Grand River Academy, and Austinburg itself, have certainly changed a lot in the last 50 years. Imagine the smiles on the faces of two alumni who visited campus last week when they saw their school for the first time in over 50 years! It was truly a pleasure to have the opportunity to hear their story. I have on the wall of my office a newspaper article profiling GRA in 1951. The Academy, as the students in the photographs experienced, was a very different world than ours today. However, after visiting with our two guests, I was soon reminded of the simple lesson I share with our students today- faces will change throughout the years, but our mission and those we serve at Grand River Academy are constant.
Casey Charles and his wife traveled from their home in Utah for a family reunion in Cleveland and decided that while they were in Ohio, they would make a stop where Casey spent 2nd grade. Sam Specht and his wife came to campus while on a trip to visit a local festival from their home in Dayton. Sam had been looking into our school and the changes that we have been having on campus and was excited to check them out for himself. He attended for the academy for one year during his middle school career.
Sam and Casey both shared similar experiences and memories with me while we toured Shepard Hall. Flashbacks like visiting Mr. Bauder in the lobby of Shepard, doing dress code inspections and line-ups in the quad, and walking to the Austinburg Church for choir and service were all activities they remembered even from a young age. The items that stuck in their mind were the same things many of our alumni will also mention. Things like dorm life, the closeness of friends and faculty, and preparation for life are all commons threads.
Our guests both remarked they had difficulty in picking up materials easily and learning in a big classroom setting which made our school structure perfect for their education. GRA has been helping students for decades now to learn and develop into the men they want to become - even before we knew all we do today about specialized learning.