the family is well deserved and I’m delighted that this memorial has come to life.” 

    Naming of Manley Plaza: A Gathering Place for All 

    “I’m so thankful for Nilas and Ellen Manley—their exemplary family, and exemplary commitment to GAC and Christian education that is the essence of our mission,” says GAC President, Dr. Scott Harsh. “While we are proud of their early leadership, along with others, we see so much more that needs to be done. Our commitment to ensuring an authentic “place at the table” for all of God’s family is more resolute than ever. And you will see the heart of the Manleys in our intentional steps ahead.” 

    The GAC of the 2020’s has built new pathways to an even more inclusive and godly community. Yet some people had to be the Trailblazers. Nilas and Ellen Manley embraced that call with their life and children. Their godly dream for GAC will go forward.  

    "I am always so very proud to share with others that I attended this great school and that my family integrated its halls, although it wasn’t until many years later that I realized the significance of that work. The firm foundation that was set for me and my siblings propelled us on and further defined us as children of God.” - Cathy Manley Cooper '73

    Pictured here are: Debra (Manley) Irons (‘71), Cathy (Manley) Cooper (‘73), Mary (Manley) Rice (‘74), Nilas (Tony) Manley (‘76), Norma (Manley) Baker (‘80), Connie (Manley) Amado (‘83), Chris Manley (‘85), Joseph Manley (attended GAC for 3 years).

    Read More about GAC Trailblazers: The Manley Family
    “NFL Sunday” Features GAC Alumni for Veterans Day

    Four Carothers siblings graduated from GAC and all attended the Naval Academy. The oldest, LT Michael Carothers (GAC Class of 2008) led the way and is currently a Naval Aviator serving as an Assistant Operations Officer onboard USS John C. Stennis. He married a GAC alumna, Brittany (Nolan) Carothers (Class of 2008) and they have a daughter, Nora.  LT Matt Carothers (Class of 2011) also married a GAC alumna, Paige (Tisher) Carothers (Class of 2009) and have twin sons, Collier and Knox. Matt is a Naval Submarine Officer serving as a Navigation Instructor and Assistant Operations Officer at Naval Submarine Base Trident Training Facility Kings Bay. ENS Paul Carothers (Class of 2015), recently married Madison “Maddie” Godleski, and is serving Hawaii as an Information Warfare Officer. He was Captain of the USNA Football Team.

    GAC wishes all the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces a happy Veterans Day. We thank you and your families for your service to our country.

    If you are a football fan, you may have seen the Fox Sports “NFL Sunday” show broadcast from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) this past sunday. The show honored several midshipmen including GAC’s own Jessica Carothers, Class of 2019. If you missed the segment, the link is below. It is something you will want to watch.

    Jessica shared her connection with her father, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service who was killed in the line of duty, and the pride of carrying on the family tradition in the Navy.

    What makes this a unique GAC story is that four Carothers siblings graduated from GAC and all attended the Naval Academy. The oldest, LT Michael Carothers (GAC Class of 2008) led the way and is currently a Naval Aviator serving as an Assistant Operations Officer onboard USS John C. Stennis. He married a GAC alumna, Brittany (Nolan) Carothers (Class of 2008) and they have a daughter, Nora.  LT Matt Carothers (Class of 2011) also married a GAC alumna, Paige (Tisher) Carothers (Class of 2009) and have twin sons, Collier and Knox. Matt is a Naval Submarine Officer serving as a Navigation Instructor and Assistant Operations Officer at Naval Submarine Base Trident Training Facility Kings Bay. ENS Paul Carothers (Class of 2015), recently married Madison “Maddie” Godleski, and is serving Hawaii as an Information Warfare Officer. He was Captain of the USNA Football Team.

    Michael shared, “God really has brought us all a long way and blessed us with beautiful families and friends. We would NOT be where we are without the sound structure and guidance provided by our GAC family.”

    It is an honor when a GAC graduate is accepted at an elite Service Academy, but to have four siblings attend is unheard of and a true blessing. The United States Naval Academy is one of the most highly selective universities in the U.S., with the Class of 2024 having a 9% acceptance rate. In addition to having a strong academic record, students must also receive a Congressional nomination and pass a physical test to receive a prestigious appointment. As the undergraduate college of our country’s naval service, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

    When we reached out to Jessica, currently a Plebe (freshman at USNA) she said, “Tell the GAC teachers that they are all so incredible and that I said hello. I am so thankful for their love and support and everything they’ve done for me which all helped me get to where I am today! I miss them all. It was a blessing to be able to attend GAC.”

    We express our gratitude to the Carothers family and our other GAC Veteran families.

    Read More about “NFL Sunday” Features GAC Alumni for Veterans Day

    We are a community

    Kaleigh Hartley ‘09

    “Your relationship with GAC after graduation has nothing to do with magazine sales, uniform regulations, tardy slips, or any other tributes to our prime years. It’s not about dwelling in the past, but about being encouraged about what is ahead. It’s about strengthening relationships with people who grew up alongside you. It’s about making a difference through your alma mater. Alumni relations matters because shared experiences and values can create powerful, lifelong bonds. It’s not about us, but about what our Lord is doing through us, together. ”

    Alumni Relations Officer