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Mackie Academy owes its existence to William Mackie, a Stonehaven grain merchant, who left his estate in Trust to build and endow in the town what would now be called a Secondary School.
Prior to the establishing of the Academy, children of the relevant age from the Stonehaven area had to make the journey by train daily in all weathers to and from Aberdeen to attend schools there. William Mackie' s only son was one such child and is understood to have developed and died from pneumonia following a soaking in the course of one of these journeys. Whether this is so or not, William Mackie was concerned that there should be secondary education available in Stonehaven and dedicated himself and his fortune to that end. Thus his Will, which is read out to the pupils annually on the anniversary of his death, states:
'.... and whereas having felt from personal experience the great inconvenience and injurious effects which are occasioned to the youth of both sexes from the want of superior Educational Institutions at which they might receive an education superior to what can be obtained at the Parish schools and by which many parents in respectable positions in life might be saved the expense and necessity of sending their children to a distance to obtain such Education, it is my wish to found and endow an Educational Institution in the Newtown of Stonehaven to be called 'Mackie's Academy'.'
His Will goes on to include instructions for the appointment and powers of the Governors and in some detail, Rules and Regulations for the election of teachers, the subjects to be taught, hours to be worked, fees to be charged and so on. The Will also stipulates that to avoid detriment to the Parish schools boys must have been taught Latin for a year and girls must be able to read and write and not be under twelve years of age. He also left instructions for income to be used for extending the school and its buildings.
William Mackie died in 1871 and unfortunately the sum of £5,000 which his Estate realised was insufficient for his purpose. The money was therefore invested by his Trustees as he had also instructed. In 1893, twenty-one years after his death, enough had been raised for the School to be built and it opened in Arduthie Road, Stonehaven, as Mackie Academy, beginning with a roll of 111 and a staff of nine. It flourished and soon became overcrowded so that by 1910 various extensions were needed. In 1929, the Academy was almost totally destroyed by fire but was rebuilt on its site. In 1947, with the raising of the school leaving age, the roll had risen to 550 with a staff of twenty-seven and in due course the decision was taken to build a new school at Ury on the outskirts of the town. This opened in 1969 as a Comprehensive Secondary School i.e. a State school and no longer fee-paying. (The old buildings still exist and are now occupied by Arduthie (Primary) School). By 1975 the roll of the Academy was 1294 and subsequently reached a peak of 1740. The school motto is 'Courage strives against difficulties'. The Academy has recently celebrated its centenary and in 1994 its modern block of buildings and playing fields are an impressive sight and a fitting memorial to its founder.