Southern Preparatory Academy stands apart from the usual educational model. Southern Preparatory Academy is one of 13 male-only boarding schools, offering a specialized experience to every young man who becomes part of its roster.
Dr. Lyman Ward, a minister from New York, founded the academy as a non-profit, non-denominational institution for rural youth in 1898. Shortly after his death, the academy adopted a military department and became formally recognized as Lyman Ward Military Academy. In 2019, the academy once again rebranded into Southern Preparatory Academy. Southern Prep will continue developing young men of integrity, character, and honor.
Southern Prep encompasses 300 acres, including two five-acre lakes, two athletic fields, and a parade field. Although the school is deep in rural Alabama, it is only about 19 miles from the twin cities of Auburn-Opelika, Alabama, home of Auburn University and East Alabama Medical Center, the nearest acute care hospital.
Southern Prep Academics
Southern Prep offers a college preparatory diploma, and over 90 percent of graduates continue their education at a 2- or 4-year college or university. The other 10 percent typically join the military as enlisted men. In addition to regular curricula, the school also offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses as well as dual enrollment options with nearby Southern Union State Community College and Central Alabama Community College.
The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA). In addition, Southern Prep is a member of three professional organizations: the Association of Military Schools and Colleges in the United States (AMSCUS), the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Alabama Association of Independent Schools (AAIS).
Extra Curricular Opportunities
Football is the favorite sport among the students at Southern Prep, whose mascot is the Rangers. However, basketball, soccer and baseball also have strong standings in the AISA AAA division. The rifle team competes in the Alabama Northeast Area Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Rifle League.
In addition to sports, the school has a color guard, open to all high school cadets, which competes in JROTC competitions throughout Alabama.
Performing annually in parades across the state, the Southern Prep Band is regionally well known and respected. In fact, they perform annually in the nation’s largest Veterans’ Day parade, which is held in Birmingham.
Southern Prep is a small school by design, which allows the faculty and staff to identify and develop each cadet’s areas of strength, focusing on intellectual, spiritual and physical growth. The school specializes in boys who wish to improve their focus, study habits and academic standing.
Any boy entering grades 6 – 12 may apply to attend the school. Tuition starts around $24,625.00 per year. This total includes tuition, fees, and room and board.
From Their Website:
- Southern Preparatory Academy is a non-denominational military school for grades 6th-12th, unique among the more than 31,000 secondary schools in the United States in that there are only 13 boys boarding military schools. The academy was established in 1898 by a New York Minister in order to bring an education to rural Alabamians who did not have the benefit of public education. Over the years the academy has evolved into a Military Academy still adhering to the founder’s educational philosophy of Judeo-Christian ideas and self reliance. This year we have cadets from thirteen different states and international cadets from China, Germany, and Mexico.
- The structure of our military academy enhances cadets to do their best work. Our teaching faculty which average 12 years here at Southern Prep are supported by the athletic coaches, military department and enforced study hours to encourage academic achievement. Classes are small and our professional teaching staff establishes a close relationship to encourage achievement. Our Dean is focused on preparing young men for college. In the past four years graduates have received academic, athletic and ROTC scholarships to a great number of colleges and universities including the University of Alabama, University of Louisville, Birmingham Southern College, The Citadel, Berea College, Graceland College (Iowa), Huntington College, Marion Military Institute, Georgia Military College and the University of North Georgia.
- Southern Prep also offers a unique opportunity for cadets to develop leadership skills in a whole-person learning environment. Under the supervision of retired military personnel, cadets learn respect for authority, while being held accountable for their actions and the actions of cadets under their command. Our graduates leave Southern Prep with good leadership skills and experiences that are readily applicable in any field of employment. We aim to graduate caring, driven, motivated Servant Leaders who contribute to the well-being of individuals and their community.
- The Academy is character-centered with athletic coaching staff, academic department mentors, the military department providing guidance and role models. The “Walk the Talk” presentations during noon meal hours address Commitment, Honesty, Accountability, Respect, Attitude, Courage, Trust, Ethics & Integrity and Responsibility. The Honor Code is part of everyday academic and cadet life. We are a school that changes lives.
- The Academy’s mission adheres to the principle that an education includes an emphasis on spirituality. Academy chapel services are conducted mid-week and Sunday. The Sunday chapel services consist of Bible Study Classes led by faculty and staff of the Academy. In addition, cadet participation in off-campus religious activities is encouraged, as well as participation in community service projects which strengthen the work of good deeds and community involvement, such as Loaves and Fishes and Church of the Highlands.
- Counseling on a number of levels is available on campus.