Cantrell Philanthropy Key to Lower School Campaign

Evidence of the lower school campaign has been everywhere this year.

The public phase of the campaign kicked off with a tailgate for the entire Stratford community earlier this year.

Signs on the gravel parking lot advertise the site of the new lower school building, “Coming soon, or sooner with your help.” Stratford has raised roughly $3.4 million of its $4.5 million goal, and the public phase began in February.

But the family whose name will be on the Cantrell Lower School Building has largely managed to stay out of the limelight of the capital campaign.

Who are the Cantrells, the family behind the new lower school’s name?

Mr. Charlie Cantrell  and Ms. Tammie Cantrell are longtime Stratford parents, grandparents, and donors to Stratford.  After moving to Macon in 1988, the Cantrell family sent four children to Stratford.  They also have grandchildren and a niece currently enrolled at the school.

“We’ve been big supporters for a long time but Tammie and I had decided that we were going to do a big gift to something, and Stratford was one of our top priorities,” Mr. Cantrell said of their decision to donate to to the lower school campaign.

“This is a major commitment on his part to the academic programs at Stratford, and it has helped us because you can’t launch a capital campaign without a major lead gift,” Head of School Dr. Robert Veto said of Cantrell’s donation.  Veto said that Cantrell’s decision to support the academics through his donation demonstrated his faith in Stratford education, not just athletics.

Cantrell said that he felt it was time to renovate the lower school in order to keep up with local competitors such as Mount de Sales Academy and First Presbyterian Day School, both of which have recently added new academic buildings to their campuses.

“It’s just not where it needs to be,” Cantrell said of the current lower school.  “It’s the last thing. If you go to the whole new library, the new football thing, the science building.  All those buildings are brand new. The lower school’s a disaster.”

Mr. Cantrell is no stranger to Stratford philanthropy.  He previously served as Booster Club president from 1997-1998.

“When they were parents, they were very supportive of and generous to our school. That is continuing with their support of the Excellence Never Rests Capital Campaign phase 2 to build new lower school facilities and repurpose the current building,” Director of Institutional Advancement Kathleen Medlin said.

The Cantrell family moved to Macon in 1988 from Atlanta.  Upon recommendation from friends, the Cantrells started their four daughters at the Academy — Christy Johnston ‘01, Ashley Hoye ‘03, Laura Beth Dickey ‘04, and Evan Cantrell ‘07.

Veto added that it was time for an upgraded lower school.  In addition, Veto said, “We really intend to turn the existing lower school building into a new student life center that will serve all the divisions and will have a competitive sized gymnasium, workout and dance rooms, art and music rooms, some additional locker rooms, and permanent space for our after care program, and by allowing the fifth grade to move back into the lower school building not in the upper school building”