It is always a special day when a former student of Grand River Academy comes back to little ol' Austinburg, Ohio to see campus and visit. This past Monday afternoon an unexpected pickup truck pulled into the parking lot outside of Armington Hall. The last time Richard stood in the spot he parked, it was the mid 1950's and grape vines, not sidewalks, lined the ground.
As the only GRA Alum on staff, and the person who is responsible for Alumni Relations, my day is made when alums come back to visit. Richard came with his wife, Monica. They traveled all the way from Mississippi to Northeast Ohio to attend a family wedding and decided to swing by campus as well.
Richard shared many fantastic stories from his time at Grand River with Kristen Kitchen our Director of Advancement, Monica, and myself. He explained, for example, how excited he and his classmates became when they could march up the hill (the hill on State Route 307 dividing GRA from Austinburg Elementary) to purchase candy from the General Store at the corner of St. Rt. 307 and St. Rt. 45.
There was another story Richard told of a teacher who was a former marine. This teacher would enforce military like conduct, but also won the admiration of his students. Richard attended GRA while he was in Middle School, in the 1950's. The Academy as we know it today was molded in the 1960's, so the institution he knew has undergone a very large transformation. GRA had a military like atmosphere during this time, a foundation Richard truly appreciated and is grateful for as he entered the Navy in 1962 and spent over 25 years serving in the military.
As I walked Richard and his wife around campus, he explained that the only buildings here in the 1950's were Shepard Hall, Alumni Hall, and the old Gym. As we toured Shepard Hall, he was surprised to see the lobby as it stands because during his time it was administrative offices and students were only allowed on the second floor. In the basement, where the dining hall was, he was excited to see the space being renovated for our Center for Productive Growth.