Educating Boys: Grand River Academy Reaches 180 Year Milestone

Grand River Academy: Educating Boys for 180 YearsGrand River Academy, like many schools founded in eighteenth and nineteenth century, has seen some changes while maintaing relevance and longevity.

Today, 180 years old, Grand River is a place where boys gain their footing and this modern mission grows directly out of the the school’s early roots.

Carl Feather of The Star Beacon (Ashtabula, OH) chronicles Grand River’s incarnations in his article “A Legacy of Education.”

Grand River, like its New England counterparts began life (before public schooling) when towns, families, and churches began to see secondary school as a necessary piece of the social fabric.

Born out of education, labor, and the ministry.

“Pioneer families of Austinburg Township — Judge Eliphalet Austin, the Rev. Eliphalet Austin, Jr., Dr. Orestes K. Hawley and the Rev. Giles Cowles and others —envisioned a school where young men could prepare for the ministry. When the school was formed in the late summer or early fall of 1831, it was given the name of “The Ashtabula County School of Science and Industry.”’

“The primary object of this school shall be to add pious young men in preparing for the gospel ministry; but the Trustees may admit young men of good moral character, other than those preparing for the ministry, under such regulations as shall be from time to time established,” stated one of the by-laws of the new entity.

Another bylaw required that each student would be employed not less than three and not more than four hours daily in agriculture and mechanical labors unless excused….”(TSB)

Fire, wars, the Industrial Revolution, and educational revolution have all demanded change and flexibility from Grand River’s administration and trustees over the years. No institution succeeds so long without a modicum of flexibility.

Grand River: a place where boys grow

Grand River emerged in its modern form, with its current name, in the 1930’s and 1940’s with the school’s form attributable to current (and retiring in June 2012) headmaster Randy Blum.

Small and accountable still works in cultivating and preparing boys.

Alumnus and Grand River directory of development, Tom O’Neal explained the affects of Grand River’s small community and accountable environment:

“The niche has been the boys who are not achieving academically up their potential…By our methodology, we get them turned around.”(TSB)

Grand River isn’t any longer directly dedicated to preparing boys for the ministry. Today, the school moves boys through an educational process that prepares them for the modern world.

  • Kflem

    I am descended from the Austin and Cowles families and hope to visit Austinburg Township soon. I will make it a point to visit the academy and wish all the best for another 180 years!

    R Fleming, Lewistown MT

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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